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AEG Chair Phil Anschutz “continues to show no interest in changing the terms of a deal” that would return the NFL to downtown L.A. more than “three months after a clandestine meeting" between Anschutz, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, according to Jason Cole of YAHOO SPORTS. That lack of interest “means that plans for a downtown stadium to be built and run” by AEG may be “all but dead in the eyes of many involved.” AEG is “supposed to unveil an Environment Impact Report on the site in early April.” But that report “may be worth little more than the paper it’s printed on if Anschutz and AEG don’t make a shift in the financial plan that’s been presented to NFL officials.” Sources said that the four men “met in Denver on the weekend of Dec. 18.” Villaraigosa “requested the meeting in hopes of encouraging Anschutz, who lives in Denver, to put more support behind the stadium AEG has proposed building.” Goodell at the meeting “politely told Anschutz that the terms are unacceptable to the NFL and any of the handful of teams that have been targeted for a potential move to Los Angeles.” Kraft attended the meeting “because he is also very close to Anschutz and does business with AEG,” and he reportedly “echoed Goodell’s remarks.” A source said, “It was friendly, but boiled down to the view that no NFL owner would accept the terms proposed. … If they were willing to back off the control and buy a (limited partnership) stake for a reasonable price, then a shared interest in selling suites/clubs/sponsorships could be worked out.” But sources said that the meeting with Anschutz “has thus far produced zero reaction from the billionaire” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/29).
NEW PLAYERS IN THE GAME? In L.A., Sam Farmer wonders if the Guggenheim Baseball Management group paying $2.15B for the Dodgers “will explore the idea of plunging into the stadium derby” by proposing to build an NFL stadium at Chavez Ravine. But even if there is “ample land for another stadium and parking” on the Dodger Stadium site, it could “take years to untangle the traffic, neighborhood, entitlement, environmental and political issues involved with such a proposal.” Still, there is “one big change” since the days of former Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley's “concept 15 years ago: The Coliseum is out of the game now that USC has the right of first refusal on the NFL.” As a result, there can be “an honest competition in the city, rather than politicians' being obligated to back that crumbling venue” (L.A. TIMES, 3/30).
The NBA Thursday “came to the rescue of Sacramento’s arena deal, agreeing to advance about $200,000 in pre-development costs” after Kings Owners the Maloof family “balked at paying the money,” according to Bizjak & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. This money represents the “first installment of the Kings’ share of pre-development costs totaling $3.26 million.” Maloof spokesperson Eric Rose said that the team “does not feel that it should share in predevelopment costs because the team is only a tenant in the building, which would be owned by the city.” Rose: “The team should not be responsible for the predevelopment expenses. That has been the position of the Kings from the start.” But the term sheet agreed upon by the city, team and NBA states that the Maloof family “agreed in principle to pay $73.25 million ‘toward development and construction of the (arena).’” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that he “expects the Maloof [family] to make good on that agreement, even though it is not legally binding.” Kings co-Owner George Maloof “downplayed any notion that the deal may be collapsing.” Maloof: “We had some general feasibility questions for the city” (SACBEE.com, 3/29). Bizjak & Kasler in a separate piece write in a “wild day of behind the scenes activity, the Sacramento arena deal hit a major snag Thursday, then was rescued late in the day” by NBA Commissioner David Stern. The intervention by Stern -- “the second in a month's time -- appears to have resolved what could have been a deal-ending stalemate.” Thursday's events “renewed bitter feelings that had surfaced last year between the city and the team owners when the Maloofs attempted to move the team to Anaheim.” Maloof said, “The way we look at things, nothing's ever a deal breaker if you have the desire and the intent, which we do. It's part of the negotiations ... We've always maintained that this is a negotiation" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/30).
EXPLORE ALL OPTIONS: In L.A., Lance Pugmire reports the Maloof family has raised concerns about Sacramento's "ability to build a new arena complex in Sacramento by the 2015 NBA season." Rose said that if those concerns "aren't met the team will consider relocation again.” The Maloofs are also “disputing that they have a firm agreement to participate in a new entertainment and sports complex in Sacramento.” Rose said, "If an arena project cannot be completed by the timeline set by the city, then the Kings would be forced to explore all of their options." City officials, in a letter Tuesday to the Maloofs family’s attorney, acknowledged that “they are working to ease the owners' questions and concerns’” (L.A. TIMES, 3/30).
DePaul Univ. could be in the "beginning stages of relocating its men's basketball team to an arena closer to the school's Lincoln Park campus in Chicago,” according to Scott Powers of ESPN CHICAGO. A draft of the school's ‘18 strategic plan reveals that DePaul would like "to seek opportunities to bring men's basketball back into the city." The plan is “expected to be voted on at the next board of trustees' meeting.” The Blue Demons have played at the Allstate Arena, “in Rosemont, Ill., since 1980.” The school has won more nearly 70% of its games at the arena, but the venue's location "hasn't created much of a homecourt advantage.” Powers noted that an arena in Chicago “could be more attractive to local recruits and improve student attendance.” DePaul averaged 9,413 fans at home Big East games this season (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/28). The Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton said, “It's a good start and I think that’s all this is, a start. This program has a long, long way to go to be a high-level contender, to be the powerhouse that everyone says it could be, the woken, sleeping giant. Some advantage is the fact that the Big East is just going to get easier to play in a couple of years based on the reconfiguration, teams leaving for the ACC. But then again, it’s just a start. Let’s put a shovel in the ground first and see where it goes from there.” The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh added, “It would be great. You need an identity, start to have a style of play and that would certainly contribute to it” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 3/27).
EXTREME MAKEOVER: In Tampa, Greg Auman noted the Sun Dome, where the Univ. of South Florida plays its basketball games, is nearing the completion of a $35M makeover. The arena is “barely recognizable with a new lower bowl, fixed second level with concourses beneath, baseline-to-baseline club level on one side, 10 loge suites on the other and center-hung scoreboard.” USF men’s basketball coach Stan Heath said, “From a recruiting standpoint, it's a slam dunk. It's going to make a world of difference in our recruiting and our program going forward.” The school plans to hold “a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony May 2” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/29).
The Tigers have announced a partnership with Pure Michigan to showcase the official state travel and tourism initiative throughout Comerica Park, highlighted by a logo about 150 feet up on the right field light tower. Pure Michigan marks also will appear on the bench backs and railings for both the home and away dugouts, as well as behind home plate as part of the diamond view rotation. The light tower sign and dugout presence will remain in the venue for the next three years. Pure Michigan in January signed a deal to become title sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan Int'l Speedway in August (THE DAILY).
CLEAN ENERGY: NRDC.org's Alice Henly noted the Indians Wednesday unveiled "their revolutionary wind turbine, the first of its kind to sit atop a ballpark." The 3,000-pound turbine was "strategically assembled in the players’ parking lot at Progressive Field to cut down on transportation emissions and costs." Fans will be able to "pedal away on stationary bikes installed around the ballpark to try and generate as much power as the turbine." Indians Dir of Ballpark Operations Brad Mohr said, "This is a great opportunity to teach fans about the importance of clean energy technologies" (NRDC.org, 3/28).
THE END OF THE LINE? In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted the latest forecast from Public Financial Management, a consultant hired by the Miller Park Stadium district, indicated that the Miller Park sales tax "could end in 2017." The tax has been collected since '96, and last year approximately "was collected, a 7.81% increase over the previous year." However, sales-tax collections "were down 10%" in both '09 and '10 (JSONLINE.com, 3/28).
BRIGHT, SHINY DEAL: The Phillies and Bright House Networks agreed to a five-year renewal of the naming rights to the team's Spring Training home in Clearwater, Fla., through '18. Bright House Networks has been the naming-rights partner of the Phillies and the city of Clearwater since Bright House Field opened in '04. The original deal would have expired in Oct. '13. Financial terms of the deal were not released (Phillies).
NEW DOG IN TOWN: In S.F., Matier & Ross reported the Giants after 18 years are dumping hot dog supplier Alpine Meats of Stockton "in favor of a Chicago import." The $6.50 "big dog" that will be sold at AT&T Park this season will come from Eisenberg Sausage Co., which also supplies wieners for the Cubs. Alpine will "still sell smaller Giants Dogs at the ballpark." An Alpine exec said that the company "couldn't stomach the 'low six-figure' fee the team was demanding to stay on as a Giants' official hot dog sponsor" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/28).