SBD/Issue 100/Facilities & Venues

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  • AstroTurf Signs Deal As MLB's Official Synthetic Turf Provider

    MLB Properties And AstroTurf Ink
    Three-Year Licensing Deal
    MLB Properties and AstroTurf have signed a three-year licensing deal, positioning the 45-year-old brand as the league's official provider of synthetic turf. The agreement is tied to a free AstroTurf carpet being installed for the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, officials confirmed. The new field, to be ready Opening Day, is valued at $2M, said AstroTurf President Bryan Peeples. In addition, AstroTurf will pay MLB a royalty for each field it sells to baseball programs at the professional, college, high school and recreational level, said MLB Properties Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith. Those fees range from $4,000-16,000 depending on the product, said AstroTurf Dir of Sales Troy Squires. Each surface will display MLB's logo and the AstroTurf brand. The vendor's primary market is college and high school baseball facilities, and AstroTurf execs are banking on the credibility gained from its relationship with baseball's highest level to grow business, Squires said. The deal may appear insignificant for MLB, considering the Blue Jays and the Rays are the only big league teams to play home games on artificial turf now that the Twins are moving to Target Field. "It's a small category, but we did not take it lightly," Smith said. Rogers Centre is AstroTurf's first MLB ballpark install since principals in Dalton, Georgia, acquired the brand's intellectual property, patents and trademarks from General Sports Venue in June. AstroTurf also produced a half-field for Dunedin Stadium, the Jays' Spring Training home.

    STRIP SEARCH: AstroTurf's rolling strips, held together with Velcro seams, will replace a five-year-old FieldTurf pallet system in Toronto. The Jays had issues with installing and removing the 1,398 trays of turf during field conversions, said Rogers Centre VP/Building Services Kelly Keyes. The new setup also cuts the conversion time in half. "Most of the other multipurpose buildings have gone away and there are obviously not too many people [using artificial turf]," she said. "MLB came to us and said they had the perfect solution for us to get a new field. Otherwise, it wouldn't have happened so fast." The Jays do have some out-of-pocket costs. They have to buy new equipment to install the artificial surface for baseball and remove it for motorsports, ice shows, U2 and Bon Jovi concerts in July, and two other summer concerts that have not been announced, Keyes said. The club also has to buy a separate AstroTurf surface for football. There are a few common panels used for both sports, but three-quarters of the field are unique to the football setup, Keyes said. This year, Rogers Centre plays host to 10 CFL Argonauts games and two Bills games.

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  • AEG Interested In Bidding On Contract For New Amway Center

    Amway Center Officials Plan To Issue Ticketing
    Proposal Next Week; AEG Interested In Bidding
    AEG, which gained entry into the ticketing business through stipulations in the Department of Justice's approval of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger in late January, has already shown interest in the contract for Orlando's new arena. Amway Center officials plan to issue a ticketing proposal for the arena next week and AEG officials want to discuss it, said Magic COO Alex Martins. AEG suddenly became a player in the ticketing market thanks to concessions contained in the approval for the merger between ticket giant Ticketmaster and leading promoter Live Nation, a deal valued at $2.5B that could cause some realignment between sports properties and venues on one side and ticketers on the other. The agreement results in the two firms forming a new company, Live Nation Entertainment. It also includes the sale of another ticket firm, Paciolan, from Ticketmaster to Comcast-Spectacor. AEG can form its own private ticket label for up to five years using Ticketmaster's software system or develop a new partnership with a separate company, according to a statement issued by AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke. Leiweke did not respond to e-mails for further comment.

    GETTING IN THE GAME: Whether AEG decides to form a joint venture with MLBAM's Tickets.com or Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert's Veritix, both of whom it has reportedly talked to, AEG is contacting big league teams and facilities where it has existing relationships. "All the independent buildings now have three very viable ticketing solutions," said Rich Krezwick, President of Devils Arena Entertainment, the management firm at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. "I like what Peter Luukko's doing at Comcast-Spectacor, it gives AEG an entree into ticketing immediately and Ticketmaster remains the 800-pound gorilla," Krezwick said. Comcast-Spectacor signed a letter of intent to buy ticketing firm Paciolan from Ticketmaster and has 60 days to close the deal. Comcast-Spectacor has its own ticketing agency, New Era Tickets, and the plan is to keep those 50 accounts separate from Paciolan's 200 deals, Luukko said. The firm bought a piece of Paciolan in '04 before Ticketmaster bought Paciolan in '07. There have been no talks between Comcast-Spectacor and AEG about combining forces for ticketing, a Comcast-Spectacor official said.

    GROWING THEIR PRESENCE: In Orlando, AEG signed a two-year booking agreement with the city in '09 to book shows at Amway Arena, the Magic's current home and a Ticketmaster client. The city of Orlando, a partner in the building project, has an equal voice in determining who gets the contract, said Amway Arena Exec Dir Allen Johnson, who will assume the same role at the new facility. Besides Orlando, AEG operates three big league arenas and one MLS stadium, The Home Depot Center, and it has separate booking and marketing agreements at seven NBA and NHL arenas. In South Florida, AEG employs a full-time consultant to book special events at AmericanAirlines Arena, a Ticketmaster account that expires in '12. The Heat talked with AEG and Ticketmaster last week after the merger was approved, but it's still too early to get a sense of which direction AEG is headed, said Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth. "I believe what is happening is that AEG bought itself five years to figure out what to do," Woolworth said.

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  • Facility Notes

    Vikings Say They Would Be Willing To
    Consider 40-Year Lease At New Stadium
    The Vikings Thursday said that they would be "willing to consider a 40-year lease" at a new stadium. Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley: "If it's built with the confidence that it's not another Metrodome, that it's built with foresight and flexibility, then we might be willing. We want to solve this problem, and we're willing to be long-term players." Bagley said that he "expects a solid financing plan to emerge during the current legislative session, even before a location is secured" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/5).

    NAME CHANGE: In N.Y., Epstein & Yaniv reported the Single-A New York-Penn League Brooklyn Cyclones have signed an 11-year naming-rights deal with Municipal Credit Union to rename their ballpark MCU Park. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Naming rights for the ballpark in '01 were sold to KeySpan through 2020, but the company was sold to National Grid in '07 and "its name was gone with that deal" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 2/4).

    SLOT POSITION: In N.Y., Dicker & Campanile report Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which was "awarded the contract to install and manage 450 video slots terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack has been deemed 'not qualified' by the state." The revelation came as New York Gov. David Paterson Thursday "staunchly defended the selection of the consortium." But sources "raised questions about where" the group will find $300M -- the "upfront licensing fee it must pay to move ahead with the project." Aqueduct Entertainment Thursday said that Deutsche Bank "will provide additional financing." The group also is "expected to roll out a full list of investors that sources say will include hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and other notables" (N.Y. POST, 2/5).

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