SBD/Issue 89/Facilities & Venues

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  • Skiing Uphill: Xanadu Still Without Deal For Indoor Mountain

    Xanadu Developers Still In
    Talks For Indoor Ski Mountain

    Over a year after winning the bid to develop Xanadu, Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Realty “still don’t have an agreement to build” an indoor ski mountain and “have missed several payment and contract deadlines with the company that currently controls the snowmaking technology,” according to Matthew Futterman of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The “Snow Dome” was a “key element of the developers’ winning bid.” Xanadu spokesperson Bob Sommer said Mills/Mack-Cali failed to come to an agreement with New Hampshire-based M-O-H Enterprises Principal Mark Hildonen, whose company holds the U.S. license for Acer Snowmec, a U.K.-based company that invented the indoor-snow making technology. Sommer added that the developers now are “attempting to work out a deal with Acer Snowmec executives in England.” However, Acer Snowmec Dir of North American Operations Nick Chappell noted that Hildonen would “control the company’s technology in North America for at least two more years.” NJSEA Chair Carl Goldberg said that he “was ‘hugely concerned’ with the developers’ failure to come up with a deal for the Snow Dome,” and added that the NJSEA “would not allow Xanadu to open without the indoor mountain.” NJSEA President & CEO George Zoffinger spoke to Acer Snowmec execs and Mills and Mack-Cali principals and said that he “felt confident Mills would be able to deliver the Snow Dome” (STAR-LEDGER, 1/26).

    SUIT OVER BALLPARK: In New Jersey, John Brennan reports Steve Kalafer, owner of the rights to the proposed independent Atlantic League Bergen Cliff Hawks, filed a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court yesterday claiming Mills and Mack-Cali “reneged on a deal to build” a minor league ballpark at Xanadu. The suit seeks an injunction “preventing the developers from following through on a vow to seek other baseball suitors if Kalafer has not agreed to a deal by March 1.” Kalafer is asking for “unspecified compensatory and punitive damages” (Bergen RECORD, 1/26).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Dream, Facilities, NJSEA
  • D’Backs Plan To Have $3.3M LED Board Ready By April 11

    The D’Backs hope to have a new $3.3M LED display board and an “upgraded sound system installed at Chase Field in time for” their home opener on April 11, according to Nick Piecoro of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The display board will run from the right-field foul pole to the end of the overhang by Friday’s Front Row in left field. D’Backs President Rich Dozer said that it will be the “largest LED board in [MLB] and will be of as high a quality as any in the game.” Piecoro reported the cost is being paid for “mostly by a ‘renewal and refurbishment’ account to which both Maricopa County and the Diamondbacks have contributed.” The account was created when the ballpark was built. Because Glendale Arena and US Airways Center both have LED boards and the new Cardinals Stadium will have one, Dozer said the team and the county were “trying to make sure we stay in the same breath as those other facilities.” D’Backs Senior VP/Marketing & Communications Derrick Hall said that the team “hopes the upgrades will help not only in selling ads, but also in enhancing the game-day experience.” Piecoro wrote the team is also adding two “high-end, field-level suites” — one at the end of each dugout. The eight- to ten-person suites will cost $350,000-400,000 to build, and the team will charge about $250,000 per suite per season (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Facilities, MLB, St. Louis Cardinals, US Airways
  • Drink It Up: Pepsi Center Remains A Top Fan-Friendly Arena

    The Pepsi Center “remains one of the NBA’s most fan-friendly arenas,” as the Nuggets offer “one of the league’s best values in seating ... and have one of the most fan-conscious [GMs] in the business in Kiki Vandeweghe,” according to Greg Boeck of USA TODAY. Boeck revisited the arena, which topped his list last April of all 29 NBA arenas based on “ambience and entertainment value.” Boeck notes Vandeweghe publicizes his e-mail address “to monitor feedback” from fans. That led to a new feature “providing video-screen and public-address updates on players who leave the game with an injury.” Vandeweghe said, “That was a fan idea. They wanted to know that. They said they get it on the radio and TV but not in the arena.” Boeck writes the price of his ticket increased $5 to $60. In addition, the price of concessions and in-arena merchandise increased, and the fans, “unlike last year ... weren’t into the game until well into the fourth quarter of a triple-overtime [game]. A lot of fans even left after regulation” (USA TODAY, 1/26).

    NETS’ GAIN: Boeck also revisited Continental Airlines Arena, which finished last in the survey last year. In a separate piece, he writes Nets Senior Dir of Entertainment Marketing Petra Pope is “pumping life and energy into the once-sterile atmosphere.” Nets Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Brett Yormark said of Pope, “She’s reinvented the business.” Boeck notes the Nets have an “edgier dance team that now ranks with the best in the league, a more lively acrobatic team, a more personable mascot, a hip new kids dance team, now-music and shaded lighting that brings a more intimate, theatric mood to a cold arena.” Those changes have “juice[d] up the fans’ energy level,” which was “sorely lacking” at the game Boeck attended last season, and have increased the team’s “overall fan-friendly rating” from a 2.82 last season to a 3.22 this year (USA TODAY, 1/26).

    Print | Tags: Continental Airlines, Denver Nuggets, Facilities, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, NBA, Brooklyn Nets
  • Fair Grounds Concludes Shortened And Relocated Season

    Churchill Downs Inc.’s Fair Grounds Race Course Sunday concluded its 37-day season, which was relocated to Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, Louisiana, because of damage from Hurricane Katrina. Fair Grounds usually hosts 80 or more days of live racing. BUSINESS FIRST OF LOUISVILLE reports total wagering was $134.6M, or an average of $3.64M per day, down 13.1% from the ’04-05 daily average of $4.18M. On-track wagering was $5.96M for an average of $161,252 per day, down 27.2% from last season’s $221,481 average. Average daily simulcast wagering, including wagers made in Fair Grounds’ off-track betting parlors, was $3.48M, a 12.3% decrease from last season (, 1/24).

    Print | Tags: Churchill Downs Inc., Facilities
  • Facility Notes

    Washington state House Finance Committee Chair Jim McIntire sponsored legislation Wednesday that would “extend the restaurant and hotel taxes originally enacted to build Safeco Field to help upgrade” KeyArena. State Senate Ways & Means Committee Chair Margarita Prentice, a former Sonics season-ticket holder, has also “initiated a tax extension bill” for the arena. The developments “come as a task force looking at Seattle Center finances recommended a $200[M] remodeling of KeyArena,” although Marianne Bichsel, a spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, said that Nickels “is not ready to endorse or reject the recommendation” (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 1/26).

    Toyota Center To Receive State
    And Local Funds For Upgrades
    DRESSING UP: The HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL’s Jenna Colley reports the Toyota Center and George R. Brown Convention Center will receive a total of $4.5M in state and local money for facility upgrades in preparation for next month’s NBA All-Star Game. According to city records, the money will be used to “fulfill various obligations under the host city license agreement between NBA Entertainment and Houston Host Committee Inc.,” in addition to “other related costs, such as security” (HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/23).

    TAXMAN: In Dallas, Eric Aasen reports the Irving City Council plans to call an election in May to “let voters decide whether to give the council the option of levying up to a 10[%] ticket tax and a $3-per-vehicle tax on” Cowboys fans starting this fall. The city also wants to “impose up to a $5,000 fee per game on each team member, which would probably be a first in Texas.” Tax proceeds would be used to develop the Texas Stadium land once the Cowboys move to Arlington in ’09 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/26).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Cowboys, Facilities, NBA, Toyota
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