SBD/Issue 48/Facilities & Venues

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  • Churchill Downs Will Host Six Night-Time Race Programs In '10

    Churchill Downs Installing $3-4M Permanent
    Lights Before Next Year's Spring Meet
    Churchill Downs yesterday announced that it will "stage six night-time racing programs in 2010 under permanent lights that will be installed before the spring meet," according to Jennie Rees of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Two of those races "will be during the fall meet, including Halloween, which is a Sunday and opening day." They will be the "first fall cards held under lighting in track history." The '10 Breeders' Cup is "not part of the programs billed as 'Downs After Dark.'" The night schedule "calls for four straight Fridays -- June 11, 18, 25 and July 2 -- in the spring and Oct. 31 and Nov. 19 in the fall." The dates still "must be approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, but that's largely a formality." Churchill Downs announced that Musco Lighting is the "winning contract bidder to install permanent lighting." Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said that the "cost for the lights will be between" $3-4M. That cost "includes more than 1,000 light fixtures, more than twice as many as are used at" the Univ. of Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The project is expected "to be completed by March 31." Flanery said that there are "no immediate plans to run the Kentucky Derby under the lights and that the focus is to 'get this right first.'" He also said that the track "has not had 'any formal conversations' with the Breeders' Cup about running any of the two-day race card under lights" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/18). DAILY RACING FORM's Marty McGee noted night racing under temporary lights was "offered on three occasions at the 2009 spring meet and met with spectacular results, drawing an average of nearly 30,000 people per night" (DRF.com, 11/17). 

    CHOOSE YOUR OWN SEAT: The THOROUGHBRED TIMES' Frank Angst noted Churchill Downs yesterday also announced the launch of a Web site, www.tickets.churchilldowns.com, that "will allow fans to purchase exact reserved seat locations as well as advance general admission tickets for events like the Derby, Oaks, and night racing cards" (THOROUGHBREDTIMES.com, 11/17).

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  • Vikings Balk At Financial Incentives To Extend Metrodome Lease

    MSFC Threatening To Penalize Vikings If
    Team Does Not Agree To Lease Extension
    The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) is "considering a carrot-and-stick approach to get the Minnesota Vikings to extend the team's lease, threatening to penalize the team if it doesn't agree," but Vikings officials "say it won't work," according to Kevin Duchschere of the MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE. A MSFC resolution approved Tuesday by the organization's finance committee "promises the Vikings a rent-free Metrodome and all post-season stadium revenues from last season through 2014." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "It's unacceptable for a number of reasons, and the lease extension is a non-starter." He added that team officials were "'blindsided' by the proposal and that they will continue efforts to reach a stadium agreement in the legislative session." Duchschere reports the proposal, which is expected to go before the full commission for a vote tomorrow, "would keep the Vikings in the Dome at least two more seasons after the team's lease expires in 2011, with year-to-year renewal options after that." Vikings officials have "made their case that a public-private partnership must be formed in 2010 to build a new multipurpose facility to host the team and other large events." MSFC Finance Committee Chair Paul Thatcher said that the resolution is "aimed at keeping the Vikings in town long enough to secure a new publicly financed stadium." He added there is "no way that's going to happen in the 2010 legislative session ... as the state confronts another soaring deficit." Thatcher said legislators "can't discuss this with this economic and political climate. ... There isn't a chance in a trillion -- there's no one with a political IQ over 3 who thinks that it's possible." Duchschere notes if the team declines the MSFC proposal, the resolution states the commission "could resume charging $4[M] a year in rent." The commission has "forgiven the team's rent since 2002 to help the Vikings keep up revenue-wise with other NFL teams playing in new stadiums" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/18).

    DOME SWEET DOME? MINNPOST.com's Jay Weiner noted the MSFC resolution "could be viewed as either hostile to the team or as the first -- albeit tense -- step in keeping the team in the Metrodome beyond its current lease." The MSFC offered the Vikings "some new cash (about $675,000 a year), some longstanding cash but with new strings attached (about $4 million a year) and some new-stadium planning assistance ($500,000 a year)" (MINNPOST.com, 11/17).

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  • Redskins Want FedExField To Be Used For More Than NFL Games

    Redskins Have Lured Several College Football
    Games To FedExField, Eyeing Other Big Events
    The Redskins have "bolstered their efforts to bring activity to the 91,000-seat" FedExField, "luring several major college football games and eyeing other big events, including" the World Cup and the NCAA men's lacrosse championship, according to Tim Lemke of the WASHINGTON TIMES. The Redskins this week announced that the Univ. of Cincinnati (UC) has "moved its home game against Virginia Tech in 2012 to FedEx Field." The news comes after Virginia Tech said that it "will host Boise State at FedEx Field in 2010 and after Indiana revealed it will host Penn State there next season." FedExField this summer also "won the rights" to the '11 Army-Navy football game. The stadium already has hosted "big events this year," including a Real Madrid-DC United friendly and U2 and Paul McCartney concerts. While these events "can be a boost to the Redskins' top line," Redskins CMO Mitch Gershman said that the "primary motivation is to bring extra benefits to season-ticket holders, who are usually offered the first opportunity to buy tickets." Lemke writes the "push for more events comes partly because of a restructuring of the Redskins' front office that saw Gershman moving from" COO to CMO. That move has "led to an improved working relationship with sports marketing groups in the region." Greater Washington Sports Alliance President Bob Sweeney: "The willingness of the Redskins to open up the field to more than football now has been a great new thing for us. ... The financial models work at FedEx Field, especially when you get crowds over 70,000, and (the Redskins) willingness to do business has really helped." Lemke notes in "most cases, schools are willing to move home games to the stadium because the financial guarantee is larger than what can be earned at their own facilities." UC AD Mark Thomas: "To play these kinds of games, the visibility piece is important and that's a good thing. But the financial part of it was significant" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/18).

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  • MSG, ESPN Pair To Name Arena's Top College Basketball Moments

    MSG has partnered with ESPN to count down the top 10 college basketball moments at the arena as part of MSG's 75-year association with the sport. ESPN will unveil the first two moments tomorrow and Friday during the 2K Sports Classic Benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer. The next four will be unveiled November 25 and 27 during the Dick's Sporting Goods Season Tip-Off. The No. 4 moment will be revealed December 8 during the Jimmy V Classic, with the top three moments to be revealed December 9 during the SEC/Big East Invitational. The moments also will be showed in-arena during the games. MSG has signed several sponsors, including Delta, Aéropostale, Coca-Cola, Cushman & Wakefield, Foot Locker, Optimum and Traveler's Insurance, for the season-long campaign. A group of N.Y.-area reporters, broadcasters, coaches and game officials chose the top 10 moments.

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  • Facility Notes

    Financial Pressure On Wembley Could Increase
    If Olympic Stadium Is Retained Following Games
    Wembley Stadium Chair David Bernstein said that the "financial pressures on Wembley could increase if the Olympic Stadium in Stratford is retained as an 80,000-capacity stadium following" the '12 London Games. In Manchester, Owen Gibson writes if the Olympic Stadium were to be retained, an idea that is "gaining ground, it could harm the future viability of both." Bernstein said '08 was a "very good year" in terms of attracting major events, as Wembley hosted 35 sports events and concerts. Bernstein said that it "would be difficult to get many more than that and conceded that the Olympic Stadium would be a competitor" for those events (Manchester GUARDIAN, 11/18).

    TEMPORARY HOME: In Vancouver, Bruce Constantineau notes an RFP issued by PavCo indicated that a 30,000-32,000-seat temporary stadium used to house the CFL B.C. Lions and USL Vancouver Whitecaps "will be completed somewhere in Metro Vancouver by June 15, 2010." The RFP said that PavCo "plans to announce the winning bidder on the project by Dec. 5." No price estimate is given, but it has been "speculated the temporary football/soccer stadium could cost more than" C$20M. The "facility is needed" while BC Place receives a C$458M renovation (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/18).

    THE UGLY TRUTH: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote the Basketball HOF Showcase at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis may be the "ugliest court design of the year." The worse part could be the "monstrous mid-court basketball with markings that makes it vaguely resemble an omega sign," or the "gigantic, slanted font that looks straight out of WordArt in Windows 95." Chase: "For me, it's the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup logo in front of the free throw line" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/17).



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