SBD/May 15, 2012/FacilitiesPrint All
When the Rams' plan for upgrading the Edward Jones Dome went public yesterday, “the gap between the team's vision and that of the agency in charge of the building became clear,” according to Matthew Hathaway of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The Rams, “not surprisingly, are calling for a more drastic -- and expensive -- renovation of the Dome than the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.” Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said that the Rams’ proposal “would cost more than" $700M, compared to the CVC's $124M proposal. Hathaway notes the plan is a “counteroffer to the CVC's proposal earlier this year, which the Rams have rejected.” The CVC plan proposed “capping the public subsidy for renovations at $60 million, calling for the team to cover the rest.” The Rams' plan “doesn't include a price tag, and it doesn't say how much, if any, the franchise is willing to contribute.” Rainford said that to come up with its own cost estimate, the CVC "hired a construction firm, which landed on $700 million.” Hathaway added the Rams’ plan “does not spell out how long construction would take or where the team would play while the building is renovated.” A source said that the team "believes it would only miss one football season at the Dome.”
THE BLUE PRINT: Hathaway noted the Rams' plan “would maintain the Dome's regular-game capacity of about 66,000, but little else would stay the same.” The plan includes creating a new eastern side to the stadium, which would “feature a large glass wall, similar to the glass wall at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis,” and allow wider concourses throughout the building. The team's plan also includes adding a new roof with an “operable roof panel” that could slide open to bring more natural light in the Dome, “reconfiguring much of the existing seating to allow more flexibility for nonfootball events." The renovations would also add two so-called "party platforms" to the end zones, “creating larger entrances at the northeast and southeast corners of the Dome, and adding an entrance in the middle of the eastern facade.” The CVC "has until June 1 to accept or reject the Rams' proposal." If a deal "isn't struck by June 15, the two sides will go into arbitration, which could take until year's end." Rainford said, “My guess is [team Owner Stan] Kroenke told his people to design a top-tier stadium. But you can't look at this and draw the conclusion that he's flipping the bird to St. Louis and he is moving to Los Angeles” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/15).
THE FINE PRINT: Rainford said that in addition to the projected $700M cost, the Dome “would have to be closed for up to three years to make improvements." He added that because the dome "is part of the convention center, the city would also stand to lose $500 million in convention revenue.” Rainford: “The mayor will recommend the CVC reject this, but this is part of a dance and we’re very early in the choreography” (AP, 5/14). ESPN.com’s Mike Sando cited a spokesperson for Slay as saying that arbitration “would be binding for the Rams if the stadium authority accepted the arbiter's proposal.” In that case, the Rams’ lease “would extend" to '25. Otherwise, the team would go on a year-to-year lease beginning in March '15, "at which point they would be a flight risk.” Sando wrote, “Now is not the time for Rams fans to panic. The process is going to play out over time. The sides are fighting for leverage on the lease issue” (ESPN.com, 5/14). HKS designed the $700M dome rebuild for the team (THE DAILY).
STICKING AROUND: In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes, “We now have undisputed evidence that Stan Kroenke really wants to keep the Rams in St. Louis.” Fans "won’t find that wording" in the Rams' proposal, but it is "right there in plain sight, if you are fluent in the language of between-the-lines intimations.” It is "not an over-the-top, ostentatious, football-only counteroffer that attempts to thrust the Dome to the very top of the National Football League's most extravagant stadiums.” What the Rams have “put in front of us is a design whose intent is to make the Edward Jones Dome something that works for all of St. Louis, not just the football team." If Kroenke was "trying to force the Convention and Visitors Commission to storm away from the negotiating table, then this was a horrible attempt at doing that." Burwell: "If you scrutinize the Rams' plans and compare it to other current or planned stadiums around the league, the best estimate is that a rehabbed Edward Jones Dome would most likely be right around the sixth- or seventh-best facility.” Burwell adds, “So this doesn't sound like the plan of a man trying to get out of a deal. It's more like the plan of someone who is trying to invest in the city” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/15).
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton yesterday was “cheered -- and heckled" as he signed legislation for a public subsidy package to build a new Vikings stadium, according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. As "smiling" team Owner Zygi Wilf watched, the crowd at the state Capitol “was dominated by fans in Vikings jerseys.” Dayton said, “These bills, that involve major public investments, are understandably controversial. They’re hotly debated. They’re closely inspected -- as they should be. That’s democracy, and that’s Minnesota.” Kaszuba notes Wilf and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback were "also heckled as they spoke” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/15). John Stiles, Ryback's Communictions Dir, said that “the proposal will go before the council's Intergovernmental Relations committee May 24 for an official vote, and the council will accept the committee's recommendation the next day as a formality” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).
BOOK KEEPING: The AP’s Martiga Lohn wrote the Vikings stadium deal “involves plenty of public participation, but it also prevents the public from getting a look at the team's finances during their partnership to build the $975 million stadium.” Critics have said that the blanket protection “goes beyond current state law, leaving taxpayers in the dark on one of the state's biggest public works projects.” Lohn noted the stadium bill creates a new Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority with members appointed by Dayton and Ryback to "vet the team’s ability to fulfill its financial commitment to build, operate and repair the stadium over 30 years.” The list of companies that bid to build the stadium “will be kept confidential until the winner is selected.” Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that financial information "has also been kept confidential for the Twins and other NFL teams with stadium deals.” Dayton said, “The team is obviously anxious to get going, and the clock is ticking already in getting it opened as soon as possible, so that'll be top priority for the rest of this week” (AP, 5/14).
SETTING THE TONE: SI.com’s Peter King wrote, “I think the Minnesota stadium deal should be a template for future NFL stadium deals -- assuming the stadium's not in a state like California, where there is relatively little available in the realm of public financing.” King: “Turns out the Wilfs, who own the Vikings, will end up paying 49 percent of the stadium costs ($478 million of the $975 million bill), plus 65 percent of the annual operating costs every year for 20 years” (SI.com, 5/14).
The L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission “approved a controversial deal Monday to surrender day-to-day control of the historic venue to USC,” according to Rong-Gong Lin II of the L.A. TIMES. The 8-to-1 vote “would virtually end public stewardship of the 88-year-old stadium.” USC Senior VP/University Relations Tom Sayles said, “We’re now in a position to restore this wonderful venue to its past glory.” Lin notes the pact “signals the failure of public officials to maintain the Coliseum as a self-sustaining venture.” The new lease would give USC “the right to control the facility until 2054, when the Coliseum Commission is set to dissolve and the assets are to be transferred to the state.” USC, however, “wants the state to extend the lease through 2111.” Under the deal, USC would put $70M into upgrades and “take control of the Coliseum’s revenue.” The university would also “assume the $1-million annual rent payment to the state.” State officials have “questioned whether the accord is the best one for taxpayers.” In addition to seeking to lease the stadium for 99 years, USC “wants control of six revenue-rich, state-owned parking lots that ring the Coliseum and a promise that officials will not try to renegotiate the lease if the stadium goes bankrupt.” The Coliseum is “so strapped -- its reserves are expected to dwindle from $2.3 million to $15,375 between the end of May and the end of June -- that the panel voted to mortgage the iconic stadium sign near the 110 Freeway to USC for up to $1.5 million.” If the Coliseum cannot repay the loan in 10 years, “USC would be able to seize the sign” (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).
LOOKING BACK: ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi noted, “Four years ago, USC offered to pay $100 million to renovate the Coliseum in exchange for the master lease, but the commission rejected it.” The Commission believed a naming rights deal for the Coliseum “would net them just as much, if not more.” However, the economy crashed soon after “and with it went a couple of naming-rights deals the commission was working on.” After gaining control of the Coliseum, USC officials say that they "will begin plans to return the Coliseum to the condition that made it the home of two Olympic Games and two Super Bowls.” It is also “being discussed as a temporary facility for an NFL team if the NFL decides to return” to L.A. (ESPNLA.com, 5/14).
ROSE BOWL RENOVATIONS: In Pasadena, Brenda Gazzar reports Rose Bowl renovations officials “are scrambling to reduce an early cost estimate by owner’s representative Parsons Corp. for the third and final phase of the stadium’s $160 million makeover, which has come in higher than the anticipated $25 million.” City Manager Michael Beck yesterday said that he "expects the $20 million gap in funding for the Rose Bowl renovation to grow by several million dollars in the coming weeks.” Rose Bowl Operating Co. Board Member Dennis Murphy said, “I would say it’s going to be several million (more) but what the word several means I don’t know. It’s a moving target” (PASADENA STAR-NEWS, 5/15).
S.F. Mayor Ed Lee is "openly calling" on the Warriors to return to the city "in time for the 2017 NBA season," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. In a letter also "signed by all 11 city supervisors, the Port Commission, San Francisco's legislative contingent and a host of business and labor leaders, Lee told the team the city would 'work with you to achieve this goal.'" Matier & Ross noted nothing "is official, but it's clear from the letter that the city is talking about a waterfront arena -- most likely on Piers 30-32." The idea would be to "get the arena built the same way the Giants' ballpark was down the street -- with private financing." By "happy coincidence for San Francisco, it also went out on the heels of state Controller John Chiang's demand that Oakland hand over $3.5 million in redevelopment money that the city had hoped to spend on planning a new sports complex that would include an arena" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/14). Warriors Exec Dir of PR Raymond Ridder said yesterday that the team "appreciates San Francisco's enthusiasm for the Warriors building a multipurpose arena, but that it is continuing its 'due diligence in exploring all potential sites in the Bay Area.'" In Oakland, Matthew Artz notes since purchasing the team two years ago, Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob and his partners have been "up front about their desire for a more modern facility to replace Oakland's Oracle Arena, where the team has averaged near-sellout crowds." Oakland Council member Larry Reid said, "We're committed to keeping them in the city of Oakland, and we want them to be committed to staying here." Oakland Mayor Jean Quan also released a statement yesterday "emphasizing the city's plans to fight for the Warriors." The city recently "launched a $3.5 million study on a plan to transform the Coliseum complex into a sports and entertainment center with restaurants, hotels, shops and new, privately financed facilities for the A's, Raiders and Warriors" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/15).
AEG is "still in the lead to win the O.co Coliseum management contract” after a second round of voting by the Joint Powers Authority that governs the complex, according to Angela Woodall of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The JPA yesterday "again voted to allow sports consultant Barrett Sports Group to negotiate a contract on behalf of the Coliseum authority with AEG." While the original April 20 vote on the contract was 4-3 "to move forward with negotiations" with AEG, yesterday's featured just one vote against. Woodall notes SMG remains "the incumbent Coliseum operator." SMG lawyers "threatened legal action if commissioners did not withdraw their April 20 decision." Yesterday's meeting included a summary of a financial analysis provided by Dan Barrett's firm of the competing proposals." The bids "had their advantages and trade-offs," but AEG "appeared to be the strongest candidate financially." If Barrett Sports Group and AEG succeed in negotiating a contract that the Coliseum authority approves, AEG "will sign a no-poaching clause that would prevent it from trying to relocate the Raiders to Los Angeles, where the company is building an NFL stadium." Coliseum Authority Counsel Deena McClain said that the contract provision "could not keep the Raiders from leaving Oakland, ... but it would prevent AEG from taking them to Los Angeles" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/15). O.co Coliseum would be AEG Facilities’ first MLB or NFL account (THE DAILY).
Long Island business and civic leaders have indicated that a “definitive plan has to emerge soon” to redevelop Nassau Coliseum, according to Brodsky & Marshall of NEWSDAY. The Islanders' lease expires in ’15 and team Owner Charles Wang has noted he “won't keep the team in the current arena beyond that.” Long Island Regional Economic Development Council co-Chair Kevin Law said that “a ‘real plan with commitments’ must be in place by the end of 2012.” Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano said that within the next month he will “have a proposal for the site that could compete for state funds and meet the June 15 deadline.” However, the state funds, which will be "divided among 10 regions across the state, would provide only a fraction of what’s needed to build a new arena, make infrastructure improvements and provide parking.” Brodsky & Marshall noted, "Since the failure in August of a referendum to authorize Nassau to borrow up to $400 million to build a new Coliseum and a minor league ballpark on the site, Wang rarely has spoken publicly.” Mangano said that he is “looking at low-interest financing options, which could help to bring down the project's cost, and did not discount the possibility of providing some county funds.” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that the town “will be flexible.” Murray: “Once a developer is designated, we're ready, willing and able to sit down and have a conversation and try to work this out so that the Islanders stay and we get good development once and for all.” Sources said that the Coliseum's current location “is not the only Long Island option,” as Belmont Racetrack and spots in Suffolk County, including Suffolk Community College's Brentwood campus, "are not off the table.” Mangano and other arena advocates said that they are “still optimistic that a deal will come through at the Coliseum site” (NEWSDAY, 5/13).