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Santa Clara County officials have “yanked $30 million in tax funds promised" for the 49ers' new Santa Clara stadium, and said that they “would rather spend the money on teachers than install ‘little televisions in the back of stadium seats,’" according to Mike Rosenberg of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The 49ers and Santa Clara city leaders “strongly and passionately object to the move, saying voters had specifically earmarked redevelopment funds to the stadium and that the county has no right to keep it.” Lengthy court battles “are likely, launching a rare soap opera in a stadium debate that has been mostly peaceful -- and supposedly long over.” When asked whether the decision could affect stadium construction, which began in April, a 49ers spokesperson “declined to comment.” The team's front office has said that it “would simply eat the loss if it loses the funds, which amount to less than 3 percent of the cost of the $1.2 billion stadium that is set to open in 2014.” The funding grab came Friday “by a new board that oversees property tax from redevelopment zones.” It was "so unexpected that Santa Clara leaders argued it was done in violation of public notice laws” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/24).
In a deal that cements the Predators' future in Nashville "for the next several years, Mayor Karl Dean agreed to pay the hockey club up to $8.4 million annually in subsidies and incentives to operate Bridgestone Arena," according to Nate Rau of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. The deal includes "higher ticket surcharges to pay for improvements to the arena, such as new seats and a revamped entrance on the building's south side, and a promise from the city for a new youth hockey rink that also could become a practice facility for the Predators." Predators COO Sean Henry said that the team "was willing to sacrifice operating dollars in exchange for the capital investments the city will make in the arena thanks to the new seat user charge." Henry: "It gives us better footing, I think, over the long term because the partnership is stronger." Rau noted under the current deal, the Nashville Metro Council "pays the Predators $7.8 million in subsidies and [incentives] to operate Bridgestone Arena." Consumers "pay $1.75 in a ticket surcharge at hockey games at the arena, and $2 in surcharge for other events." Under the new deal, Metro "will pay up to $8.4 million, but $2.3 million of that will come from state sales taxes generated at the arena." Consumers "will pay up to $2 more -- $3.75 in a ticket surcharge for hockey games, and $4 for other events." The money "will be used to improve" Bridgestone Arena. The new deal guarantees the Predators $6.1M "out of its general fund, where under the current deal it guarantees" $7.3M. However, the Predators and sister company Powers Management "can earn extra public dollars by running the arena efficiently and booking more non-hockey events." The Nashville Metro Sports Authority Board "will consider the lease changes at next Friday's meeting," and the Metro Council "will have to approve the new seat user charge" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/23).
The newly created public body that will work with the Vikings in “overseeing development of a $975 million downtown Minneapolis football stadium made its first significant hire Friday, appointing Ted Mondale as its full-time executive director,” according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Mondale, who was Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton's “chief negotiator in the months-long legislative fight for a new stadium, will oversee day-to-day operations of the massive project, which will be built on and around the current Metrodome site on the east end of downtown.” He begins his role today and “will be paid $157,181 annually in the full-time position.” That is “about $2,100 more than the salary of Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns and operates the Metrodome” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/23). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman notes Lester, who has been MSFC Exec Dir “since the Metrodome was built, hasn't decided if he wants to continue in a position with the new stadium.” If he “did stay on, he doesn't know what he would do.” Mondale said that there are “a number of things in the works already regarding the new stadium.” Mondale: "There's a set of contracts and (requests for proposals) that we need to get fulfilled to keep the project going. We need to get in place a building owners rep.” He added, "We have a number of other works -- the environmental impact statement, that takes about a year.” After those assignments are completed, the “next step is to be ready to go out and bid for construction teams and select a manager, and then hopefully break ground by summer or fall 2013” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/25).
In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba reports the economic impact of Target Field “is showing signs of tailing off, and its role in boosting the vitality of downtown Minneapolis remains unclear.” Figures provided by both the Twins and the public ballpark authority show that “sales and use taxes collected at the stadium fell last year by $1.5 million from the 2010 inaugural season total of $18.6 million, and will likely drop again this year as the team expects 300,000 fewer people from a year ago” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/25).
SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT: In Mississippi, Brandon Marcello reported construction on the proposed $80M stadium expansion of Scott Field “should be started sometime before” the Mississippi State Univ. football season ends. The project, which “will likely cost less than the $80 million estimate, will be funded by bonds.” MSU Senior Associate AD for Ticket Operations Mike Richey said that the school “recently sold out its season ticket allotment for a third consecutive year -- a total between 43,100 and 43,200 seats.” He added that "roughly 1,560 fans are on a waiting list for season tickets.” Richey said of the stadium, “You're going to see progress on it during this season and a lot of progress during the 2013 season” (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 6/22).
WISH LIST: In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin reported the Dolphins “hope to make significant aesthetic improvements to Sun Life Stadium.” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee “wants to bring the fans closer to the field -- he noted that the seats behind the benches are 80 feet from the action, the biggest gap in the NFL -- but the top priority is building a canopy over the seating area to protect fans from inclement weather.” Team Owner Stephen Ross said, “We’re looking at a potential canopy to protect you from the sun and rain, but certainly not cover the field.” Any stadium improvements “will wait until at least 2013” (PALM BEACH POST, 6/22).
NOTES: In Tampa, Mark Puente reported a showcase party at Tropicana Field “will be held on Aug. 26, the eve of the Republican National Convention.” More than “15,000 journalists and 5,600 delegates plan to attend the gala” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/23)....In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote someone “needs to redo Marlins Park,” because it is “gaudy in certain places” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/24).