SBD/Issue 245/Facilities & Venues

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  • Newly Renovated Michigan Stadium Set To Make Debut Saturday

    The $226M Renovation Took Three Years To
    Complete, Ups Big House Capacity To 109,901

    A "new-and-improved Michigan Stadium will be unveiled" during Saturday's Connecticut-Michigan game, according to Rod Beard of the DETROIT NEWS. The $226M renovation "took three years to complete and features new suites and premium seating, concourses, concession areas, more restrooms, wider seats and aisles and a press box." Incoming Univ. of Michigan AD David Brandon: "There's more circulation space, so it's easier to move around. There are more points of sale for both merchandise and food, so it's easier and faster to get access to food and merchandise than it's ever been." UM Development Associate Russell Grimm also noted there is a 129% "upgrade over last year" in terms of restrooms, while the renovation "also allows for better and increased seating areas for fans in wheelchairs." Brandon said that he "expects future renovations to include the widening of seats and aisles and scoreboard improvements." Beard noted Michigan Stadium's new capacity is 109,901, "moving ahead of Penn State's Beaver Stadium and reclaiming the distinction of being the largest in the nation." With the "addition of the suites, press box and four decorative towers (one in each corner), more of the crowd noise is expected to remain in the stadium." Brandon: "They're going to find that this is a much louder stadium, with the architectural design" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/2). In Michigan, Jeff Arnold noted the "revenue generated by suites (65 of which have been committed to for the next three seasons) and the club seating (100 percent of which has been sold for this season) will cover the cost of the rest of the improvements." UM AD Bill Martin, whose "final day as a university employee" is Saturday, said that "because the majority of the luxury seating is sold" the project is "'beyond break even,' -- complete without requiring tax dollars or university resources" (ANNARBOR.com, 9/2).

    LASTING LEGACY: In Detroit, Mark Snyder writes the renovated Michigan Stadium is the "crowning achievement" of Martin's "10-year term as athletic director and employee." Martin "knew renovating Michigan Stadium could be wildly unpopular with large segments of the Michigan fan base." Martin: "I knew changing Michigan Stadium -- the most iconic structure on Michigan's campus -- was going to be a challenge. I knew that people were going to say you're crazy and going to take shots at me. But that's natural when people are as passionate as our fans are. And I knew that." Snyder notes Martin "loves the brick appearance and is proud of the side glass in the suites," and he is "especially proud of his idea to have the names of the state's counties etched into brick in the concourse exterior walls" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/3).

    NEW AND IMPROVED: In Tennessee, Patrick Brown notes Neyland Stadium's "new look" will make its debut during Saturday's UT-Martin-Tennessee game. A new plaza "includes an arched brick entrance and a remodeled amphitheater, where the Vol Network's pregame call-in show will broadcast live." The brick exterior "extends from the plaza to cover the entire exterior of the stadium's west side," and the bricks have "given the 89-year-old stadium a much fresher image." Brown also notes the Tennessee Terrace, which features "1,800 new seats on the west side upper deck, will be opened for the first time" (KNOXVILLE NEWS SENTINEL, 9/3).

    ON THE RISE: In Alabama, Jon Solomon noted the "cost of staying affiliated with the SEC and Big East means higher ticket prices at the Birmingham Bowl, which recently lost Papa John's as its title sponsor." Approximately 80% of tickets this season will "increase by $10, from $40 to $50." However, Birmingham Bowl Exec Dir Mark Meadows noted the event is "probably still one of the least-expensive bowl games in the market place" (AL.com, 9/1).

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  • SMG Reimburses City Of Jacksonville $22,000 After Audit

    SMG Manages Several Sports, Entertainment
    Venues In Jacksonville, Including EverBank Field

    SMG has reimbursed the city of Jacksonville $22,000 after a yearlong audit of the company that runs the city's sports and entertainment venues found “some contract and oversight issues,” according to Matt Galnor of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. More than half of the $22,000 was “for costs of employees who were paid for by the city but worked on non-city projects.” Former SMG Jacksonville GM Bob Downey said that “he was forced out earlier this year for blowing the whistle on SMG’s attempt to make an extra $80,000 off a concession subcontract." Downey also claimed the company was “ripping off taxpayers.” But SMG spokesperson Michael Munz said that the audit “proves that Downey is just a ‘disgruntled former employee’ and the company will weigh legal action if he continues to make public accusations against SMG.” SMG runs operations for the city’s EverBank Field and other sports facilities, as well as the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. The company “bills the city for the actual costs of operating and staffing the venues, plus $1.2 million for management fees and incentives for keeping expenses down.” The city makes money from ticket sales, parking and concessions. SMG’s contract with Jacksonville runs through ’13, but the city can “pull the plug at any time with two months’ notice” starting next fall. The audit recommended that the city "continue to tighten the contract and that it should be opened to bids when it expires, rather than simply” renewing with SMG as “the city has several times since” SMG started in the city in ’92. The concession contract Downey questioned is with Savor, a company “that has the same parent company as SMG." The audit said the city look at SMG’s concession contract with Savor because of the “inherent conflict of interest” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/3).

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  • Facility Notes

    In N.Y., Ken Belson reports the WNBA Liberty will play their home games "at the Prudential Center in Newark the next three seasons while Madison Square Garden is being renovated." The extra tenant is a "bonus for the Prudential Center" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/3). Liberty games "have become a hot ticket this season," as the team leads the WNBA in attendance, "averaging more than 11,000 fans per game" at MSG (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/3).

    TCF Bank Stadium Revenue Helps Gophers
    Nearly Double Profits For '09 Football Season

    NEW BUILDINGS PAY OFF: In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports the Univ. of Minnesota earned gross revenue of $17.9M for the '09 football season at the new TCF Bank Stadium, compared with $10.5M in '08 at the Metrodome. UM in '09 turned a profit of $1.9M, "near double what the Gophers athletic department earned from football during their last season at the Dome." Meanwhile, the Twins reportedly will earn $20M in "corporate income this year compared with no more than" $10M when they played at the Metrodome (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/3).

    NEW DOG HOUSE: In Seattle, Jon Fisch reported the Univ. of Washington "released renderings of the Husky Stadium renovations on Thursday." The $250M project was awarded to Seattle-based Wright Runstad & Co. last month, and construction is "tentatively scheduled to begin after the 2011 season" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 9/2). UW also "released a fly-over video ... of what the finished product will look like" (SEATTLEPI.com, 9/2).

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