SBD/Issue 232/Facilities & Venues

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  • MLS Earthquakes Owner Lew Wolff Talks New Stadium, Fan Base

    Lew Wolff Says Fan Support Is
    About Half What He Anticipated
    MLS Earthquakes Owner Lew Wolff Tuesday "conceded that plans for a soccer-only stadium in San Jose are in limbo, expressed dismay over the lack of a strong fan base and offered unqualified support for team management despite a losing record," according to Elliott Almond of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Wolff "backed off the projected opening date of 2012 that Quakes officials have targeted" for a new $50M stadium project. Ownership "needs to secure naming rights to provide steady financing for a privately built facility," but they are "struggling to generate sponsor interest in difficult economic times." Wolff: "There's no sense building a stadium unless you have some flow of revenue." Wolff said that the team needs about $5M a year in sponsorship for a "15,000-seat, no-frills stadium." The team has "secured 20[%] of that so far." The club "plans to unveil architectural renderings of the facility next month in hopes of attracting sponsors." But Wolff "worries the team's fan base isn't deep enough to show potential sponsors that the South Bay is a soccer hotbed." While Wolff "loves the impassioned core supporters, he expected to sell more season tickets when relaunching the Quakes as an expansion team for 2008." Wolff: "It didn't catch on the way I thought it would. ... We expected to have a waiting list -- before we fielded a team. While we did OK, it is about half of what I expected" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/19).

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  • Facility Notes

    Jets Owner Woody Johnson said the team and the Giants are "in active negotiations" to secure a naming-rights deal, and it is "probably going to be an international company." Johnson said, "A good way to enter the U.S. market is with NFL football" ("Forbes SportsMoney," YES, 8/19).

    Crews Are Working Hard To Complete Ford
    Center's Renovations By October Deadline

    THUNDER STRUCK: AP's Jeff Latzke noted while "plenty of work remains" on Ford Center's renovations, progress "has been made since the arena was closed after the NBA season ended in April." An "enormous new scoreboard that stands several stories tall" is already hanging from the ceiling, and crews are "working two 10-hour shifts six days a week to complete the rest of the work by an October deadline." Latzke noted many of the "upgraded retractable seats have been installed on the floor level, still under plastic," while plywood outlines "show where 48 new terrace suites will be built on the club level" (AP, 8/18).

    REVOLUTIONARY IDEA: MLS Revolution COO Brian Bilello said that the team's ownership "remains committed to building a soccer stadium and is working to determine a site." In Boston, Monique Walker notes Somerville, Massachusetts, has been mentioned in previous reports as a potential location for the stadium, but Bilello said that "a number of sites are being considered." Bilello "declined to elaborate," but said, "There's a lot of upside potential if we can get the stadium in an urban core" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/20).

    FAIR AWARD: In Milwaukee, Don Walker reports the Wisconsin Court of Appeals yesterday handed the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board a "big legal victory in its battle" with former Milwaukee Mile promoter Milwaukee Mile Holdings LLC (MMH). The three-judge panel in the court's 4th District ruled against MMH, which had been "seeking a temporary restraining order against JPMorgan Chase Bank, which held a $2.6[M] letter of credit and was prepared to pay that money to State Fair." The decision "appears to open the door to Chase paying the fair the money" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/20).

    NOTES: In Portland, Joe Freeman noted the Trail Blazers are "updating the look of their Rose Garden concession areas by installing 250 LCD screens throughout the arena." The screens will "replace menu boards and other food and beverage signage, and are scheduled to be operational during the exhibition season" (OREGONLIVE.com, 8/19)....In Memphis, Daniel Connolly reported the Shelby County (TN) Commission voted 7-6 Monday to "hand over its stake in the Mid-South Coliseum to the City of Memphis as Commissioner Mike Ritz convinced colleagues they'd be better off giving up the property for free." The county also "gave up a sliver of land it owns under Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/18).

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