SBD/Issue 35/Facilities & Venues

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  • Dodger Stadium Renovation Delayed Amid Challenging Economy

    The Dodgers' $500M ballpark renovation has been delayed, but the cause is the challenging economy and not any uncertainty regarding team ownership, according to club officials. The Dodgers announced "The Next 50" project in April '08, focusing on continued improvements inside and outside Dodger Stadium. The team's goal was to start construction after the '09 season and complete all three phases by '12. With the credit markets drying up during the past 18 months, it has been difficult for the Dodgers to obtain financing for refurbishing the 47-year-old facility, team VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch said. "Despite the fact everyone knows the credit markets are challenging, we're fully expecting to move forward with the project," Rawitch said. The Dodgers have been working with city leaders to review and approve the project, which will help determine when the club can break ground. Finishing all three phases by '12 is unrealistic at this time, Rawitch said. Proposed upgrades include Dodger Way beyond center field with a landscaped grand plaza; two outfield restaurants; the "green necklace," a perimeter walkway outside the stadium; and Top of the Park, a separate outdoor plaza with views to the city skyline, Santa Monica Bay and two mountain ranges. In addition, two new parking towers and an underground garage would replace surface lots outside the ballpark. The Dodgers' plan to pay off construction costs would include selling naming rights to five newly-branded gate entries. "This really is no different than the countless other construction projects in Los Angeles and across the country that have slowed over the past 18 months due to the challenging economic times," Rawitch said. Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt spearheaded "The Next 50" plan to address the future of the facility. McCourt and his wife, Jamie, the club's former CEO, have separated and are fighting for control of the team. HKS, the Dallas sports designer that redeveloped U.S. Cellular Field into a more fan-friendly ballpark for the White Sox, is planning Dodger Stadium's renovation. In the past two years, the Dodgers have invested millions to renovate the concourses and install new seats, Rawitch said.

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  • Las Vegas Expected To Tap Cordish Co. To Study 20,000-Seat Arena

    Contract Would Give The Cordish Companies
    Exclusive Rights To Study Project's Feasibility
    Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman Thursday said that he "plans to have the Las Vegas City Council next week look at an exclusive contract with The Cordish Companies to start planning" a 20,000-seat downtown sports arena, according to Dave Toplikar of the LAS VEGAS SUN. The contract would allow Cordish to "have exclusive rights to study the feasibility of the project, which would encompass 18 acres, including the City Hall campus and 12 acres to the east." Goodman said Cordish is "taking this very seriously. ... I don't think they would be wasting their time unless they were very, very serious." Goodman said that he has "worked hard to get NBA officials and owners interested in the arena." He added that the economy "will be a factor in creating the project," and how the NBA does financially this season "will also have an effect." Goodman: "I believe as soon as we have an arena -- this is my belief, I have nothing that is signed in blood, there's no contract -- but I believe we'll have a team." He added that he was "not ruling out a professional hockey team coming to town to play in the arena either." Goodman said that basketball has "moved along more quickly than hockey." But he added NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "is high on Las Vegas" (LASVEGASSUN.com, 10/29). In Las Vegas, Alan Choate reports Cordish would have "two years to study the arena project's feasibility, a period that can be extended by a year if necessary" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/30).

    THE REAL DEAL? In Las Vegas, Jon Ralston writes, "This is only about a feasibility study and we are nowhere near a deal for pro basketball. And we have heard this before from [Goodman]. But maybe this time it's for real. Maybe" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/30).

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  • Sacramento Mayor Forming Task Force For New NBA Kings Arena

    Johnson (l) Hopes To Be Working Toward
    New Facility By End Of '09-10 Season
    Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Thursday said that he is "forming a task force to explore how to build a new sports arena in Sacramento and will roll out requests for proposals for the project in the coming days," according to Ryan Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson said that he "hopes to have a path toward a new facility by the end" of the '09-10 NBA season. He said that he "would not accept arena proposals that include new taxes and said he does not want Sacramento to be used as leverage for another city hoping to lure away the Kings." He noted a proposal to build an arena at Cal Expo "cannot be our only option." Johnson said that he "wants an arena that acts as 'an entertainment center that lights up six blocks in all directions,' is linked to mass transit and utilizes green technology." Dewey Square Group Partner Karen Skelton, who is working on behalf of the NBA on the project, said that the league is "willing to work with the mayor on a broader effort for an arena." Skelton: "Cal Expo is a difficult lift in an economy like this. We applaud the mayor's leadership. We have exactly the same interests as him" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/30). Johnson said that Cal Expo is "still in play" as a possible site for a new arena. But he added that "building an arena as part of a larger redevelopment of Cal Expo was a 'long shot' to begin with, and it's more of a long shot since the recession" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/29).

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  • Univ. Of North Texas Football Stadium Plans Receive Approval

    UNT's New Football Stadium Expected
    To Open In Time For '11 Season
    The Univ. of North Texas (UNT) "cleared the final hurdle in its drive to build a new football stadium on Thursday when the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved" its $78M football project, according to Brett Vito of the DENTON RECORD CHRONICLE. UNT plans to break ground on the venue before the November 21 Army-UNT game. Construction is then "scheduled to begin in January," and the stadium is "expected to open in time for the 2011 season." Funding for the project will "come from a variety of sources, including a student fee of $10 per semester credit hour that was approved by the student body last fall," a fee that will "go into effect when the stadium opens." Vito notes UNT in April "launched a campaign called 'Believe It' to raise money for the stadium," and it "will continue as the 2011 opening date for the venue approaches." The school also is "hoping to sell naming rights and other sponsorship deals to help fund the facility." The new stadium will "replace Fouts Field, which opened in 1952 and has deteriorated over the last several years" (DENTON RECORD CHRONICLE, 10/30). ESPNDALLAS.com's Richard Durrett noted the new facility will "hold about 30,000 fans and include luxury suites." HKS Inc. Architects, the designer of Cowboys Stadium, is "designing the new stadium"  (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/29).

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