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SBD/March 1, 2011/FacilitiesPrint All
The Orioles this afternoon will debut an overhauled Ed Smith Stadium in "what will be a celebration for an organization that has endured substandard and outdated spring facilities for years," according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore SUN. The Orioles' $31.2M renovation of their Spring Training home in Sarasota, Fla., and the "minor league complex at nearby Twin Lakes Park started in June and will continue long after the big league team heads north for the 2011 season." But the ballpark already has "garnered rave reviews from players, coaches and team officials." Orioles VP/Planning & Development Janet Marie Smith, who has spearheaded the renovation efforts, said, "One thing we're excited about is just architecturally, this little Ed Smith Stadium has been here for like 20 years but without any real personality. I think we're just really pleased that it's come together and people have responded so favorably to what is clearly not just a facelift, but a complete overhaul." Zrebiec notes the project, from DC-based David Schwarz Architects and Sarasota-based Hoyt Architects, "borrowed from the 'Florida Picturesque' style that is evident in many of the city's high-profile public buildings." The redesign also "has a distinct Orioles feel," as retired Orioles numbers "hang from under the press box and suite area, and a quote from Cal Ripken Sr. will be displayed prominently on the outside." Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail has said the new Ed Smith Stadium complex, "coupled with the massive renovation at the once-derided Twin Lakes minor league facility, eliminates another excuse for the organization." He added, "The ballpark has exceeded my grandest expectations. I didn't realize that you can dress that park up to the extent that it's been. It's a little gem of a ballpark" (Baltimore SUN, 3/1).
FLYING HIGH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret writes the Ed Smith Stadium renovation has turned the Orioles' Spring Training Facility "from a dumpy ballpark into one of the jewels of the Grapefruit League." The project "doubled the park’s size to 163,246 square feet, adding a second-story concourse with suites and an indoor lounge, new concession stands and rest rooms, a new Daktronics high-definition video board and 100 new HD televisions hung inside the facility." In addition, a "left-field pavilion with drink rails and picnic tables facing the action, four new elevators and an extension of the sunroof on the main concourse to increase shaded spaces add more modern comforts to the park," which opened in '89. Muret notes the ballpark's 6,500 fixed seats "were recycled from Camden Yards' upper deck and club levels" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/28 issue).
SALT OF THE EARTH: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes the D'Backs and Rockies have "ended all arguments about spring training complexes" with the construction of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the "best one ever built -- by far." The Rockies' "astoundingly large Fitness Center is said to be the best of its type in the state of Arizona." Also, the main facility is "so large, it houses clubhouses for both the major- and minor-leaguers, and they share the dining area." Jenkins added, "It goes on and on like this: A classroom designed specifically for teaching English to Latin America players. A training room filled with exercise pools, one of which allows players to swim against a current. A bunting field with its own pitching machine" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/1).
WHAT'S BREWIN? In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt notes the Brewers' lease at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, their Spring Training home since '98, expires in '12, and it appears certain that the team "won't jump to Florida." The Brewers have been "in talks with the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission for a couple of years," and the "questions are how much of an upgrade do the Brewers really need and at what cost?" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/1).
A new downtown open-air stadium in Atlanta "would be of enormous benefit" to the Falcons, but "neither local taxpayers nor the region's economy is likely to accrue much advantage from a new arena built on public land, in part with public money," according to experts cited by Kanell & Stafford of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The new stadium would shift Falcons games "from the 19-year-old Georgia Dome to a stadium that would be built on nearby Ivan Allen Boulevard." Kennesaw State Univ. sports economist J.C. Bradbury: "It's just adding zero to zero." Many options are "still on the table -- perhaps including renovation or expansion of the Georgia Dome." But the Georgia World Congress Center Authority last week said that it has "drafted a 'memorandum of understanding' on plans for a $700 million stadium." GWCCA officials said that if they reach a formal agreement, the state or the authority "would issue bonds to raise $350 million to $400 million, while the team would cover the rest of the cost." Univ. of Oregon business professor Dennis Howard: "The team gets to keep the lion's share of local revenue. That's why they want a new stadium. My question would be, 'What's in it for the state of Georgia? What's in it for the city of Atlanta?'" Kanell & Stafford noted boosters are "quick to point out that state funding of the project will come through hotel taxes, not from fees or taxes imposed on residents," but economists said that "spending on sports can't be judged unless you consider how it shifts money from other programs, investment and tax cuts" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/27).
The Indians will stage a country music event at Progressive Field on June 11 headlined by Brad Paisley, the reigning Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year. Paisley will be joined by Blake Shelton and Jerrod Niemann for the newly created "Indians Music Festival." Tickets will range from $30-125. The club made the announcement this morning on WGAR-FM, a Cleveland country music station. Like many other clubs, the move marks a further effort by the Indians to maximize non-game usage of their ballpark (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS' Joel Hammond notes the concert "follows closely the Indians' Snow Days, a winter extravaganza staged at Progressive Field from late November through Jan. 2 that drew more than 50,000 people to the stadium." The "alternate uses of the stadium come as the team's gate receipts have sagged." The Indians were last in MLB attendance last season, drawing an average of 17,345 fans per game (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 3/1).
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's Real Sports Bar & Grill in Toronto is "regularly filled to capacity," and MLSE is "considering offers to establish similar venues in Canada and the United States," according to Rachel Brady of the GLOBE & MAIL. More than 250,000 patrons have visited the 1,000-seat venue since it opened last June, and ESPN Mobile "already voted it the best sports bar in North America." To devise the concept, MLSE food and hospitality officials "visited bars, restaurants and night clubs across North America to observe best practices." Rockwell Group, an architecture firm "known for its work on grand projects like Oscar sets, concert theatres, stadiums and luxury hotels, designed Real Sports like a theatre -- 26,800 square feet over two levels -- which cost" C$12M to build. The venue "has 199 television screens, including the gargantuan high-definition screen over the bar that is claimed to be the biggest in any sports grill anywhere." The decor also includes "sculptures of famous trophies in sports, hockey-stick-inspired chandeliers, and a bar glazed like a sheet of ice." The venue has "neutral tones and night-club lighting, modern furnishings, a golf simulator, and booths to dock your iPod or laptop for a business lunch." MLSE said that the bar's clientele is 40% female on average, though "football-heavy viewing days tend to skew just" 25% female. The players' lounge is "routinely filled with not just members of MLSE's teams -- the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC -- but also other sports figures" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/26).
Majestic Realty Co. VP John Semcken believes that an NFL team “could be playing in the Los Angeles area by the 2012 season and a second club may join it there.” Semcken, whose company has proposed a football stadium in City of Industry, Calif., said that “a team that relocates to the area could play in a renovated Rose Bowl in 2012-13 until the new stadium is ready.” Semcken: “I am hopeful we will have an agreement with a team to come here for the 2012 season.” Semcken said that “since City of Industry might not be the most appealing name, Majestic would change the name of the stadium location to Grand Crossing.” He added that he is “confident Majestic’s stadium would draw $1 billion in naming rights.” The NFL “had no comment on Semcken’s statements.” NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy in an e-mail said the league will “continue to monitor all stadium developments in the Los Angeles area” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/1).
VIKING QUEST CONTINUES: In Minneapolis, Lonetree & Kaszuba report the Arden Hills City Council yesterday agreed to work with Ramsey County “as it explores the potential of hosting a stadium in an abandoned federal munitions site” as a home for the Vikings. But Arden Hills Mayor David Grant noted that the city “has yet to see a formal stadium proposal or financing plan.” Two legislative lobbyists “told commissioners that no one seems to know just when a bill will emerge” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/1).
THE SUITE LIFE: In Baltimore, Alexander Jackson reports companies “looking to entertain at the Baltimore Grand Prix during Labor Day weekend have jumped at an opportunity to watch the city’s big auto race from the air-conditioned comfort of mobile hospitality suites.” Organizers of the IndyCar Series race weekend “have sold four of these street-level versions of sky boxes and are looking to track down more to meet demand.” The mobile suites “give 50 to 100 people privacy and a view from an upper deck, lower deck, covered patio or an indoor suite for as much as $100,000.” The Baltimore Grand Prix “already has leased two 50-person suites, equipped with high-definition TVs, a kitchenette, and a bathroom for guests, for more than $60,000 each” (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/25 issue).
ANNUAL LOSS: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Paul Bond reported Live Nation “lost $228 million in 2010 -- compared with $60 million a year ago.” The company yesterday said that its annual loss “nearly tripled as concert attendance dropped.” While the Live Nation “sold 11.4 million tickets to family events in 2010, slightly up from 2009, it lost ground in the other big categories.” Ticket sales to concerts “were off 10 percent to 63.4 million, sports tickets were down 1 percent to 22.1 million and the arts and theater category decreased 12 percent to 18.6 million” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 2/28).