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The Raiders' contract with O.co Coliseum expires after the ‘13 season and Oakland City Council Commissioner Ignacio De La Fuente said that the team has been “meeting with the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, which governs the coliseum complex, to discuss the team's future in Oakland,” according to Woodall & Fernandez of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Raiders Chief Exec Amy Trask repeatedly has said the Raiders “were keeping an open mind about sharing a facility in Santa Clara or in Oakland.” When asked about the “new round of speculation,” Trask said, "I am working with our team, our organization and the Raider family to navigate a very difficult time." De La Fuente yesterday said, "Everything is on the table." That could “entail a year-to-year contract extension, or a long-term agreement -- with or without a new stadium in Oakland.” But several commissioners yesterday said that “no decisions have been made.” Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews does not see late Owner Al Davis' death “changing anything regarding any immediate or sure-thing changes to where the Raiders will choose to locate.” Matthews said, "We've had no discussions with the Raiders. And we're focusing on creating a landmark building for our primary tenant, the 49ers." However, Santa Clara City Council member Lisa Gillmor said, "I would like to think that this improves the odds of the Raiders making a change to Santa Clara" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/12). In San Jose, Mark Purdy wrote Davis’ son, Mark, has “given no deep thought to where the Raiders might play in 2014 or beyond,” but there are “only three logical possibilities.” The Raiders “could stay in Oakland,” or they could “become co-tenants with the 49ers in their proposed Santa Clara project.” The team also could move to L.A., where “two competing projects are fighting to bring back NFL football.” Purdy also looks at where the Raiders could be playing in '20, saying the odds of being in Oakland at the time are “pretty long, " while the chances the team is playing in Santa Clara are “better than you might imagine" and the odds of being in L.A. in ’20 are “probably somewhere between the Oakland odds and Santa Clara odds” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/12).
MOVING ISSUES: YAHOO SPORTS’ Jason Cole wrote for fans who “think the Raiders are on the first Southwest flight from the Oakland Airport to LAX, just hold on for a second.” For that to happen, Raiders Owner the Davis family “would likely have to sell the team outright.” Sources said that both of the current L.A. stadium proposals “include those entities buying a share of the team that comes there.” Sources said that AEG Chair Phil Anschutz has asked franchises looking at a potential move to the proposed Farmers Field "for anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of a team at a discounted rate.” Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski has “asked for less (one AEG source has put it at a nominal 5 to 10 percent).” However, a source said that Roski’s group “was not particularly focused on the Raiders at this point because of the questions about how much the Davis family really owned.” Cole wrote unless “demands are significantly lowered, the Raiders can’t really go to the AEG site unless the Davis family simply wants to sell, and going to the Roski site would also weaken the family’s share significantly.” For now, any sale of the team “seems improbable.” The NFL’s “preference (not a strong one) is that the Raiders stay in Oakland and eventually share a stadium” with the 49ers. Cole: “Ultimately, that may be the easiest way for the Davis family to stay as the owners” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/11).
Colts Owner Jim Irsay said that "full price is the only way to go," if a team is going to move to L.A., and "several NFL owners echoed his sentiments off the record," according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. The downtown L.A. stadium proposal calls for AEG Chair Phil Anschutz to "acquire a minority share of a team at a discount," while Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski, "pushing for a venue in City of Industry, has dropped his bid to trade stadium land for a no-cash piece of a team and now is offering to pay full price for a minority share." The sales price "for a minority share matters to Irsay because that helps establish the value of a franchise." Irsay said, "The bottom line is, if an owner's going to go in there, and if he's going to sell 10% or 20%, he's not going to sell it for $5 million a point." Irsay added, "There's been a feeling like we're going to steal a deal because we're L.A., and we're such a big market, and you have to come here ... A team may benefit, but it's not like a team can't exist where they are. It's not like a team in hockey or baseball that's just dying on the vine and so desperate that they have to come. So we'll see" (L.A. TIMES, 10/12).
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS LOOM: ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi noted, "Despite dropping his initial ownership demand, Roski's proposal still has plenty of holes for league owners." Roski's plan "still does not answer the question of how the stadium will be financed." In his most recent plan, Roski "wants to buy a minority share of the team and is asking the team to figure out how to finance the stadium after moving" to L.A., which offers no public money for stadiums. Markazi noted the NFL "will not allow a team to relocate to Los Angeles unless financing for the new stadium has been secured, and it would be impossible for a team to secure financing for a stadium in Los Angeles while still in its current city" (ESPNLA.com, 10/11).
EPL club West Ham United “could still end up owning” the $764.5M (all figures U.S.) Olympic Stadium following the '12 Games despite the U.K. government’s announcement yesterday that "the deal for the club to buy it had collapsed,” according to Ashling O’Connor of the LONDON TIMES. West Ham confirmed that “they would resubmit a bid" to become tenants of the stadium. London Mayor Boris Johnson said that "West Ham would ‘almost certainly’ succeed in the fresh bidding process that should be complete by January.” However, U.K. Minister for Sport & Olympics Hugh Robertson suggested that West Ham “could ultimately buy the stadium out of public ownership.” One business model being considered is for the local borough authority, the Newham Council, “to inject [$62.9M] into a special purchase vehicle (SPV) jointly owned" with Greater London's Mayoral Development Corporation. The SPV would "own the 60,000-seat stadium and various lease agreements with football, athletics, concert promoters and perhaps cricket.” This would “eliminate any question of state aid" and still allow the venue to be controlled by a government entity, which could "earn money from its operation and potentially sell it off to make a return for the taxpayer.” This “‘best value’ option would require the London taxpayer" to meet a $31.5M funding gap to "reduce the capacity from 80,000 seats and upgrade it for professional football.” This sum “was previously to have been paid by West Ham.” The new upfront cost to the taxpayer “will fuel critics of the decision to retain the running track after the Games," a promise made to to IOC by LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe when London was awarded the '12 Olympics (LONDON TIMES, 10/12).
QUESTIONING AUTHORITY: In London, Hope & Kelso report LOCOG officials involved “in the collapse of the London 2012 Stadium deal will be questioned before Parliament to explain their use of public money.” Olympic Park Legacy CEO Andrew Altman “is among the officials who will be called before the influential Public Accounts Committee on Dec. 14.” Others who will be questioned are Olympic Development Authority CEO Dennis Hone, LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton and U.K. Department for Culture, Media and Sport Permanent Secretary Jonathan Stephens (London TELEGRAPH, 10/12).
MORE LONDON CONSTRUCTION: REUTERS’ Mike Collett cited EPL club Fulham execs as saying that the club plans “to increase the capacity at their picturesque Craven Cottage from 25,700 to 30,000.” Fulham has played at the venue “since 1896.” Last week EPL club Chelsea, “who play at Stamford Bridge, two kilometers from Craven Cottage, said they were looking at options to move from the ground which has been their home since they were formed in 1905” (REUTERS, 10/9).
Chesapeake Energy Arena opened its doors Monday “for its first event -- a WWE show --- following the completion of the majority of projects included in the $36 million final phase” of renovations, according to Darnell Mayberry of THE OKLAHOMAN. The improvements “are a slice of the final wave of a three-phase renovation project Oklahoma City residents in 2008 voted to approve with a one-cent sales tax.” The cylinder that greets patrons as they walk through the doors of the northeast entrance “is one of several video boards and high-end television sets that have been added.” At the northwest entrance, “another video board, this one in the shape of a shield, hangs on the wall” and adjacent to it “is an enormous projection screen that sits above the escalator leading to the club level.” Throughout the 100 level, “20 wedge-shaped televisions have been added along the concourse.” The most “impressive and inviting improvement is to the floors, walls and ceiling of the 100 level.” Gray concrete floors “have been replaced with bright, multicolored terrazzo painted in the Thunder's orange, blue and white colors” and the ceiling “has been dropped, finished and improved with additional lighting.” New “way-finding signage such as numbered seating sections and informative directional instructions also has been added.” On the outside of the building, “a 74-foot wide, 20-foot tall video board displays advertising and live footage.” The arena also has added “additional eating options throughout the concourse and is in the process of completing renovations on clubs and restaurants, as well as a grand entrance on the southwest side of the building that will be ready in June 2012” (THE OKLAHOMAN, 10/12).
The reaction to the Sabres' new locker room at First Niagara Center has been "universally positive, with players smiling and staring wide-eyed at the pictures, logos, lights and nods to history that the Sabres' design team created," according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. Sabres G Ryan Miller said, "It's above and beyond. You can get lost in this place, it's so big. [Owners] Terry and Kim (Pegula) put a lot of thought into it, and we really appreciate it." The new rooms "don't contain a trace of the team's old locker area." A circular room "has replaced the rectangle, allowing players to see each other and communicate easily." By contrast, the new visiting dressing room "is a long rectangle, and chats between players on opposite ends will be next to impossible," and the benches and stalls "are wood-grained rather than blue vinyl." Vogl noted, "The Sabres' walk from the room to the ice was designed to give them a sense of purpose and pride. Six words -- belief, commitment, character, discipline, trust and, in larger type, excellence -- are written above the exit door. From there, the players enter a hallway that is an ode to team history." The left wall has "the names and photos of every member of the Sabres Hall of Fame," while the right wall features large plaques "with the numbers and names of the six Sabres who have their uniforms retired" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/11).
In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe reports the Arizona State Univ. baseball team’s “move from Packard Stadium to the Chicago Cubs’ planned spring training facility was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents.” ASU will enter into “a 30-year facility use agreement with the Cubs at their $100 million spring training facility near Riverview Park in Mesa.” The school will “lease the land for $1 per year while retaining revenue from parking during ASU games.” It “will not pay rent to the Cubs until making $1.1 million from tickets, concessions and parking.” The school will “have its own locker rooms and practice facilities” and the cost of the clubhouse “is estimated at $2 million, which will be paid by ASU through fundraising.” The Sun Devils are expected “to begin playing at the new facility” in ’14 (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/12).
EARTH, WIND, FIRE: In Cleveland, Karen Farkas reports the Indians and Cleveland State Univ. announced yesterday that “an 18-foot-wide helix turbine developed by a CSU engineering professor will be mounted atop” Progressive Field’s southeast corner. Indians Asst. Dir of Ballpark Operations Brad Mohr said that the turbine will “generate about 40,000 kilowatt hours per year, about the same energy used to power four homes.” Mohr said that the ballpark “uses about 17 million kilowatt hours a year.” He hopes the turbine’s “visibility sparks interest in renewable energy so that one day it’s put into production” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/12).
YOU COMPLETE ME: In Houston, Jose De Jesus Ortiz writes “although there’s plenty of work to be done” before the MLS Dynamo’s new stadium opens “on May 12, it [is] easy to envision how it will look.” Most of the risers “on the upper bowl are up” and the “roof canopy is already covering a large portion on the southwest corner of the stadium.” Dynamo MF Geoff Cameron said, “You kind of picture in your head where you’re going to be walking out. Walking into the new stadium, it’s clear it’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility and it will make the team complete” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/12).
HIGH DEFINITION: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes the Bobcats recently “worked with Daktronics to repair and upgrade the four-sided video scoreboard at Time Warner Cable Arena.” New panels and pixels on the video boards “will make the screens clearer -- and also allow for conversion to high-definition in the future” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/7 issue).