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Agreement Would Extend 49ers'
Candlestick Lease Through '15 Season
S.F. officials said that the 49ers will remain in the city "until at least 2014 under a tentative lease deal hammered out" last week after Mayor Gavin Newsom met with team President & CEO Jed York "to mend fences," according to John Cote of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The deal, "which still needs the approval of the Recreation and Park Commission and the Board of Supervisors, gives the Niners more flexibility to pull up stakes and move to Santa Clara, but also settles a $60 million maintenance claim the team had filed against the city, a precursor to a lawsuit." The 49ers' Candlestick Park lease expires after the '12 season, and renewing the lease "would mean signing on for an additional five years." The new agreement lets the team "renew its Candlestick lease for five years starting after this season, but it allows the team to opt out of the last year, which would be the 2015 season." The team "hopes to move into a proposed stadium in Santa Clara in 2015 and doesn't want to be on the hook to San Francisco for years of rent for a decaying stadium it isn't using." Cote noted the 49ers also would "have the option of one-year lease extensions every year until 2023, when the current lease would have expired." Newsom said that the deal "helps pave the way for the team to consider staying in the city and building a new stadium in a redeveloped Hunters Point Naval Shipyard," a proposal that has "already received voter and city approval" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/24).
SAN FRANCISCO TREAT: In San Jose, Lisa Fernandez noted under the tentative agreement, the 49ers "will get rent credit for completing $6.5 million in lapsed maintenance work during the next two years that the city was obligated to fix." The 49ers "will get an additional $4 million to $6 million in either rent reduction or credit, as well." 49ers VP/Communications & Government Relations Lisa Lang noted while it is "not a done deal," she still feels "confident" the team will move to Santa Clara. Lang: "Our target date to be in Santa Clara is 2015" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/24).
Vikings Hosted "MNF" Matchup Against Bears At
TCF Bank Stadium After Metrodome Roof Collapsed
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Exec Dir Bill Lester “refuted a report by ESPN on Sunday that his organization is assessing the viability of the Vikings playing the 2011 season outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium,” according to Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Lester confirmed that the MSFC is “assessing the damage done to the Metrodome and its roof from when the ceiling collapsed.” But he said, "That is all we're doing. There has been zero discussion of playing the 2011 season outside and zero discussion of not having the stadium ready for the 2011 season." Lester said that the MSFC has “had no discussions with the NFL or the Vikings about the team playing the 2011 season anywhere other than the Metrodome and that both parties have been told the stadium will be ready.” He added it is "premature to comment" on whether a new roof might be considered. Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley “recently voiced concerns about the safety of the Metrodome, but he did not want to go into any detail Sunday.” Asked if there was a scenario under which the Vikings might not play in the Metrodome in '11, Bagley said, "No, I'm saying we have concerns about the safety and the viability of that structure going forward" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/27). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen in the original report cited sources as saying that the MSFC is “assessing the viability of playing the 2011 season outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium.” The commission will "deliver its findings to the Vikings in late January or early February.” Sources said that Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf after reviewing the findings “will make a decision in consultation with the NFL on whether to play the 2011 season at the Metrodome or TCF Bank Stadium” (ESPN.com, 12/26).
Steelers Studying Whether Heinz Field
Can Be Expanded By Several Thousand Seats
The Steelers "may add more seats to Heinz Field, a move that would help address the seemingly insatiable demand for tickets, but could worsen the parking crunch in the steadily developing North Shore," according to Rich Lord of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Steelers President Art Rooney II told Pittsburgh Stadium Authority officials that the team is "studying whether Heinz Field's 65,000-person capacity could be expanded by several thousand." Rooney: "It's probably somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 (additional seats), and it would be in the south end zone. ... Since we moved into Heinz Field, obviously we've been studying the demand for tickets. We feel satisfied at this point that there's certainly enough demand to consider expanding capacity." Rooney said that the "addition this week of temporary seats" at the stadium for Saturday's Capitals-Penguins NHL Winter Classic "will serve as something of a test run for the permanent expansion." Architectural firm Populous is "studying the proposed expansion." Lord notes "in part because of the potential additions, the Stadium Authority on Monday voted to spend $20,000 to study the parking situation on the North Shore." Rooney: "The parking piece of the puzzle is an important component to it. If we're going to have that many more seats, there's obviously got to be somewhere for them to park" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/28). The Steelers said that "construction could begin in 2012 if the team moves forward with the expansion project." Stadium Authority Exec Dir Mary Conturo said that the seats "would be in the south end of the stadium, under the scoreboard, and would not change the overall footprint" of Heinz Field (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/28).
In St. Petersburg, Stephen Nohlgren noted a recent telephone survey “showed that two-thirds of Tampa Bay area residents oppose paying taxes” for a new Rays' ballpark -- even “if that means the team would leave the area.” Only a "quarter of the residents would open their wallets to keep the Rays in town.” Half of the residents polled said that they “would be opposed to committing public money to a stadium even if their individual taxes did not rise -- such as the city of St. Petersburg supporting a new stadium by renewing Tropicana Field’s bonds after they expire” in ’15. Seventy-seven percent of Pinellas County residents said that they “have attended at least one Rays game, as well as" 62% of Hillsborough County residents. The “main reason people cited for not going is that they aren’t baseball fans,” while the "next most common reason given by Hillsborough residents was the Trop’s location” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/24).
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: In Chicago, Mitchell & Kaplan report the Cubs allegedly “are quietly working to amend their proposal to renovate Wrigley Field.” The team would “match its previous tax payments to the city -- $16 million in 2009 -- while keeping any tax revenue above the base for park renovations and perhaps construction of the long-planned triangle building.” The Cubs contend that the "additional business will increase taxes collected,” once the team “has what it plans built” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/28).
New Meadowlands Stadium Faced Its Share
Of Obstacles During Opening NFL Season
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR? In New Jersey, John Brennan noted a “lightning delay, an in-game power failure, several monsoons and some frigid weather” have made the first year of New Meadowlands Stadium “a challenging one at times for fans and stadium officials.” New Meadowlands Stadium Co. President & CEO Mark Lamping said, “We’d be thrilled to have a repeat of this type of year, yet we also think it can be a typical one.” Fan complaints have included the "lack of solid walls, which allow frigid winds to blast through the mezzanine; restrooms with no clear entrances and exits; sporadic problems with dropped cellphone calls and being forced to ride several different escalators to get to upper-level seats.” Lamping: “Once we’re done with the football season, we’ll sit down with the teams and see if things like the bathrooms can be addressed” (Bergen RECORD, 12/26).
EXPRESS DELIVERY: In DC, Tenorio & Goff cited sources as saying that “an agreement has been reached in principle” to bring FC Barcelona and Manchester United to FedExField. FC Barcelona Thursday announced on its website that it will play ManU July 30 in Landover, Md. Sources confirmed that while the “deal is not yet official,” an agreement has been reached for FedExField to "host the friendly -- one of three in Barcelona’s summer tour” of the U.S. Barcelona also will play AC Milan in Miami on Aug. 3 and Club America in Dallas on Aug. 6 (WASHINGTON POST, 12/24).