SBD/February 1, 2011/Facilities

Facility Notes

Stuart Blumberg, Chair of a committee spearheading the renovation design of the Miami Beach Convention Center, said that two Florida state senators “have agreed to sponsor a bill that would help fund the center renovation through a hotel tax increase while excluding the Dolphins from any of the money raised.” Blumberg said that the proposal “would allow Miami-Dade commissioners to increase a hotel tax” from 3% to 4%. He added that “additional language he presented to the senators restricts the use of CDT funds to 'publicly owned or operated, and not-for-profit' organizations, excluding private organizations such as the Dolphins.” In Miami, David Smiley noted by presenting a bill that “separates the two projects, Blumberg may have complicated the Dolphins’ push to secure public funding for a proposed $225 million renovation to Sun Life Stadium” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/31).

CASH BACK: In Houston, Bradley Olson reports the city is “poised to strike a 30-year deal giving back $3 million in projected sales tax to the Houston Dynamo as they prepare to construct their $60 million stadium.” City officials said that the tax rebate “always has been a part of the deal that kept the team from leaving Houston.” The deal “will make the city and county owners of a new sports stadium for which they did not have to pay.” Houston Chief Development Officer Andy Icken, a “primary negotiator for the city on the deal,” said that it “mirrors sales tax rebates the city gave the Houston Texans when it negotiated over the future Reliant Stadium” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/1).

LOST IN THE TREES: Twins President Dave St. Peter on Friday said that the trees beyond the centerfield wall at Target Field are “coming out as part of a plan to help hitters see pitches better.” In Minneapolis, La Velle Neal noted the trees “were considered a key feature” of the new ballpark. But as the venue's first season progressed, players “began to mention that the trees swaying in the breeze interfered with their ability to lock in on pitches.” In addition, the batter’s eye -- the “huge wall behind the trees -- will be worked on to reduce glare that hitters pointed out throughout the season” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/29).

MONEY TALKS: In Lexington, Jerry Tipton noted in the “first week of pondering Lexington Mayor Jim Gray's decision to first look at renovating Rupp Arena rather than building a new downtown facility, one factor seemingly overrides all: Cost.” A renovation would cost “significantly less than a construction of a new arena.” Tipton: “But how much less? And can Rupp Arena be retrofitted … to add luxury suites, club seating and any other revenue-generating desires of the University of Kentucky athletics department?” UK Board of Trustee faculty rep Joe Peek “liked the renovation idea,” and believes that Rupp Arena “should be preserved in a renovated form because it carries a mystique like baseball's Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.” Peek said that UK “had more pressing needs than a new basketball arena,” including $200M in maintenance that has been deferred (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 1/30).
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