SBD/October 26, 2012/FacilitiesPrint All
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig prior to World Series Game 2 fielded by far the largest amount of media questions regarding the ongoing search for a new A's stadium and the club's desire to move to San Jose. But Selig said the issue is not on the formal agenda for next month's owners meetings in Chicago, and study by his working group continues well into its fourth year without a set timetable for a resolution. "It's a very complex situation," Selig said, insisting the issue was still on the league's "front burner." "People say, 'Oh, it's easy. You ought to be able to make a decision.' But it's not if you really understand all the issues, and I think all the parties do understand." Selig added he feels no pressure to make a ruling and hasten the development of a new facility due to the age of 76-year-old A's Owner Lew Wolff, saying he was motivated only by "the best interests of baseball." "The only thing that will guide me -- on every issue, including this one -- is what I think is the best interest of baseball," Selig said. "That's the only pressure I'll ever feel" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). The AP's Janie McCauley noted the city of Oakland "still believes it has several suitable locations to build a new ballpark for the A's." Yet, Wolff has "his sights on San Jose and has repeatedly said his franchise has exhausted its options in Oakland after years of trying." Selig said that he "still has no timetable for making a decision on whether the A's can move." He "wouldn't even respond when asked whether it would get done during his tenure as commissioner." Selig said, "I don't think there's any question that they need a new ballpark. That would not be a shocking front-page story I don't think. I don't feel any pressure" (AP, 10/25).
DO YOU KNOW THE WAY?: In San Jose, John Woolfolk notes San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Santa Clara County supervisors "have been meeting over the last week to ensure that no ballpark land disputes impede their efforts to draw the Oakland Athletics to San Jose." Many expect MLB officials "some time after the World Series to consider whether to allow an A's move to San Jose despite San Francisco Giants territorial objections and Oakland's efforts to keep the team." San Jose last year "transferred land bought with redevelopment money for a future A's ballpark to a newly created agency and sold the A's an option to buy it at below-market prices if baseball officials clear the team's move." But that deal has been "thrown into question by the state's move last year to kill redevelopment agencies." California state officials are "threatening to invalidate the San Jose land transfer and force a market-rate sale to fund local governments and schools" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/26).
RAYS OF HOPE: Prior to Game 2 Selig, as he has been in the past, was downbeat on the Rays' home attendance at Tropicana Field, which ranked last among MLB teams despite a fifth consecutive winning season. "I'll let you draw your own conclusion," a visibly upset Selig said when asked if he was troubled by the club's difficulty drawing fans. "I think it's a conclusion that's pretty obvious" (Fisher). Selig said that he planned to "talk soon with principal owner Stuart Sternberg for an update on the stadium situation." In Tampa, Marc Topkin notes St. Petersburg officials are expected to respond Friday to "the team's request to amend its lease to allow talks with Pinellas and Hillsborough entities" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/26).
Daytona Int'l Speedway and Int'l Speedway Corp. on Thursday "got the final yes vote they needed out of City Hall to charge forward with their plan to tackle a major overhaul of the Speedway's front stretch grandstands," according to Eileen Zaffiro-Kean of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. The unanimous approval of the site plan from the city's Planning Board was "the last of several hurdles ISC and DIS had to clear before they could move from engineers' drawings to bulldozers in their hopes of redesigning the front stretch grandstands, adding new vendors, creating five new fan entrances, possibly doubling seating and renovating restrooms." DIS President Joie Chitwood said, "We're well on our way for what Daytona can be for the next 50 years." Track officials "are planning a transformation of the properties, which now include a good share of open land, into a racing and entertainment complex that could eventually include new hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, movie theaters, shops and possibly a casino or two if state law changes to allow them." The complex also could include "up to 2 million square feet of retail space, 1,785 hotel rooms, 1,500 multi-family residential units and movie theaters with a combined 5,000 seats." Speedway officials said that it "could take decades to reach that full vision, and they're just now beginning to talk to potential developers and businesses." The start of "the grandstand makeover could be a year or more away" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 10/26).
UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion after more than two years of renovations “officially reopens Nov. 9,” and it will feature “bold colors, high-end finishes and LED graphics,” according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. A “bright, airy concourse, wrapped around the old building, will include upscale concession stands and more restrooms.” The “real test will come inside the bowl, where 1,000 seats have been added along the top and bottom -- boosting capacity to 13,002 -- with the stated intent of putting fans closer to the action.” UCLA AD Dan Guerrero said that construction crews, working “through the end of the month, hope to finish the project at slightly under its adjusted budget of $136 million.” School administrators said that UCLA has “received $72 million in pledges to help pay the tab but has banked only $30 million of that because … some gifts are amortized over five or more years.” Sponsorships have generated “an additional $5 million to $6 million and there could be a naming rights deal in the not-too-distant future.” Women will have “four times as many restroom facilities; for men, the capacity has more than doubled.” The number of concession stands “has grown to nine and will include California Pizza Kitchen, Subway, Jamba Juice and a panini bar.” There also will be a “shop selling merchandise in the northwest corner.” Wharton notes “special touches include blue and gold accents throughout the building, with entrances to each section marked by large metal panels showing graphics of players in action” (L.A. TIMES, 10/26).
LET ME UPGRADE YA: ESPN L.A.’s Peter Yoon noted the renovation “added aesthetically pleasing new concourses spanning up to 40 feet wide that encircle the old building, add about 70,000 square feet of new space inside Pauley and allow plenty of room for fans to move around.” Much of that added square footage “includes several museum-like tributes to past UCLA athletic achievements.” The structure of the building inside “remained largely unchanged, but all of the seating is new, about 1,000 new seats have been added, a high-definition scoreboard now hangs at center court and LED ribbon boards encircle the top level.” The project included “digging out underground space for a 300-person banquet facility that will serve as a members-only Pavilion Club -- the only place on campus that serves alcohol -- for well-heeled donors.” The locker rooms feature “cherrywood lockers with electrical outlets in each locker and etched-glass name plates for every player.” Players also have “access to lounges with large, comfortable couches and chairs and big-screen televisions.” The building now has a “weight room for use by the basketball and volleyball teams and a high-tech, 24-seat theater room will allow coaches to break down film for the team” (ESPNLA.com, 10/25).
The Lee County (Fla.) government and the Twins "are on the verge of extending their lease by 30 years" for the club's Spring Training facility, according to David Dorsey of the Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS. Lee County Commission Chairman John Manning said that the cost of improvements to the Lee County Sports Complex "is expected to be about $45 million ... with $15 million being contributed by the state of Florida in $500,000 increments over the 30-year deal." The Twins "would contribute $13.5 million, which includes an increase in rent from $300,000 a year to $500,000 year." Part of the "remaining $7.5 million will be used to construct a player dormitory on property the county would contribute for the project." Manning said that the "refinancing of $35 million in bonds would finance the rest of the project." The county also "is continuing its negotiations" with the Nationals, "who are considering City of Palms Park, former spring home of the Red Sox, as a new home should they relocate from Viera." The 30-year extension with the Twins "likely would begin with the year in which the project breaks ground." That is "expected to be by 2015, which would keep the Twins in Lee County through at least 2045" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 10/26).
The NFL Panthers are finishing a "plan to renovate Bank of America Stadium," and the tour of MetLife Stadium Wednesday by Charlotte city leaders proved to be an "eye-opener for some council members, who were exposed to what is now considered start-of-the-art in pro football," according to a front-page piece by Steve Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The city leaders saw "massive video boards," escalators to the upper bowl, private clubs that "resemble a five-star hotel, and one that allows fans to walk on the field, behind the players' benches." Charlotte City Council member John Autry said, "I shouldn't say I'm surprised, but I'm impressed." Harrison reported City Council members were "most impressed ... by numerous club areas that cater to New York City high rollers." Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson "made the trip to speak briefly to attendees," while Giants President & CEO John Mara "talked about how the stadium was built and funded." The Panthers have not "formally asked the city of Charlotte for financial help, but a number of city leaders believe they will be asked to help pay for the renovations." The club has hired K.C.-based architectural firm Populous "to conduct a long-range study" of Bank of America Stadium. Panthers President Danny Morrison -- who "didn't attend the New York trip -- said earlier he expects the study to be finished by the end of the year" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/25). The city of Charlotte paid for Mayor Anthony Foxx and six City Council members to make the trip at nearly $3,100 per person (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/25).