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The BMO Harris Bradley Center yesterday announced that it has "reached agreement" with the Bucks on a "new, six-year lease through Sept. 30, 2017," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The lease extension, which is "backdated to Oct. 1 of last year and was expected, is the longest lease between the center and the franchise in more than 10 years and the first multi-year extension since 2007." Arena officials said that terms of the lease extension "are substantially the same as in past years" and "will not escalate during the six-year term." The Bucks will "continue to receive 27.5% of concession sales and 13.75% of food and beverage sales in the suites, as well as 30% of merchandise sales at Bucks games." Additionally, the Bucks will "continue to receive 19% of net suite revenue and a suite revenue share of $2.1 million annually." They "do not pay rent at the facility" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/23). Walker in a separate piece noted NBA Commissioner David Stern was asked if the new lease gave him "an assurance that Milwaukee was serious about keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee now and into the future." The answer via a league spokesperson "was yes." The NBA knows "full well there are cities across the country that would love to have an NBA franchise." With that "in mind, Stern pays attention to what some of the smaller franchises are doing to stay successful." The next "big step, of course, is to determine whether a new arena is warranted." For now, the NBA "appears to like what Milwaukee's business community and the BMO Harris Bradley are doing" (JSONLINE.com, 10/19).
BUCK STOPS HERE: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote Bucks GM John Hammond is "attempting to buck the trend, and beat city hall, or in basketball terms, lead the Bucks to the playoffs with a roster full of draft picks, prospects from other clubs, and players acquired in trades." Milwaukee is "generally not on the list of many top free agents." It is "not a destination location for a player in his prime looking to cash in on previous success and live a lavish lifestyle." The Bucks are a "prime example of a smaller-market team, a place from which players look to depart for Miami, New York or Los Angeles." They tend "not to go there" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/21).
The NFL last week during the owners’ meetings in Chicago approved a $58M loan that “completes financing of the $143 million expansion of Lambeau Field,” according to Richard Ryman of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. The Packers are “paying for the current expansion with $64 million from a stock sale last winter, the $58 million from the NFL and $21 million from the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District.” That money comes from “user fees charged new season-ticket holders.” The Packers are “adding more than 6,500 seats to the stadium.” The no-interest loan is “for 15 years,” and some of the money “from visiting teams’ shares of game-day revenue can be counted as payback.” The Packers are the “second NFL team to receive money under the new program,” after the 49ers received funds for their new stadium in Santa Clara. The NFL CBA “establishes a formula for how much money is available, league wide, for loans, so approval is not automatic.” Team President & CEO Mark Murphy said that the Packers paid an ‘03 loan “in less than half the allotted time, which also didn’t hurt their case.” Murphy said that the Packers were “still on track to announce details for the new construction by the end of the year, with work beginning as soon as possible” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/23).
The Padres yesterday announced "the first changes in a three-year program" that will see $25M in capital improvements to Petco Park, according to Bill Center of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The distance to the outfield fences "will be shortened by approximately 10 feet" for just over 30% of the ballpark for the '13 season. The out-of-town scoreboard will be "relocated to a spot above right field," and the visiting bullpen will be "removed from foul territory in right field and relocated above the Padres bullpen in left-center." Padres President & CEO Tom Garfinkel said, “Petco Park will still be a pitcher’s ballpark. But the changes in the outfield dimensions will eliminate some of the extreme bias." Some seats "above the current Padres bullpen will be eliminated, but there will be seats added in right field." Padres RF Chris Denorfia said, "I’m definitely excited about the bullpen being removed from the playing field. Going toward the line at full speed was a serious concern for anyone playing right field.” Center writes Petco Park "played big -- bigger, in fact, than the Padres thought it would play." The Padres "had discussed shortening the fences at Petco Park since the downtown ballpark opened" in '04. Padres Dir of Baseball Operations Josh Stein said, "We’ve done studies each and every year. There are a number of factors going into how Petco Park plays. The time of the year is a factor. The time of day is a factor. Conditions change during games." Owner & Exec Chair Ron Fowler said, "From the time I first walked into the building there was a discussion about us being an outlier when it came to ballparks." Padres Exec VP & GM Josh Byrnes added, "Since Petco Park opened, the Padres have not generated a huge home-field advantage when it came to other teams in other ballparks" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/23).
DUE DILIGENCE: MLB.com's Corey Brock wrote, "You don't need an MBA in Quantitative Analysis to know what you were seeing at Petco Park." Byrnes: "We compared some of that research to what our eyeballs were telling us. Clearly, ours was extreme. We felt it was right to make these changes." Brock noted discussions about potential changes in dimensions "occurred before executive chairman Ron Fowler and his ownership group came onboard in August." Fowler "made sure to check with baseball operations to make sure this was indeed the right decision." Fowler: "We didn't ask them once, we asked them twice. That's when we decided to pull the trigger" (MLB.com, 10/22).
STAY THE COURSE: Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said of any potential changes to AT&T Park, "We don't see any compelling reason to do it. To some extent, we fashioned the team around the ballpark and have gotten zero complaints from fans. If we have more 4-3 games than 9-8 games, that's not necessarily a bad thing" (SFGATE.com, 10/23).
Bon Secours Health System "will be the main sponsor of a $10 million training camp facility for the Washington Redskins to be built on state land behind the Science Museum of Virginia," according to a front-page piece by Robert Zullo of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones yesterday said, "This is going to be a first-class facility that will not only offer professional-level playing fields, but it's also going to incorporate health and wellness services that are going to be provided by Bon Secours." While Jones said that many details "remain to be ironed out, the training camp's fields and facilities will be available for city residents to use when the camp is not in session." He added that though the team "will need total use of the facility about six weeks of the year, year-round sports medicine, men's health and fitness facilities are planned for the site, which will be called the Bon Secours Training Center." The city of Richmond will "obtain a lease for the land from the state, then make a loan through the city's Economic Development Authority to jump-start construction, which needs to begin almost immediately to have the site ready for next summer, the Redskins' first year in Richmond." The team is "committed to an eight-year agreement to hold the three-week camp in the city as part of an economic incentive deal with the state" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 10/23).
CHANGE OF SCENERY: In DC, Mike Jones notes the Redskins "have held training camp" at their Ashburn, Va., HQs since '02, but "have sought a location in the region that would allow them to get away for the three-week training session." Coach Mike Shanahan has said that he "prefers getting away from the team facility for camp, a move he believes helps eliminate distractions for players and helps the team bond" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/23).
Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik and his business partners yesterday made a "shocking announcement" that they were "suspending their efforts to take control" of the Channelside Bay Plaza, according to Jamal Thalji of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. For the past nine months, Vinik's group "has waited" for the Anglo Irish Bank to "negotiate some kind of deal to get [previous plaza owner Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp.] to give up" the right of first refusal, freeing up the title. Then Vinik's group, Metis Channelside could "finalize agreements with the Irish bank and the Tampa Port Authority to take over Channelside." All of that is "now on hold for the foreseeable future." Lightning CEO & Minority Owner Tod Leiweke said, "There's a significant legal issue that we've just not been able to overcome and in some ways our stepping back helps it get resolved." The Vinik group "hopes that by suspending its plans for Channelside, that will encourage the bank and Ashkenazy to resolve their issues or risk scuttling the deal for good." Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said, "I don't blame Jeff (Vinik) for stepping away and I'm hopeful that he'll be patient until we can rid this deal of this cancer." Leiweke said that Vinik "sees a 'bullish' future for Tampa and is dedicated to revitalizing the Channel District." Thalji notes Vinik has an "interest in partnerships that own land around the Times Forum, groups that in the past two years have paid $16.3 million for 12 acres across from the arena." While Vinik's partners are "still developing their vision for those 12 recently acquired acres, Leiweke said those plans are not dependent on controlling Channelside" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/23).