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The controversy over a downtown megaplex in Boston was detailed in the BOSTON GLOBE. The Boston Redevelopment Authority wants to separate a convention center from a domed sports stadium, "not only because it sidesteps the controversial issue of using public money to assist team owners, but also because the habits of conventioneers and football fans argue for different sites" (Michael Rezendes, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/19). Patriots Owner Robert Kraft's proposal to sell his Foxboro Stadium back to the state was also examined. "The Patriots are the hottest ticket in town, and Kraft knows it," writes Charles Pierce. "He is trying to enrich himself by pretending that he is doing the rest of us a favor. He wants the increased profits that will come from the increased skybox seating in a megaplex, and he wants his team moved closer to the profit center in Boston. .... He wants all the rest of us to pay for it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/18). GLOBE business writer Joan Vennochi writes on the strained relationship between Kraft and MA Gov. William Weld. "Gov. Weld continues to feel some obligation to Kraft, even though the Pats owner has worked hard over the past year to wear out his welcome in the Governor's office" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/18). Among the six "major players" polled by the GLOBE, only one said he was an "ardent" supporter of a sports facility as part of the megaplex process (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/18).
Members of the Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) voted on Monday to develop plans for a new stadium costing at least $150M. The vote came after a proposal for renovating Tampa Stadium was presented by the architectural firm, HOK of Kansas City, MO. The firm unveiled its study on how to improve the facility by adding up to 7,400 club seats and 48 more luxury boxes at a cost between $26-48M. Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman said elected officials would be reluctant to back that type of appropriation without the Bucs extending their current lease to the year 2025. There was a feeling among some TSA members that renovation plans would only buy time. TSA Chair George Davis: "The new ownership groups say ultimately they'll need a new stadium." Davis announced a press conference today by local leaders who have been working to keep the team in Tampa (Francis Gilpin, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/20).
Raiders Owner Al Davis is talking with Hollywood Park officials to build a privately-financed $175M-$200M 65,000-seat stadium across the street from the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, CA. Officials close to the negotiations say the new stadium would have at least 150 luxury boxes and be ready for the 1997 NFL season. Hollywood Park Inc., which owns the racetrack, would build and own the stadium on its 345-acre complex. The City of Inglewood has hired an accounting firm to help Hollywood Park Inc. arrange financing for the project. City Manager Paul Eckles: "They (the Raiders) are dead serious about it." In addition to providing luxury boxes which the L.A. Coliseum lacks, the new stadium would have 20,000 parking spaces, up from the Coliseum's 8,000. A possible deal could include "some financial commitments" from the NFL. NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello confirmed that "conversations have taken place" between the league and Hollywood Park (Mark Katches, L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/20).
Earlier this month, reports indicated that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue asked Bills Owner Ralph Wilson to consider playing some league games at SkyDome in Toronto. But officials of Erie County, which owns and operates Rich Stadium, plan to sign the Bills to a new lease after their current lease expires in '98 and have a $23M renovation of Rich Stadium already in progress, which will add 14 new luxury boxes. The team does have a friendly lease, good luxury seating, and one of the largest capacities of any NFL stadiums. Today, we continue to examine our State of the Stadiums with a profile of Rich Stadium in Buffalo.
STADIUM:Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
AGE: Completed in 1971. OWNERSHIP: Owned by Erie County, New York CAPACITY: 80,091 2nd highest in the NFL. NAMING RIGHTS: Bills paid an undisclosed amount for naming rights from Rich Products, a family-owned company in New York, agreement runs through 1998. LUXURY SEATS: 88 suites 1,000 enclosed club seats owned and operated by the Bills. GAME-DAY: Team pays for all game-day personnel. MAINTENANCE: Team handles routine maintenance. City pays for extensive strutural repair. CONCESSIONS: Ogden Food Services, team splits % of net revenue 50/50 with the county. ADVERTISING: Team receives all advertising revenue. PARKING: 12,500 spots at $7, revenue split 50/50 with county. LEASE: Expires at the end of 1998. RENT: $660,298 6th lowest in NFL.
(Source: Buffalo Bills; rent figure from Florida Times-Union article on July 24, 1994.)
The public buyout of the Target Center "took a giant step toward completion Monday" when Minneapolis city finance officer John Moir offered a solution to the potential "deal-breaking problem of ticket surcharges tied to interest rates." Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commissioner Chair Henry Savelkoul after the new proposal was offered: "We have essentially reached agreement with all the principal elements [to complete the buyout of the Target Center and sale of the Timberwolves]." The solution offered by Moir, which still needs approval by the Minneapolis city council, includes an arena reserve fund, managed by the sports facilities commission and funded with money from the sale of tax-exempt bonds. If necessary, that money would be used to cover the cost of any "excessive rise in ticket surcharges." All parties involved "expressed confidence that the major hurdle had been cleared" with this new proposal by Moir. The $54M public purchase of the Target Center from outgoing T- wolves owners Marvin Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner has been a year in the making. When the sale of the arena is complete, perhaps by the end of January, the sale of the T-wolves to Glen Taylor for $88.5M also will be complete (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/20).
American venue-management companies are looking to expand their operations to foreign markets, where government-managed facilities that cater to large markets could give these companies large earning potential. Ogden Corp. and Spectacor Management Group (SMG) have been leaders in exoanding into foreign markets, with ventures ranging from arenas in London and Oslo to Australia and Japan. Latin American expansion is also on the menu, with large markets having a "huge" potential upside, translating "into big dollars." While most markets in Europe and Latin America currently have an arena and stadium these facilites usually generate less money than their American counterparts because of the lack of "top shelf concession stands, premium seats and space for inbuilding billboards." This could change with the sports- management expectations of expansion into European and Latin American markets by the "top four" American sports -- baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Manuel Marrerro, Ogden Director of Business Development for Latin America: "This is not a stab in the dark. ... We have a strategy, we have a commitment" (Eric Conrad, Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 12/20).
Monday's cover story in the MIAMI HERALD's Business section examines the now-defunct Blockbuster Park, Wayne Huizenga's mega- development that was to have been built in Miramar, FL. Now that the plan has been aborted, it remains uncertain what to do with the land and where Huizenga will build a new hockey arena and baseball park for his teams. One possibility is for Blockbuster parent company Viacom to sell the land -- possibly to home developers. Or, they could develop the land themselves, perhaps with a partner. If the park had been built in Miramar, Huizenga's Panthers would have moved to a new arena there, a site he has yet to rule out. Other proposed sites for an arena include Hollywood, near Joe Robbie Stadium and a site near Sawgrass Mills. As for a baseball stadium, Huizenga would like to move his Marlins out of Joe Robbie Stadium and build in Miramar, but he acknowledges that is a remote possibility. Huizenga: "I don't think there are any front-runners. I just think we have to start all over" (Don Finerock, MIAMI HERALD, 12/19).