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The City of Seattle was “hit with a lawsuit yesterday claiming that large Qwest logos recently added” to Qwest Field as part of a 15-year, $75M naming-rights deal are illegal, according to Bob Young of the SEATTLE TIMES. The suit, filed by a nonprofit group called Save Our Skyline, alleges that the signs are “larger than city regulations allow” and “do not advertise a business that occupies the stadium or products sold in the stadium.” Knoll Lowney, an attorney representing the group, said, “The city cannot allow Qwest to pollute our skyline with illegal corporate advertisements.” Lowney added that the city “initially denied a permit for the Qwest logos on the grounds that they would constitute off-premise advertising.” But the lawsuit states that “at the direction of city employees, Qwest got a permit to build a 110-square-foot booth at the stadium to sell its products, in an effort to make the logos legal on-premise advertising.” Lowney called that move a “transparent sham.” City Attorney Tom Carr defended the permits, saying, “If you sell products inside, then you can advertise on the building. If we’re trying to treat all business the same, you don’t want government regulating the size of business” (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/29). More Lowney: “My gut feeling is, people don’t want to be living in Tokyo or Times Square here” (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 9/29).
Monster Cable Founder Lee
Announces Naming-Rights Deal
The naming rights for Candlestick Park have been sold under a four-year, $6M deal with Monster Cable Products, and in San Jose, John Ryan notes S.F. Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez is “spearheading Proposition H, an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot that would declare Candlestick Park the stadium’s official name.” While S.F. City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that the deal with Monster Cable “will stand regardless of the election,” consumer group Commercial Alert “sees a court fight if voters reject the sale.” Commercial Alert this summer led efforts to stop MLB from advertising “Spider-Man 2” on its bases (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/29). Herrera spokesperson Matt Dorsey said even if Proposition H is approved, it would not “invalidate an existing agreement that has already been approved by the mayor and the board.” It could only “preclude future agreements to sell the naming rights to the stadium, or any publicly owned stadium at Candlestick Point.” Sam Singer, a spokesperson for 49ers co-Owner DeBartolo Corp., said, “I look at Gonzalez’s move as a quarterback sneak, and it’s not going to work. Proposition H and Matt Gonzalez don’t really matter any more” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/29). But Commercial Alert Exec Dir Gary Ruskin said that the city attorney “has yet to make a ruling” on Proposition H’s potential impact on the deal. Ruskin: “We think the 49ers will eventually have to go to the voters one way or another” (SAC. BEE, 9/29).
MONSTER CLASH: In L.A., David Colker wonders, “Which Monster is behind the deal?” Monster Cable “is far less famous than” Massachusetts-based Internet job board Monster, and Monster Cable execs “knew that calling the stadium Monster Park could cause some confusion. But they reckoned that it was more cool than Monster Cable Park.” However, The Bonham Group Chair & CEO Dean Bonham said, “If you are buying naming rights to give your company more recognition and you end up giving another company the recognition, that is a major issue.” Kevin Mullins, a spokesperson for the job board, said, “Anytime the Monster name is used, it can only benefit us.” Monster Cable Founder Noel Lee added of Monster’s orange blimp that flies over sporting events, “Every time they fly a blimp over the Super Bowl people think it’s us” (L.A. TIMES, 9/29). But in S.F., Benny Evangelista writes Monster Cable “will benefit from having its brand constantly pushed to football fans watching on those same home-entertainment systems that may one day need new audio and video cables.” Gartner Dataquest VP Martin Reynolds: “Monster [Cable] has built a fabulous brand. Because their value is almost entirely in their brand, they are very profitable, and they plan careful product line extensions to grow revenue” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/29).
ON THE CHEAP? In Seattle, Art Thiel calls the deal a “breathtaking act of witlessness,” writing of the price tag, "The Niners’ share won’t buy a decent backup cornerback. And the city’s share is supposed to go to the parks and recreation budget, which is nice, but won’t even pay for used-condom retrieval at Golden Gate Park. It’s one thing to be stupid, and another to be bad business people” (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 9/29).
County Officials Call Wang’s
Plan “Wonderful Concept”
Islanders co-Owner Charles Wang “made his way through the offices of Nassau [County] lawmakers Tuesday to fill them in on his plans to upgrade” Nassau Coliseum and build a 60-story hotel-condo tower, according to Monte Young of NEWSDAY, who noted county officials “expressed excitement and caution over his ambitious plan.” Minority Leader Rep. Peter Schmitt said, “It's a wonderful concept. He's got a long way to go. He has to build community consensus and there's zoning issues with the town.” Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs added, “The economic potential for Long Island is great, but there’s a lot of time between a dream and reality. He’s got some work to do.” Schmitt said that the renovations to the arena “would be financed through the county Industrial Development Agency, which would result in state and local tax exemptions for Wang.” Schmitt also noted that the state would provide “some financial assistance,” for the renovations. Jacobs said that the county would “give up 77 acres of land that surrounds the Coliseum, but that it would not provide any county funds.” Both lawmakers noted that Wang would need to use private funds for phase two of his plan, which includes the construction of the 60-story, “Great Lighthouse” structure (NEWSDAY, 9/29).
The Jets are “overhauling their campaign” for the proposed West Side stadium with a “sharp increase in advertising spending and recruitment of a broader group of allies,” according to Anne Michaud of CRAINS N.Y. BUSINESS. The team is also “courting elected officials, especially outside Manhattan, and community leaders,” and is enlisting pro-stadium union officials to “step up their efforts,” which will include a rally Wednesday. Jets Senior Manager of Public Affairs Larry Scott-Blackmon was hired to “reach out to minority community leaders,” and the Jets are making “feel-good” donations to such groups as the Harlem Hellfighters youth football program. Jets Owner Woody Johnson and President Jay Cross are meeting with leaders outside of Manhattan, such as Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and former New York Comptroller H. Carl McCall. The team was outspent by stadium opponents “by more than 3-to-1 on advertising in the six months ended June 30, with the Jets’ total reaching only $750,000. Its new budget calls for shelling out $300,000 a week for an indefinite time period.” New Jets ads point out “that the revenue from the project will exceed spending and will put [N.Y.] in a better position to meet all of its priorities.” A consultant for the stadium opposition noted, “The Jets for a long time were pitching this thing as they would to a board room. They have gotten the message and shifted tactics. They are making it look more grassroots-y” (CRAINS N.Y., 9/27 issue).
HISTORY LESSON: In an Op/Ed in today’s WALL STREET JOURNAL, N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg writes the 2012 Olympics “would lead to the greatest private investment in public infrastructure in the city’s history. ... Transforming the Far West Side of Manhattan is one of the smartest investments [N.Y.] can make in its future. It is the best way to maximize America’s chances to win the Olympics and create a golden legacy that generations of New Yorkers and our visitors will enjoy” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/29).
Jackson County Circuit Judge Preston Dean ruled Tuesday that the committee assessing architectural teams vying to design Kansas City’s new Sprint Center “will be allowed to meet in closed session,” according to Dan Margolies of the K.C. STAR. The K.C. Star sued the city on Friday “after city officials said the city-appointed Architect Selection Committee would interview the competing architectural teams in closed session. The interviews, set to take place Thursday, are designed to assess the firms' qualifications.” K.C. Star VP & Editor Mark Zieman said that the newspaper was “disappointed and surprised by the ruling.” Zieman: “We'll work to keep this process open, and we urge the city to embrace that goal as well. City Hall needed the public's help in approving the downtown arena, and now is not the time to shut them out of the process” (K.C. STAR, 9/29).
MGR Food Services on Tuesday was awarded a new seven-year contract, worth an estimated $600,000-800,000 annually, to provide concessions at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park, according to Nancy Badertscher of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. MGR has owned concession rights since the mid-80s and had “not had to compete for the work in at least a decade.” But the Georgia World Congress Center Authority this spring decided to put the contract up for bid with Aramark and Centerplate emerging as the other finalists. GWCC spokesperson Katy Pando said of the bid prices, “In certain scenarios, Aramark really seemed to be the front-runner. In others, it was Centerplate, but MGR seems to provide the most consistency. All three bettered what we currently have, so we certainly improved.” Pando said that the food and drink business at the venues is “about $30[M] a year gross and about $9.5[M] after expenses” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/29). GWCC Minority Business Coordinator Richard Sawyer said MGR’s proposal “highlighted the resources and business expertise” of Levy Restaurants, which has a financial stake in MGR. SportsBusiness Journal’s Don Muret notes in a special to THE DAILY that Compass Group, which owns 49% of Levy, is also mentioned in the proposal (THE DAILY).