SBD/Issue 145/Facilities & Venues

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  • NJSEA May Take Over Prudential Center, Ending Battle With Izod

    NJSEA Could Take Over Day-To-Day
    Operations Of Prudential Center
    Prudential Center and NJSEA officials yesterday said that they "have been talking about a possible joint agreement" that would give the NJSEA "responsibility for the day-to-day running" of the arena, according to a front-page piece by Ted Sherman of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. NJSEA operates Izod Center, and after "two years of fighting over which will be the state's premier entertainment venue," the arenas are "quietly trying to find a way to co-exist without destroying each other." If the new deal is reached, it would give the NJSEA a "stake in the success" of Prudential Center, "bringing an end to the competition for the same lucrative contracts and shows that remain a financial backbone" of both facilities. NJSEA Chair Carl Goldberg said, "It is premature to announce any resolution, but those conversations have begun with the goal of achieving a joint management understanding." AEG has managed Prudential since the arena opened in October '07, but its role at the venue "has caused additional complications because AEG is a direct competitor of Live Nation, the country's largest promoter, which has strong ties to the Meadowlands and has booked only one act into the Prudential Center since it opened." Izod Center's only major sports tenant, the Nets, are planning to move to Brooklyn, but New Jersey state Senate President Richard Codey said that "whether or not the Nets leave, it is time for Izod and the Prudential Center to work together." Codey: "At the end of the day, it will not be anyone but the Nets deciding where they are going to play. They will have to make a decision at some point of moving or throwing in the towel, but in the meantime, we need to do what's in best interest of both sides, and that's for the sports authority taking over the management of the Rock" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/16).

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  • Honoring A Hero: Mets Dedicate Jackie Robinson Rotunda

    State Officials, Rachel Robinson Take Part
    In Dedication Of Jackie Robinson Rotunda
    The Mets, MLB and the Jackie Robinson Foundation yesterday held a ceremony at Citi Field to dedicate the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, an 18,770-square-foot gathering space at the ballpark designed to celebrate Robinson's life and values. Among those attending were New York Gov. David Paterson, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy. “This rotunda is so grand, so beautiful,” said Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow and Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “This is not just a physical space, but one with so many memories and messages. It’s really kind of a spiritual thing.” The dedication ceremony formed the core of MLB’s various commemorations yesterday, which also included every player, coach and umpire wearing Robinson’s retired No. 42, as well as an event in Harlem in which MLB announced a junior version of its existing Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program that will be designed for kids aged 6-12. A frequent theme during the dedication ceremony was Robinson breaking MLB's color barrier predating other major episodes in the Civil Rights struggle, including Brown vs. The Board of Education, Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus, and protests organized by Martin Luther King Jr. (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal).

    BEFITTING A LEGEND: In N.Y., George Vecsey writes the rotunda is a "powerful tribute to the first African-American major leaguer of the 20th century," and is a "highly visible reminder of a man who made history 62 years ago by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers." Mets Owner Fred Wilpon: "This is a forever place. The entrance to our home" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/16). MLB.com's Anthony DiComo wrote the rotunda is "beautiful" and is the "jewel of Citi Field." When Wilpon built the rotunda, he "wanted it to become a perpetual reminder of all that Robinson did for the game." DuPuy: "It is appropriate that this rotunda -- open, living inclusive, a sport where all fans can come and congregate -- is a fitting tribute to the player who made us realize that baseball, too, can be inclusive." But DiComo noted while the percentage of MLB players that are African-American has reached 10.2%, the levels "are not where baseball wants them to be" (MLB.com, 4/15).

    Howard Addresses Some Of
    Fans' Complaints Of Citi Field
    OPENING THE COMPLAINT BOX: Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard appeared on WFAN-AM’s “Mike Francesa” Tuesday and addressed several complaints WFAN’s Mike Francesa claimed fans had toward Citi Field. Francesa noted some fans believe the Mets “made an homage to the Dodgers and not to the Mets" with the park, but Howard said, “This is no homage to the Dodgers. It is a classic ballpark that is inspired by Ebbets Field.” Francesa noted fans were also complaining about the obstructed views, claiming that made up 60-70% of phone calls the show received on Tuesday. Howard said, “It is not obstructed. The way we categorize obstructed is if you have an obstruction, something in front of you: a beam, a pillar, something blocking your view. That’s not the case here. It’s a function of the geometry of the building and it is a conscious decision that we made … that we wanted people to be lower and closer to the field and have great views" ("Mike Francesa," YES Network, 4/14). SI.com's Jon Heyman listed positive attributes of Citi Field, and among them is the ballpark's "intimate feel." Heyman: "If anything, 41,000 might be a tad small in such a big city." Another is the "overhang in right field," which "doesn't have quite the stateliness of old Tiger Stadium (which served as inspiration), but if you're out in right you can see just how pronounced it is" (SI.com, 4/15).

    STRONG CONCESSIONS: Howard said Citi Field has been “setting records -- not just Mets records, but records for Aramark -- in terms of business that we’ve done.” Howard: “There’s no question that this ballpark, especially with regard to the infrastructure and the way that we’ve designed the food & beverage and merchandise layout, has responded very well.” However, he added the team “did have some food service challenges (Monday) that we will work through” (“Mike Francesa,” YES Network, 4/14).

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  • Charles Wang Discusses Lighthouse Project, Islanders' Future

    Wang Discusses Lighthouse Project, Islanders'
    Future On Long Island During Radio Show
    Islanders Owner Charles Wang yesterday appeared in-studio during WFAN-AM's "Boomer & Carton" show yesterday to discuss the issues surrounding the Lighthouse Project and the franchise's long-term future on Long Island. When asked whether he regrets purchasing the franchise, which has had four losing seasons during his nine years of ownership, Wang said, "If I had to do it again, I wouldn't do it." Wang added he bought the team "because the fear was that they would move from Long Island." Wang has long tried to begin work on his proposed Lighthouse Project, which would include a new Islanders arena, and he said he hopes the politics of Nassau County do not prevent the project from happening. Wang: "I hope that everybody comes to realize how important it is for us to grow on Long Island." Wang added what he would "like to have is, after seven some years, certainty on where we are going by the beginning of this coming hockey season, about six months from now." Wang: "I am committed to making sure that we can try to do it for Long Island. ... In October, if I do not have certainty, I will look at all options." Wang also noted the county owns Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the land, making it their responsibility to renovate the coliseum ("Boomer & Carton," WFAN-AM, 4/15).

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  • Portland Urged To Slow Construction For New Sports Facilities

    No Deadlines Set To Turn PGE Park
    Into Soccer-Specific Stadium
    A hearing yesterday to set timelines to turn PGE Park into a soccer-specific stadium for an MLS expansion team and to build a new ballpark for the Triple-A PCL Portland Beavers "quickly became a referendum on the race to redevelop the Rose Quarter and demolish" the Memorial Coliseum, according to Mark Larabee of the Portland OREGONIAN. About "three dozen people testified, and most favored sparing" the Coliseum, as they "urged the council to slow down." Developer Doug Obletz: "Portland is a city that prides itself on excellent urban planning, sustainability and finding a way to put the unique Portland stamp on our city. To date, the process and planning for a minor league ballpark in the Rose Quarter are missing all three of these elements." Larabee writes "driving the fast track is the need to move" the Beavers out of PGE Park by '11, when the USL Portland Timbers are scheduled to begin playing in MLS. The Portland City Council has partnered with Beavers and Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson "agreeing last month by a 3-2 vote to use city-backed bonds to finance most of the $88.8[M] construction costs." However, to make the ballpark proposal work, the city "will have to max out its credit card for debt in the Oregon Convention Center urban renewal district." That would leave "no urban renewal money for the Blazers entertainment district" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/16).

    SMELL THE ROSES: In a special to the OREGONIAN, Paulson wrote, "Taken together, MLS at PGE Park and Beavers baseball at the Rose Quarter will create 600 short-term jobs, more than 300 long-term jobs and generate roughly $50[M] in annual economic activity in the community. Retiring Memorial Coliseum and using the site for the new stadium makes the most sense because it would take advantage of the existing Rose Quarter parking garages, eliminating the need to build costly new ones. It would replace an aging venue expected to lose $500,000 annually in the coming years with one that can make money for taxpayers. ... This plan is about far more than sports. It creates jobs, protects taxpayers from risk, revitalizes our city and builds community. I urge city leaders to support the plan" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/15).

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