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AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke yesterday "shot back at skeptics" of the company's proposed NFL stadium in downtown L.A. and "reiterated his pledge that 'not a penny' of taxpayer money would be spent on the mega-project," according to Patrick McDonnell of the L.A. TIMES. Several L.A. City Council members have "voiced reservations" about the project "at a time when the city is facing a fiscal crisis that could result in additional layoffs, furloughs and service cuts." As part of the stadium deal, the city "would lease land to AEG and issue $350 million in bonds for a renovation of the adjacent convention center." Leiweke "vowed to make up any financing gap if revenue from the stadium and a rebuilt convention center fall short." He said the city is "never going to have to pay a penny -- and we're going to guarantee it." Leiweke: "Will everyone just take a deep breath and have a little faith that we're not going to lie to people? We're going to do the right thing. Calm down. ... There's no tricks. There's no risks." Leiweke said that a "formal stadium proposal should be presented this week." He added, "When the proposal gets there, everyone's going to take a deep breath and realize: There is zero risk to the taxpayer. This is people trying to scare people. And it's a shame." Leiweke said that the NFL has "reacted enthusiastically to the stadium proposal." Leiweke: "They love L.A. They want us to get this done." Still, City Council member Paul Krekorian, "who has urged caution on the stadium plan," yesterday said that "detailed studies on the fiscal, environmental and traffic ramifications of the stadium proposal were needed" (L.A. TIMES, 2/9).
NOT SO IMPARTIAL? The AP's Jacob Adelman reported the L.A. business leaders selected by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to "analyze plans for a downtown NFL stadium on the public's behalf seem to have one thing in common: deep financial, political and civic ties" with AEG. Villaraigosa's panel includes former California Gov. Gray Davis, who "received generous donations from entities connected" to AEG Chair Philip Anschutz. The panel also includes entertainment execs who "have partnered with the firm or its affiliates" and business owners "who have served alongside" Leiweke on local boards and commissions. Adelman wrote that makeup "could cast doubt on its ability to objectively evaluate the stadium project" (AP, 2/8).
PROMOTIONAL EFFORT: In L.A., David Zahniser reported Villaraigosa's office "shot a video to promote the city's quest for an NFL team -- a production that features firefighters, mariachis, a surfer and, of course, the mayor himself." Villaraigosa in the spot "promises viewers that taxpayer money will not be used to build" the stadium. Villaraigosa: "This project will be 100% privately funded, but not by me. Who do you think I am? Mayor Bloomberg?" (LATIMES.com, 2/7).
Octane Motorsports Events Inc. yesterday unveiled track designs for the July 24 Izod IndyCar race in Edmonton, and the northeast corner of the Edmonton City Centre Airport will feature a "3.61-km course and six different grandstand locations, each with its own giant-screen video board," according to Terry Jones of the EDMONTON SUN. The grandstand "is configured for 20,000 temporary seats to be put on sale now but is set up with expectation of expansion to much greater numbers as sales grow." Octane President Francois Dumontier said, "The seats will be much closer to the track and the best ones will be much coveted from one year to the next." Jones notes the 13-turn course features the "longest combination of straight-aways, with the opportunity for plenty of passing on not only the straights but several turns, particularly Turn 1." Three-day ticket packages are available in three price ranges -- C$230, $150 and $125. All are "lower than in 2010." Dumontier indicated that the "race day general admission price is reduced but the Saturday price will be increased 'to better reflect the reality of the program' Octane is planning" (EDMONTON SUN, 2/9). In Edmonton, John MacKinnon notes Octane is "looking to the Edmonton race's beginnings with Champ Car in 2005 as a template for sizzle and customer satisfaction." Edmonton Indy GM Anne Roy: "We want to recreate that buzz, we want to go after that. I remember feeling that 'care factor,' people took care of each other" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 2/9). Roy added, "The first three years of ChampCar here was amazing. There was a real care factor here. The drivers and the teams loved coming here. My goal is to recreate that again." Dumontier: "In the first years of Champ-Car there was a buzz in town. The race lost that in the last three years. We intend to bring back the buzz at the track and throughout the city. We want to inspire people to embrace the race" (EDMONTON SUN, 2/9).
END OF THE LINE: IndyCar yesterday announced that it will not return to Twin Ring Motegi in '12. The series will hold its final event at the 1.5-mile oval north of Tokyo on Sept. 18. IndyCar Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt: "While our businesses move in different directions, we will keep the door open for future events at the track" (IndyCar).
Wisconsin resident Courtney Ring has won the "Create a Concession Contest," a promotion by the Brewers and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to find a new food item to sell at Miller Park, according to Jan Uebelherr of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Ring took "inspiration from the field" for her dish, creating the "Famous Racing Sausage Kebabs," one of nearly 1,400 entries in the contest. All five of the Brewers' racing sausages are "represented in her creation: the bratwurst, Polish, Italian, chorizo and the hot dog, grilled and skewered with peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and pineapple.” Miller Park will serve the dish this season at the Plaza Grill, as well as at two concession stands. For creating the winning item, Ring won "four Loge infield tickets to a 2011 marquee Brewers game, a personalized Brewers jersey and an autographed baseball.” She also “receives four Loge infield tickets to the Brewers' home opener on April 4 and the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a game, to watch batting practice from the field, to have her photo taken in the Brewers dugout and to be recognized on the Brewers' new scoreboard.” Uebelherr notes the Brewers “came up with the contest because they're always looking for ways to get fans involved.” Brewers VP/Communications Tyler Barnes “expects the contest to be held again” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/9).
In Chicago, Sean Jensen reports the Bears' home stadium "will remain" known as Soldier Field, regardless of who wins election as the city's next Mayor. Spokespersons for three of the top mayoral candidates said that they “would not consider a name change in any way, while one would be open to exploring the subject only if it included" the name "Soldier Field.” Mayoral candidates Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel del Valle “are adopting the same hard-line stance as Mayor Daley, who insisted the stadium name remain untouched.” Brooke Anderson, spokesperson for candidate Gery Chico, said, "He would be open to exploring creative ideas that could attract sponsors while preserving the Soldier Field name and stadium to give soldiers the respect they deserve" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/9).
THAT’S A WRAP: In London, Graham Ruddick reports LOCOG has “reinstated plans for a fabric curtain to wrap around the Olympic Stadium by asking the private sector to stump up the cash.” LOCOG “asked for expressions of interest from businesses to supply” the US$11.3M wrap, and said it will "explore possible sponsorship opportunities." Potential sponsorship opportunities are “unclear because branding is not allowed on Olympic venues during Games time.” But LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said it is "one of the last high-profile opportunities for a corporate sponsor to gain an association with the London 2012 Games" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/9).
EXTREME ARENA MAKEOVER: In Oklahoma City, Michael Baker notes the City Council yesterday “awarded about $36 million in contracts to finish" Oklahoma City Arena improvements, the "last pieces of a $100 million overhaul.” The final phase of the project will include “two new bars, a new restaurant, completion of locker rooms for coaches and an addition to the building that will include two floors of NBA offices.” Exterior lighting, landscaping and a "new entryway on the southwest side of the building also will be part of the project” (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 2/9).