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The Rays on Thursday said that they are “interested in exploring a private developer's proposal for a new stadium in mid Pinellas County -- as long as the city also allows them to negotiate with other interested parties on possible sites in Hillsborough County,” according to Stephen Nohlgren of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg in a letter to St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster “proposed that the city and team amend the contract that binds the Rays to Tropicana Field through 2027.” The contract currently “forbids the Rays from negotiating with anyone on a new stadium.” Based on that provision, the city has “threatened [to] sue the team or anyone who negotiates with the team on a new site.” The Rays' proposed amendment “would allow them to negotiate a new venue anywhere in Pinellas or Hillsborough, while giving the city veto power over any final deal.” The letter also “promises that the Rays would begin their stadium search by holding detailed discussions with CityScape, a private development firm that shook up the region's stadium prospects two weeks ago by presenting detailed plans, drawings and demographic studies" for a proposed $540-570M stadium in Carillon Business Park. The team “sent out letters accepting previous offers to update county commissioners on both sides of the bay about the stadium hunt” (TAMPABAY.com, 10/11). Nohlgren in a separate piece notes Foster did "characterize Sternberg's letter as 'open dialogue.'" City Attorney John Wolfe said of a possible counteroffer, "We are going to look at it, see what we can add and see what we might take out." After the Rays' "waterfront stadium proposal fizzled in 2008, there has been little give and take between the team and the city." But a "splashy presentation of the Carillon proposal two weeks ago lit a spark" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/12).
TIME FOR A CHANGE: CBSSPORTS.com's Dayn Perry writes the fact that the Rays "want out of Tropicana Field isn't exactly a secret." The location "is bad, most of the facilities are sub-par relative to the rest of Major League Baseball and the Rays ranked last in" MLB attendance in '12. Perry: "No mater what happens, both the Rays and their loyal fans deserve better. That's too good a franchise to continue drawing less than 20,000 fans per game (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/11).
Senators Sports & Entertainment is "deciding if it will make a power play for a new casino," with Scotiabank Place "mentioned as a possible location for a new betting house in Ottawa," according to Jon Willing of the OTTAWA SUN. But Senators President Cyril Leeder said that SSE "is still unsure if it will respond to a casino tender" issued by the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp. Leeder said, "We've been watching the casino debate from afar and we're still trying to determine whether we have an interest in that or not." OLG, which runs slots at harness racing track Rideau Carleton Raceway, "wants a larger gambling facility in the Ottawa area." The council on Wednesday "endorsed the idea." Leeder: "We, on our own right, have a fairly sizable land holding so if we had interest it would be as a proponent, not with another developer" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/12).
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel "voiced support Wednesday for a development that could solve two separate problems” -- where to put a Bulls practice facility and a basketball arena for DePaul Univ., according to David Roeder of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Emanuel said that one facility "could serve both needs." The mayor “declined to voice a preference for a location, saying talks continue” with Bulls Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and DePaul. Reinsdorf “has committed to move the Bulls’ practice center" to Chicago from Deerfield, Ill., and it is “widely expected that a city location would provide some type of interaction with fans.” Emanuel said that DePaul "could share the Bulls facility as its new home arena." The DePaul men's team plays its home games in Rosemont, Ill., and DePaul “has been seeking a site closer to its Lincoln Park campus.” Emanuel said that talks with Reinsdorf “haven’t gotten site-specific.” He said, “We’re just talking about different places. …The first thing we wanted to do, and we did it, was to get Jerry to move practices into the city” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/11).
The National Football Foundation, which three years ago decided to move the College Football HOF to Atlanta, "received assurance this week that the long-delayed attraction will be built" in the city, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell said, "I think it's fair to say that all systems are go." Atlanta Hall Management interim CEO John Stephenson "reported to the NFF board that enough sponsorship and loan commitments have been secured to proceed with construction." Stephenson also said that AHM has signed contracts for $51.5M in sponsorships -- $43M of it "to be collected before the facility opens -- and has lined up" $22.5M in bank loans. AHM "hasn't named the sponsors publicly, saying companies want to announce on their own timetables." Stephenson "put the cost of the project" at $66.9M. That figure does not include $15M "in state funding" that the Georgia World Congress Center Authority "expects to secure for a parking deck, road work and a new entrance to the Congress Center's Building A, which is adjacent to the hall site." Stephenson said that the next steps are "to complete architectural drawings and set a date to begin construction." The HOF now "plans an opening date in late 2014" (AJC.com, 10/11).