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Cincinnati business and community leaders are voicing strong support and financial interest for redesigning Riverfront Stadium and building a new facility for either the Bengals or Reds, according to this morning's CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. PNC Bank President and CEO Ralph Michael said "we are willing to buy luxury boxes, even if it is required at both places," and Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble's Chair Ed Artzt stated his own company support for stadium plans. Small business leaders also voiced interest in skyboxes and club seating. Such financial commitments should offset the estimated $200M for construction. City officials said local companies should participate as "corporate good citizens" and to attract prospective employees with pro sports teams. The regional task force formed earlier this year to assess the project also hopes to solicit financing through local and state tax dollars, as Cleveland did for its $425M Gateway project. City officials might also approach officials across the river in MY about contributing to the project (Richard Green, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 9/14). HIDDEN COSTS: In a related column, Tom Lang writes "there is no repair fairy godmother" and an endowment or "infrastructure" fund would offset future maintenance costs and "might even force prudent design and material changes in the original construction" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 9/14).
Soldier Field officials unrolled the first shipment of 6,000 feet of new sod to repair the "overused, exhausted" field for the Bears home game this Sunday. American Sod Corp. President George Brandt said "it will take time" for the field to recover from heavy use during the World Cup and concerts this summer. Soldier Field Stadium Manager Jim Dugan is "praying for no rain" which would make the field much more vulnerable during the game (Peter Baniak, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/14)....The purchase of the IHL's Detroit Vipers "fits snugly" with Pistons owner William Davidson's strategy to keep The Palace at Auburn Hills "busy." Davidson acquired the Vipers by buying the IHL Salt Lake City franchise in April for $5M, and moved them to The Palace. Besides filling dates at The Palace, Pistons President Tom Wilson notes that IHL franchises have jumped in value 20-fold in the past four years, and the Vipers could average 10,000 in attendance this season and be profitable in their first year (David Barkholz, CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 9/5-11 issue)....Susan King of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said that although the Metrodome will lose as much as $600,000 in revenue from the Twins, they will still have more than $12-$13M for improvements. King told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: "The Metrodome is the only publicly owned stadium in the nation. The money we have is through profits that will be used to do major expansion on the building" (THE DAILY, 9/13). The Commission is also in "serious negotiations with the city of Bloomington to sell the Met Center for between $15-20M, with the final price to be determined by an arbitrator" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/13).