SBD/December 15, 2010/FacilitiesPrint All
Univ. of Minnesota officials are racing to prepare TCF Bank Stadium for Monday's Bears-Vikings game "after Metrodome officials told the exiled Vikings late Tuesday they cannot repair the collapsed roof in time," according to Brian Murphy of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. UM News Service Dir Daniel Wolter: "We'll make every reasonable effort to ensure the Vikings and their fans have a great venue for their Monday night football game." The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, said that engineers with the roof's manufacturer and installer, Birdair Inc., "concluded the damage caused by last weekend's snowstorm was worse than expected and workers could not make the venue playable for the Vikings' home finale." Murphy notes the Vikings "desperately want to play their last game of a disappointing 2010 season in their hometown." But "readying 50,000-seat TCF Bank Stadium, a college venue with 13,000 fewer seats than the Metrodome and unlicensed to sell alcohol, poses significant challenges that the Vikings and university will try to resolve." The biggest hurdle is "removing tons of snow from the field and seating areas." UM Associate AD for Facilities & Event Management Scott Ellison said that the Vikings "would foot the bill for preparing the stadium." He added that UM "budgets $250,000 to put on a game, but it could cost as much as $700,000 to remove all the snow and reboot operations in less than [a] week." Ellison said that the school is "looking into ways to shield open-air concession areas from the harsh conditions to prevent pipes from bursting." Also, "still to be determined is how to fit more than 63,000 ticketholders into a stadium that holds 50,000 people." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that "temporary seating is one option to shrink that disparity, but a priority system had not been finalized" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/15).
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Bagley said that Vikings and NFL officials told UM on Monday night that they "wanted TCF Bank Stadium ready and available for the Bears game if the shredded Metrodome roof could not be repaired in time." After engineers and workers "surveyed a Metrodome roof with a hole the size of a house," MSFC Exec Chair Bill Lester said that "fixing the hole ... by Monday seemed an impossibility." UM agreed to host the game yesterday and "began the process of hiring 400 workers to prepare a site that Ellison said had been 'winterized.'" In Minneapolis, Paul Levy notes alcohol is "not sold at TCF Bank Stadium during Gophers games," and Bagley said that is "one of a myriad of issues on the table." Ellison predicted that "next week's final exams will keep many students away from campus, opening up parking spots." But he added that the snow, "which will be trucked from the stadium to the St. Paul campus, remains the school's greatest concern." Also, it was "not immediately known whether the Vikings might need a special environmental permit to play a weeknight game at a stadium used almost exclusively on Saturdays." Bagley said that the Vikings were told they would be "assisted by NFL experts accustomed to planning 'special events like the Super Bowl'" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/15).
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE: An AUSTIN DAILY HERALD editorial stated, "It was bad enough that the Metrodome roof's collapse on a snowy Sunday morning forced the Vikings to move what was to have been a home game to Detroit. It's even worse that the collapse may provide fuel to those who want to use tax money to build a new football stadium." The editorial: "Enthusiasm for a new stadium shouldn't be allowed to cross into the public domain, where Minnesota faces so many financial challenges ... that if any extra public money can be scraped up, it needs to either reduce taxes or support essential services" (AUSTINDAILYHERALD.com, 12/14). St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Jeremy Fowler said of the Vikings getting a new stadium, “People knew that the Metrodome was obsolete. This just punctuates that point. However, it's still all about funding and whether the state wants to help front the bill. That's still yet to be determined.” Fowler: “This is pretty bad. This gives the Owner Zygi Wilf plenty of leverage. Maybe behind the scenes he was dancing a little bit Sunday morning when he saw the Metrodome collapse and no one was hurt because this is the ultimate leverage" ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 12/14).
HKS, architect for two of the three newest NFL stadiums, is considered the favorite by industry sources to win the job to develop AEG's downtown L.A. stadium. The Dallas-based firm joins HNTB and Gensler, the two other finalists, today in L.A. to interview for the job. The firms are competing to design the L.A. Event Center, a multipurpose facility with up to 72,000 fixed seats, 218 suites and 14,700 club seats. Tim Romani, President & CEO of Icon Venue Group, the event center's project manager, and Ted Tanner, Exec VP of AEG Real Estate Development, are scheduled to discuss the project with the media at 5:00pm PT after the three presentations. At that time, initial stadium renderings from each of the finalists will be on display, AEG officials said. HKS designed Cowboys Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in '09 and '08, respectively. Both buildings have retractable roofs and field-level suites, two key design elements AEG wants its stadium to include. Cowboys Stadium itself is the model for the Event Center, said AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke.
HKS FAMILIAR WITH L.A. FACILITIES: For HKS, the same company that designed premium seat upgrades and new club lounges at Dodger Stadium, the opportunity to play a key role in shaping the future of sports and entertainment in L.A. is exciting, said HKS Principal Mark Williams. "Los Angeles is a market that really needs the NFL, and if it was done right, it would be a great marriage and a globally influential project," Williams said. "It is a great site already without the NFL there. I think the NFL could accentuate that site to another level. It's a world stage." The proposed site is across the street from Staples Center and entertainment district L.A. Live. The stadium would replace the existing West Hall of the L.A. Convention Center. HNTB has impressive credentials as well, having designed Invesco Field at Mile High, the Broncos' home, as well as several major college stadium renovations, including the $226M Michigan Stadium project completed this year. In California, HNTB, considered the industry leader in the college space, is planning $400M in improvements to Cal-Berkeley's 87-year-old Memorial Stadium.
WILD CARD OF THE THREE: Gensler is the wild card. As a company, Gensler has not designed an NFL stadium, but the firm's principals include Ron Turner, its Dir of Sports & Entertainment. Turner, whose résumé includes Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, also completed a study to renovate L.A. Memorial Coliseum for an NFL team while he was at RTKL. Turner in the late '90s was part of NBBJ's team that designed Staples Center for AEG, and as such, he has a long-standing relationship with Leiweke. The same is true for the firm as a whole. Gensler designed L.A. Live's Club Nokia, owned and operated by AEG, and the district's Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences and JW Marriott Hotel. A meeting space connected to both hotels is the site of this afternoon's update on the project. AEG has not said when it would select an architect, but Leiweke stated publicly that he wants to have the process wrapped up in a three-month period. It includes doing separate deals with the NFL to bring a team to L.A. and an agreement with the city to tear down part of the convention center to make room for the stadium, a $1B project.
In Louisville, Dan Klepal reports the Kentucky State Fair Board “stopped booking events at Freedom Hall from November through April as part of an agreement to help bring” an NBA franchise to Louisville. Three “long-running events already booked at Freedom Hall during that period will proceed.” The memorandum “runs through November 2011, but can be extended for a year, including the anticipated first season for any new NBA franchise” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 12/15).
NOT SO FAST: In Detroit, James Jahnke notes the Big Chill at the Big House “appears to be going into the books as a much smaller crowd than anticipated.” Guinness World Records certified that the crowd for last Saturday’s Michigan State-Michigan outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium was 85,451, “far short of the announced attendance of 113,411.” It “still was enough to beat the previous attendance mark of 77,803, set during the opening game of the IIHF world championships in May” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/15).
TAKING A STAND: In London, Rick Broadbent notes some of Britain’s “most successful athletes have entered the fray over the fate" of the '12 London Olympics stadium. Sixteen Olympians and Paralympians signed an open letter “that calls for the athletics track to be retained” after the Games. The athletes said that the “Tottenham plan would betray a campaign promise to keep an athletics legacy.” They insist that “any legacy would not only serve elite athletes, who could revisit the Olympic Stadium for Diamond League and international championships, but also the grass roots.” LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe “is believed to be a driving force behind the letter, but his role on the board” of LOCOG “means his name is absent” (LONDON TIMES, 12/15).
IT'S GETTING HOT IN HERE: In Chicago, Philip Hersh noted with Qatar winning the right to host the ’22 World Cup, “some of the sport’s leading figures are calling for the event to take place in January rather than June, when temperatures above 110 degrees are common.” Hersh offered his reasons why “cooler heads should prevail because a January World Cup in Qatar is a workable idea” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 12/14).