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After rejecting the Rams' plan to improve the Edward Jones Dome, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission “wants to negotiate with the franchise before the Dome-renovation issue -- and, possibly, the future of the Rams in St. Louis -- is put in the hands of arbitrators this month,” according to Matthew Hathaway of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The CVC “rejected on Friday a Rams' proposal that called for much of the stadium to be rebuilt with bigger VIP areas, more concession facilities and a sliding roof panel.” City officials have estimated the team's proposal could cost $700M and would “make it impossible to book large conventions during construction.” The CVC said that it “hopes to find some middle ground with the Rams before a June 15 deadline triggers mandatory, binding arbitration.” Hathaway noted although the lease requires the CVC and the Rams to meet before arbitration, "it sets few ground rules for those talks.” The lease states that any proposals made during the talks would be confidential “and the two sides are free to soften their positions without fear that those concessions will be used against them during arbitration.” It is difficult to “imagine the CVC and the Rams reaching an agreement soon with their visions for a renovated Dome so far apart” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/2). ESPN.com’s Mike Sando wrote the CVC’s rejection was “largely a procedural move.” The city of St. Louis "would have been foolish to proceed on the Rams' terms, just as the team would have been foolish to proceed under terms the city proposed earlier this year." The gap between each side's proposal, "measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, figures to shrink during arbitration.” There have been “no surprises to this point in the process." Sando: “In the meantime, pull up a sun dial. This could take some time” (ESPN.com, 6/2).
THE SOONER THE BETTER: In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell wrote, "Barring some sort of minor miracle happening over the course of the next two weeks where some anonymous sugar daddy emerges with a winning lottery ticket to foot the entire bill for the rehab of the Dome or the mortgage on a new stadium with all the 'top-tier' bells and whistles, the natural give-and-take, high-ball and low-ball conversations have all sent these talks towards their inevitable destination: a carefully scripted stalemate that should push them toward a lengthy binding arbitration process." The environment of the arbitration process is "where we'll discover everyone's true intentions and point us toward the ultimate end game, which is either a new or improved home for the Rams or this city's loss of yet another NFL franchise” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/3).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The POST-DISPATCH's Bill McClellan wrote, "The way these cases muddle along in the system," the age discrimination lawsuit filed by former Rams equipment manager Todd Hewitt “might come to court just as the Rams get ready to leave town.” McClellan: “Better yet, right after they have left town. The jury would probably be ready to stick it to the Rams.” However, if the Rams work out their lease by the time the case makes it to court, "that would not be so good for Hewitt” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/3).
The Indians are “scrapping the Snow Days concept after a disappointing year,” and another event “may take its place, but not this year,” according to Michael McIntyre of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Snow Days ran for the last two years at Progressive Field “offering paying customers a chance to slide on an inner tube down a hill that began in the stands and offered plenty of ice skating, plus extremely popular hockey games.” But Indians President Mark Shapiro said that “schedules didn't line up for games this year and the organization decided to ‘pull back.’" Shapiro said, "We want to make sure that what we have is an event, rather than something that's expected." He added, "To ramp up for this for two years was a stress operationally." However, Shapiro “still considers Snow Days a success.” It showed “what the organization can do, and it introduced new people to the Progressive Field venue.” But its problem “was the same one the Indians have: Not enough people came” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/2). Indians Senior Communications Dir Curtis Danburg said that the team is “going to evaluate hosting potential professional or college hockey match-ups and alternative winter experiences in the off season, but that this might not be the end of Snow Days.” Danburg said that the Indians “will continue to seek out ways to connect with fans outside of baseball, which could include reintroducing an enhanced version of Snow Days in the coming years” (CLEVELANDLEADER.com, 6/2).
The Natural Resources Defense Council last September did AEG “a big favor by throwing its weight behind a gift bill streamlining the environmental review process” for the company's proposed Farmer's Field project, "and only for the stadium project," according to Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. TIMES. Hiltzik wrote in a column under the header, “An Eco-stadium? Promises, Promises,” adding the NRDC “now feels it did not get what it wanted.” The bill “eliminated one whole level of court review otherwise provided for by the California Environmental Quality Act.” The NRDC's involvement in the stadium project “grows out of its interest in promoting mass transit and energy efficiency in urban communities, and therefore in seeing that the stadium be ‘green’ in its construction and operational phases, and not encourage more automobile traffic.” The NRDC said that it “had negotiated several safeguards" into the bill, including "the commitments from AEG.” NRDC Senior Attorney David Pettit earlier this month in a letter to the city said that the draft EIR submitted by AEG for the stadium project "lacks numerous commitments the builders had made to the group.” Studies that AEG “promised to conduct of alternatives to bringing fans to the stadium by car were missing.” Promises AEG made to the Clinton Global Initiative were “mysteriously scaled back." The NRDC said that AEG "told the Clinton group it would recycle 90% of solid waste produced during construction," but the draft report "promises only 50%.” The NRDC in the letter wrote, "We also have concerns about air quality, health risk, green construction practices and sustainability relating to the project." Both AEG and the NRDC said that the dispute is “amicable and may yet be resolved without ugliness, sounding like some divorcing couples resolved to remain friends for the sake of the kids.” AEG said that it is “as committed to environmental mitigation as ever at the future site of Farmer's Field, but that it's simply premature to write into the impact report some of the specifics the NRDC expected to see there.” Both sides said that they “will be sitting down before a mediator as early as this week” (L.A. TIMES, 6/3).
In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff wrote the scene at Sprint Center on Friday "was festive" after the Big 12 announced "a two-year extension" for its men's basketball tournament, keeping the event in the city through ‘16. For the first time in a site selection, the Big 12 has “the rights to tournament dates” beyond ’16. The Sprint Center will hold dates for the Big 12 beyond the new contract, "although it was unclear when such a request would be triggered” (K.C. STAR, 6/2).
ON TARGET: In Montreal, Randy Phillips wrote the MLS Impact’s Saputo Stadium is “ready to be delivered on budget and on time for its official reopening on June 16," when the team plays host to the Sounders. Impact President Joey Saputo said, “We’ve been assured that everything is going as scheduled, so I’m comfortable with that.” The stadium will be 99% complete "in two weeks, with the only exception a portion of grandstand seating for approximately 900 on the east side” (Montreal GAZETTE, 6/3).
PUT TO REST: In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis wrote the campaign to force a public vote on a downtown arena for the NBA Kings "is dead -- for now.” Campaign organizers “failed to get the 21,000 valid signatures they needed for a November ballot measure asking voters whether they approved of public assistance for an arena in the downtown railyard” (SACBEE.com, 6/1).
BUILDING COSTS: In DC, Jonathan O’Connell noted data from a study commissioned by the Great Washington Sports Alliance shows a new stadium for the MLS DC United would cost "at least" $157M to build, but could generate $5.5M-$7.3M a year "in tax revenue for the District." The 35-page report compiled by Convention, Sports & Leisure Int'l “envisions a 24,000-seat stadium -- with 50 suites, 240 loge seats and 1,200 club seats -- on Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington.” The $157M price tag “includes labor, materials, design, engineering and other professional fees but may not [include] the cost of acquiring land.” Real estate company Akridge, which owns most of the land on Buzzard Point, and Clark Construction both “contributed to cost estimates" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/3).