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In San Jose, Jody Meacham examines the increase of minor league teams in "major league" markets. Among the points highlighted in the piece: "As the business of sports turns more to marketing and entertainment, customer bases are expanding beyond fans to those who just want an entertaining night on the town." Meacham also writes that while "it doesn't take an enormous marketing effort" for small teams in areas like San Jose to be successful, they still are "heavily dependent on businesses buying large blocks of season tickets" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/21).
City officials in Seattle announced they have reached agreement with Key Bank of Washington to become title sponsor of the Seattle Center Coliseum. The facility, which is home of the SuperSonics, is currently undergoing a $74M renovation to be completed in October. It will be called The Key Arena at Seattle Center. The Cleveland-based bank agreed to "pay the city $15M over 15 years," starting with a payment of $750,000 and growing by 4% in each subsequent year of the deal. Key Bank will also display its name on the four-sided rooftop-structure, above the east and west entrances, and on the basketball court and ice surface. Seattle Mayor Norm Rice said the deal will help the city renovate without tax dollars and that the Key Arena will be the "first publicly financed arena in the nation fully supported by earned income from the building." After renovation, the facility will seat more than 17,000, with 58 luxury suites and 1,000 club seats (Alex Tizon, SEATTLE TIMES, 2/21). The partnership with Key also "greatly diminishes, if not wipes out," Seafirst Bank's more than 20-year affiliation as a major Sonics' sponsor. Besides the Sonics, the arena will be the home of the WHL Thunderbirds and the CISL Seadogs (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/22).
The $3.7B acquisition of Boston's Shawmut Bank by Fleet Financial Group or Providence, RI, includes naming rights to the new Boston Garden, which was to have been called the Shawmut Center. According to this morning's BOSTON GLOBE, Fleet CEO Terrence Murray said an actual name won't be chosen for "about two weeks." But Fleet Forum has been mentioned (Pham & Reidy, BOSTON GLOBE, 2/22). Columnist Michael Gee suggests that New Boston Garden Corp. President Larry Moulter not place the Fleet logo on center ice too quickly, considering the instability of the corporate world. "Big fish get swallowed by even bigger fish all the time. The new Garden isn't due to open until September. By that time it might have to be named the Citibank Center, the Credit Agricole Center, the Nomura Securities Forum, or the Bundesbank Barn" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/22).
The Panthers will play in the NFC West starting next season. Until their facility in Charlotte is ready in '96, the team will play at Clemson's "Death Valley" in SC. The Panthers will pay close to $3M in rent at Clemson for the '95 season. One unique feature at Carolinas Stadium is the lack of public subsidies. The stadium will be paid for by the sale of Permanent Seat Licenses, and through private funds. The following is the final installment (No. 30) of THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY'S profile of NFL infrastructure.
STADIUM: Carolinas Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. CAPACITY: 73,000 or 73,500 11th highest in the NFL DESIGNED: Designed for football by the HOK Sports Facilities Group of Kansas City, MO. COMPLETED: Facility will be completed by August '96. OWNERSHIP: Owned and operated by the Carolina Stadium Corp. LUXURY SEATS: 135 suites two kinds, 10 person suites, and 40 person suites on two levels along the sideline. There will also be approximately 10,800 club seats with amenities. COST: $160M plus $50M for 33 acres of land. Paid for bycombination of $100M raised through the sale ofPermanent Seat Licenses, and $60M through privatefunds. CONCESSIONS: Volume Services Carolina Stadium Corp. willreceive all concession revenue. ADVERTISING: Team will handle all stadium advertising and receiveall revenue. GAME-DAY: Panthers will provide all game-day personnel. MAINTENANCE: Carolina Stadium Corp. handles all repair. VISITING GATE: Visiting team will receive $1.2M per game. RENT: Team will make no rent payment. LEASE: Not Available.