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Vikings Would Pay $264M, Taxpayers Would
Pay $527M In New Vikings Stadium Proposal
A proposal for a new Vikings stadium was unveiled yesterday at the Minnesota state Legislature which "envisions a $791[M] fixed-roof stadium" for which the Vikings would pay $264M and taxpayers would pay $527M, "with construction bonds paid back over 40 years," according to Jason Hoppin of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. As part of the proposal, the stadium "would be publicly owned, and the team would sign an unprecedented 40-year lease." Lawmakers pitched "new taxes as a way to have those who use the stadium pay for it," as a new 6.875% tax on sports memorabilia "reportedly would raise nearly" $17M annually. Area hotels also "would be taxed an additional 1.5[%], and metro rental cars would be taxed an additional" 2.5%, while a sports-themed lottery is "also part of the mix." However, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Chief of Staff Brian McClung yesterday said of the proposal, "We remain opposed to any stadium plan that includes tax increases, including the hotel tax, jersey tax and rental car tax in one of the plans unveiled today." Hoppin notes under the proposal a "new 13-member stadium authority would be established," which would "absorb the assets -- including the Metrodome -- of the Vikings' landlord, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which would be abolished." The bill also would "lock in the Vikings' relationship to Minnesota forever," as it "contains a provision that should the team ever move, its 'heritage and records, including the name, logo, colors, history, playing records, trophies and memorabilia' would transfer to the state" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/4).
VIKINGS HAVE RESERVATIONS: In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba notes "within minutes" after the proposal was released, "even the Vikings expressed reservations." The Vikings "would be required to sign a 40-year lease at the new stadium," and should Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf sell the team, he "would also be obligated to use some of the profits from the sale to help pay the stadium's remaining debt." The Vikings "did not join in the proposal's unveiling," and Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that the team is "not enamored of having to pay $264[M] because the project was based on the stadium having a roof, a feature that he said the Vikings do not need." Bagley added the Vikings also "would be the only NFL team to sign a 40-year lease." Meanwhile, Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the bill "still has a very rocky, tough road to get down to become law at this point" of the legislative session. Kelliher: "I'm not sure that this bill is ready for prime time." But Kaszuba notes the proposal will get its first hearing today, "going before a House local-government committee" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/4).
NO STADIUM, NO WILF? ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert noted the Vikings "have two more years on their lease at the Metrodome, after which they will become franchise 'free agents.'" Seifert: "I don't think anything significant will happen immediately if the bill is rejected this year, other than the possibility of higher costs if the issue is re-considered next winter." But if it "ultimately becomes clear that funding won't be approved," Seifert wrote he believes Wilf will "give strong consideration to selling the team" (ESPN.com, 5/3).
Heavy Rain, Flooding Could Seriously Damage
Predators' Bridgestone Arena, Titans' LP Field
The "massive amount of recent rain and bulging rivers are playing havoc with Nashville area sports arenas and athletic fields," according to Bryan Mullen of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Predators Senior VP/Communications & Development Gerry Helper said that Bridgestone Arena has "two inches of standing water throughout the event level." That level "sits about two stories below ground level," and includes the Predators locker rooms and the "area where the ice would be for games." Helper said, "We've got some costly stuff down there, from the locker rooms to the (TV) production rooms. Clearly there is going to be some extensive damage." Meanwhile, Titans officials said that the team's practice facility at MetroCenter was "threatened with rising waters but has not received any damages." However, LP Field's athletic surface is "getting covered with water, nearly reaching the first row of seats." A "nearby Nashville Electric Service substation had to be shut down because it was being threatened with flood waters," and when the substation shut down, it "cut power to the stadium, which cut power to the stadium's pumps" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/4). The Nashville Electric Service this morning reported Bridgestone Arena is one of several buildings that has lost power (TENNESSEAN.com, 5/4).
TROUBLED WATER: Titans Dir of Media Relations Robbie Bohren: "I am certain there will be some sort of water damage to all areas of the field service level." The TENNESSEAN's Mullen notes at LP Field yesterday, "large trash cans were bobbing on the field and blue pads that line the inner concrete walls of the field were torn off and floated like rafts." Parking lots R and N "were completely under water by late" yesterday afternoon (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/4). Titans coach Jeff Fisher said that water had "risen as high as the fence line that surrounds" the team's practice facility at MetroCenter. Fisher: "It's close, but there has been absolutely no damage" (NASHVILLE CITY PAPER, 5/4). FANHOUSE.com's Clay Travis wrote LP Field "will survive and professional sports franchises are far from the worst victims of the flood, but the teams are a symbol of a catastrophe that, for some reason, seems to be getting no national attention" (FANHOUSE.com, 5/3).
AEG Is One Of 106 Parties To Have Expressed
Interest In Assuming Control Of Olympic Stadium
AEG has "emerged as a contender to take over the Olympic Stadium after the London Games," according to David Bond of the BBC. The company, which owns London's The O2 arena, is "one of 106 parties to have expressed an interest in assuming control" of the Olympic venue after '12. Potential bidders have until May 17 to "register their interest in the 80,000-seater stadium," and a "shortlist of about 30 is expected to be drawn up, with a final decision taken in July this year." Bond notes it had been thought that EPL club West Ham United, which in March declared its interest in "converting the venue into a football arena" after the Olympics, "offered the only viable plan for the future of the stadium that would prevent it from becoming an expensive white elephant." But AEG, which has turned the "failing" O2 "into a successful sport and concert venue, could offer a real alternative if it decides to go ahead with a bid to become the operating company." The fact that West Ham will not be relegated from the EPL this year "will undoubtedly ensure" that the club remains "favourites to take control of the venue." But there "remain serious questions over how" West Ham co-Owners David Sullivan and David Gold will raise the estimated US$151.6M "needed to convert the stadium, which will have no corporate boxes or hospitality facilities in Games mode." Bond notes AEG's plans to "use the venue are not yet clear" (BBC.co.uk, 5/4). MUSIC WEEK's Gordon Masson writes the Olympic stadium would provide AEG with a "ready-made facility to promote stadium shows, with the site's location and transport connections making it a rival for Wembley Stadium's concert business" (MUSICWEEK.com, 5/4).
The Minnesota state House yesterday "overwhelmingly rejected an effort to clear the way" for the Univ. of Minnesota to sell alcohol in premium seating at TCF Bank Stadium. The House voted 111-18 against the proposal to "lift an all-or-nothing approach to selling alcohol" at the football venue. However, because the state Senate "already has passed a bill giving the university that option, the issue likely will be decided in an upcoming House-Senate conference committee" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/4). The House yesterday also "overwhelmingly defeated a move to allow a similar alcohol sales plan" for UM's Williams and Mariucci arenas (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/4).
Kentucky Speedway's Chances Of Getting
A Sprint Cup Race In 2011 Looking Up
DRINK FROM THE CUP? SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass reported Kentucky Speedway's "prospects of getting a Sprint Cup race in 2011 improved Friday as former co-owner Richard Duchossois dropped his lawsuit against former co-owner Jerry Carroll." It is unknown if there "definitely won’t be a request for an appeal to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, but it seems unlikely Carroll would have settled without a guarantee from Duchossois that there will be no more appeals." Without a request, SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith "should be able to realign a race from one" of his other tracks to Kentucky (SCENEDAILY.com, 4/30).
JERSEY SORE: In Newark, Ted Sherman reports the NJSEA has "sacked more than two dozen people" and cut its payroll by more than $1.3M after the Nets, Jets, Giants and MLS Red Bulls all relocated from authority-owned stadiums in the past 12 months. NJSEA officials said that they also are "working to cut operations costs, with the authority still facing" a $30M budget deficit. Jobs lost include "those in stadium operations for the old Giants Stadium, luxury suite marketing, sales and guest services" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/4).
THE CUTOFF MAN: In Chicago, Fran Spielman reports local Alderman Tom Tunney has revived his effort to "ban peddlers from a two-block area" around Wrigley Field. Street vendor Joe Sienkiewicz said that the new version of Tunney's ordinance "aims to eliminate vendors from the bustling corners of Addison and Clark and Addison and Sheffield." Sienkiewicz said that the legislation "could leave vendors jammed into 'one area off the beaten path of traffic'" near the ballpark (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/4).