SBD/Issue 100/Facilities & Venues

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  • State Agency Unlikely To Fully Pay Saints, Hornets This Year

    LSED Faces A Shortfall, Largely Due To Team
    Obligations And Mounting Debt
    The Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District (LSED), which is responsible for the Louisiana Superdome and New Orleans Arena, "is unlikely to have enough money to pay" the Saints and Hornets next year, according to Michelle Millhollon of the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE. SMG Senior VP Doug Thornton, whose company operates the Superdome for the LSED, yesterday told lawmakers that the LSED "is facing a $27.5[M] shortfall, largely because of obligations to the teams and mounting debt." Millhollon notes payments to the Saints and Hornets "are creating problems," but the Saints "are the bigger problem because they receive three times as much as the Hornets." Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal yesterday said that the Saints' current lease deal, which was brokered by a previous administration, "relied on unrealistic revenue expectations," as the lease "guarantees the team $23.5[M] a year in cash inducements." Jindal added that it is "too early to know what the state will be able to afford the next fiscal year" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 2/11). The AP's Melinda Deslatte noted the state's problems with paying the Saints and Hornets have "recurred ever since a deal was negotiated with the Saints in 2001 and the Hornets came" to New Orleans in '02. Thornton: "We have revenues that are not sufficient to cover the debts." Thornton added that the LSED currently has "about $3[M] in revenue to cover the direct cash payments -- or $27.5[M] less than what is needed to pay both teams." Louisiana "needs an estimated $7[M] to pay the Hornets next year." Deslatte noted if the state "didn't make the payments to the teams, the Saints and Hornets could leave New Orleans without a penalty." Jindal yesterday said that he "intends for the teams to stay" (AP, 2/10).

    IN NEGOTIATIONS: Thornton said that Louisiana "is negotiating a new contract with the Saints, but did not indicate when a deal would be struck." In New Orleans, Ed Anderson noted the current deal "expires in 2018, although the financial inducements the state pays end after the 2010 football season." Thornton added that he "would like to extend the contract by 15 to 20 years." Louisiana in addition to the $23.5M, owes the Saints $10.4M "in other contractual inducements, like concessions and parking revenues" (NOLA.com, 2/10). Also in New Orleans, Kate Moran reported Louisiana "is in lease negotiations that would keep the Saints in the Superdome after the team's current contract expires in 2010." Louisiana "is pushing to work out a new agreement by April 1, the deadline to submit preliminary bids to host the Super Bowl in 2013" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/10).

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  • Live Nation, Ticketmaster To Form Live Nation Entertainment

    Live Nation and Ticketmaster yesterday "unveiled an all-stock deal to merge in an attempt to create what would be the most powerful company in live-music business," according to Ethan Smith of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The companies said that based on present valuations, the new company, to be called Live Nation Entertainment Inc., "would have a stock-market value of $816[M] and combined debt of $1.67[B]." Their "combined annual revenue would be about" $6B. No cash is to "change hands in the deal, in which Live Nation is the acquiring party." Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, who would serve as Exec Chair of the new company, said that the companies' combined resources "would give it clout ... to bring in more corporate-sponsorship money than either of the companies could on its own." Azoff said that "could allow the new company to tackle one of the issues that has riled fans for years: rising ticket prices and the fees Ticketmaster tacks onto them." The companies "expect the deal to close in the second half of the year, pending shareholder approval and regulatory review by the Justice Department's antitrust division" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/11). Azoff said, "The goal of this company is going to be to get more artists to work and fill more venues and fill more seats." The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Paul Bond notes Live Nation owns about 140 venues, while Ticketmaster "runs 6,700 retail outlets and sold 141 million tickets in 2007 valued at more than" $8.3B (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/11). In N.Y., Tim Arango reports Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino "will have the same title with the new company" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11).

    FACING OPPOSITION: In Newark, Peggy McGlone in a front-page story notes the merger "drew immediate criticism yesterday from lawmakers and others who fear the two will create an illegal entertainment monopoly." U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) "sharply condemned the proposed agreement, calling it a 'major disappointment for music fans all around the world.'" Pascrell: "Any merger that would consolidate so many aspects of the concert business under one roof must be carefully scrutinized for anti-trust violations." Pascrell "warned the merger will drive up concert prices, a charge Ticketmaster [Chair & CEO] Barry Diller denied." Diller said, "Ticketmaster does not set prices, Live Nation does not set ticket prices. Artists set prices" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/11). Miami-based Tickets of America President & CEO Michael Lipman said that the deal was "'bad for the public' and possibly bad for venues not operated by Live Nation" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11). In DC, David Montgomery writes of the merger, "What's in it for ticket buyers is far from clear. The era of the dreaded 'convenience charge' might be ending -- but there's no guarantee of lower ticket prices" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11).

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  • Portland's Rose Quarter Could Land Minor League Baseball Stadium

    The Rose Quarter in Portland is "now in the running for a new minor league baseball stadium as the city and the Trail Blazers explore how to boost business in the underperforming eastside entertainment zone," according to Mark Larabee in a front-page piece for the Portland OREGONIAN. The Trail Blazers "wouldn't own the baseball stadium, the city of Portland would." But a new ballpark for the Triple-A PCL Portland Beavers "might complement other development that the Blazers have planned to bring more people to the quarter." City officials met Monday night with Beavers and USL Portland Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson and Blazers execs to "discuss the idea." The city "would need a new baseball stadium if [MLS] awards Portland a new franchise this year" to begin play in the '11 season. MLS "requires stadiums with a soccer-specific design and has said a Portland franchise cannot share space with the Beavers." The city owns PGE Park, where the Beavers and Timbers play, and "would renovate it for soccer." Preliminary cost estimates are $35-40M for the PGE Park renovation, $45M for a new ballpark in Lents, Oregon, and $47-50M for a ballpark in the Rose Quarter. Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard, who is "helping negotiate the deal with Paulson," said that Lents is "still on the table." But Leonard said that the Rose Quarter "might draw bigger crowds to both baseball games and concerts and wouldn't have the parking and noise restrictions associated with Lents" (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/11).

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  • Miami-Dade Mayor Pushes For Marlins Ballpark In Annual Speech

    Mayor Alvarez Pushes For New Ballpark
    In His Annual State Of The County Address
    Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez yesterday during his annual State of the County address said that the "bleak economy is a key reason the public, and the County Commission, should back a deal to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars" to build a new ballpark for the Marlins, according to Charles Rabin of the MIAMI HERALD. Alvarez said that the ballpark project “will become an economic engine at a time the region needs it most.” However, ballpark opponent Frank Del Vecchio, whose group held a brief rally outside the Miami Beach auditorium where Alvarez delivered his speech, said, “This is the worst deal I’ve seen in 35 years. This project will have cost overruns. The only way to complete construction and operate it will be for public funds to be continually put into it.” Rabin notes the Marlins “would spend $120[M] on construction and repay the county a $35[M] loan through yearly rent payments.” The city of Miami “would pay for and build the parking structures” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/11).

    Questions Surround The Finances
    For A New Marlins Ballpark
    QUESTIONS REMAIN: In Miami, Douglas Hanks writes Miami-Dade’s “top stadium expense remains a mystery: how much it will cost to pay back the construction debt.” County Manager George Burgess yesterday said that his staff “may not release a repayment plan on $347[M] in ballpark bonds until Miami-Dade commissioners meet Friday.” Hanks notes without those details, “it’s almost impossible to estimate the strain a new [Marlins] stadium might place on Miami-Dade’s budget or how much the ballpark ultimately would cost the county.” Top county administrators “have already said hotel taxes do not generate enough revenue to fund the bulk of the stadium debt” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/11).

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  • Rio Tinto Stadium To Host September U.S. World Cup Qualifier

    Rio Tinto Stadium To Host Eagles Concert In 
    May Followed By MLS All-Star Game In July
    Rio Tinto Stadium will host the September 5 El Salvador-U.S. men's World Cup qualifying match, according to Michael Lewis of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. MLS Real Salt Lake (RSL) President Bill Manning: "We want to be a regular stop for the U.S. national team. Both the men's team and the women's team. We will put on a great spectacle for them." Manning added that tickets "will be offered to U.S. Soccer fan groups and RSL season-ticket holders first." Manning also "wondered whether there will be many left for the general public, considering the team sold 40,000 tickets when it played host to" the Costa Rica-U.S. World Cup qualifying match in '05 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Lewis writes when combined with the '09 MLS All-Star Game on July 29 that the team will host, the World Cup qualifying game "gives RSL an impressive schedule of marquee events for its first full season in the new stadium" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/11).

    QUICK TICKETS: Rio Tinto Stadium has partnered with Veritix to provide its Flash Seats digital ticketing technology for several events at the venue, including '09 MLS RSL regular-season games. RSL is the first MLS team to adopt Flash Seats. The technology also will be used for a May 9 concert by The Eagles, the first-ever concert at the stadium (RSL).

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  • Patriot Place Welcomes $43M Health Care Center To Development

    Health Care Center Latest Addition
    To Growing Patriot Place Development
    The $43M Brigham & Women's/Massachusetts General Health Care Center at Patriot Place officially opened last week, marking the "latest addition to the 1.3-million-square foot development," according to Jim Hand of the Attleboro SUN CHRONICLE. Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said that he and his family "wanted Patriot Place to be more than a collection of stores." Kraft: "When our family was thinking about the whole idea of Patriot Place, we didn't want to do the traditional retail. Anything we do we want it to be special." Kraft said that "people from around the world travel to Boston to be treated at Brigham and Women's and Mass. General hospitals." Hand noted the outpatient and day surgery center "offers primary care, sports medicine, rehabilitation services, cardiology, cardiac diagnostics and imagining services" (Attleboro SUN CHRONICLE, 2/10).

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