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Santa Clara 49ers Stadium Closer To Reality
After Voters Approve Deal
Santa Clara voters yesterday passed by an "overwhelming margin" Measure J, approving a deal for partial public funding toward a $937M 49ers stadium, according to Howard Mintz of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The measure calls for "construction of a 68,500-seat stadium projected to open" for the '14 NFL season. Santa Clara residents "apparently shrugged off worries that the deal could expose the city to financial risk in the future, as well as any reservations about a package of $114 million in public contributions to help pay for the pricey project." The 49ers now "must secure hundreds of millions of dollars in financing in tight economic times to ensure it can break ground in two years on a new home next to the Great America theme park." But Measure J had "long been considered the critical hurdle in the team's quest to replace Candlestick Park, one of the NFL's most outdated stadiums." 49ers President & CEO Jed York: "It makes it a lot easier to get a stadium built in Northern California. It's now full go-ahead in Santa Clara" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/9). In S.F., John Wildermuth notes the vote came after the 49ers "spent an astonishing $4 million-plus on a campaign in a city with only 46,000 registered voters." Meanwhile, S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom "has argued that Santa Clara's stadium election does not guarantee that the 49ers will leave the city, which will move ahead with plans for a new stadium site as part of the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project." Newsom has said that the "numbers don't work for a Santa Clara stadium ... and when the 49ers realize that, San Francisco's plan will look better and better" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/9).
SCORE ONE FOR THE 49ERS: In S.F., David White reports York now "believes the 49ers will be in their South Bay home four NFL seasons from now." York: "It looks good. This is a big step. ... We look to be playing football in a new stadium in 2014." He added, "We've done a lot of work leading up to this, 3 1/2 years of work making sure we had a feasible project we could take to the voters. We put together a deal that was good for the city and good for the 49ers." York said that the team "'absolutely' ... will be able to come up with their significant end of the deal of a stadium that could cost at least" $1B. He also believes that the NFL "will help the 49ers finance the stadium with a loan program as part" of the new CBA. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "visited with Santa Clara officials last month to express his support for the measure." York noted that the 49ers are "not interested in taking on additional investors to help complete the project" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/9). FANHOUSE.com's Nancy Gay writes Measure J's approval was the "boost the franchise needed to finally begin construction of a state-of-the-art stadium facility, in a state strangled by debt and high unemployment, and historically reluctant to contribute public funding for sports arenas." York said, "It makes it a lot easier to get a stadium built in Northern California" (FANHOUSE.com, 6/9). In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes the proposed stadium site is "perfect in terms of public transit access, tailgating and weather." Compared with S.F.'s "best proposal -- a stadium built on a former toxic waste site on an abandoned naval base in an isolated part of the city with limited street access -- the Santa Clara plan always was far superior" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/9).
LONG WAY FROM HOME: In California, Gary Peterson writes last night's vote is "not to be confused with a touchdown" and is "more like a first-and-10 from midfield." The 49ers "still have to cough up most of the $937 million it will take to make this project fly" and will "have to convince the NFL to contribute money it says it doesn't have." It also would be "naive to think" that Cedar Fair Entertainment, owner of Great America, "won't be heard from at some point in the near future." Peterson: "Santa Clara is still in the game, though with miles to run before it dares plan the victory parade" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 6/9).
Ticketmaster is making a significant change in its organizational structure tied to its clients' ticketing and marketing needs, including more than 100 big league sports facilities. In a letter e-mailed Tuesday to the firm's ticketing partners, Ticketmaster President Nathan Hubbard announced the firm has gone through a reorganization that eliminates the geographic model of client representation and switches to a new model based on sport and building type. Ticketmaster has formed five new client segments in a vertically aligned model: Core Ticketmaster, tied to multipurpose venues with a variety of nonsport content; NBA/NHL teams and arenas; stadiums and outdoor sports; arts and universities; and small venues and attractions. Instead of one Ticketmaster executive being responsible for serving several sports and entertainment facilities in one region, there will now be a group of general managers dedicated to each of the five segments. Hubbard could not be reached for comment this morning in Ticketmaster's L.A. offices. It is too early to tell exactly what the changes mean for sports facilities and their season-ticket holders, but one veteran arena manager said the reorganization makes sense for his building. "I don't know enough yet, but the theory is good," said American Airlines Center President & CEO Brad Mayne. "Instead of someone handling diverse-type accounts they will be similar in nature."
WHAT LIES AHEAD? The changes come about six months after the Department of Justice approved the merger of Ticketmaster and event promoter Live Nation, a deal valued at $2.5B, and could be a sign of further layoffs as the two entities continue sorting through consolidation, according to industry sources. In media relations alone, Live Nation spokesperson John Vlautin and Ticketmaster spokesperson Hannah Kampf have been laid off in recent months, leaving a void in that department, said a company insider with knowledge of the recent moves. In the e-mail letter, Hubbard said the changes were made after responding to clients' suggestions for how to better meet their needs and those of the marketplace. "We will be deliberate and measured in these steps, but we expect you to begin reaping the benefits of this effort right away -- we've all got tickets to sell," Hubbard said. In '09, the year the merger was announced, Ticketmaster sold 140 million tickets. The new company is known as Live Nation Entertainment.
Disney Opened Its First ESPN Zone
Restaurant In '98
ESPN today confirmed the ESPN Zone locations in Baltimore, Chicago, N.Y., Las Vegas and DC will close effective June 16. The L.A. and Anaheim locations will remain open and be operated by AEG and Anaheim-based Zone Enterprises, respectively (ESPN). In L.A., Dawn Chmielewski reports the chain of restaurants first opened in '98, and it is "unclear what has prompted Disney to close the establishments, although the bars may well be a casualty of the recession." An ESPN spokesperson said, "From a pure business perspective, the economics have been challenging." Research firm NPD Group analyst Harry Balzer believes that ESPN "may also have suffered from the problem that afflicted Planet Hollywood, which closed several restaurants -- the novelty simply wore off." In addition to the five locations scheduled to close, Disney closed the Atlanta and Denver locations last year (L.A. TIMES, 6/9). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Paul Ziobro notes the remaining locations "are slightly less capital intensive." While AEG runs the L.A. restaurant through a licensing agreement, the Anaheim restaurant "is located on Disney property outside its theme park" (WSJ.com, 6/9).
Broward County Will Loan BankAtlantic
Center $7.5M Over Next Three Years
Broward County (FL) Commissioners yesterday "agreed in principle to provide a short-term 'internal loan' of $7.5 million over the next three years" to Sunrise Sports & Entertainment's Arena Operating Co, according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The loan will provide the SSE subsidiary, which operates BankAtlantic Center, with $4M this year, $2.5 next year and $1M in '12, with the total "to be repaid along with the county's loss of interest between 2013 and 2015." The loan "would be covered by the over-collection in Tourist Development Tax (hotel bed tax) dollars that were raised 2 percent to help pay" for the arena. The Arena Operating Co. had proposed to "cut its annual payments" by $2.5M annually through '16, and then raise them by about $1M a year starting in '17. Talalay noted as a requirement of the new loan, the Panthers "agreed to reduce the profit level needed for the arena profit sharing arrangement to take effect," from $14M to $12M. That means that "any dollars in profit more than $12 million, which is kept by the team, are split" with the team receiving 80% to the county's 20%. So far, the profit sharing agreement has "kicked in just once -- in the first year, when the county received $364,000." SSE also "will need to provide annual consolidated operating budget and financial statements for the team and Arena Operating Co." (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 6/8).
Global Spectrum Took Over Sears Centre
Operations In January On Temporary Basis
Global Spectrum is "outperforming expectations since taking over" Sears Centre in January, and as a result the Village of Hoffman Estates (IL) board has "approved a three-year deal with the company," according to Ashok Selvam of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. The deal "applies retroactively, going from January 2010 through December 2012, and includes a two-year option" for the town. Global Spectrum had been working with a temporary agreement. Village officials said that "watching Global for the past five months convinced them it was the right company to manage the arena." Global Spectrum Senior VP/Business Development & Client Relations Frank Russo said that the agreement "will allow the company to hire a full-time marketing specialist and other staffers at the arena." He "expects continued success with improved customer service." Selvam noted the village will pay Global Spectrum $132,000 per year "plus performance incentives." Global will receive only the base fee of $132,000 for '10, but that fee "increases in subsequent years based on the rate of inflation." Global in '11 "gets the base fee plus payments based on revenue generated for the arena, specifically reducing the building's debt." If the arena "turned a profit, Global would receive 30 percent of profits, limited to $500,000" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 6/8).
In Minneapolis, Jon Tevlin writes the Twins have "rightly been lauded for making probably the most disability-friendly stadium in the country," as Target Field has "nearly 800 seats" for the disabled. But a "lot of those seats are ending up online on Craigslist or StubHub." While "some used the symbol, 'WC,' for wheelchair, most didn't," and those tickets "get resold at inflated prices to fans who do not need special seats, which may prevent at least some disabled fans from attending games." Twins Exec Dir of Public Affairs Kevin Smith said that it is "hard to police those seats because many people who use the seats might not seem disabled because they have invisible illnesses, such as lung disease" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/9).
RING BEARERS: The AP's Doug Ferguson reported Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam, "asked to be 'global ambassadors' during golf's all-out sales pitch to be part of the Olympics, want to build the course" for the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games. Nicklaus said that he and Sorenstam "have written a letter to the International Golf Federation requesting they be considered as architects of the first Olympic golf course since 1904." Nicklaus said that one potential site "already has been identified." He added that if he and Sorenstam are selected, they will "collaborate on the strategy of each hole -- Nicklaus from championship tees for the men, Sorenstam with women in mind." Nicklaus: "I'll be surprised if they don't select us" (AP, 6/8).
Cubs President Crane Kenney Sends Letter To
Clubs Regarding Game Day Sales, Ticket Brokers
SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS: In Chicago, Ameet Sachdev notes Cubs President Crane Kenney last week sent a letter to operators of rooftop clubs across from Wrigley Field "reminding them that game day sales violate a city of Chicago ordinance governing their business." Kenney in the letter also said that it has come to the team's attention that rooftop seats are "being sold by ticket brokers and other third parties, another code violation." Only businesses with "special club licenses granted by the city are allowed to sell admissions to their rooftops" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/9).
BOOZE-FREE TAILGATING: In Chicago, Cheryl Jackson notes about 100 parking spaces "will be set aside this season for alcohol-free tailgating outside" Solider Field for Bears games. Solider Field GM Tim LeFevour said that the "Family Friendly" spots are an "experiment in response to fan comments." A 10-game parking pass "costs the same as it will for most of the other booze-friendly tailgating spots this season: $460, plus a $15 administration fee" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/9).