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A plan for Broward County (Fla.) to “send its tourist taxes to jazz up the Dolphins' stadium could be dying just hours after the first public unveiling,” according to Wallman & Wyman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The proposal from Dolphins CEO Mike Dee “would have state law changed to allow hotel taxes from tourists in Broward County to be spent" in Miami-Dade County to renovate Sun Life Stadium. But when word of the team's plan “blasted onto the public stage, no big crowd of political cheerleaders leaped to tout it.” Local officials opposed to the idea contend that Broward “needs all the money it can get and should keep the funds." Wallman & Wyman note even if the Florida state Legislature passes the proposal, the Broward County Commission still “would have to approve it, too.” Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry said, "I've already told them it's going to be a tough sell." Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca said, "My gut reaction is I am staunchly against it. If they want to spend money on their stadium they should talk to the taxpayers of Miami-Dade. … I'm a sports fan, but absolutely not." Broward Mayor Sue Gunzburger and Commissioner Lois Wexler also have said that "they're opposed" to the measure. Gunzburger: "I have no intention to fund a stadium or renovate a convention center in Miami-Dade County with Broward dollars" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/7).
Four development teams Thursday presented Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena task force with their "concepts for a sports and entertainment facility to replace aging Arco Arena," according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The meeting "erupted into a verbal skirmish" between developer Gerry Kamilos and task force member Mark Harris, who held up a paper "on which he had scrawled and circled an 'F' grade for Convergence, the name of Kamilos' group." Kamilos, a "former insider in the competition, was left wondering if he's now on the outside," but Kamilos said that his group "nonetheless intends to have a new plan ready in a few weeks." That plan will be "complicated as well, again involving redevelopment of the Arco site as well as a portion of Cal Expo to generate tax increment funds to help finance a downtown arena, along with private equity investment." But Kamilos said that the new plan "will not seek to have the State Fair move to the Arco site." Meanwhile, Harris "effusively welcomed the newest of the four groups in the mix, a team put together by" Sacramento developer David Taylor that includes ICON Venue Group. The Taylor team "presented few details for a downtown railyard arena, however, saying they had only organized as a group three weeks ago." Both Taylor and IVG President & CEO Tim Romani indicated that "financing an arena will require some form of public funding." Taylor: "No way in hell this project is going to get done in any of our lifetimes without public help." Bizjak notes a third group, "led by downtown businessman Al Mackani and developer Larry Kelley, is focusing on the Westfield Downtown Plaza site" for a new arena, while a fourth group, Natomas ESC Partners, is "pushing for what they say will be a less expensive arena in Natomas, next to existing Arco Arena." The arena task force "will make a recommendation to the City Council later this month" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/7).
Bears GM Jerry Angelo Thursday said that the team “discussed the possibility of switching to synthetic FieldTurf last year, and more research about a possible change will be conducted once the season ends.” Angelo said "the bottom line" is that Soldier Field's current grass field is "a safe surface." He added, "That's what we're fixed on, making sure we play on a safe surface." Angelo said Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips “wants to get more comfortable in the research" about FieldTurf before making a decision. Angelo: "I'm not ruling it out, and we'll do our due diligence with the research” (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 1/6).
TAKING IT TO THE BANK: Webster Bank has signed a 10-year naming-rights agreement for the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. The Arena at Harbor Yard is home to the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Webster Bank). In Connecticut, Keila Torres notes Webster Bank’s name “will soon be featured prominently in a new full-color outdoor marquee, on two large signs on the building façade, in several locations inside the building and on highway directional signs.” As part of the agreement, Webster also will receive "digital messaging rights, promotional exposure in brochures, collateral materials and websites and premium hospitality options, as well as exclusive rights to install its ATM machines in the arena concourse” (CONNECTICUT POST, 1/7).
PUT A CAP ON IT: The Twins Thursday announced that they have sold out TwinsFest for the first time after capping "ticket sales at 25,000 for this year’s three-day event, which will take place on Jan. 28-30 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.” TwinsFest “had originally been scheduled to take place at the Metrodome, but it had to change venues due to ongoing repairs” to the stadium’s roof (MLB.com, 1/6).