SBD/Issue 205/Facilities & Venues

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  • Yankee Stadium, Citi Field Get Mixed Reviews For First Half Season

    New Yankee Stadium, Citi Field Have
    Been "Talk Of The Town, As Expected"
    The new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field for the first half of the MLB season were the "talk of the town, as expected," but the Yankees and Mets "never imagined the conversation would be about obstructed views, empty seats, muted tradition and, above all, too many or too few home runs," according to Mark Herrmann of NEWSDAY. Both teams "point out that most fans really like the new parks," and "as for the kinks, each side said it is working on them." Yankee Stadium has become the "Cape Canaveral of ballparks," as it is a "launching pad for four-base hits and one-liners." A Yankees spokesperson yesterday said that the team is "not commenting on the Stadium now, instead choosing to see how the rest of the season goes." Bloggers have "objected to relentless promotions on the public address system, the fact that Monument Park is basically hidden behind the centerfield fence and that the place just doesn't have the electric feel" that the old ballpark had. Meanwhile, Citi Field has become "baseball's Great Plains, a paradigm for the Mets' offensive drought." Critics also have noted that "some seats have obstructed views and that there is less celebration of Mets history than the Brooklyn Dodgers' legacy." Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard said that "more Mets memories will be reflected with displays in the park this summer, and that there are bigger long-term plans to give the place a Mets atmosphere." Howard added that the Mets have "received permission from Major League Baseball to show the live feed on video screens the instant the ball is in play, allowing fans to follow action they might not see live," and an "additional video board will be installed in the rightfield corner after the All-Star break" (NEWSDAY, 7/14).

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  • Meadowlands, Devils Disagree About Izod Center's Financial State

    Devils Owner Believes Izod Center Loses At
    Least $10M A Year, Should Be Closed
    Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek believes that the Izod Center is "a 'dinosaur' that loses at least" $10M a year, and that the arena "should be closed as a favor to state taxpayers who spend tens of millions annually to keep" solvent the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), the operator of the Izod Center, according to John Brennan of the Bergen RECORD.  However, Meadowlands Sports Complex officials indicated that the Izod Center "broke even in 2007, was in the black" by $1M in '08 and "will make about the same amount of money again" in '09. Vanderbeek said that the Izod Center is "preventing the Prudential Center from making money," and he said that the NJSEA's gain is "virtually negated by losses in parking, concession and luxury suite revenues in the aftermath of the Devils' departure." Vanderbeek also said that renovating the Izod Center is "not practical because the Americans With Disabilities Act ... forces older arenas to be brought into full compliance if substantial renovations are performed," and that such compliance would cost at least $100M. Meanwhile, Brennan noted that the Izod Center is $77M in debt, and NJSEA President & CEO Dennis Robinson conceded that the agency is "facing a difficult financial situation overall." Robinson: "As the horse-racing business has continued its decline over the years, it's gotten to the point where it no longer serves as a financial foundation as it did in the past." Brennan notes the NJSEA also will "lose a multimillion-dollar annual revenue stream when Giants Stadium closes in early 2010" (Bergen RECORD, 7/14).

    OUT TO SEA: A Newark STAR-LEDGER editorial was written under the header, "New Jersey Sports And Exposition Authority's Time Has Passed. Let's Kill It." New Jersey state Senate President Richard Codey and officials insist that the state "can save the horse racing industry with slot machines at the Meadowlands." But there are "several problems with their theory," including that gambling revenues "of all types are trending downward." The editorial: "Why do we need the NJSEA? ... Why not let horse racing die a natural death in New Jersey?" Without a "viable plan for the future of the Meadowlands -- and we haven't heard one -- the next governor should admit it's time to close up shop at the NJSEA." At presstime, the editorial had elicited 30 comments (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/12). 

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  • Safeco Field Still A Marquee MLB Facility After 10 Years

    Mariners Exec Says Safeco Field
    Could Be 100-Year Facility
    Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of Safeco Field, and the ballpark "still has the full bloom of youth," according to Larry Stone of the SEATTLE TIMES. The Mariners believe that Safeco is "just in its infancy." Mariners Exec VP/Legal & Governmental Affairs Bart Waldman: "We look at what Wrigley Field is in Chicago, what Fenway means in Boston. We can see this being a 100-year facility. That's how we treat it. We hope to get to that iconic status." Stone noted Safeco has "succeeded in its primary function, which was to save the Mariners for Seattle." The Mariners have "gone from one of the most financially unstable teams in the majors to one that annually ranks in the top 10 in payroll, and now has the second-longest continuous ownership group" in the AL. Mariners President Chuck Armstrong: "There wouldn't be any Seattle Mariners without Safeco Field." The "ambience, atmosphere, architecture, sightlines and sensibilities --  the whole ballpark experience -- is widely considered to be one of the best in baseball." Meanwhile, Armstrong added the ballpark "might be the most successful public-private partnership ever done." The bonds used to design and build Safeco are "on pace to be retired early -- seven years ahead of schedule" for the $26M used to build the parking garage and "four years early" for the $310M in ballpark bonds. Armstrong noted that once the Mariners' ownership group "recoups its operating losses, a profit-sharing system goes into place" in which 10% of "subsequent earnings will go back to the public" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/12).

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