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Vikings President Confident State Legislature Will
Approve Public Subsidy Package For New Stadium
Vikings President Mark Wilf Friday said that he is confident the Minnesota Legislature -- with only three weeks until adjournment -- will “approve a public subsidy package for a new stadium this year,” according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. No proposal for public subsidies has been “formally presented,” and Wilf “denied that much of the deal-making was occurring out of the public eye.” Wilf: “I wouldn’t view it as something going on behind closed doors.” He said that the Vikings were “leaving it to legislative leaders to determine when the proposal would be made public and what the details might be.” Wilf: “We are optimistic and confident.” He said legislative leaders are telling him “this is something they want to get done.” Wilf added that NFL officials, “at some point, would probably help testify at legislative hearings.” Wilf: “They’re very supportive, and they’ll be out here.” He also “left open the possibility" on Friday that proposals for a new St. Paul Saints baseball stadium and a practice facility for the Wild in downtown St. Paul “could become part of the Vikings stadium plan” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/24). Meanwhile, in St. Paul, Joe Soucheray wrote, “St. Paul should get the Vikings stadium. … Let’s go for it. Let’s just suck it up and get in the game. The Minnesota Vikings should be playing in Lowertown.” Soucheray: “We have already proven that hosting the big leagues is a success. The Wild have sold out every home game they played, not that selling out a Vikings game will be a problem” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/24).
BIG SCREEN DREAMS: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret reports the Vikings "have set their sights on a center-hung video board after the NFL prototype has proved to be a game-changer at Cowboys Stadium." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that the team has talked with its architect, HKS, "about the possibility of hanging a big screen over the field from a fixed roof at a rebuilt Metrodome." Principals tied to the project noted that "all scoreboard options are on the table until state lawmakers approve a finance plan." Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Bill Lester indicated that the $870M budget for a dome retrofit includes $7.5M for a "traditional end-zone scoreboard, an old baseline number that would have to be bumped up significantly to include a center-hung board." The Metrodome has played host to the Super Bowl and two Final Fours, but none since '01. Lester acknowledged that a center-hung board "could boost the market’s chances for bringing those mega-events back to town" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/26 issue).
Stalled Lighthouse Project On Long Island
Could Lead To Islanders Moving To Queens
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Friday said that the Lighthouse project "remains stalled and that an eventual relocation of the Islanders, possibly to Queens, remains firmly on the table," according to Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY. Bettman: "I don't think that anybody with the Islanders could've imagined that they'd still not have any answers." Bettman said Hempstead, New York, "hasn't done anything but elongate the process," and Islanders Owner Charles Wang's "attitude at this point is: 'I've done everything I can, and at some point they've got to come to me.'" Bettman: "If not, he'll start looking at his options on Long Island first to see what he can do, but the club has to have a new arena." Zipay noted none of the parties "had spoken publicly about the sprawling project since October, but Bettman's remarks sparked strong responses." Town of Hempstead Communications Dir Michael Deery said that Bettman's comments "on development of the property are inaccurate." Deery said the town is working on a "blueprint for development at Nassau's Hub and intends to consider the plan before the start of the next hockey season." Brian Nevin, Senior Policy Adviser for Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano, who took office in January, said that Mangano "has spoken with Wang." Nevin said the county "has not amended or withdrawn its support of the Nassau Coliseum project but rather is supporting Hempstead's sensible efforts to identify and jump-start acceptable levels of development." Meanwhile, Zipay noted Bettman "did not dispute that one possibility for relocation is a Flushing Meadows tract adjacent to Citi Field that apparently will be up for bid this summer" (NEWSDAY, 4/24).
Poll Finds 52% Of Likely Voters In Santa Clara
Plan To Back New Stadium Measure
The 49ers "have a substantial fourth-quarter political lead" in the campaign to build a new $937M stadium in Santa Clara, according to poll results cited by Howard Mintz in a front-page story for the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The poll, commissioned by the Mercury News and KGO-ABC, found that 52% of likely voters in Santa Clara "plan to back Measure J on June 8, when they will vote on a proposal to construct a 68,500-seat NFL stadium on a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park." Thirty-six percent of respondents are "against the measure," while 11% said that they are "undecided." Nearly "two-thirds of those polled ... expressed some worries" about the stadium's "potential costs to city taxpayers." The poll found that 49% of the "most reliable voters -- those who tend to vote in primary elections -- plan to vote yes on the measure." The survey of 614 registered voters took place from April 13-15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9% (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/26). Meanwhile, Cedar Fair Entertainment, parent company of Great America, last week sent a letter to Santa Clara city officials saying that "continuing negotiations with the city and team should include the prospect of renegotiating Great America's long-running lease with Santa Clara, which provides for a minimum rent of at least" $5M per year. Cedar is "demanding that the lease be altered to eliminate the minimum rent and replace it with a performance-based formula that would take into account any negative effects from an NFL stadium, such as being forced to close on game days." Cedar Fair officials are "expected to meet with city and team officials Tuesday for their latest round of negotiations" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/24).
CHOOSING SIDES: A SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE editorial states despite reports that AEG Chair & CEO Tim Leiweke and WMG Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman are exploring the possibility of an NFL stadium in L.A., Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski's proposed stadium in City of Industry "has tremendous merit and is the best location for a new NFL stadium/complex in Southern California." The location of the "600 hilly acres near the intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways" targeted by Roski is "centrally located as far as Southern California fans are concerned." The editorial: "It's clear Roski's stadium proposal can still compete against any other plan. The important thing is for him to not let a competing plan gain ground. That means continuing to negotiate even with the new obstacles" (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 4/26).
Architect Says Obstructed-View Seats
"Were Never Intended To Be Sold"
The New Meadowlands Stadium has 59 seats "where views of the gridiron are fully obscured," and others "have limited sightlines," according to Fanelli & Mushnick of the N.Y. POST. 360 Architecture Principal George Heinlein, who designed the stadium, said that the obstructed-view seats "were never intended to be sold." Each of the stadium's two end-zone mezzanine sections has "four pillars supporting the upper deck -- unsightly and archaic steel" structures -- and facility experts said that those are "routinely avoided in modern stadium design." Architect Peter Eisenman said, "I don't know why the columns are there. Those things are usually worked out when you're working on big projects like that. They didn't put (the columns) there because they wanted them there. I can tell you that." The Jets and Giants did not comment on the pillars, but Heinlein, "defended the columns, saying they were necessary to create seating that surrounds the field on all levels and is stacked as closely as possible to the game action." Heinlein said, "The objective of ownership ... was to create the most intimidating home-field advantage in football. Columns are not needed in other stadiums, which do not have the capacity or the proximity of end-zone seating" (N.Y. POST, 4/25). Giants VP/Communications Pat Hanlon yesterday on his Twitter feed wrote, "NYPost has a big front page exclusive today: new stadium has 60 obstructed view seats that were never to be sold & are being removed" (TWITTER.com, 4/25).
BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Futterman & Kinkhabwala note after "several years of trying to get a divorce, the Giants and Jets have been forced back into an old partnership that has become as tense and uncomfortable as it is unique to the NFL." While an aura of "polite respect carries the day in public, behind the scenes the Jets, with their modern outlook, and the conservative Giants, who bear the weight of 85 years of history, have squabbled over everything from modern architecture to who should hire the ticket-takers." The feud between the teams "reached a peak this winter over the issue of which team would be granted the first home game in the new stadium." Giants President & CEO John Mara said that he told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that his team's "unwavering commitment to the Meadowlands made them a more worthy choice than the Jets, who had only entered the partnership by default." On the other hand, Jets Owner Woody Johnson "made his case by describing the Giants as yesterday's news." New Meadowlands Stadium Co. President & CEO Mark Lamping: "These teams have dramatically different personalities. We do everything we can to be Switzerland" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/26).
Daytona Int'l Speedway Track Will Be Stripped,
Replaced In Time For 2011 Daytona 500
Daytona Int’l Speedway President Robin Braig Saturday said that the track’s asphalt will be “stripped and replaced in time for the 2011 Daytona 500,” according to Godwin Kelly of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. The track was last repaved in ’78, and this project will be “much more intense since the 32-year-old surface will be completely removed and replaced.” This year’s Daytona 500 was “twice red-flagged when a hole developed in the track surface between Turns 1 and 2.” Braig said, “There’s no sense to risk it … for our broadcast partners and our fans. The Daytona 500 is our Super Bowl. We can’t risk having another asphalt incident like we had in this year’s race, so it’s the right time to do it.” Kelly reported the repaving project, which will be completed by Lane Construction, “will begin one day after” the July 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400. Daytona also “will pave the skid pads, apron and pit road.” Fans who renew their ’11 Daytona 500 tickets “will receive a portion of Daytona’s track surface” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 4/25). Braig said that the repaving project will "cost about $20[M]" (ESPN.com, 4/24). Bill Braniff, Senior Dir of Construction for North American Testing Company, the engineering arm of ISC, said that engineers “have complete confidence the surface will be fine during the Coke Zero 400.” He added that there will be “no change to the track’s configuration” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/25).
PATCHING THINGS UP: In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis wrote, “This tells us how seriously they viewed the fallout from February’s pothole, and shows to what lengths they’ll go when deathly afraid of a structural flaw messing up another show” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 4/25). Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, “The sooner we get a new surface down that can get some weather on it, the quicker we will get to the kind of racetrack that everybody wants. It is one of the most popular and important tracks on our circuit” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/25).