SBD/Issue 93/Facilities & Venues

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  • Dolphins Eye Tourist Taxes As Way To Fund Stadium Renovations

    Dolphins Hatch Plan To Raise Public
    Dollars To Improve Sun Life Stadium
    The Dolphins, in order to "raise public dollars to improve" privately-owned Sun Life Stadium, have "hatched a plan: get state legislators to lift the ceiling on Miami-Dade's hotel tax and then ask county commissioners to increase the rate of the so-called bed tax," according to Haggman & Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Florida state law "now caps the hotel taxes at" 6%, and revenues from the tax levied at Miami-Dade County hotels are "largely spoken for after county leaders agreed to use public funds to construct" a new ballpark for the Marlins. Backers of the plan said that the move "would generate millions of dollars for renovations" to Sun Life Stadium, "along with upgrades of the Miami Beach Convention Center." Haggman & Hanks note NFL and Dolphins officials and stadium supporters "contend that Sun Life Stadium needs more than $200[M] in renovations if future Super Bowls are to return to South Florida." But "winning public funding to enhance a stadium whose primary owner is billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross remains a tall order." Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez yesterday said that he "hasn't been presented with any specific proposals," but he "declared his opposition to tax dollars being used for renovations" to the stadium. Alvarez: "I would not be supportive of any public funding for the renovation of the Dolphins' stadium. Now is not the time." Alvarez "strongly backed the use of public dollars for the under-construction" Marlins ballpark, but he said that the Dolphins' situation is "different." Alvarez: "The Marlins will play 81 home games a year here for the next 30 years, rather than paying for improvements to compete for one game every four or five years." Dolphins CEO Mike Dee yesterday "declined to discuss specific proposals, including raising the bed tax, saying he wanted to give time for a new sub-committee formed by the South Florida Super Bowl Host committee to consider improvements to the Dolphins home and ways to pay for it." Haggman & Hanks note that subcommittee is "set to hold its first meeting" tomorrow (MIAMI HERALD, 1/27).

    MAKING THE CASE: In a special to the MIAMI HERALD, South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chair Rodney Barreto wrote if the Super Bowl stops coming to South Florida, it will be "difficult to replace that kind of economic and community benefit." Barreto noted the NFL "says Sun Life Stadium needs to keep up with the new state-of-the-art stadiums being built around the country," though who is "going to pay for those improvements is still to be determined." Barreto: "Let's open it up for discussion and see where it leads us. Keep in mind, our stadium is only one of two in the NFL that is privately owned. ... The last thing we want to do is wake up 10 years from now and ask why we haven't had a Super Bowl here in the last decade" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24).

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  • Jed York Discusses 49ers' Backup Plans For Proposed Stadium

    York Wants 49ers To Play In Place
    Easily Accessible To Team's Fans
    49ers President Jed York yesterday said the NFL "wants to make sure that we keep all of our options open and we want to make sure we keep all of our options open" in the team's search for a new stadium. When asked if he would begin serious discussions with the Raiders to build a stadium in Oakland if voters do not approve a proposed venue in Santa Clara, York said he knows Raiders Owner Al Davis and Chief Exec Amy Trask "have been working very hard on trying to get something done" at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site. York added that location "from an infrastructure standpoint" is a "much better site" than Hunter's Point in S.F. York: "From my standpoint we need to find a place where all of our fans can get to. That is why we like Santa Clara so much because the infrastructure is there, the freeways are there, the public transportation is there and none of that really exists at Hunter's Point." But York added the team is "not backing away from Hunter's Point." York: "There are a lot of hurdles that they need to overcome to make that a feasible site and they have a path to reach that goal, but they haven't done it yet." Meanwhile, asked whether Southern California would come into play in the 49ers' future, York said, "Not in the fact that we would go there. ... From a selfish standpoint, I'd love to see a team in Los Angeles to recreate that Los Angeles-San Francisco rivalry. But the 49ers are not going to be in Los Angeles. ... We're focused on northern California and we think we are going to win a ballot in June and we're going to build a new stadium right here in the Bay Area" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 1/26). In Sacramento, Matt Burrows wrote York's "interest in Oakland obviously means the 49ers -- and presumably the Raiders -- would be interested in sharing an Oakland stadium." However, the "question is whether the Raiders would be interested in sharing a stadium in Santa Clara" (SACBEE.com, 1/26).

    MOVING FORWARD: In San Jose, Sandra Gonzales reports the Santa Clara City Council yesterday signaled it "would accept a pro-stadium group's initiative and move" the stadium issue to the June ballot. The council "unanimously voted to direct staff to draw up a resolution that would call for a special June 8 election" on the $937M stadium proposal. The council will "vote on the resolution" February 9. Gonzales notes the pro-stadium group "turned in more than 7,000 valid signatures, a third more than required to place it on the ballot" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/27).

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  • Oilers, Northlands At Odds Over Proposed Downtown Arena

    Oilers, Northlands Appear To Be In A
    Stalemate Over Proposed Downtown Arena
    The "historic blood feud" between the Oilers and Northlands, which built and operates Rexall Place, "has poisoned negotiations for a downtown arena," according to Scott McKeen of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. The two sides "haven't met since early October when Northlands received a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum from the Oilers." Sources said that Northlands was "offered only a minor role in the proposed downtown arena." Northlands "would continue as arena operator, for a fee, but share in none of the event revenues." The Oilers also "demand that the existing lease on Rexall Place -- it extends to 2014 -- be torn up so the NHL club can begin to immediately collect revenues from concerts and other non-hockey events." Northlands currently "pays all the maintenance and operating costs for Rexall Place, while the Oilers lease the building for just $1 a year," and Northlands "argues the Oilers enjoy one of the best arena deals" in the NHL. However, McKeen notes the Oilers' offer to Northlands "isn't chump change," as Northlands "would be compensated at a level consistent with the current revenues it receives from Rexall Place." Meanwhile, AEG is Oilers Owner Daryl Katz' choice to "replace Northlands as the partner in developing and managing" the proposed new arena, and Katz "argues he needs all the revenues from the new arena to make it and the Oilers viable." An announcement of "project details is expected soon," as Katz apparently wants the city council to "fast-track zoning approvals for the site." But the "mood at City Hall remains skeptical, if not hostile to the project" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/27).

    POWER PLAY: In Edmonton, David Staples reported Northlands is "hiring a leading U.S. sports consulting firm to help come up with its own plans for a made-in-Edmonton arena plan." Northlands said that Minneapolis-based CSL Int'l and Alberta-based Spotlight Strategies "will help the community group to focus on ensuring the broader interests of Edmontonians are met." In Northlands' announcement Monday, neither Katz nor the Oilers "were mentioned as partners or players in the arena project." Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge said that he "will wait to see what the Northlands announcement means." LaForge: "I'm trying to understand what it means. ... I don't have any comment until we have time to digest" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/26).

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  • TMS Execs Capitalizing On New NASCAR Attitude In Billboards

    Texas Motor Speedway Billboards Promote
    NASCAR's Relaxed On-Track Rules
    Texas Motor Speedway officials are "using 15 billboards in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to tout NASCAR's 'relaxed' attitude regarding on-track action heading into the 2010 Sprint Cup Series season," according to Kenny Bruce of SCENEDAILY.com. The track's "most recent ad campaign meshes the slogan 'Approved' with a variety of Cup drivers and on-track incidents." Examples include a "photo of Joey Logano's No. 20 Toyota in mid-crash," with the slogan, "Approved: Tailgating;" a "battered No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson" with the slogan "Approved: Door Dings;" and a "larger-than-life mugshot of Juan Pablo Montoya" with the slogan "Approved: Road Rage." The track hosts Sprint Cup races on April 18 and November 7 (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/26). WFAA-ABC's George Riba wrote it is "obvious that Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage loves the changes NASCAR had added for next season" (WFAA.com, 1/21).

    MICHIGAN CUTTING TICKET PRICES: Michigan Int'l Speedway (MIS) President Roger Curtis yesterday said that ticket prices for the facility's two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races "have been lowered." Curtis: "This is something that should have been done years ago, but it really made sense with the economy being the way it is now. We wanted to find a way to offer prices that made sense to people." In Detroit, David Goricki notes general admission tickets "start at $25, down from $40 with the highest price reserved ticket ... going down from $110 to $105." Meanwhile, Curtis said ticket sales are "down slightly, single digits from the same time last year." Curtis: "We feel we'll be at the same 100,000 mark as last year and that would be a huge success story with today's economy." Curtis yesterday also "introduced Heluva Good as the new main sponsor" of the June 13 Sprint Cup Series race, while Carfax "returns to sponsor" the August 15 Sprint Cup Series race (DETROIT NEWS, 1/27).

    TRACK POSITION: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-Owner Felix Sabates recently suggested that NASCAR cut back on the number of events it holds, including eliminating both Sprint Cup races at MIS. But SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass wrote Sabates' suggestion of "moving both races from Michigan just because the state is going through a tough time would be the worst public relations move ever." He added shortening the season to 30 races "would not be the way to go." Pockrass: "In these tough economic times, when sponsors need as much exposure as possible and the sport needs as much publicity as it can get, decreasing exposure to fans in the stands and on television is not the right move" (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/26).

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  • MLB Facility Notes: Report A Boon To Rays' Ballpark Plans

    In St. Petersburg, John Romano writes a report released by the ABC Coalition, which has studied the Rays' ballpark issue for 18 months, "pretty much accomplished everything the Rays could have wanted this off-season." The report "acknowledged Tropicana Field is an inferior facility," and that downtown St. Petersburg is an "inferior location." It also "put a voice to the warning that the team could eventually flee if the stadium situation isn't resolved." The "best part of all for the Rays" was that they "didn't have to say a single word." The Rays now "need only point to the conclusions found by an independent group of highly respected business and civic leaders for evidence" they need a new ballpark. The report "takes the onus off the Rays and puts it back on the community" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/27).

    Twins Reportedly Will Spend Up To $10M On 
    Target Field Improvements In Next Two Months
    TARGETED SPENDING: In St. Paul, Charley Walters writes, "Look for the Twins, who privately spent $55[M] for enhancements to Target Field, to spend up to $10[M] more within the next two months to improve the ballpark." The team "will host a players-only reception Friday night to showcase their new" ballpark. Meanwhile, the club this weekend will host TwinsFest at the Metrodome and attendance "could surpass 30,000" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/27).

    FANTASTIC FOUR: In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel reports the Pirates this summer will erect a statue of Baseball HOFer Bill Mazeroski "outside PNC Park." Final plans are "expected to be revealed Friday at the opening of PirateFest, with Mazeroski in attendance." The statue "will be the fourth Pirates monument outside PNC Park, joining tributes to Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell." Baseball HOFer Ralph Kiner and "several Negro League players are honored with smaller statues inside the park" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/27).

    SHUTTLE SERVICE: In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted local bar owners have "until the end of the month to decide whether they want to pay a $300 yearly fee" to the Brewers "in order to provide a shuttle service to and from Miller Park." About 30 bars "offer some form of shuttle service." Brewers VP/Communications Tyler Barnes said that the $300 fee was "imposed because of safety concerns related to the intersection of W. Blue Mound Road and N. Story Parkway and the drop-off point near the home plate area." Those concerns "include pedestrian traffic and shuttle activity" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/26).

    BEST OF WHAT'S AROUND: The Dave Matthews Band yesterday released its summer tour schedule and the itinerary includes three MLB ballparks. Shows are booked for PNC Park (July 10), Citi Field (July 16-17) and Nationals Park (July 23). In addition, DMB on June 22 will play Huntington Park, home to the Triple-A Int’l League Columbus Clippers (THE DAILY).

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  • Facility Notes

    Predators Free To Search For New
    Naming-Rights Sponsor For Sommet Center
    In Nashville, Nate Rau reported as part of an agreement announced Monday, the Predators are "free to search for a new naming-right sponsor" for Sommet Center. Predators Corporate Communications Coordinator Jessica Jones said that it is "unlikely a new partner would be found before the end of the current season." Rau noted the Predators filed suit against Tennessee-based Sommet Group for "failing to make naming-rights payments last year." The team's "three-year naming rights deal with Sommet expires at the end of this season" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/26).

    NET GAIN: In N.Y., Erin Durkin reports N.Y. has "shelled out another" $31M to help Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO and Nets Owner Bruce Ratner "buy land" for his Atlantic Yards project. The $31M is "on top of $100[M] the city previously pledged." However, N.Y. officials said that the $31M "won't cost taxpayers more money" -- instead, it "will be subtracted from $105[M] previously pegged to pay for infrastructure improvements" around the site. The funding was "moved because the cash-strapped" Ratner "needed more money up front" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27).

    STRONG DEMAND: In L.A., Lance Pugmire noted more than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the March 13 Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey bout at Cowboys Stadium, and officials said that there "could be close to 60,000 in attendance on fight night." The Bedford Agency Owner Lester Bedford, who is assisting Top Rank and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones in the fight promotion, said fight attendance "could go to 50,000, 60,000." Pugmire noted Jones "originally arranged a seating plan to accommodate 40,000" (LATIMES.com, 1/26).

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