SBD/Issue 238/Facilities & Venues

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  • Marlins Accused Of Misleading Public During New Ballpark Talks

    Some Miami Officials Unhappy Marlins Turned
    Big Profit While Negotiating Ballpark Terms

    Revelations this week that the Marlins turned a $37.8M profit "at the same time they were negotiating a sweetheart stadium deal has some elected officials ... charging the team misled the public during the contentious, drawn-out debate," according to a front-page piece by Beasley & Rabin of the MIAMI HERALD. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who voted against the ballpark plan, said the deal is "horrible and the financing is even worse." Gimenez: "And now you see they took us for a ride." While the Marlins in '08 "lobbied for funding from Miami and Miami-Dade County without disclosing their bottom line, the ball club turned a hefty profit thanks in large part" to $48M provided by MLB through revenue sharing. The Marlins in '09 "were again in the black," this time by $11.1M, while having the league's lowest payroll at $36.8M "for the second consecutive season." Gimenez: "This shows me they could have put more into the stadium than they did. We could have sold less bonds." Beasley & Rabin note the Marlins were awarded a "favorable deal," as they "basically secured every dollar of revenue made at the stadium." They also "won't have to pay their share of the cost -- roughly $150 million -- until the end of construction." But "in light of the team's better-than-portrayed finances, many now wonder if the trade-off was worth it to taxpayers." When asked if the County Commission was "duped," Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez, who also voted against the final deal, said, "I think so. I do believe that if some people had known they were taking a profit, they would have voted differently." But Marlins President David Samson "had a far different take on the numbers." Samson said the leaked financial document "basically confirms everything that we have said over the years, in terms of how we've operated the team, with our eye toward one thing." Samson: "That was to ensure that baseball would be secured in South Florida" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/25).

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  • Dynamo On Track To Break Ground On New Stadium By End Of Year

    Plans For The Dynamo's New Stadium
    Call For 30-35 Suites And Club Seats

    The MLS Dynamo’s plans for a 22,000-seat stadium “are on track and the team hopes to begin construction by the end of the current year,” according to David Dalati of FSHOUSTON. AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company owns the Dynamo, said, “Our goal is still to be in the ground and pushing dirt by the end of this year. Tentatively, we will open the stadium sometime in the early part of the 2012 season.” In addition to the 22,000 seats, the stadium "will include 30-35 suites and club seats." Leiweke indicated that Dynamo COO Chris Canetti “will continue to lead the business side of the organization, which includes leading the stadium effort.” Leiweke “stopped short of naming Canetti the President or CEO of the Dynamo.” Leiweke said that he "considered such titles as ‘alphabet soup’" (FSHOUSTON.com, 8/24). Meanwhile, KRIB-Fox’ Mark Berman reported the Dynamo and Toyota Center “have reached an agreement related to the non-compete clause the facility had with the City of Houston and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority concerning the building of arenas that can host music events.” The agreement ensures AEG and Toyota Center, which is managed by the Rockets, "can live in harmony, and that the project to build the Dynamo’s stadium will go forward without interruption." Leiweke: “We appreciate (Rockets owner) Les (Alexander) and his crew understanding how important the stadium is to the fans of the Dynamo and the future of this sport in this city” (MYFOXHOUSTON.com, 8/24).

    BUILDING A FORT: In Boston, Frank Dell'Apa noted the Revolution, Sounders and DC United are the last MLS teams to be "playing home games in stadiums designed for NFL teams," and the Revolution will “remain at the down-sized Gillette Stadium next season.” Revolution fans since the facility opened in '02 have been “allowed on only one side of the stadium and behind the north goal, which is known as The Fort, for supporters’ groups.” Revolution COO Brian Bilello said, “We want to improve the atmosphere. And we think about how to seat the fans, how to encourage them, how to get more fans to The Fort.” He added, “We have 70,000 seats, but it’s how we design the building. We will have 18,000 for a standard game. What we’ve found is there’s actually a lot of demand for midfield seats and we thought we can help that by opening up more midfield seats and closing off the top rows” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22). 

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  • Bureaucracy An Obstacle To Brazil's Preparations For World Cup

    Brazil Has Already Missed Deadline To
    Begin Renovating World Cup Stadiums

    Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Monday said that preparations for the '14 FIFA World Cup "could be jeopardized if government officials and businessmen fail to work together in the coming years," according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. Lula said that businessmen and "those responsible for monitoring and executing the necessary infrastructure and stadium improvements must cooperate to guarantee the country will be ready to host the tournament in four years." Brazil "needs significant upgrades to successfully host soccer's biggest showcase." The country is "expected to invest nearly $20 billion in infrastructure to prepare for the World Cup, but bureaucracy ... may create obstacles and delay some of the necessary construction work." Many critics and some government officials said that Brazil "needs to pick up the pace to get ready on time." Azzoni noted Brazil "has already missed a deadline to start renovating most of the 12 stadiums that will be used in the tournament." Brazil Sport Minister Orlando Silva said that FIFA officials "will be in Brazil in September to inspect all venues," and that it "would be important for Sao Paulo to have a project in place" for a venue by then. Meanwhile, renovations on Rio de Janiero's Maracana Stadium "have begun." The stadium, "which is expected to host the 2014 World Cup final, will have its capacity reduced during the renovation" (AP, 8/24).

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  • Facility Notes

    Full Throttle Hoping To Generate $5M Per Year
    From Renting F1 Track Out To Others

    In Austin, Eric Dexheimer cited public documents as indicating that Full Throttle Productions, the owners of a proposed F1 race track near the city, anticipates "selling the naming rights to various parts of the facility" for $7M. The documents also indicated that Full Throttle "hopes to net $12 million annually from non-F1 races such as NASCAR, IndyCar and drag racing, plus an additional $5 million a year from renting the facility for other uses such as moviemaking, automotive testing and concerts." Full Throttle attorney Richard Suttle Jr. said that "preliminary plans for the project will be submitted to city and county planners soon, possibly this week" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/24).

    GET IT RIGHT: A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial states the "push for a new arena in Sacramento is off the fast track." The "latest delay" came when California state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg "sent a letter Monday to Cal Expo and Mayor Kevin Johnson outlining questions he wants addressed before the legislation is taken up, possibly late this year." But the delay is "not such a bad thing," as Steinberg "raises many of the right issues." The editorial: "Given the history of false starts and failed efforts, this may be the last chance to build a new arena anytime soon. It has to be done right" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/25).

    CIVIC PRIDE: In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko reported "no clear victor emerged" after the Penguins, "preservationists, CEOs, labor officials, Hill District leaders and others waged a pitched battle over the future of the Civic Arena" Monday. The 49 people who testified before the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority "seemed to be evenly divided over whether the silver domed landmark should get a makeover or a death sentence." The Penguins want to "see the arena demolished to make way for a mixed use development," and Penguins President David Morehouse was "booed when he suggested the arena's retractable roof 'never opened because it never worked.'" Morehouse added after his testimony that he "had yet to see a viable reuse plan from those seeking to save the arena" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/24).

    BLAZING A NEW TRAIL: Sources indicated that Univ. of Alabama-Birmingham officials have "ramped up discussion to build a football stadium on campus, and an announcement could come in the next six months." A source said that trustees have "met with UAB leaders at the university's football offices in recent weeks and likely discussed building a stadium at two potential sites." A source added that the two sites are "near Interstate 65," and that the stadium "would hold up to 40,000 fans." The school's lease at Legion Field reportedly "ends after the 2013 season" (BIRMINGHAM BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/20 issue).

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