SBD/November 10, 2010/FacilitiesPrint All
The Orioles announced yesterday that they are conducting renovations to Camden Yards' seating bowl ahead of the '11 MLB season. The Maryland Stadium Authority is completing the final phase of the replacement of the seats as part of its deferred maintenance program. Renovations to the facility conclude this offseason, as MSA repairs concrete and replaces seats in the lower level outfield, the club level and the upper deck. In addition, the ballpark's club level and upper deck will be furnished with wider seats. Other improvements include the installation of drink rails in portions of the club level seating bowl, as well as the addition of bistro tables on the left field club level (Orioles). In Baltimore, Edward Gunts reports the Orioles also are "exploring plans to eliminate up to 12 corporate skyboxes along the left and right field lines and replace them with larger group-sales venues and party suites offering a greater variety of seating and entertainment arrangements." While seating options "will increase, the total number of actual seats at Oriole Park will drop by more than 2,300, from 48,290 to 45,971." The change will be the "first major reduction in seats at the ballpark since it opened" in '92. The number of corporate suites on the club level "would potentially drop from 72 skyboxes plus three party suites in 1992 to fewer than 50 in 2011, a response to the disappearance of some corporations in Baltimore and a corresponding drop in demand for corporate skyboxes." The MSA is expected to "consider the skybox proposals as early as December." The MSA yesterday approved a preliminary agreement enabling the Orioles to bring in Delaware North as the ballpark's concessionaire, replacing Aramark. Orioles and MSA officials said that the "changes, expected to cost about $1.5 million, are a response to trends affecting teams" in MLB (Baltimore SUN, 11/10).
The race is "fully on to get Kentucky Speedway ready for its inaugural" NASCAR Sprint Cup race on July 9, according to Mark Story of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Now that the "long-elusive Cup date is finally a reality, it is estimated that SMI will spend an additional $50 million on track expansion and enhancement." Already, the "framework for two towers of additional seating have risen above the existing grandstand," and when they are completed, the track "will have added 40,000 seats and have a capacity of 106,000." Workers also are "in the process of moving the track's pit road 200 feet closer to the grandstand." Bulldozers "have been working at a fevered pitch evening out land to create new camp sites," after which the number of camping facilities available at the track "will have almost quadrupled from 1,200 to some 4,500." SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith "has christened potential campground areas with names like Millionaire's Row, The Ponderosa and Bourbon Street." SMI Project Manager Steve Swift said that "if everything goes perfectly ... major work at the track will be done by May." But "if things don't go according to plan, work still has to be done by the first full week of July" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 11/10). In Kentucky, Kevin Kelly notes Kentucky Speedway officials yesterday "gave a progress report on the facility's $40 million expansion and led a tour of the 850-acre property." The "first 27 rows of the new 49-row Ohio and Kentucky grandstand towers are in place," and the towers "each will hold 19,000 seats." Outside of Turn 3, the visitor center is "undergoing a renovation and expansion." Kentucky Speedway GM Mark Simendinger said season-ticket sales for the track's six-race schedule in '11 are "way up" (KENTUCKY ENQUIRER, 11/10).
Int'l Stadia Group, the stadium management and financing operation owned by IMG, has “emerged as a potential tenant of the London Olympic stadium,” according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. ISG, which "has worked on a number of high-profile projects" including the new Wembley Stadium, is reportedly the third candidate bidding to take on the ’12 stadium in competition with bids from EPL clubs Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. ISG last Friday “submitted a bid and made a presentation to the Olympic Park Legacy Company.” ISG “may plan to run the Olympic Stadium without an anchor football tenant, and would seek to attract regular events such as the NFL’s international round or eventually a London franchise to the arena.” West Ham has also “held talks with the NFL about hosting matches but any talks about NFL expansion are on hold” until a new CBA is in place. ISG’s potential involvement “emerged as the Olympic Delivery Authority revealed its latest budget forecasts for the Olympic project, which show a small reduction in the forecast final cost of the project.” The final cost is now estimated at nearly US$11.6B, down US$46.5M from the last quarterly forecast (London TELEGRAPH, 11/10).
The future of Laurel Park was "further clouded Tuesday, after the racetrack's minority owner said it still supports plans to eliminate live horse racing there," according to Hanah Cho of the Baltimore SUN. Penn National Gaming officials yesterday said they were "taken off guard" when MI Developments Chair Frank Stronach on Monday said he intends for Laurel Park to host thoroughbred racing next year. Stronach's comments come after the Maryland Jockey Club last week said that it "would move forward with plans to turn Laurel Park into an off-track betting site next year." Penn National Senior VP/Public Affairs Eric Schippers, whose company owns 49% of the MJC, yesterday said, "Without slot machines, unfortunately, the status quo can't work from a business perspective. We're a public company with responsibilities to our shareholders. Continuing to endure the level of losses, post-election, without making any necessary cuts is difficult to justify." Stronach yesterday declined to comment on Penn National's stance, saying only he would issue a statement in the "next few days." Under the joint venture, MID owns the remaining 51% of the MJC, and "any major decision involving the racing operations requires the unanimous approval of the five-member board, led by an MID majority." Cho notes Penn National had "entered into the joint venture to operate the Jockey Club in anticipation of slots possibly going to Laurel Park," and the company "hasn't given up on the prospect of expanding gambling at the track" (Baltimore SUN, 11/10).
TECH SAVVY: In L.A., Eric Sondheimer reports Minor Racing LLC Owner Halsey Minor has "offered to purchase substantially all of the horse racing assets" of MID, "with the idea of using technology to change the sport's fortunes." Minor Racing made an all-cash offer of $150-170M for Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, MJC, Amtote, XpressBet and HRTV, and "offered to acquire Gulfstream Park, Palm Meadows and other Florida-based racing assets" for an additional $150M. Minor "wants to use 3D technology, video and innovation to improve the racing business" (L.A. TIMES, 11/10).
IN NEED OF A CHANGE: In Newark, Ray Brienza reports Meadowlands Racetrack officials have "requested 141 racing dates" for '11, beginning on Jan. 7. Meadowlands is in the midst of a "17-night meeting that concludes on Dec. 18 and offers racing on only Friday and Saturday nights and has struggled to attract 5,000 fans the first three nights." The track would "once again offer a split meeting," racing through Aug. 20 next year and then again from Oct. 1-Dec. 31. But Meadowlands next year will "not be receiving funds from the state’s casinos as they have been the last three years and will find it difficult to come up with the funds needed to finance the high purses it has offered in past seasons." In order to be "provided with a license in New Jersey a track must agree to run 140 dates during the year." It is expected that there "will be efforts made to change the law to a lesser number," but to date there has been "no legislation introduced to do that" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/10).
Dynamic ticket pricing outfit Qcue Inc. has struck a strategic partnership with California-based discount ticket distribution outlet Goldstar, which works with more than 4,000 venues for sports, concerts, performing arts, theatre and other events. Goldstar will use Qcue to help those venue clients better identify pricing and sales trends, perform more comprehensive inventory management, and automatically flag inventory for discounting. Qcue has quickly struck a prominent position in the fast-emerging realm of dynamic ticket pricing, now working with more than two dozen teams across the sports industry. Goldstar, meanwhile, has developed a business model in which its 1.2 million members, 75% of which are women, are regularly alerted to special ticket offers based on their interests and locale, helping venues build more diverse audiences. "We're starting to see a lot of new distribution channels such as Goldstar and we're definitely able to do our job better by having greater insight into the larger ticketing universe instead of just what's happening at the primary box office," said Qcue CEO Barry Kahn. Financial terms were not disclosed. "Dynamic pricing is definitely coming, and is going to be something the entire industry is going to embrace," said Goldstar CEO Jim McCarthy. "So I wanted to get out in front of this, and Qcue is doing what needs to be done in this space."
Comcast-Spectacor will host a free, open-to-the-public viewing party and block party for the demolition of the Spectrum Nov. 23 at 12:00pm ET. Former Flyers Bernie Parent and Bob Clarke and Basketball HOFer Julius Erving will attend the event, and the company will sell limited-edition Spectrum souvenirs during the one-hour wrecking ball ceremony (Comcast-Spectacor).
MAKING PLANS: In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko notes Pittsburgh Planning Commission members yesterday “got their first glimpse of plans” for the Civic Arena site after the venue is “razed to make way for a Penguins-led redevelopment.” Oxford Development Co. Development Manager Ben Kelley said that the 3.1-acre site “would be graded and seeded and that parking lots east and west of the arena would be retained.” He added that “grass will grow where hockey players once skated and the area will be open to pedestrians.” But the plans “did little to appease at least one critic of the proposed demolition.” Architect Rob Pfaffmann, who leads a group looking to save the arena, said, “They’re not being transparent about their ultimate intent to put parking on this site” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/10).
HONORING THE PAST: ESPN L.A.’s Dave McMenamin cited sources as saying that the Lakers “will unveil a statue honoring” Basketball HOFer Jerry West during NBA All-Star weekend. The statue “will be the fifth to be erected at Staples Center and the third that is Lakers-related, following Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Oscar De La Hoya and broadcaster Chick Hearn” (ESPNLA.com, 11/9).
NOTES: Fordham Univ. announced Monday that its men’s basketball team will play four home games at Izod Center this season (AP, 11/8)….Rosemont, Ill., officials Friday “broke ground on a $6 million professional softball stadium” that will be home to the National Pro Fastpitch Chicago Bandits (SUNTIMES.com, 11/6).