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In Minneapolis, Jay Weiner writes an open letter to Vikings Owner Red McCombs offering advice on pursuing a new publicly-funded stadium: "Please, as you crank up the volume on the Vikings stadium debate, address specifics. Please don't insult the intelligence of Minnesota's public and sports fans. We've seen it all, Red" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10). Meanwhile, fallout continued from the departure of Vikings VP/Football Ops Jeff Diamond, and in Houston, John McClain called McCombs' action in Diamond's exit "a foolish decision at such a crucial time to build support and good will with the media and fans" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/8). One day after Diamond left, the team "fired" his secretary and 32-year franchise employee Roz Sorenson. In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere wrote that McCombs "might be a competent businessman, but he sure isn't a compassionate one" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/9). OTHER NOTES: NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made his "pitch" for Patriots stadium luxury seat sales at Citizens Bank's Boston office on Friday (BOSTON HERALD, 5/8).
Five security guards at Lowe's Motor Speedway were fired Friday for "roughing up" a Charlotte Observer photographer and "seizing" his cameras and film after last week's accident in which three spectators were killed at the VisionAire 500, according to Foon Rhee of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. LMS President Humpy Wheeler said the track employs "approximately" 200 part-time security staffers and that they "will get trained in new policies" before NASCAR races later this month "to prevent this from happening again." Videotape shows about a half-dozen security guards "surrounding" Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, pushing him and grabbing cameras from around his neck. The cameras were later returned, but a roll of film was "destroyed." Wheeler: "It was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. While no one from speedway management directed or instructed the action taken during the incident, we still deeply regret it happened" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8). WILL SPONSORS RETURN? The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Bill King examines Lowe's association with the tragedy through its naming rights deal at the Charlotte speedway. Lowe's execs said they had "not begun to assess the impact of the association on their business." Lowe's Senior VP/Marketing Gregory Bridgeford: "We really haven't focused on anything but the personal aspects of this tragedy." But David Paro, VP/ProServ's consulting division, said of the tragic incident at Lowe's: "I hate to admit it, but it will hurt the naming-rights situation in motorsports" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/10 issue). VisionAire has not decided whether it will remain as title sponsor of the IRL event, even if the race returns to Charlotte. VisionAire Chair Jim Rice: "Whether you keep the race or not, I don't know." Communications Concepts and Sports Media Challenge President Kathleen Hessert said that VisionAire and other sponsors "were saved" by LMS management's decision to cancel the race after the severity of the accident was determined. Hessert: "If they had kept racing here, VisionAire would have been bombarded" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/10 issue).
A new poll shows that the Rio Salado Crossing campaign is "so close" that the last vote cast on May 18 "might literally decide the race," according to Robbie Sherwood of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Voters in Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek "remain almost evenly split" on the $1.8B development, which would include a new stadium for the Cardinals. The closest race is in Mesa, where 45% of the voters support the project, 45% oppose it and 10% remain undecided. The poll numbers "hardly budged" from an Arizona Republic poll taken in January. The development project would be funded by a quarter-cent sales tax "increase" in Mesa to help pay for the $497M stadium and convention center. The other $1.3B is for retail, commercial and office development that will come from "private monies." Analytical Research surveyed 407 registered voters in Mesa, 203 in Gilbert and 141 in Queen Creek, from May 1-4 (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/9). The AZ REPUBLIC has endorsed the Rio Salado Crossing project (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/9). In Phoenix, Robbie Sherwood writes that voter turnout is expected to be low next Tuesday (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/10).