SBD/Issue 56/Facilities & Venues

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  • A's Considering Building Cisco Field Near Planned BART Station

    A's Want Fremont Stadium
    Near BART Station
    The A's -- in a "major shift aimed at maintaining momentum toward a new ballpark just outside Santa Clara County -- are seriously considering a handful of alternative Fremont sites" that would see the team's proposed Cisco Field move "within walking distance of a planned BART station on the southern fringes of the city," according to Denis Theriault of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. A's Owner Lew Wolff yesterday "confirmed reports of the team's interest" in the locations, and team and city officials said that a decision on "where to place the ballpark, still expected in 2012, could come as soon as next month, but probably early next year." Wolff: "We just want to get our facility built as soon as we can. This isn't brain surgery. The more transportation near you, the better." One of the potential sites is a "36-acre parcel directly across the street from the planned Warm Springs BART station." But A's officials said that they are "looking at a number of sites near the BART line," and added that they are meeting with the BART BOD today to "begin hashing out how the two might work together if the A's do, in fact, change course." The team's interest in changing locations is "spurred by two factors," a "difficult economy that has tabled, for now, plans to also build a housing and retail 'village' ... as well as recent approval of Measure B, a sales tax increase that paves the way for a long-planned BART extension to San Jose." But Theriault notes "no matter which site" A's ownership eventually chooses, they "still plan to move forward, economy permitting, with the rest of what may no longer be their 'ballpark village.'" As "excited as some Fremont city officials and others have been about" Cisco Field, the project has been "dogged by a series of complaints over the months." Also, with the project "on hold and the economy collapsing, questions are growing about how Wolff would finance a $400[M] ballpark" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/4).

    SHREWD MOVE: A SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS editorial stated the proposed move of Cisco Field to a location next to the future Warm Springs BART station would be an "enormous improvement." The editorial: "What a great asset that will be for a ballpark -- and what a relief for drivers who have to commute on [Interstate] 880 every weekday, game night or not" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/4).

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  • GWCC Looking To Expand Georgia Dome, Surrounding Area

    Georgia Dome Could Be Expanded, Moved
    To Stay Competitive With Other Cities
    Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) officials are "looking at ways to expand" their campus, which encompasses the GWCC, the Georgia Dome and nearby Centennial Olympic Park, in order to "stay competitive with other cities that are building newer and larger football stadiums and convention centers," according to Leon Stafford of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Any plans would "need approval from the GWCC Authority, the governing board," and GWCC COO Khalil Johnson "offered no pricetag for the ideas and said there is no timetable for when any, if accepted, would be implemented." But Stafford writes whatever is done will be a "necessary move," as the 16-year-old Georgia Dome is "older than 20" of the NFL's 31 stadiums. The NFL has "increasingly awarded Super Bowls to cities that have newer stadiums," and Falcons Owner Arthur Blank has said that he "wants a new stadium when the bonds issued to build the Dome are paid off, probably around 2015 to 2020." Meanwhile, HOK Sport said that it "saw ways for the facility to better use its footprint to attract business," and the company "laid out several alternative plans for the GWCC, which generally centered around expanding or moving the Dome and increasing the size of the convention center." One plan "calls for building new floors atop the Congress Center, making it a vertical as well as a horizontal giant." Stafford notes the Georgia Dome has "seen several renovations recently, including a new paint job." HOK Senior Principal Dennis Wellner said that building a new football stadium "would take four to five years" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/4).

    COSTLY UPGRADE: In Florida, David Hunt reports the Jaguars want the city of Jacksonville to spend $148M "renovating Jacksonville Municipal Stadium -- more than it cost to build 15 years ago." Senior VP/Stadium Operations & CFO Bill Prescott: "We really haven't had any firm, substantive conversations about it. It is something we really need to begin thinking about." Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton said that he has had "informal discussions with Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver about the stadium," and added that Weaver has been "reasonable about the city's budget concerns but would like to get moving on at least $100[M] of the projects." Peyton said that he is "unsure where the money would come from," as routine maintenance, which is "not part of the renovation proposals, is costing the city" $1-1.5M annually. HOK, which "helped design the stadium," issued a report detailing the renovations which has "sat virtually untouched since its February 2007 publishing" (FLORIDA TIMES UNION, 12/4).

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  • Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage Sits For Q&A

    Eddie Gossage Addresses
    Motorsports Forum
    The final day of the ninth annual SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal Motorsports Marketing Forum at the Westin at Times Square in N.Y. featured a Q&A with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage.

    Q: With the changing economy, what adaptations are you making?

    Gossage: We’re reducing the capacity of Texas Motor Speedway by 15%. We’re taking out 21,000 seats. We also announced plans to replace those seats on the back of the speedway with luxury motor coach spots. We only have to sell 74 of those and we’ll make more money than we would have (with the seats).

    Q: How do NASCAR costs impact the bottom line?

    Gossage: Every time you talk to NASCAR it costs you. I hear a lot that NASCAR has nothing to do with the price of tickets. Nothing could be further from the truth. The biggest check we write throughout the course of the year is to NASCAR for the sanction fee. They have a direct effect on the price of every single ticket you sell.

    Q: Has NASCAR raised the sanctioning fee?

    Gossage: I think for 2009 they were flat, to their credit. But there have been many years -- year after year -- where it has gone up 20%.

    Q: Is it the same type of situation with the Indy Racing League?

    Gossage: Up until the last couple of years, we were paying by far the largest sanction fee. I personally think any sanction fee should be the same across the board. Why should we pay more for an IndyCar race? ... We’ve pretty much held flat over the last two or three years. But my argument would be it was already so high. 

    Q: How do you stand against other sports in the Dallas area?

    Gossage: The Cowboys are the Cowboys. But after that I absolutely refuse to take a back seat to the Rangers or the Mavericks, the Stars, the golf tournaments.

    Q: What changes would you like to see the Indy Racing League make to boost interest?

    Gossage: The Indy Racing League has been opposed to any of my suggestions to the point of it being personal. I love IRL. To me there are some obvious things they can do. I want it to succeed in the worst way possible. As a track promoter, all of us as track promoters need more racing. Indy racing should be wildly successful.

    Q: What do fans tell you is the most important experience about going to the racetrack?

    Gossage: Traffic, tickets and toilets. Getting them in and out quickly, having plenty of parking, friendly folks at the gate, clean restrooms, seats that have a back to them, cup holders, plenty of legroom. There was a reason why we built Texas Motor Speedway.

    Q: What do you think of the Car of Tomorrow?

    Gossage: From a safety standpoint, a plus. Costs -- you’d have to ask the teams. On competition, the No. 1 letter I get is that the races aren’t nearly as good as they used to be. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. But the perception is reality. The reality is the fans have given the car an 'F' in competition.

    Gossage Would Like More Driver Appearances
    Q: Since NASCAR banned testing, should NASCAR promote more driver appearances for the tracks?

    Gossage: Absolutely. The thing I need more is drivers in my town. I need drivers in my market.

    Q: The economy may create smaller fields. As a promoter, do you have any trouble at all selling 36 cars on the track?

    Gossage: I don’t, but the media will make a huge to-do out of it. It was just a few years ago that we didn’t have full fields in Cup racing. I don’t think that’s a big deal. Thirty cars at Bristol (Motor Speedway) is better than 43 cars at Bristol. With 43 cars you can’t just move around. I don’t think it’s a big deal. But the media will make a big deal of it, therefore it’s a big deal.

    View more conference coverage, including one-on-one interviews with IRL CEO Tony George and NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France.  

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  • Facility Notes

    In Daytona, Sara Kiesler reports Daytona Int'l Speedway (DIS) officials yesterday were granted rezonings that will "allow for a major expansion of events and parking." The Daytona City Commission by a 6-0 vote approved rezoning a 23-acre former dog track on Int'l Speedway Blvd. and a 110-acre property south of Bellevue Ave. to a "major sports district." With the zoning changes, DIS President Robin Braig foresees "overnight entertainment for visitors staying at the properties during events such as the Daytona 500" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 12/4).

    UP ON THE ROOF: Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney wants to "give the owners of rooftop clubs overlooking" Wrigley Field "approval to sell tickets" to the Red Wings-Blackhawks NHL Winter Classic on January 1. Tunney: "It's a fierce rivalry. Interest is very high and ticket prices are very high. There's an opportunity for the rooftops to do some business." Tunney also has introduced an ordinance "authorizing rooftop clubs currently limited to Cubs home games to be open" on January 1 (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/2).

    NOTES: In St. Petersburg, Greg Auman reported the Yankees are finalizing plans for a college baseball doubleheader at George Steinbrenner Field in February 2010. Under the plan, Florida and Florida State would meet in one game, while South Florida and Miami would face off in the second. The schools would "meet again in 2011, perhaps as part of a larger event" (, 12/2)....In London, Rod Gilmour reports Beijing has "started selling souvenirs" from its Bird's Nest National Stadium for around US$423 each. The souvenir packs include grass cut the night of the Closing Ceremony and "model Olympic torches made of steel" that were left over from construction of the stadium. There are 10,000 souvenir sets available for sale inside the stadium (London TELEGRAPH, 12/4).

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