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City and AEG officials gathered yesterday in a downtown L.A. ceremony “to sign off on and celebrate” the Farmers Field project deal, according to Dakota Smith of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Despite the lack of an NFL team, the proposed sale of AEG by its parent company and “another possible lawsuit over the stadium, city officials believe they've shown they have the political commitment to bring” the NFL back to L.A. The city under the agreement will “issue bonds to pay the $314 million cost of the new convention center hall.” The bonds will be “repaid through a variety of means, including a special tax imposed on AEG's stadium and L.A. Live site.” AEG cannot “start construction on the stadium until it has signed a lease with an NFL team.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa “praised city negotiators, casually mentioned a recent meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and shrugged off news of a possible second lawsuit pertaining to the stadium.” AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke “dismissed opponents and expressed confidence that the project will come to fruition.” Leiweke said, "We're going to get a team, and we're going to get this stadium built. We promise." Still, city planners will “continue to refine designs for the public spaces around the convention center and stadium” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/4). In L.A., Catherine Saillant writes the project is “now in the hands of” Leiweke, who is in “private talks with NFL team owners to bring a team to Los Angeles.” Villaraigosa said that he “met with" Goodell in N.Y. on Monday and that those discussions are “going well.” He added AEG is “still on track to announce a team, or possibly two, by March.” Wasserman Media Group Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman, who is “a booster and potential partner" in the project said, "The NFL now knows we are serious about bringing a football team back to Los Angeles” (L.A. TIMES, 10/4).
UNDER REVIEW: In California, Brenda Gazzar notes Rose Bowl neighbors and city parks commissioners on Tuesday “expressed concerns about plans to use Pasadena's historic stadium as a temporary home for the NFL.” A special Parks & Recreation Dept. meeting was “the third public session examining a draft Environmental Impact Report for NFL usage of the stadium.” It is “part of a $400,000 study commissioned by the city this year.” The draft review found that allowing the NFL to use the Rose Bowl "for up to five years would cause air pollution, noise pollution, more traffic and result in less recreational use of the Arroyo [Seco Park] by its neighbors -- especially on game days.” The City Council next month will “meet to vote on the EIR and a proposal increasing the annual number of large events at the stadium from 12 to 25” (PASADENA STAR-NEWS, 10/4).
Marlins President David Samson said that the team's home stadium will “likely still be known as Marlins Park going into its second season” as “no naming-rights deal is imminent, though one or both of the remaining quadrant sponsors could be in place before Opening Day,” according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Samson said, "We're hoping to reverse the trend where the second season (in new ballparks) attendance goes down.” Davis notes the “most important offseason project will be to improve the product on the field.” Meanwhile, Samson said that one offseason change at the stadium will be the “replacement of the turf, a problem all season, with a different strain of grass -- several are under consideration.” But that will not happen “until after the park hosts a soccer friendly between Venezuela and Nigeria on Nov. 14 and the Miami Soccer Challenge in January.” There are also “reports that Timothy Bradley will defend his WBO welterweight title" at the park on Dec. 15, though that is “not set.” The new field will “need to be ready for second-round games of the World Baseball Classic in March” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/4).
PARTY ON: Davis in a separate piece noted the Clevelander nightclub at Marlins Park "will host football watch parties on Sundays” from 11:00am-8:00pm ET “throughout the NFL season.” There is “no cover charge and parking is free in the Third Base Garage.” A variety of games will be “on television, the pool will be open and there will be DJs, dancers and the usual hijinks that made the Clevelander a hit during the baseball season.” Clevelander Marketing Manager Anna Whitlow said that the first season of the club's ballpark location has “exceeded expectations in revenue and sales, and the attention it has received has benefited the long-established parent club on South Beach” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 10/3).
TELLING FISH TALES: In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda asks, "How do the Marlins go about fixing things?" The team should "identify a single baseball voice out of the front office." If Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest stays on, he "needs to project a more authoritative presence." Manager Ozzie Guillen "can be forgiven if he wonders about the chain of command that leads to owner Jeffrey Loria." It is "no good if Beinfest comes across as nothing more than a Loria mouthpiece, which often seems to be the case." If Loria "does wield Steinbrennerian power in making baseball decisions, then better for the Marlins if he steps out from behind the curtain and says so" (PALM BEACH POST, 10/4).
Redbox is “hoping to shake up the ticketing business, selling seats to live events with just a $1 fee tacked on,” according to Ethan Smith of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Redbox is “likely to offer tickets that might not sell otherwise, such as nosebleed seats for concerts that aren't sold out.” The company will “sell tickets at its kiosks and on its website, though buyers will have to either collect the tickets at the venue or print them at home.” Redbox is “starting with a limited number of events, all in a single market, Philadelphia, where it is selling seats for a Nov. 28 Carrie Underwood show at the Wells Fargo Center arena.” Tickets on its website are “identified only by row and a range of seat numbers, not specific seats.” The company also is “selling tickets for Villanova University football games and NASCAR races at the Pocono Raceway.” Smith notes event promoters are “wary that training customers to wait for last-minute discounts could undermine the value of their tickets” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/4). In L.A., Ben Fritz noted the city is the “second market” Redbox hopes to enter in ’13. Redbox' “major selling point" is a "service fee of only $1 per ticket, compared with the $10 to $15 that Ticketmaster often charges.” Redbox Senior VP/Strategy, Innovation & New Business Mark Achler said, "The majority of what we are going to focus on is the broad live event marketplace, but we will also be doing our fair share of concerts and sports. We're talking to all the major national players (in live events)" (LATIMES.com, 10/3).