SBD/Issue 132/Facilities & Venues

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  • Lew Wolff Voices Strong Bias For New A's Ballpark In San Jose

    Wolff Says San Jose "In As Good A Position As
    Any City In California" To Be A's Home
    A's Owner Lew Wolff Thursday "gave the clearest signal yet that San Jose would be his preferred choice for the team's next home -- and he came closer than ever to ruling out every other rumored suitor," according to Denis Theriault of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Wolff during a wide-ranging chat with reporters said of San Jose, "From a preparation point of view, they are in as good a position as any city in California." However, Wolff "stopped short of endorsing the city outright, noting that San Jose remains firmly" in the MLB territorial rights of the Giants. Wolff noted altering the territorial rights is up to MLB, and said a decision from the league could come "by the end of the season, maybe sooner." Giants Senior VP/Communications Staci Slaughter noted MLB's "constitution defines Santa Clara County as the Giants' territory," and it was "on the basis of this that the Giants financed" AT&T Park. Slaughter: "It's the heart of our fan base in many respects, and our position remains clear on that." Wolff Thursday also "lamented the demise of his efforts" to build a new ballpark in Fremont, and he "repeated his recent contention that the team has no options left in Oakland." Wolff downplayed "recent whispers that Las Vegas had emerged as a candidate while also apparently dismissing Sacramento" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27). More Wolff: "We are really saying that we'd love to stay in Northern California, and go to San Jose." However, David Chai, Chief of Staff for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, said that the city is "fighting to keep the team." Dellums has sent a letter to MLB, and Oakland city officials are "contacting the Bay Area congressional delegation for assistance." Chai: "We believe the A's should stay in Oakland. We believe there are a number of different options that have not been pursued" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/27). In California, Gary Peterson writes with “every discussion about the things [Wolff] wants but can’t have, he undermines what he’s got.” You could “characterize that as willful ignorance of the economy. You could also portray it as disingenuous posturing in advance of a serious play for San Jose” (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 3/27).

    I CAN FEEL THE EARTH MOVE: Wolff Thursday also confirmed that his development partners for a new 15,000-seat soccer-specific stadium for the MLS Earthquakes, which he also owns, have asked San Jose to "accept a lower price for that stadium site because of the cratering economy." Wolff hinted that a "failure to reach an agreement could doom the city's immediate chances for a soccer stadium." The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS' Theriault notes the soccer stadium proposal already has been "scaled down and seen its luxury boxes stripped out to reduce construction costs, now expected at less" than $100M. While Wolff indicated that he is in "active discussions with potential naming sponsors" for the stadium, plans to "build hotels and office space on another part of the site have been placed on hold" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27).

    STRIKING OUT: In San Jose, John Ryan notes the A's and DirecTV still have not reached a carriage deal for the team's games on CSN California. Also, "contrary to earlier indications, it appears there's no agreement with Dish Network either." The lack of the carriage deals "leaves hundreds of thousands of Bay Area households in the lurch" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27).

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  • NFL Giants Sold Out Of All Non-Club PSLs At New Stadium

    Over 70,000 PSLs Have Been Sold For New
    Giants Stadium, Slated To Open In '10
    Giants Stadium LLC has sold all PSLs for non-club seats at the NFL team's new stadium, which is slated to open in '10. The only PSLs now remaining for purchase are in the Coach's Club, Mezzanine Club A and Mezzanine Club B. In all, over 70,000 PSLs have been sold. The remaining seats will be made available to the roughly 93,000 fans on the team's season-ticket waiting list, who will be contacted in groups of 10,000 until all PSLs are sold (Giants). On Long Island, Neil Best notes the team has gone through about 40,000 fans on its season-ticket waiting list, but information for "many of the first 40,000 was out of date, so the team actually has contacted significantly fewer people than that." Many fans on the waiting list who have been contacted by the team "opted for non-club seats with $5,000 PSLs and $120 tickets, leaving the priciest real estate available" (NEWSDAY, 3/27).

    TIME ON THEIR SIDE: Giants President & CEO John Mara said there is "no question the economy has had an effect" on PSL sales. Mara: "But I'm confident we'll be sold out long before we've opened up. We have a year and a half to go." Mara added that "about 90[%] of the season-ticket holders from Giants Stadium have committed to the licenses -- by paying a 20[%] down payment -- with some agreeing to buy fewer seats than they now have but some agreeing to buy more." Mara also said some seating zones "have been oversold and we'll have to move some people to their second choice." In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes the Giants "hope the licenses will generate after-tax revenue of $185[M], which will be dedicated to paying off the bonds" on the $1.6B stadium (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).

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  • Bradley Center Seeking $5M From State For Arena Upgrades

    Request Reflects Bradley Center's Increasing
    Difficulty With Generating Enough Money
    Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has "included a provision in the state's capital budget seeking $5[M] in state bonding support to upgrade the Bradley Center," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The move marks the first time the Bradley Center, which was built "without tax dollars and has operated without any public funding," has "taken the step to make such a request and is a reflection of the arena's increasing difficulty with generating enough money on its own to maintain the building." The request "calls for $500,000 a year in state bonding authority for 10 years," for a total of $5M. Bradley Center officials told state officials that the arena has "maintenance needs totaling $23[M]," but while the $5M "would be state supported, the Bradley Center has agreed to raise the remaining" $18M. Bradley Center officials indicated that the arena's list of upgrades and maintenance needs includes: "outdated mechanical and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment; an outdated scoreboard; a deteriorating roof and exterior facade; an obsolete hockey rink system; outdated event production technology; aging and inefficient lighting; and a significant number of seats that need to be replaced or refurbished." Bradley Center Chair Ulice Payne Jr. in a statement noted that there "seemed to be little consensus on the idea of replacing" the arena with a new facility (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/27). The JOURNAL SENTINEL's Walker wrote it "now seems clear" that the Bradley Center is "not in very good shape." The list of what needs to be fixed at the arena is "long and startling" (JSONLINE.com, 3/26).

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  • MLB Facility Notes: Rooftop Owner Ends Holdout, Will Pay Cubs

    Cubs Home Opener Won't Be Marred By
    Rooftop Wars, Threat Of Visual Obstructions
    In Chicago, Fran Spielman reports Lakeview Baseball Club Owner Anthony Racky Thursday agreed to "share 17[%] of his 2008 profits" with the Cubs and to "reimburse the Cubs for legal fees tied to the breach of contract lawsuit filed against Racky in federal court." As a result, the April 13 Rockies-Cubs home opener "will not be marred by rooftop wars and the perennial threat of visual obstructions." Racky had "withheld the 2008 payment to protest a Jumbotron that, he claims, blocked half his view during" the Red Wings-Blackhawks NHL Winter Classic, but his protest "suffered a major blow last week, when a federal judge refused to prohibit the Cubs from blocking Racky's view" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/27).

    FISHING FOR ANSWERS: ABOVETHELAW.com's Marc Edelman wrote, "From a taxpayer perspective, the Marlins new stadium deal epitomizes fiscal irresponsibility." The specific terms of the agreement "skew hugely in the Marlins' favor." Edelman: "No matter how you spin it, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is walking away with what Miami-Dade County Judge Jeri Cohen recently referred to as 'a sweetheart deal'" (ABOVETHELAW.com, 3/25). SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote, "As a South Florida resident, I am disgusted that a new baseball park was approved in an economy where the ocean is lined with empty condos. But I have to give credit to the Marlins for somehow getting the darned thing approved" (SI.com, 3/26).

    CITI LOOKING SHARP: The Mets and Sharp Electronics Corp. have agreed to a multimedia and community outreach relationship at Citi Field that will provide more than 800 Sharp Aquos LCD HD TVs throughout the ballpark. In addition to in-game branding at the park, including rotational signage, permanent signage on the center field scoreboard, in-game video features and a presence on Mets.com, Sharp will take an active role in the Mets' community outreach efforts as title sponsor of the Mets/Sharp Electronics Student-Athlete Leadership Conference Series (Mets).

    SPRINGING FOR UPGRADES: In Minneapolis, La Velle Neal III reports Twins President Dave St. Peter recently sat down with Lee County (FL) officials to "begin discussions about the future" of the team's Spring Training facility in Ft. Myers. The Twins "don't want a new ballpark," but they do have "some ideas to upgrade Hammond Stadium and the surrounding complex" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27).

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  • Facility Notes

    In Indianapolis, Schneider & O'Shaughnessy notes with the city's Capital Improvement Board (CIB) facing a $20M shortfall this year, "solving the financial woes afflicting the [CIB] will be the responsibility of Marion County taxpayers, fans, visitors" and the Colts and Pacers. Indiana state Legislative leaders Thursday said that "many options were being discussed -- including requiring the Indianapolis Colts to pony up money, raising alcohol or hotel and restaurant taxes, and expanding special tax districts that already capture sales and income taxes for special purposes such as the arenas," Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/27).

    TAX HIKE: In a front page piece, the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE's Will Sentell reported guests at hotels and motels in East Baton Rouge Parish and "elsewhere would pay higher taxes to help subsidize the New Orleans Saints under a plan that could be debated in the state Legislature." Current subsidies for the team under an '01 agreement "come from hotels and motels only in Orleans and Jefferson parishes." Louisiana state Rep. Patrick Connick Wednesday said that he "wants to consider expanding areas where the tax would apply in part to ease pressure on the state's general fund, especially during tough economic times" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 3/26).

    Yormark Rules Out Permanent
    Move To Nassau For '10-11
    NOTHING BUT NET: In New Jersey, John Brennan noted Nets Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Brett Yormark "ruled out 'a move in a permanent fashion' to Nassau Coliseum during the 2010-11 season," but said that the team is "'open to exploring' moving some preseason and regular-season games there." Yormark: "Long Island will be a major market for us" (Bergen RECORD, 3/26). Meanwhile, in Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote architect Frank Gehry, who is designing the Atlantic Yards project, which includes Barclays Center, is "at the heart of the Brooklyn project," and Forest City Ratner CEO and Nets Owner Bruce Ratner is "tethered to him." But now Gehry is "saying the project is kaput." D'Alessandro: "We'd say Ratner has some explaining to do. ... It certainly seems there is no Gehry commitment anymore, no matter how much back-tracking he does through a publicist" (NJ.com, 3/25).

    EMPTY NEST: NEWSWEEK's Melinda Liu notes seven months after the Beijing Olympics, "visitors to the Bird's Nest are paying $7 to stare at a big, empty bowl." Tourist visits "plummeted from 80,000 per day in October to 15,000 in December." The $450M stadium costs $15M "annually to maintain, but the only major event announced for 2009 is an Aug. 8 performance of 'Turandot,' directed by Zhang Yimou, the man behind the Games' opening ceremonies." With "dreams of wringing $30[M] per year from the stadium, its managers now plan to convert part of it into a shopping mall" (NEWSWEEK, 3/30 issue).

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