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The Santa Clara City Council yesterday "finalized the lease, budget and overall terms" of the 49ers' stadium project, according to Howard Mintz of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The council's 6-1 vote to approve the deal is the "last meaningful step in a nearly six-year quest to lure the NFL team to Silicon Valley and build a new" 68,500-seat stadium on a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park. Barring an "unforeseen development, it seals the deal on the 49ers leaving San Francisco and playing their games in Santa Clara" when the '14 season begins. There was "little dissent or discussion before the council cast its vote." The project's price tag has "jumped from the original projection" of $937M to almost $1.2B. Among other things, the cost has "escalated with plans to spend an additional" $50M alone on "high-tech gadgetry for fans that does not even exist yet in other NFL stadiums." But city and team officials now "project the overall cost to taxpayers will actually be lower than envisioned when voters backed the deal" in June '10. The Santa Clara Stadium Authority, the public agency "created to build and operate the team's new home, will carry" $655M to $785M in debt "plus interest over three decades to pay the bulk of the project, less than original projections" of $850M in debt. In addition, the 49ers have agreed to pay $30M of the $40M the city was "expected to contribute in redevelopment money." The 40-year lease between the 49ers and the stadium authority "calls for the team to pay the city about" $30M per year, a figure that will "rise if the stadium authority has trouble meeting its loan obligations" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/14). In S.F., Stephanie Lee notes members of the Santa Clara City Council, "acting as the Stadium Authority, are scheduled to meet again" tomorrow to "consider another round of documents for the stadium, including a non-relocation agreement that would formally commit the 49ers to Santa Clara" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/14).
Hollywood Park will now “be known as Betfair Hollywood Park” after signing a "five-year naming rights deal, the first for a U.S. racetrack,” according to Eric Mitchell of BLOODHORSE. The value of the deal “was not released.” Betfair operates “the world’s largest betting exchange company” and is based in the U.K. Under the terms of the Hollywood Park agreement, Betfair has said it will make “significant infrastructure investments and improvements.” Those improvements include “creating the Betfair Club, where the current Hollywood Lounge is located on the main floor and a Betfair Lounge, where the VIP Lounge is located on the third floor.” For the televised and online product, Betfair “intends to [introduce] advanced graphics found on the broadcasts of other major sports.” It is anticipated that races for Betfair Hollywood Park “will be presented in high definition.” Betfair also intends to “heavily promote racing at Hollywood Park to a younger audience through electronic media, social media, and other new media outlets and through innovative promotions” (BLOODHORSE.com, 3/13).
The Baylor Univ. Board of Regents yesterday announced a gift to the school from former Astros Owner Drayton McLane and his family which will help fund construction of the school's new football stadium. The amount donated was the largest capital gift in the university's history. As part of the donation, the McLane family asked that the new facility be named Baylor Stadium. The facility will hold 45,000 spectators, with the flexibility to expand to 55,000 in the future. It also will feature a bridge crossing the Brazos River and connecting the stadium to the campus (Baylor Univ.). Baylor Dir of Media Communications Lori Fogleman said that the McLane family “didn't want the amount to be disclosed.” However, she confirmed that it “surpasses the $20 million donated by three Baylor law graduates in 1998 to build a new law school” (AP, 3/13). ESPN.com’s David Ubben noted the gift is the "first step toward the fundraising necessary for a stadium Baylor hopes will open for the 2014 season.” Baylor currently plays at Floyd Casey Stadium, “located south and across Interstate 35 from the school's Waco, Texas campus” (ESPN.com, 3/13). In Waco, Cindy Culp in a front-page piece notes the idea of a new stadium "picked up momentum in fall 2011 when Baylor launched a feasibility study and fan survey." Baylor is the only school in the Big 12 Conference "without an on-campus stadium" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 3/14).
Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner participated in the N.Y. TIMES’ “The 30-Minute Interview” with Vivian Marino and said “virtually all the steel is up” at Barclays Center and the venue is "virtually all enclosed.” Ratner said of the arena, “Basically we’re working on the interiors. Some parts of it are even ahead of schedule. It’ll finish on time. Building -- compared to getting there -- was relatively easy. I didn’t think it would take this long -- I thought it would take five, maybe six, years. It’s eight years.” Ratner said of selling his majority stake in the Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov, “It was necessary because we had the recession. We had expected to finance much of this project, then all of a sudden it was much less financing, and so a lot of equity had to go in. To raise that equity we had to sell a portion of the team and the arena” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/14). Ratner last week on PBS’ “Charlie Rose” referred to himself as a “civic developer,” because his company does a “lot of civic projects, and every project that we do has to have some civic component." Rose said Ratner and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz “have a very good relationship,” and the two “seem to be in lockstep about wanting to change Brooklyn.” Ratner said Barclays Center will be “one of the most important civic buildings built in the city” and the “most important arena built in the last half-century in this country.” Rose added, “It’s a place that basketball people will love” (“Charlie Rose,” PBS, 3/9).
BLACKBIRD FLY: Barclays Center and Long Island Univ.-Brooklyn have formed a partnership that includes athletics, education, community, and brand-building platforms. LIU-Brooklyn will play at least four men's basketball games at the arena every season through the length of the partnership. The facility will also host five one-hour bi-weekly classes annually for students in LIU-Brooklyn's sports journalism/management classes. Those classes will include Barclays Center and Nets execs serving as guest lecturers (Nets).
The MLB Rangers yesterday in a statement said they "have concluded negotiations on a multiyear agreement for the operation" of the parking lots at the stadium, owned by Ballpark Real Estate, the limited partnership run by former Owner Tom Hicks. In Ft. Worth, Sandra Baker notes “no details were given” about the resolution, but the Rangers said the agreement "represents a satisfactory resolution to this issue.” A dispute over parking revenue “led the two sides into a Tarrant County courtroom nearly a year ago.” A state district judge on Monday “approved a request from the team owners, Rangers Baseball Express, and Hicks' group that the lawsuits be dropped.” The court ruled that each side must pay its "own attorneys fees and that the Rangers be refunded $2,500 paid to the court when they requested a temporary restraining order against Hicks” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/14).
SHOWING COMMITMENT: Churchill Downs Inc. Chair & CEO Bob Evans yesterday said that racing “outside of Kentucky Derby week hurts the Louisville-based racing and gambling cash flow, but the company remains committed to that product despite the failure to get slots at its Kentucky and Illinois tracks.” Evans also said that the company “will spend more on pursuing expanded gambling at Churchill Downs and Arlington Park near Chicago.” In Louisville, Gregory Hall notes Evans’ comments came “a day after Churchill reported record earnings and revenues for the fourth quarter of 2011 and for the entire year.” CDI's stock “was up more than 10 percent in Tuesday trading, closing at $57.23” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 3/14).
RESTRAINING ORDER: In Sacramento, Jim Sanders noted California could become “the first state to create a ‘Ban List’ prohibiting violent fans from attending professional sports events anywhere in the state under newly proposed legislation.” The list would “operate much like a restraining order: Anyone listed who went anyway would be guilty of a misdemeanor.” Offenders' names and photos “would be published on the Internet and sent to sports arenas, police agencies and ticket vendors by the attorney general's office, which would maintain the list.” The measure, proposed by State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, “would charge each professional sports team $10,000 to create the ban list and a rewards fund for crime witnesses." Teams would "supplement the fund if it fell below $180,000” (SACBEE.com, 3/13).