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Minneapolis officials yesterday unveiled a $1B plan to "build a new Vikings stadium at the Metrodome site, fix up city-owned Target Center and cut property taxes," according to Duchschere, Olson & Brandt of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The plan includes a "bevy of new or expanded taxes: admission taxes on stadium events, higher street parking fees on game days and extension of a downtown hotel, liquor and restaurant tax citywide." It also would institute a 0.15% sales tax, "similar to one that Hennepin County imposed to help build Target Field." The proposal, introduced by Mayor R.T. Rybak, would have the Vikings paying 45% -- $400M -- of an $895M "roofed stadium on the Dome site." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that team officials "appreciated the proposal but that a $400 million contribution was too much." Bagley also noted that playing at TCF Bank Stadium "for three years while the new field was built would cost the Vikings $40 million in lost revenue." He said, "$440 million for the site does not work, and it's not something we can support." The team also is in "what it describes as serious discussions with Ramsey County about a new stadium in Arden Hills." Still, yesterday's announcement, also calling for a $95M renovation to Target Center, is a "startling reversal in Minneapolis' public stance in the ongoing stadium debate." Rybak and other city officials had insisted that the city "had no new resources to help finance such a project." It "wasn't immediately clear how much support the plan enjoys among the 13 City Council members" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10). In St. Paul, Dave Orrick notes Minneapolis' vision for a new Vikings stadium "amounts to a massive retrofitting of the bones of the Metrodome." A rendering of the design from Aecom, which was "drawn up with little input from the team," shows a "sleek-lined exterior with a roof-high glass facade facing the city's skyline" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10).
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Following the unveiling of Minneapolis' plan, Bagley said, "It's a serious proposal. Our issues are that they put it together without our involvement. We only got a broad outlook last week. We have some concerns about it." Asked about his optimism the Vikings will reach a stadium deal, Bagley said, "We're closer than we've ever been. But the window is closing. If we don't bring a package imminently the window will close. We still think there's time (before the state Legislature is scheduled to adjourn May 23). ... Minneapolis is a real proposal. As it's been presented, it has challenges. And we have not agreed to terms with Ramsey County. Right now, there's one proposal that has emerged, and we're hopeful there will be another. We are close to an agreement, but there are obstacles that make the Ramsey County site more expensive than other sites" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert noted the Vikings "have the bidding war they wanted but appear to have reservations about both sites" (ESPN.com, 5/9). A STAR TRIBUNE editorial states Minneapolis' proposal is an "affordable, forward-looking solution." The Vikings "need to realize that the Dome plan offers the best odds for a stadium bill to receive the necessary 2011 support from a local partner, the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10).
PEERS WEIGH IN: Former Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell, who was the point man for the team's pursuit of a ballpark that eventually resulted in Target Field, weighed in yesterday "about the Vikings' attempt to get a new stadium." Bell said, "If they can get the right package together, I'm almost sure the votes are there to do it. The governor doesn't seem to think a budget has to be passed first. Others seem to think a budget has to be done first. That could be a stumbling block." Bell added, "It would be very, very helpful to have a firm commitment from a local partner. ... The local partner is huge. And you need something that's simple, something everyone can understand" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/10). T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor yesterday sent a letter to fans in response to the proposal from Minneapolis and plans to renovate Target Center, writing, "The Timberwolves are truly excited about the renovation plans, and will be helping to pay for our fair share" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 5/9).
ALL OPPOSED? In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba reports as the push for a new Vikings stadium "escalates at the Legislature, a large majority of Minnesotans still oppose using public subsidies for the project, even though they agree that keeping the team in the state is important." More than 60% of respondents in the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll said that the Vikings "should simply keep playing in the Metrodome," while nearly 75% believe that Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf "should not get taxpayer money for a new stadium." But a year after the Twins opened Target Field, the poll, "for the first time, showed that a majority favored spending public money on that project." Kaszuba notes 55% now say that "public financing of the project was worth it," up from 48% in October (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10).
Target Center “could have a new name by the end of the summer,” according to John Vomhof Jr. of the MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL BUSINESS JOURNAL. Target’s naming rights agreement for the arena “expires at the end of August.” The Minneapolis-based retailer "remains in talks" with the T'Wolves about extending the deal, but the team is "shopping the name to other companies." The team is “seeking a 14-year deal to match the years remaining on its Target Center lease.” T’Wolves officials said that they are “in ongoing talks with multiple companies, including Target.” They “declined to name any of the other prospects, but said the list includes both local and national businesses.” T’Wolves Senior VP/Marketing & Communications and CMO Ted Johnson: “We felt we needed to broaden the discussion to include other companies, and Target understood that.” Life Time Fitness is “among the companies vying for the deal.” The Minnesota-based fitness chain, which “last fall acquired the naming rights for the Wolves’ in-arena practice facility, confirmed that it wants to expand that deal to include the broader arena naming rights.” Best Buy and U.S. Bancorp, two “large local players” and longtime team sponsors, “also would be likely suspects.” The T’Wolves are “handling most of the talks in-house, but they also hired an undisclosed naming-rights consultant to help identify national companies that might be interested.” Vomhof notes one “key question is whether Target might be more or less likely to renew its Target Center deal now that it also holds the naming rights to the neighboring Target Field and Target Plaza” (MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL BUSINESS JOURNAL 5/6 issue).
With the NASCAR HOF celebrating its one-year anniversary this week, Exec Dir Winston Kelley "discussed the highs and lows of the hall of fame's first year" during an interview with Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The following is a portion of the conversation.
Q: On what worked in year one:
Kelley: The fact that we achieved what we set out to achieve, which is to design a facility that had something in it for everybody. For all types of customers. I think our customer feedback tells us that. ... We are the second-highest in attendance of any sports hall of fame in North America.
Q: And what hasn't worked:
Kelley: All of the focus has been on narrow parts of the hall of fame. On the attendance and the financials. Not that they're not important -- because they're very important if you list the things that are most important, they'd always be on that list. But the fact that that has garnered, at least locally, the majority, if not 99%, of the attention, suggests we should have communicated that differently.
Q: On future revenue projections and absorbing deficits:
Kelley: We're in the process of developing our budget. ... There are a lot of differing opinions on how much should be spent on marketing. Those conversations have not taken place, so I can't say, "Here's where we are."
Q: On shifts in marketing and promotions:
Kelley: How would I describe our marketing efforts is an evolution. The evolution is exactly what you would expect with a new business. You do a marketing plan based on what information you have, right or wrong. ... The evolution is real data versus projections. Some of it evolves more to the local audience. And a lot of the decisions are made for the local audience (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/6 issue).
The “impending construction of Italian racing-car chassis builder Dallara's U.S. headquarters” in the Town of Speedway, Ind., where the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located, signals an “acceleration of the neighborhood's planned resurgence, which is pinned on a mix of retail, business and entertainment offerings,” according to Josh Duke of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The $500M redevelopment will “transform 350 acres south of the track into a racing-themed business and entertainment center.” Plans include “multistory retail and residential buildings along Main Street as well as commercial, office and light-industrial development throughout the area.” Speedway Redevelopment Commission Dir Scott Harris said that “expectations are bolstered by talks with three restaurants, two museum groups and motor-sports companies and teams.” A “three- to four-star hotel also is being studied.” Construction will begin “any day on the $6 million, 100,000-square-foot building on Main Street to house Dallara and the Indy Racing Experience.” Dallara's facility will have a “racing simulator, a place to show how an Indy car goes from concept to assembly, and tours of Dallara's workshop to view cars being designed, built and tested.” The town and Indy Racing Experience officials also have “discussed designing three-seat replica Indy cars for tours of sights in Speedway.” Harris said that “talks are continuing with two groups that want to add museums focused on cars and motor sports to complement” the IMS museum at the racetrack (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/10).