SBD/Issue 94/Facilities & Venues

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  • MLS Dynamo Consider Southwest Houston Site For Stadium

    Dynamo Considering Southwest Houston
    Site, Have Not Abandoned Downtown
    The MLS Dynamo are "considering a pitch to build a soccer stadium on private land" in southwest Houston, according to Chris Moran of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Dynamo President & GM Oliver Luck yesterday said that the team has "not abandoned plans to build downtown on city-owned land east of U.S. 59," but he confirmed that he "has met several times with" officials from Houston-based developer Midway Cos., which owns 30 acres at the southwest Houston site. Luck said of Midway, "They have not yet presented a full-blown plan to us. It's an interesting location and certainly worth looking at." Moran notes the Dynamo and the city of Houston "have a deal in which the team would pay $60[M] in stadium construction costs" at the downtown site. But Midway Chair & CEO Brad Freels said the deal downtown "started stalling a little bit," and added Midway "started wondering if that stadium could make sense" at the company's property. Freels "envisions a 21,000-seat soccer and concert arena as part of a multi-use project" at the site. Houston Mayor Annise Parker said building a stadium at the southwest Houston site is an "excellent option that takes the city taxpayers largely or completely out of the loop." Parker added that the city "would consider contributing infrastructure work or tax abatements to the Midway development" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/28).

    GROUNDBREAKING MOMENT: In San Jose, Elliott Almond
    reports the MLS Earthquakes today will break ground on a training field at the proposed site of a new stadium, "the most tangible evidence yet that ownership is serious about building a pitch" across from Mineta San Jose Int'l Airport. The $1.2M grass training field "will give the team a permanent home" after it spent the past two seasons sharing practice facilities with Santa Clara Univ. and West Valley College (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/28).

    DEAL BROKEN: In Vancouver, Ian Walker reports Delta, B.C., city politicians Monday "nixed" the USL Whitecaps' "plan for a national soccer training centre" in the city. The Whitecaps and Delta in May had held a press conference to "announce a tentative agreement for the construction of the [C$31M] facility, of which the B.C. Liberals had agreed to pay more than half." Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi: "It's disappointing that they chose to pursue their own plans for the site; we were quite prepared to give back to the community and that was part of our deal." Lenarduzzi confirmed that there are "other municipalities interested in hosting national training grounds, but refused to get into specifics" (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/28). 

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  • Cubs-Mesa Deal For New Spring Training Complex Now Up To Voters

    Cubs' Proposed $84M Complex Will Require 
    Legislature, Voter Approval  
    Cubs President Crane Kenney yesterday confirmed that the team has given Mesa, Arizona, an "exclusive window to keep the team" for Spring Training, and now the fate of the proposed $84M complex "lies in the hands of the Arizona legislature and ultimately the city's voters, who will vote on funding for the facility in November," according to Phil Rogers of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Kenney "acknowledged the difficult timing for such a measure," and noted that the Cubs "aren't taking voters' approval for granted." He said, "Especially with the recession today, there is no sure thing." Kenney added that the team "will suspend thoughts about a proposed move to Naples, Fla., which made a strong pitch built around a public-private partnership" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/28).'s Tom Singer noted the Cubs' proposed 100-acre project in Mesa is "in the very early stages." A specific site has "yet to be determined," but Kenney noted that the choices "have been whittled to three possibilities, with an East Mesa location most likely." As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, Mesa "did away with the annual $850,000 penalty the club had faced for early termination of its contract with the city." Although the MOU "does not have a formal deadline, it essentially gives Arizona a one-year window." If approved, Kenney believes a "2012 move into the new facility" is possible, although 2013 is "more realistic" (, 1/27). In Phoenix, Walsh & Nelson note the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority bill "would have to be approved by mid-July to give Mesa time to call a November election on the bond proposal." How much money each source would contribute has "yet to be determined" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/28). Collier (FL) County Tourist Development Council Dir Jack Wert said because the complex must be approved by the Arizona legislature and Mesa voters, "we still think we have an opportunity" to lure the Cubs to Florida. Wert: "The owners said to our group here, 'You're a solid second place.' So until that happens, there's still a possibility" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 1/28)  

    FLYING SOLO: Kenney said that the Cubs "have been approached by other major-league teams about the possibility of sharing a new facility, but the Cubs have rejected that idea because they want complete control to build a facility that best suits the needs of the Cubs and their fans." The "idea is to have a real Chicago flavor" to the complex. Cubs BOD member Laura Ricketts: "Our home is Wrigley Field, so we appreciate that unique feel. That's why we want to recreate it. ... We want to bring some of that unique feel West" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/28).

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  • Facility Notes

    Mavericks President & CEO Terdema Ussery yesterday said that the February 14 NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium is "'past 85,000 tickets sold,' the most of any basketball game in history." Ussery said that Mavericks, Cowboys and NBA officials are "working with Arlington fire marshals and public safety officials to determine how many more standing-room tickets can be sold." Ussery: "Whether or not we get to 100,000, we don't know." The largest basketball attendance on record was 78,129 for a Kentucky-Michigan State game at Ford Field in December '03 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/28).

    CHARGE ACCOUNT: Sports finance consultant Mitchell Ziets yesterday offered San Diego's Centre City Development Corp. board an "overview of recent stadium projects," noting that the public investment in 11 football stadium projects since '02 averaged 54%. In San Diego, Matthew Hall notes Ziets' analysis "means the taxpayer contribution to a new Chargers stadium" could be in the $400M range based on the team's estimated $700-800M cost of building a new venue in downtown San Diego. The CCDC is "months away from preparing a financing plan that might work for the city and the team." Yesterday marked Ziets' "first public appearance since CCDC retained his firm, Evolution Media Capital, for $160,000" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/28).

    Rose Garden Arenas Has Been Certified LEED
    Gold, Second Highest Ranking In The Program
    GREEN & GOLD: In Portland, Dylan Rivera noted Rose Garden Arena has "accomplished the greenest retrofit of a sports stadium in the United States, an effort affirmed this week when energy efficiency measures and operational improvements were certified by a rigorous green building program." The arena this week "was certified LEED Gold, the second highest ranking in the program." A "handful of sports stadiums have been certified at the lowest levels of the LEED program, but among major league sports facilities, no new buildings or retrofits have reach[ed] the gold ranking" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/27).

    JOINING FORCES: In Columbus, Barbara Carmen reports a "new fan group is working to build community support for fixing the Blue Jackets' financial troubles, which officials have said could endanger the team's future" in the city. Forward Together has "set up an online petition for central Ohioans to express support for a solution." The group is "getting an assist from" Blue Jackets Owner John McConnell, and has "hired Hinson Ltd. Public Relations for 60 days to help it organize and set up its Web site," More than "2,300 visitors had signed an online petition of support by mid-yesterday" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/28).

    BACK TO SCHOOL: Sources indicated that the Univ. of Massachusetts and the Univ. of New Hampshire have "reached a two-year agreement" for their football teams to play each other at Gillette Stadium beginning this year. In Boston, Mark Blaudschun notes Patriots Owner Robert Kraft is "exploring the idea of playing more college games" at the stadium, and there is the "possibility of Notre Dame making a visit in the future, although nothing official has been done toward that end" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/28).

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