SBD/Issue 195/Facilities & Venues

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  • Red Wings Likely To Negotiate Shorter-Term Joe Louis Arena Lease

    Red Wings Looking To Renegotiate 
    Short-Term Lease For Joe Louis Arena
    Red Wings and Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch's Olympia Entertainment Friday announced that it will "forgo an option to automatically renew its lease at Joe Louis and Cobo arenas for an additional 20 years," and instead Ilitch and the city of Detroit "will likely negotiate a shorter-term lease," according to Brent Snavely of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. While the Red Wings' current lease at Joe Louis Arena "doesn't expire until June 30, 2010, the terms of the agreement required Olympia to notify the city of its intentions a year in advance." Snavely noted speculation "has run rampant for at least the past three years about whether the Red Wings would seek to renovate Joe Louis or build an arena elsewhere," but building an arena "would take at least two years and would be difficult to finance in the current economic and lending environment." Analysts have estimated that Joe Louis renovations "could cost as much as $180[M] and a new arena could cost more than" $300M (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/27). Ilitch Holdings VP/Corporate Communications Karen Cullen said that "once the lease expires, Cobo Arena will once again be managed by the city of Detroit, and Olympia Entertainment will no longer hold any more events in the 12,000-seat venue." Olympia "held about 20 major events at Cobo Arena each year" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/27). Wayne County (MI) Exec Robert Ficano said that he has been "approached by the Ilitches about financing a new arena, but declined to say any more about it." CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS' Bill Shea reports speculation is that a "new hockey arena would be built on Ilitch-owned land in the Foxtown area or between Grand River and Cass south of I-75." But building a "publicly owned hockey arena and leasing it to the team carries political risks because it would require tax dollars in economically tough times" (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 6/29 issue).

    TOUGH CLIMATE FOR NEW ARENA: In Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote the Red Wings "made the correct decision in not renewing their 30-year Joe Louis Arena lease," as Ilitch "knows he cannot squeeze any more revenue out of the Joe." But Detroit's "shrinking automotive footprint makes support for a new Wings arena more difficult because the city, county and state have far more pressing concerns than funneling public funds into a lavishly equipped money-printing machine" for Ilitch. The "downsized local economy also makes it difficult for four teams to flourish financially in four separate facilities," as there "isn't sufficient corporate backing to buy those premium seats and lease those luxury suites with a recalibrated General Motors and Chrysler and the loss of local satellite industries such as suppliers." Sharp: "The problem is that the only way the new, lower-scaled Detroit economy could support a new arena would be by snatching money from another team -- perhaps Ilitch's own Tigers at Comerica Park" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/28).

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  • Yanks Invite Some Ticket Holders To Offer Opinions On Ballpark

    Yankees Inviting Some Ticket Holders
    To Give Feedback On New Ballpark
    Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner has sent an e-mail "inviting a 'limited number' of season ticket holders to offer opinions about" the new Yankee Stadium at 90-minute meetings to be held at the ballpark and Rockefeller Center's Yankees Preview Center, according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Steinbrenner in the e-mail wrote, "We want to know what you like best, and what may have disappointed you. Most importantly, we want the truth." Steinbrenner is "offering incentives to attract people to the meetings, including the opportunity to view batting practice from the field or an autographed baseball signed by a current or former Yankee." It is "not clear what category of fans received this e-mail" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/28). In N.Y., Ken Belson reported the "weak resale market" has a "growing number of Mets and Yankees season-ticket holders considering whether to drop their seats next year, or to switch to a plan with fewer games or cheaper seats." The ticket holders said that the "risk of getting stuck with expensive tickets that are hard to resell ... is just too high in a weak economy." Mets ticket holder Jesse Goldman: "I get offers all the time for my tickets that are insultingly low. I don't know that being a season-ticket holder is the right route." Yankees ticket holder Michael Bahn said that he "would be lucky to break even" this year in selling his tickets, "thanks largely to the profit he made selling his opening day tickets." Yankees ticket holder Charles Coleman said that he is "getting 40[%] less this year for tickets to weekday games that he resold." Meanwhile, StubHub and other online ticket resellers are "flooded with thousands of tickets for each" Mets and Yankees game, and online ticket search engine Ninja Tickets indicated that Yankees tickets sold by resellers are the "same prices as those sold through the box office." Belson wrote a "wave of season-ticket holders giving up their seats next year would be yet another headache for the Mets and the Yankees" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27).

    CROWDED MARKET: In N.Y., Charles Bagli reports "those who study sporting facilities say empty seats may become even more commonplace" in N.Y. as the city "faces a glut of sports arenas." Four existing venues, plus the planned Barclays Center in Brooklyn, "will soon be slugging it out within an area 30 miles wide." Univ. of Michigan sports management professor Mark Rosentraub: "Five arenas is not going to work. I don't think four works, even in a market as large as New York" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/29).

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  • NASCAR Says Wisconsin Motorsports Owes $1.8M For Two Races

    NASCAR Claiming Milwaukee Mile
    Promoter Owes It $1.8M For Two Races
    NASCAR claims that Milwaukee Mile race promoter Wisconsin Motorsports owes it $1.878M for two races held at the track on June 20, according to documents cited by Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The documents include an agreement that Wisconsin Motorsports President & CEO Claude Napier signed in which he states that he is "unable to pay in full the fees due NASCAR for sanctioning" the Camping World Truck Series Copart 200 and Nationwide Series NorthernTool.com 250. As part of the agreement, "all of the revenue generated by the two races was sent directly to NASCAR." The documents "include a letter written by a NASCAR lawyer to all Milwaukee Mile vendors, concessionaires, program sellers, and food and beverage sellers telling them the money they owe to Wisconsin Motorsports was instead coming to NASCAR." Exact attendance numbers for the races have not been made public, but it was estimated that the Truck Series race "drew approximately 7,000 fans," while Napier said that the on Nationwide Series race "drew in excess of 35,000 fans" (JSONLINE.com, 6/29). NASCAR officials said that "all teams participating last weekend have been paid based on their finishes." However, sources said that the situation "could affect the track's ability to obtain race dates next season" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/27). NASCAR Dir of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston in a statement said, "Despite having a terrific day of NASCAR racing last Saturday there remain outstanding issues which concern NASCAR. As a matter of policy I won't get into the specifics of our business dealings. However, I can say we are working closely with the track management to resolve outstanding issues." Meanwhile, Napier "acknowledged that the track would lose money this year," and he "blamed the losses on advance ticket sales for the races made last year by Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC, the previous race promoter." Napier also said that NASCAR's decision to "cut testing at racetracks would cost Wisconsin Motorsports much-needed revenue" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/26).

    PAYMENT PLAN: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reported the IRL is "still seeking all of its money from" Wisconsin Motorsports for the May 31 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Indy 225 at Milwaukee Mile. IRL Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt "confirmed it's an issue his staff is 'working through.'" Angstadt: "We're working on a (payment) plan; I think that's the best way to put it" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/28).

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  • AEG Dealing With Jackson Ticket Refunds, Insurance Claim

    AEG Working On One Of Largest Ticket-Refund
    Programs In History Following Jackson's Death
    AEG Live spent the weekend after Michael Jackson’s death “planning what could be one of the biggest ticket-refund programs in history, a challenge likely to be complicated by the possibility that the company may have trouble collecting on its insurance,” according to Pleven & Smith of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. A source said that insurers had sold an $18M policy through Lloyd’s of London that “was intended to help AEG recoup costs” if concerts it was staging with Jackson were “cancelled due to an accident.” The source said that the policy also “could have provided coverage in case of a cancellation due to medical issues,” but that part of the coverage “was dependent on the results of a physical” that Jackson was scheduled to take in the coming days. Pleven & Smith note that “raises the possibility that the coverage might not apply,” and whether the policy will provide coverage “could depend on the precise language in the insurance contract.” AEG said that it sold nearly 1 million tickets to Jackson’s planned 50-date run at London’s O2 arena, with a “total face value” of more than $85M. AEG Friday in a statement said that it “would offer details on how to claim refunds early this week” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/29). AEG Live President & CEO Randy Phillips said that the concerts “were insured, but that the company needed to wait for the coroner’s report before filing a claim” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27). Meanwhile, in London, Sherwin & Costello noted the Jackson show dates are “dotted across the forthcoming calendar rather than blocked off in a single run of dates, making them harder to fill.” Acts already scheduled for the O2 in coming months may be “approached to extend their bookings” (LONDON TIMES, 6/27).

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  • MLB Facility Notes: Poll Finds Opposition To Public Money For Rays

    Poll Shows Majority Of Respondents Oppose
    Committing Tax Money To Build Rays Ballpark
    In St. Petersburg, Cristina Silva noted 62% of respondents to a St. Petersburg Times poll said that they would "oppose the city committing tax money to build a new stadium" for the Rays "even if it did not result in increased taxes for them personally."  Meanwhile, 34% said that they "would support public funding for a new stadium." St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker: "These are difficult financial times. People are going to have to be convinced that it is both good for the Rays and the citizens." Silva noted though the team has said that a "centrally located stadium could boost attendance, the voters' favored site was Tropicana Field," with 39% of the vote. The Toytown landfill site was the second most popular site with 17% of the vote. A Baseball Community, the civic group that is studying the possibilities of a new ballpark for the Rays, said that there is "no plan on the table and any talk about how a new stadium would be funded is pure speculation." The poll surveyed 600 registered city voters from June 11-16 and has a 4% margin of error (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 6/28).

    NEW NEIGHBORS: In Seattle, Levi Pulkkinen reported a decision issued Friday by King County (WA) Superior Court Judge John Erlick "cleared the way for a proposed Deja Vu strip club" near Safeco Field. Erlick "found that the City of Seattle did not err in permitting the proposed" club over "objections of the Seattle Mariners." Erlick "rejected the Mariners assertion that the City Council meant to keep strip clubs at least 800 feet away from 'areas where children congregate' or sports arenas," language that is "absent from the city ordinance drafted after Seattle's wholesale ban on new strip clubs was rejected as unconstitutional." Mariners Exec VP/Governmental Affairs Bart Waldman said that opponents of the club will "decide in coming days whether to appeal Erlick's ruling" (SEATTLEPI.com, 6/26).

    HEFTY TAB: In Milwaukee, Don Walker reported Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation engineers Friday met with Miller Park stadium district officials to “discuss short- and long-term solutions to what permitted the accumulation of as much as 6 feet of water on the roadway” outside the facility on June 19, resulting in a flood that inundated the ballpark's service level. Sources said that the final damage estimates will be in excess of $1M and “probably many millions more.” Meanwhile, the Brewers Friday announced that “between 6,000 and 7,000 of the Jason Kendall bobblehead doll giveaways” for yesterday’s game against the Giants were damaged in the flood and "have been reordered." The team said that fans who do not receive the item will "receive a voucher to get a replacement as soon as they become available" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/27).

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