SBD/March 4, 2011/People and Pop Culture

This Week's Newsmakers: New Spring Training Facilities Shine In Debuts

D'Backs, Rockies open new Spring Training facility to rave reviews
THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week's newsmakers:

WIN: SPRING TRAINING FACILITIES -- Two first-class facilities opened this past week, with the Orioles unveiling a $31M overhaul to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota and the D'Backs and Rockies opening the brand new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Arizona. The Orioles kick off their new 30-year lease at their venue to rave reviews from fans and media and take a major step toward shedding the organization's reputation of having substandard and outdated spring facilities. In Arizona, the combined Rockies and D'Backs facility becomes the first Spring Training stadium to be built on Native American land, and no expense is spared. At an estimated cost of $130-170M, better amenities for players and better access for fans have Salt River Fields already being dubbed the "Versailles of spring training facilities."

LOSE: METS -- Word leaks out over the weekend of a $25M loan from MLB, putting the team’s travails back in the news and renewing questions about the WILPONS' financial viability. Those close to the Mets owners claim much of the reporting on the family's connections to BERNIE MADOFF has been unfair and too personal. But many others feel ownership has obfuscated the team’s true financial situation, and news they may face additional allegations from a court-appointed trustee in the Madoff case may be cause for further concern. The ongoing controversy is certainly not a welcome distraction with Opening Day only a few weeks away.

DRAW: QUEBEC CITY -- A major step toward an NHL-ready arena in the city is taken, as Canadian communications company Quebecor agrees to a 25-year deal for naming and management rights to the yet-to-be-built facility. Quebecor's backing, which will provide somewhere between C$110-200M to the project, certainly makes the financing of the proposed C$400M building more realistic. But despite the deal, the city still faces the same obstacles. The long-sought support of the Canadian federal government remains absent, and NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN says the league is no closer to a Quebec City return.
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