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A $1.2B plan for the proposed Farmers Field NFL stadium in L.A. “passed a major test Thursday,” according to Zahniser & Linthicum of the L.A. TIMES. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's appointees on the Planning Commission “signed off on a set of agreements for the 72,000-seat stadium, concluding the project's economic benefits outweigh the ‘significant and unavoidable’ impacts it will have on traffic, air quality, noise and light glare.” The 9-0 vote “marked a major victory for AEG," putting the stadium and a $315M Convention Center renovation "on track for a Sept. 28 vote by the City Council.” But Thursday's win was “tempered by a warning from one of the stadium's biggest allies, who said a pending legal case is placing the project in jeopardy.” The Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition, which filed a lawsuit against AEG last month, said that it “wants AEG to provide $60 million for affordable housing, or $2 million a year over 30 years.” City officials are “pursuing a timeline that would ensure that any lawsuit against AEG would be resolved in March, when NFL team owners are expected to consider the possibility of returning a franchise to L.A.” AEG execs “showed no interest in providing the amount of money sought by the coalition," saying that they already have agreed to roughly $50M in concessions. AEG Chief Legal & Development Officer Ted Fikre said that the company “has already rejected a coalition request for $10 million and pointed out that neither the stadium project nor the Convention Center upgrade will result in the removal of any homes” (L.A. TIMES, 9/14).
TAILGATE EXPERIENCE: In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore writes it “sure sounded like” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was "playing up" Farmers Field while appearing this week at Politico’s Playbook Lunch in DC. Goodell said, “There is tailgating in the downtown site. It may not be as much and it may be a different kind of experience, but you’re going to have to address that in some fashion.” Goodell also maintained that while Farmers Field “might not offer the traditional tailgating experience, it can still provide unique game-day activities.” Goodell: “(It’s) a site that has an arena, it has a convention center, there are restaurants and shops. It’s a whole experience where people can come down and make it a different kind of tailgating experience rather than pulling up your car and opening your hood and saying we’re open for business” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/14).
PARKING ISSUE: In San Diego, Craig Gustafson writes the proposal to build a new downtown Chargers stadium faces an “unexpected hurdle as one of the key properties needed for a proposed site in the East Village has become mired in a bureaucratic maze.” The state's decision to “end redevelopment has put the fate of Tailgate Park, a 1,040-space parking lot next to Petco Park, in question as the city may have to put the site up for sale to the highest bidder rather than include a portion of it as part of the 14-acre footprint needed to build a $1 billion stadium.” If there is a sale of Tailgate Park, the “civic discussion over building a stadium in the East Village effectively ends.” The proposed site “would already be the smallest stadium footprint in the NFL so the project doesn't pencil out unless Tailgate Park is included” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/14).
The Steelers and local political leaders "have negotiated the framework of a deal to finance the construction of an additional 3,000 seats at Heinz Field," according to a front-page piece by Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. The expansion would be "funded by a $1 increase in an existing surcharge on Steelers tickets and a new parking surcharge of roughly $2 to $3 at lots around Heinz Field during home games." Money raised from the surcharges would support a bond issue, estimated at $20M, to be "floated by the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, the stadium owner, to finance its share of the construction," projected at $38-39M. The rest of the money would "come from the Steelers and other private sources." The team likely will sell PSLs "to fund part of its share." No allegheny Regional Asset District money would be "used to finance any part of the construction." Under the team's lease at Heinz Field, the Authority is "obligated to pay two-thirds of the cost for a 'designated expansion' involving no more than 10,000 seats in the south end zone." The Steelers are "responsible for one-third of the cost." Officials are "hoping to finalize a deal within the next month in order to start construction after the current season." The Steelers "want to have the new seats in place by next season" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/14).
The city of Atlanta’s economic development agency Invest Atlanta is “asking for proposals to redevelop a 55-acre tract of land north of Turner Field into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood,” according to Greg Bluestein of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Invest Atlanta sent out a request Friday “seeking ideas from developers to turn the sprawling field of parking lots that includes the footprint of the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium into a sports and entertainment district that draws crowds even when the Braves are on the road.” It also “wants any proposals to include homages to highlights of Braves history.” In addition, the plans “should incorporate 10,000 parking spaces stacked in decks and a potential link to a streetcar that could eventually connect the stadium with downtown.” The move is “seen as a way to appease the Braves, whose lease on Turner Field and some surrounding parking lots ends in 2016.” While team Owner Liberty Media has “shown little appetite for investing in a new home for the Braves, the baseball club still has leverage by threatening to seek options elsewhere” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 9/14).
SPECIAL TREATMENT: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker cites a non-binding term sheet that notes the Georgia World Congress Center Authority “would carve out special treatment in an Atlanta Falcons stadium deal for some events, such as college football and basketball games, that relocate to the proposed new facility from the Georgia Dome.” The document states that the GWCCA “would own the stadium, that the Falcons would ‘control’ the stadium and its revenue streams under conditions of a license agreement and that the Falcons would be responsible for all cost overruns during construction and pay an unspecified annual fee to the GWCCA for at least 30 years.” The term sheet “makes clear the sensitivity about protecting in the transition to a Falcons-run facility the non-Falcons events that have pre-existing, long-standing relationships with the Georgia Dome,” such as the SEC Championship football game and the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Kickoff games. The term sheet stated that the GWCCA, which runs the Georgia Dome, would “continue to manage those events in a new stadium.” That would include “negotiating and entering into contracts related to those events and directing the event-day production” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 9/14).
A Seattle City Council committee on Thursday "approved a revised agreement to go forward with planning" for hedge fund manager Chris Hansen's proposed $490M basketball and hockey arena in the city's Sodo neighborhood, according to a front-page piece by Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. The measure is "expected to go to the full council for final approval Sept. 24," after which Hansen "can begin shopping for an NBA team." The vote "came over the continued objections of the Port of Seattle and maritime-labor leaders who said the Sodo location and traffic generated by year-round events threatens shipping operations and their jobs" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/14). In Seattle, Nick Eaton wrote the location "continues to be a sticking point." The plan to build a third sports venue in Sodo "has drawn opposition from the Port of Seattle, maritime industry associations, labor unions and the Seattle Mariners." Industry reps "urged city councilmembers to delay their full vote until the public can take an in-depth look at the additional pieces of the financing agreement that could protect port-related jobs and ease Sodo's infamous traffic issues." To "allay some of those concerns" about the proposed arena's potential effects on Seattle's shipping industry, the City Council negotiated into its new memorandum of understanding a $40M fund for "improving transportation infrastructure" near the venues (SEATTLEPI.com, 9/13).
YOU THINK THEY'LL NOTICE? Hansen on Thursday said that the NBA "has been closely watching what's taking place in the Pacific Northwest and a renegotiated memorandum of understanding between Hansen and the city council on the proposed arena goes a long way to easing the league's concerns about Hansen's plan." Hansen: "It means a lot to the NBA. They've been watching very close to what we're doing. I think going in they were very skeptical we would get to this point given our history in Seattle." He said regarding the possibility of an NBA franchise in the city as early as next year, "I think it's conceivable, that would be optimistic and that is not an expectation I would not want to set. I worry that people are expecting us to get this deal done and it be like magic and a team would be here this year. It's like, 'Poof and we've got a deal done and where is our team?' This is a far more difficult process. I think anybody who is intimately familiar with the NBA knows this is a tough next face we have to go through" (AP, 9/13).
THIS BUD'S FOR YOU: In Seattle, Percy Allen reports Hansen on Thursday "hosted a victory party that drew roughly 1,500 to the Pioneer Square restaurant." Hansen said to the crowd, "I probably wouldn't be here today if we weren't as successful as we were in getting all of you guys rallied behind us. So thank you. And that's what this beer is for." Allen notes Hansen "bought the first round of beer -- Redhook or Bud Light" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/14).
Work is "set to begin" on EPL club Manchester City's new City Football Academy training complex, and the development will "open in time for the 2014-15 season," according to Richard Jolly of the London TELEGRAPH. Cost of the development is estimated to be more than US$162M. An 80-acre site opposite the club's Etihad Stadium will be "transformed from industrial wasteland into an academy with 16 football pitches, a 7,000-capacity stadium for youth and reserve-team matches and a first-team training building." Man City has "given 5.5 acres on the corner of the site to the local council, where a sixth form college will be built." The club also has donated US$4.9M for "local leisure facilities, which is earmarked for a swimming pool." The new facilities will include "an indoor pitch, classrooms for 200 youth-team players, accommodation and staff offices" (London TELEGRAPH, 9/14). In London, James Ducker writes the City Football Academy will be a "monument to [Man City Owner] Sheikh Mansour's plan to make City a pre-eminent force in world football while regenerating the flatlands of east Manchester in the process." A giant footbridge will "connect the Etihad Stadium to the site, which will be heavily powered by renewable energy sources and involve the plantation of 2,000 trees that will transform the existing harsh environment" (LONDON TIMES, 9/14). Also in London, Ian Herbert notes contractors BAM "have been engaged" for the development (London INDEPENDENT, 9/14).
The Vikings will "use wind energy credits from Juhl Wind Inc., a small wind developer in southwestern Minnesota, to offset the carbon footprint of the Metrodome this season," according to Leslie Brooks Suzukamo of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. This effort is a first for Juhl Wind, which is "trading its credits as part of a sponsorship deal with the Vikings." Juhl Wind VP/Project Development Corey Juhl said, "It's part of our strategy to get our name out there." The company will "provide 520,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits over the eight regular season home games." Juhl said that the credits "offset the electricity used throughout the Metrodome, covering everything from the concession stands to the scoreboards and making the Vikings one of the only National Football League teams to play in a 100 percent green-powered facility during the entire 2012-2013 season" (TWINCITIES.com, 9/13).