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S.F. officials, state regulators and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reps yesterday "still could not pinpoint the causes of two power outages at city-owned Candlestick Park" during the Steelers-49ers "MNF" game, according to a front-page piece by Gordon & Kane of the S.F. CHRONICLE. S.F. Mayor Ed Lee called the blackouts "a national embarrassment," though 49ers reps yesterday "refrained from public finger-pointing." 49ers VP/Stadium Operations & Security Jim Mercurio "voiced concern over 'the kind of uncertainty that this situation produced' and wants to make sure safeguards will be put in place to prevent a recurrence." The NFL "referred questions about the incident to the 49ers." Mercurio said, "They are asking the same questions we are asking. What happened? How did it happen? What are you doing to make sure it doesn't happen again?" The power problems "came at a particularly vulnerable time for the city, as it continues to hold out hope that the 49ers will abandon plans to relocate to Santa Clara and decide to build a new stadium in San Francisco instead" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/21). In S.F., Matier & Ross note while city officials "continue the search for the technical culprits, there is one thing they agree on" -- 49ers President & CEO Jed York will "never again have to explain to fans why he wants to leave San Francisco" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/21).
ULTERIOR MOTIVES? Steelers S Ryan Clark after Monday's game indicated that the power outage "might have all been staged by the 49ers to get them a new stadium." He said, “I just feel like San Francisco took a big stage to show the NFL and to show the state of California that they needed a new stadium. I think it was a very strategic move and Candlestick may be no more very soon" (SFGATE.com, 12/19). ESPN's Jim Rome said, "No one likes a conspiracy theory more than I do, but the Niners did not need a staffer to blow that transformer to remind everybody that they play in a dump. Trust me, everybody knows they should have boarded up that tenement a long time ago” (“Jim Rome is Burning,” ESPN, 12/20). San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy said, “The city of San Francisco has been neglectful in the way they maintained it. I don't think it was a conspiracy last night to make Candlestick look bad” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet BayArea, 12/20).
Ramsey County (Minn.) commissioners voted 4-3 yesterday to "ask engineering and architectural firms to submit their credentials, the first step in a process that could lead to hiring a firm to design" a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills, according to Frederick Melo of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The Vikings and Ramsey County yesterday also "released two conceptual drawings of the redeveloped Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant, depicting the $1.1 billion football venue in summer and winter." The drawings are intended to "boost interest in the 430-acre Arden Hills location." The four Ramsey County commissioners voting in the majority yesterday said that the "'request for qualifications' could shave time off a complicated vetting process for architectural and engineering firms, possibly keeping the stadium on track for completion in 2015." Commissioner Tony Bennett, a "key architect of the stadium proposal in Arden Hills, said a one-year delay in construction could add $30 million or more to the project." Commissioner Jim McDonough said that the vote would "send a strong signal to the state that the county is serious about moving the stadium proposal forward in Arden Hills." Commissioners Janice Rettman, Victoria Reinhardt and Toni Carter "voted against the request for qualifications, arguing that the Vikings, as a privately owned corporation, should issue it themselves or ask the state to issue it for them" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/21). Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley "hailed the action Tuesday before a group of Twin Cities business leaders and reiterated the team's view that the Arden Hills site is 'ideal'" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/21).
The Raptors are teaming with Danish-based LogoPaint to become the first North American pro team to use 3D technology on their court. The 3D mark featuring the team’s name was painted on the Air Canada Centre baseline as the new court went down last week and made its debut during the team’s preseason game against the Celtics Sunday. Per league rules, only team and NBA logos are permitted to be permanent fixtures on the court. The team brand appears slanted to those sitting in the arena and the players closest to the mark. To others further from the court and over broadcast, the mark appears 3D. The team partnered with LogoPaint, which is active in the 3D space for soccer pitches and basketball courts in Europe. LogoPaint’s signage has been utilized in the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Malaysian Grand Prix and Hong Kong Rugby Sevens games. MLSE would not discuss financial terms of the deal. MLSE Senior Dir of Marketing Shannon Hosford said networks airing the games do not have to change anything about the elements of the broadcast, and fans do not need a 3D TV to view the branding. “It’s hard to believe, but it’s just paint on the floor. And there is no special technology that needs to be used,” she said. Hosford said MLSE officials are now in talks with LogoPaint to “look at our ice and see if there is anything we can be doing from the Toronto Maple Leafs perspective, but we haven’t gone down that path yet.”
TECHNOLOGY UNIQUE TO EACH VENUE: The technology is unique to each venue, and LogoPaint completed a building survey at Air Canada Centre this summer to minimize the impact it has on people in the arena. “The one thing that can be a drawback is that in-arena, it can be distorted. We tried to even work with our branding on the baseline so that it would just look slanted instead of doing the full application,” Hosford said. She added the team has received “overwhelming positive feedback,” particularly from the broadcast audience. She added the plan moving forward will be to maintain “status quo until next time we look at redesigning our court.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday announced N.Y. real estate developer Jeff Gural "has signed a 30-year deal to operate The Meadowlands Racetrack," according to John Brennan of the Bergen RECORD. Christie also announced a separate deal “to continue thoroughbred racing at Monmouth Park for at least one more year.” Brennan notes the dual announcements “came after weeks of acrimonious exchanges between thoroughbred horsemen and the Governor's Office.” A request for bids for long-term operation of Monmouth Park “is expected to be sent out in the next 60 days.” N.Y. Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association President John Forbes said that his group “is interested in managing the track.” Gural plans to “begin construction of a smaller grandstand next spring and would open it in the spring of 2013.” The old grandstand “would be razed.” Both deals are scheduled "to be ratified at a special sports authority board meeting Friday.” The Meadowlands winter meet “is schedule to begin Jan. 6” (Bergen RECORD, 12/21).
SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS: BLOODHORSE.com’s Jim Freer reported Gulfstream Park reported “average daily all-sources pari-mutuel handle of about $6.6 million during its first 10 race days in December, surpassing management’s expectations for its first December racing in several decades.” Track President & GM Tim Ritvo said that the average through Dec. 18 “was 14% higher than the $5.8 million average for days in April 2011 that Gulfstream is using as a comparison” (BLOODHORSE.com, 12/20).
SLOT SUBSIDIES: In Baltimore, Hanah Cho reports the Stronach Group, which owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, “plans to ask the state for up to $6 million in slots subsidies to help run 146 days of live racing at the two tracks next year.” The move “was part of a deal approved Tuesday by the Maryland Racing Commission, three days after the Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association agreed to maintain year-round racing in 2012.” The deal reached yesterday “also calls for the horsemen's group to contribute $4 million to the financially ailing Jockey Club to support the 146 days of live racing” (Baltimore SUN, 12/21).