SBD/Issue 21/Facilities & Venues

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  • East Rutherford Wants More In Taxes From Giants/Jets Stadium

    East Rutherford Mayor Says City Deserves
    More Money From Giants' Meadowland Stadium
    East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella said that because the new Giants/Jets stadium, team offices and practice facilities are privately owned, the city "deserves more than what it has been receiving, a point he plans to make in negotiations" with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. The city "wants to collect taxes that any private business in its borders would have to pay." But the stadium sits on land owned by the tax-exempt NJSEA, and for years, the authority has collected rent from the teams to "use its publicly owned stadium, and payments of $1.3[M] a year in lieu of taxes." In turn, the authority has "made payments to East Rutherford in lieu of taxes that cover the football stadium as well as the Izod Center and the Meadowlands Racetrack." The authority this year "will pay the borough" $5.97M, which is 21% of "what the borough would have collected if the land were privately owned." Negotiations are "unlikely to begin until November, when the next governor is chosen." Cassella "would like to deal directly with the Jets and the Giants," but that is "unlikely because the authority, to keep the teams from moving, agreed in 2006 to let the teams continue making the payments" of $5M in rent and $1.3M in lieu of taxes. Former NJSEA CEO & President George Zoffinger, "who opposed the deal," said, "It's a travesty that no one is focused on them building a $1.5[B] stadium and that they don't pay any more in taxes. At the end of the day, the authority is going to have to go back to the state for subsidies" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).

    THE SUITE LIFE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Don Muret reports CSL Marketing Group has been hired “to fortify efforts to sell all 213 suites planned” for the Giants/Jets stadium. Meadowlands Stadium Co. President & CEO Mark Lamping said that CSL was brought in to “to assist his group’s three-person staff and sales representatives from the Jets and Giants.” CSL, whose deal runs through next October, has sold the Giants’ PSL and club seats at the stadium since ’07. Lamping: “CSL has a familiarity with our project, and it is also the kind of company you can hire to come in under a specific time period. It’s much easier than going out and hiring full-time people that would be working themselves out of a job by the time football season starts next year.” Lamping did not indicate “how many units remained to sell, but he confirmed a published report that said 60 percent of the stadium’s suites had been sold as of August” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/12 issue).

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  • Vikings Grow Restless For Stadium; Twins Prep For Target Field

    Vikings President Says Team Must Get
    Moving Toward New Stadium Deal Soon
    The Vikings are "getting restless after watching the state help" the Univ. of Minnesota build TCF Bank Stadium and the Twins build Target Field, according to Peter King of SI.com. Vikings President Mark Wilf said, "After this season, we've got only 20 games left in the Metrodome on our lease. We're here at the bottom of the (revenue-producing) teams in football, and we've got to get moving toward a deal for a new stadium soon." A Vikings source said, "We're clearly headed for a crisis in Minnesota if our leadership sits back and does nothing." King notes it is "too early to start using Los Angeles as a stalking horse, but the L.A. stadium issue will be resolved in the next two weeks, and there's no question prospective L.A. owner Ed Roski will go aggressively after each of the league's wavering franchises, perhaps as soon as after this season" (SI.com, 10/12). In Minneapolis, Nick Coleman noted Forbes last month estimated that the Vikings are worth $835M, a 40% "rise since the Wilf family bought the team" for $600M in '05. It is "tough to put on the poor mouth when your business is appreciating almost" $60M a year, but Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf has "gone door-to-door pleading for a handout." With the Vikings 5-0 and fans "still ga-ga over the minimiracle of a Twins' postseason appearance, good judgment has taken a hike and Minnesota has taken leave of its senses" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/11).

    GREAT OUTDOORS: With the Twins' new outdoor ballpark, Target Field, opening next season, team President Dave St. Peter said that the club  "monitored weather conditions and would have had no postponements if they had played outdoors in 2009." Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell said that to put a roof on Target Field "would have added" $125M to a $550M project. The Twins, who have contributed $180M to building the ballpark, "have no plans to add a roof." Bell: "I don't think we'd have as nice a park. You can't put that roof in a closet" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). St. Peter: "When you get to October, the weather changes, and frankly, that's going to be one of our advantages. Hopefully, we'll have guys accustomed to playing in chilly weather from time to time. That will be one of the realities of Target Field" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/12). Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: "It's cold out there, that's what it's going to be like (next year). That is going to be our ballpark, no waiting for anybody else to play a game so we can play, no having to quit our game early to get them in, none of that. It's going to be Minnesota Twins baseball" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/12).

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  • TCF Bank Stadium, Target Field Hope To Host Concerts In Future

    U2 Could Be TCF Bank Stadium's First Concert
    TCF Bank Stadium is likely to be "up and rocking with concerts by next summer," while Target Field operators said that they are "anxious to host concerts, but will likely hold off until 2011 to guarantee smooth operations," according to Chris Riemenschneider of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. U2's '10 tour "could be the kickoff rock show" at TCF Bank Stadium, and U2 promoter Live Nation Midwest Music President Mark Campana said that the company is "strongly considering both" the stadium and Target Field as venues. Twins Exec Dir of Public Affairs Kevin Smith said that Target Corp. execs are "especially eager to host rock shows in their namesake venue since it could promote the company as a music retailer." But Target Field's "one big disadvantage will be the Twins' 81-game home schedule, which would take precedence over any concert dates." Smith said that Twins officials "attended a Madonna concert at San Diego's Petco Park last summer for research purposes." Smith: "We're going to be cautious about it, but we certainly intend to host concerts when we can under the right circumstances." Riemenschneider noted TCF Bank Stadium will be "more readily available, but it also might have a major downside if alcohol sales are prohibited at concerts, as they are at" Univ. of Minnesota (UM) football games. But UM Associate AD Phil Esten said that the stadium's crew is "going ahead with plans to host concerts, with or without beer lines" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/10).

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  • City Officials Eye New Revenue Stream For Jacksonville Stadium

    Study Has Shown Jaguars Would Need $148M
    Over Next 30 Years For Jacksonville Stadium
    Jacksonville city officials are "eyeing another revenue stream" to help get needed maintenance done at the city-owned Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, according to Matt Galnor of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. A plan, which is expected to be introduced to the City Council tomorrow, calls for taking $5M in bed tax revenue that "will be freed up now that the Prime Osborn Convention Center is paid off -- and directing those dollars to the football stadium, Veterans Memorial Arena and the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville." The money "would go for routine maintenance, which the city is contractually obligated to pay for." An '07 study commission by the Jaguars showed a $148M "need over the next 30 years -- from replacing every seat in the approximately 75,000-seat stadium to upgrading the sound system from analog to digital." Other needs include "waterproofing the cement, replacing air conditioning units and replacing the hoods on concession stands." Jacksonville has spent about $74M on stadium costs since the Jaguars joined the NFL in '95. The city receives about $14M a year in revenue -- "including a cut of ticket sales and parking costs," and those shares are "adjusted annually for inflation." The "wrinkle is debt service," which is "paying for luxury suites and meeting areas, along with two popular fan gathering spots." The city "started to see a cash influx from the Jaguars last year, and will in coming years as rent payments significantly increase." Last year, the team paid "more than $4[M] -- triple what it paid the three previous years combined." Jaguars Senior VP/Stadium Operations & CFO Bill Prescott said that although the rent increase "comes at a tough time, with ticket sales lagging, the team planned for the payments and is using money gained from the stadium improvements to pay off the debt." Prescott added that 80% of the team's local revenue "comes from ticket sales, so when those numbers are down, it influences how the team pays for everything." But he said that the team "understands the city's financial issues, so the Jaguars will not be asking for rent deferment or a reduction anytime soon" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/11).

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  • Facility Notes

    In San Diego, Matthew Hall noted in a "sign of progress" for a new Chargers stadium in Escondido, California, attorney Dave Ferguson is "setting up meetings with developers to ask them how they might privately finance a new stadium" in the city "via ancillary development, such as retail or office space." The first meeting was held September 28, and a meeting with another developer is planned for this week. The meetings involve Ferguson, Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler and Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani. Hall noted even if a stadium in Escondido "pencils out, its success hinges on a number of landowners in the area being willing to unload parcels at affordable prices" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/11).

    MONUMENTAL TRIBUTE: In Montreal, Anne Sutherland reported the Canadiens Friday, as part of their centennial celebration, unveiled a "large black granite monument inscribed with the names of every" Canadiens player who has played for the team between 1909 and 2009.  The monument "sits in the middle of Centennial Plaza, the large area west of the Bell Centre," and surrounding it are 100 interpretations of the Canadiens logo "embedded in bricks and drawn by Montreal kids." The team Friday also unveiled a "new street marker, proclaiming that a stretch of de la Gauchetière St. is officially known as Avenue des Canadiens de Montreal," which "meets up with Stanley St." (Montreal GAZETTE, 10/10).

    OFF KEY: The GLOBE & MAIL's Marc Schatzker wrote the song "Free To Be," which is being played before Maple Leafs games as part of the "revamped 'game-day experience' down at the Air Canada Centre," is "weird and obnoxious." Schatzker: "What was MLSE thinking? ... MLSE can do better. I know this to be true because they already have. It's called a Raptors game." Meanwhile, Schatzker estimated the number of corporate logos at the stadium during Maple Leafs games is "in the hundreds, and that's not including the beyond gratuitous promos: the Metro Food Frenzy, the Pro Line Shoot for Loot, the Molson Canadian Best Seats in the House, or the 407 ETR Forward Pass" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/10).

    COST CUTS: In Indianapolis, Francesca Jarosz reported five Indiana Convention Center and four Lucas Oil Stadium employees were "laid off Friday as part of ongoing cost-cutting measures by the struggling" Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board. The move is "expected to save about $325,000" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/10).

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