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EPL club Newcastle Owner Mike Ashley "faces a potential backlash from supporters after the announcement that St James' Park is to be rebranded as the Sports Direct Arena as part of the club's plan to sell the naming rights to the stadium," according to James Riach of the GUARDIAN. In a move that "ends 119 years of history, Ashley has temporarily renamed the ground after his company -- at no financial benefit to Newcastle -- and invited external backers to purchase the rights." By following the example of fellow EPL clubs Arsenal and Manchester City, Newcastle "believes it will become 'financially self-sufficient' in the long term" (GUARDIAN, 11/10). In London, Ben Smith notes work is “already under way to remove signage” at the stadium, and the move is “likely to spark widespread anger among supporters." Newcastle Managing Dir Derek Llambias said, “A lot of the fans will not like it. But we will take the hit of their criticism and anger because it will be good for the club.” He added, "We must make this club financially self-sufficient in order to deliver ... success. Stadium rebranding offers a lucrative way for clubs to secure significant additional income." Although Newcastle “will not benefit immediately from the deal, their hierarchy believes it will pave the way for the naming rights to be sold on again in the coming months as part of a potentially lucrative multiple sponsorship deal.” Llambias said, “I don’t expect Sports Direct Arena to be the name for long. We could have a deal by Christmas.” Sources said that Llambias “is hopeful that a deal would raise between" US$12.8M-16M per season. A number of companies “have already expressed an interest in a deal, but negotiations are at an early stage.” The club’s shirt deal with Northern Rock, reportedly worth about US$3.2M per season, “is set to expire this summer and Newcastle hope to tempt an investor to take on a joint shirt and stadium deal, with the club ready to commit to a ten-year contract” (LONDON TIMES, 11/10). In London, Luke Edwards notes the name change to Sports Direct Arena “could net as much as" US$24M a year (London TELEGRAPH, 11/10).
Oilers Owner the Katz Group “could choose the downtown arena’s design consultant and architect, despite the fact” the city of Edmonton is “footing the design bill,” according to Michelle Thompson of the EDMONTON SUN. The city in a report released yesterday said that it “reviewed the process the Katz Group used to select those experts and is happy with those choices.” The C$450M arena “will be paid for by the city, the Katz Group and a user fee.” But funding for the project is still C$100M “short and the city is hoping the province will chip in the difference.” The city had been “intending to select a design consultant and arena architect to begin draft designs” (EDMONTON SUN, 11/10). CTV EDMONTON’s Julia Parrish reports the Edmonton City Council yesterday “agreed to borrow” C$56M to purchase the land required for the proposed downtown arena, and “to design the building.” The city is “planning to pay back their portion through lease payments from the Katz Group, ticket tax money, a portion of new property taxes in the area, and parking revenue.” Parrish noted in the last point of the bylaw passed yesterday, it states that “if there is any remaining deficiency, the city would raise municipal taxes enough to repay the outstanding debt” (EDMONTON.CTV.ca, 11/9).
In Charlotte, David Scott reports the ACC football championship game at Bank of America Stadium has sold out “for a second consecutive year.” The ACC yesterday announced that its Dec. 3 title game “had sold out once again to the general public,” and the only tickets remaining “are the 10,000 allotted each competing school.” This marks the “third time in the game's seven-year history it's been sold out.” The ACC in ’10 “awarded the game to Charlotte for two years.” Two sellouts later, the league “again will make a decision on the game's future.” But a league source said that “it's not going to come until December, at the earliest.” ACC Commissioner John Swofford has said previously that “he hopes Charlotte can continue to host the championship game if this year's game matches the success of last year's between Florida State and Virginia Tech.” Scott writes making the sellout for this year's game “more impressive is the fact that neither competing team has been determined yet” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/10).
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton yesterday said that he “intends to regroup with sponsors of the Vikings football stadium bill next week for a fresh push, but said he's frustrated by ‘all the duplicity’ he sees on a project that he said is less about football than about needed economic development.” In Minneapolis, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes Dayton “must reconcile his differences with a Legislature that appears to have little appetite for an immediate decision.” Dayton said, "If they don't want to deal with it, then say it." He added that a “special session is needed.” Dayton: "I want to isolate the stadium because if this goes into the regular session ... the leveraging everyone will try to pull with their votes ... it's going to get very messy and very ugly” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/10).
GRASS IS GREENER? A Nationals spokesperson said the team is in the process of "a complete renovation of the field" at Nationals Park. The process "began late last month and is expected to be finished by Thanksgiving.” In DC, Dan Steinberg reported Nationals Park’s original Kentucky Blue Grass turf was “removed for the first time since the stadium opened.” The warning track dirt “will also be replaced and will be a slightly darker shade in 2012” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/9).