SBD/Issue 121/Facilities & Venues

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  • Wrigley Chair Talks Ballpark Naming Rights At Annual Meeting

    Wrigley Chair Discusses Ballpark Naming
    Rights During Annual Shareholder Meeting
    Wrigley Chair William Wrigley Jr., in the family's first public comments about Wrigley Field naming rights, “wouldn’t wholly discount” that his company would buy the rights, but it “seems unlikely," according to Mike Hughlett of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Wrigley said at the company's annual shareholders meeting, “Certainly I and my family have a great passion for the Cubs and the tradition of baseball in Chicago and Wrigley Field and the whole package.” But he added that the company “lacked a compelling business reason to pay for naming rights because Wrigley’s marketing focuses on individual gums like Orbitz or Big Red.” Wrigley: “We try to put the spotlight on our brands, and not the Wrigley name, and that would be our bias in evaluating any opportunities.” Wrigley said that the naming rights matter “‘is a hypothetical situation’ and that the firm has had no negotiations with Tribune about it.” However, he said, “Anyone who knows me knows I never say never” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/12). More Wrigley: “We’re just going to wait and see how all this plays out, and if there’s an opportunity, we’ll evaluate it just like we would all other opportunities.” He noted that the Cubs “had been owned by the Wrigley family and not the company” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/13). Baseball historian Ed Hartig said that the fact that Wrigley “happened to also be the name of the chewing gum-company [Wrigley] founded was more happy coincidence than a savvy corporate marketing move” (L.A. TIMES, 3/13).

    UNDER CONSTRUCTION: In Chicago, Blair Kamin reports the Chicago city ordinance that confers landmark status on Wrigley Field “does much more than offer protected status,” as it also grants landmark protection to the ballpark’s “essential contours.” Keeping the protected features in place would “restrict the ability of the Cubs and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which wants to buy Wrigley from Tribune Co.” However, the ordinance “hardly shuts the door to further changes at the ballpark.” It does not protect the seats and seating configuration nor the "interior concourses, where the Cubs already have put up new advertising signs.” The ballpark has just 66 skyboxes and Kamin wonders, “Would new skyboxes be built in the same spot as the old ones? Or would new plans call for raising Wrigley’s upper deck to accommodate a second tier of skyboxes? That step could raise Wrigley’s roof beyond the height described in the landmark ordinance and force fans in upper-deck seats farther from the field” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/13).

    TICKET TAX: With the Cubs considering a $0.25-0.50 tax per ticket to help pay for Wrigley Field renovations, the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' Greg Couch writes, “So the Cubs want to ask for this tax only from the people who will benefit? I’m pretty sure the Cubs are the ones benefiting here, right? They want you to pay to fix up their stadium.” If the Cubs want to “jack up prices, then just go ahead. People still will come. But why try to trick them into thinking this is something else?” The Cubs “want to make as much money as possible. They are a business. That’s fair. But why try to dupe fans? Why treat them like idiots?” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/13).

    STATE SALE: A CHICAGO SUN-TIMES editorial is written under the header, “Sam Zell’s Scheme To Sell Wrigley Field To The State Is Nothing More Than A Foul Ball That Benefits Only His Cash-Strapped Tribune Co. -- At Your Expense.” The editorial states there is “not a single good reason the State of Illinois should buy Wrigley Field. … Beautiful as it is, Wrigley Field is not some architectural damsel in need of being ‘saved.’ Only Sam Zell and his Tribune Co., owners of the ballpark, stand to gain. And in an economic downturn, only the taxpayers stand to lose” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/13). 

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  • Superdome Commission Chair Ready For Long-Term Hornets Lease

    Superdome Commission Chair Wants 
    To Ink Hornets To Long-Term Lease
    Superdome Commission Chair Ron Forman said that it is "in the best interest of the state [of Louisiana] and the [Hornets] to reach a long-term lease agreement" for New Orleans Arena, according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Forman: "It's time to sit down, dot the I's and cross the T's and get specific on a long-term agreement." Hornets Owner George Shinn last week told state officials that he is "interested in scrapping the amended lease agreement he signed in January ... for a long-term deal," and Reid reports Shinn could "possibly want a deal that would increase the financial inducements the team receives from the state, to be finalized within 10 weeks." While Forman said that he is "uncertain if a deal can be reached in Shinn's timetable," he added that it is "something he is going to shoot for." Forman: "There is an excitement in the air when you go to the games, and it's a great place to be. The team is playing well. They have great players, they have great community people, the coach is doing great. We have a win-win, and while that is going on, Mr. Shinn is saying, 'You know what, I'm ready to negotiate a long-term contract.' We on the state side are saying the same thing" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/13).

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  • Caught In The Rain: KeyArena Funding From State Not Likely

    State Legislature Unlikely To Address KeyArena
    Renovation Funding Before Adjournment
    Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis said that the city's hope for KeyArena funding aid from the state Legislature "appears dead in the water," according to Johns & McGann of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. The Legislature session is scheduled to adjourn today, and Ceis said of the request for $75M in tax revenue approval: "I think Olympia is all done. There is no real pulse left in that one." Seattle developer Matt Griffin, one of four members of a prospective ownership group alongside Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said the group "would wait now for the next move from the mayor's office." Griffin: "The city has asked us to stay calm while they look at things. We'll give them the next week to let them respond." Ceis said the mayor's office is "in the process of looking at all our options with the investor group on whether or not we can move forward absent the state's participation." Ceis, who declined to offer specifics on what options the city might pursue next, said, "I don't know, to be honest. But we haven't given up. The mayor has directed me to pull out all the stops." Ceis indicated that the city has a "strong desire to work out something while Ballmer and his three partners are still involved." The investors group has set an April 10 deadline for a solution from the mayor's office on its $150M offer to renovate KeyArena (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 3/13). A SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER editorial states, "We still hope the governor and Democratic leaders will consider a special session. ... If Olympia ignores an equitable plan, we hope that will inspire the City Council to support any reasonable proposal that might emerge" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 3/13).

    TOP SECRET: In Seattle, Greg Johns reports lawyers for the city of Seattle and the Sonics' Oklahoma City ownership group "have joined in a motion requesting some documents be kept confidential in their upcoming trial." The mutual agreement "seems surprising, given that part of the city's strategy involves its ability to expose NBA financial records in relation to KeyArena's performance, as well as communication within the Oklahoma City ownership group concerning its intent to buy the Sonics" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 3/13).

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  • Facility Notes

    In Cincinnati, John Fay reports the Reds have a deal in place to move their Spring Training home from Sarasota, Florida, to Goodyear, Arizona, in 2010, after Goodyear recently "secured key financing." Reds Consultant John Allen said that the team is discussing a 20-year lease with Goodyear, where they would share a $76M facility with the Indians. Allen added that the lease agreement and financing plan still need approval from the city. A vote is expected next month, and Allen said that he "expects the city's approval." The approved $33M financing "would be used to build facilities for the Reds, such as a clubhouse and offices" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/13).

    HOT CORNER: DC Metro Police Department 1st District Commander David Kamperin said that officers with the department's Special Operations Division for Nationals games at Nationals Park will be "deployed on foot, on bicycles, in cars and on Segways to at least 39 'static posts'" in order to direct traffic and help with crowd control for games at Nationals Park. Kamperin added that "10 beats -- staffed by either one or two officers -- will patrol, mostly on foot, the neighborhoods surrounding" the ballpark. The team has hired off-duty police officers to patrol the stadium (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/13).

    EAT SEATS: Braves Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Derek Schiller Tuesday on Fox Business said of ballparks offering all-you-can-eat seats: "We're certainly appealing to what we believe is the common, everyday fan who wants to understand a little bit about how much they're going to spend when they go to a baseball game." Schiller said over the course of 81 home games, the team "can afford to take those sections that don't normally sell-out, build in food and beverage into those seats and now sell those seats which we weren't doing in the past" (Fox Business, 3/11).

    NYRA Official Says Spitzer's Resignation Should
    Not Have Any Effect On New Franchise Deal
    NOTES: NYRA President Charles Hayward said that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation will have "not much" of an effect on the new NYRA franchise. Hayward: "The franchise legislation has been passed. We are working with the State's lawyers ... and with the [Attorney General's] office to finalize the settlement agreement to get out of bankruptcy and to finalize the franchise agreement" (N.Y. POST, 3/13)....The Cubs on March 31 will unveil a sculpture outside Wrigley Field honoring Baseball HOFer Ernie Banks, while the White Sox on April 11 will unveil a statue outside U.S. Cellular Field to commemorate their '05 World Series title. Both sculptures were commissioned by the Fine Arts Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Highwood, Illinois (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/13).

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