SBD/Issue 162/Facilities & Venues

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  • Zell Rejects ISFA Wrigley Bid, Plans To Package Park, Cubs

    Zell Rejects ISFA's Plan To Buy
    And Renovate Wrigley Field
    Tribune Co. Chair Sam Zell has rejected the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority's (ISFA) plan to "acquire and renovate Wrigley Field ... and now plans to package the Cubs" and Wrigley in a private transaction, according to sources cited by Spielman & Roeder of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Sources said that Zell has rejected the ISFA's proposal, which calls for at least $400M in renovations without raising taxes, because it "relies on a novel and untested financing plan: the sale of individual seats at Wrigley as if they were condominiums." The sources said that Zell, Cubs Chair Crane Kenney and their advisers have concluded that the plan, called equity seat rights, and "its tax ramifications would violate both" IRS code and MLB rules. Equity seating "requires fans to sign a long-term contract to buy a specific seat for a price that's either fixed or rises in an agreed-upon way." Spielman & Roeder note the proposed plan "could have driven away potential buyers of the franchise." Based on the sale of recent sports franchises, the Cubs and Wrigley Field together "could command $1[B]" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/13). Meanwhile, ISFA Chair James Thompson last week said, "There is no way to pass the plan with taxes. ... I don't think the people of Illinois, through their legislators, would support taxes for Wrigley renovation, as important as I think Wrigley renovation is. Now is not the time. It needs to be a no-tax plan if it's to have any success" with the state Legislature (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/10).

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  • Brooklyn Bridge: Nets Add Six Sponsors For Barclays Center

    MGM Grand/Foxwoods Is One Of
    Six New Sponsors For Barclays Center
    Nets President & CEO Brett Yormark said that the team has signed "six new founding partners" for the Barclays Center, which along with previously signed Jones Soda, represent "more than $100[M] in sponsorship commitments," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The six deals are with existing Nets sponsors Anheuser-Busch, Cushman & Wakefield, MGM Grand/Foxwoods, ADT, EmblemHealth and Izod. The Nets are scheduled to move into the $950M Barclays Center prior to the 2010-11 season. Yormark said that the new founding-partner deals each are between 5-10 years in length and range from $1.5-5M annually. Yormark added that "many of the partners are architecturally integrated within the building, plazas or clubs." MGM Grand will own a club, ADT "will have branding on a plaza, Cushman & Wakefield will name a theater, there will be a Jones Soda Shoppe, and Izod will brand the team stores." In addition to architectural integration, the Nets are offering founding partners something they call "street to seat brand domination." Lefton notes "incremental to the founding partnership fees, many of the new sponsors will support what the Nets are calling a 'construction activation platform' with signage, countdown clocks and other media in which partners will be identified." The Nets have capped founding sponsors at 14, and Yormark said that "telecom, armed services, appliances, wine and spirits, and insurance sponsors should all be wrapped up sometime this summer" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/12 issue).

    SOMETHING TO BUILD ON: In Newark, Maura McDermott notes the current Barclays Center sponsors are "picking up more than half" of the $950M construction cost, as Barclays Bank in '07 agreed to pay $400M for naming rights. Nets VP/PR Barry Baum said that "digital signs inside and outside the arena will be synchronized so visitors will see the same sponsor's ads when they arrive outside the building, as they walk through the entrance plaza and finally when they get to their seats." Baum: "It's something that's unprecedented." Baum added that EmblemHealth will name the arena's entranceway (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/13).

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  • Penguins Seek Innovative Technologies To "Future-Proof" Arena

    Pittsburgh Technology Council Assisting Penguins
    In Efforts To "Future Proof" New Arena
    The Penguins for their new arena have called on the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC) and its 1,400 member companies to find the "most innovative technologies, services and materials to incorporate into the arena's development and to 'future-proof' the building so that it always stays a step ahead," according to Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. The Penguins and the PTC last month launched the initiative with a webcast in which the team "discussed the types of innovations it was looking for." More than 400 companies viewed the presentation, and "about 70 submitted 200-word descriptions detailing ways their company could provide the kind of technology the team wanted." Penguins officials in the next two weeks will interview reps from each company and "determine which, if any, of the innovations they would like to pursue." The Penguins hope to explore a "variety of innovations as part of the initiative, starting with text messaging, which already is a key component of the team's marketing efforts." The team has "some 20,000 text message subscribers" who receive information, special offers and updates on ticket availability. Penguins VP/Sales & Marketing Dave Soltesz said that the program has "proven to be a 'very, very powerful way to communicate' with younger fans, with results far better than direct mail campaigns." The team also hopes to integrate video technology throughout the arena, including the "potential use of on-demand televised replays and touch-screen food menus in luxury suites." Other possible ideas include interactive seat finders and maps in the arena, as well as the potential for video gaming by "creating stations throughout the building and in suites" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/13).

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