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The naming rights of the White Sox' ballpark "took center stage Wednesday after U.S. Cellular Corp. announced it would sell its spectrum in the Chicago market to Sprint Nextel Corp.," according to Anna Marie Kukec of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. Sprint spokesperson Scott Sloat said that the company is "acquiring spectrum and customers from U.S. Cellular in Chicago and other markets, and is not purchasing or involved in its marketing rights or initiatives." Asked if Sprint will consider changing the name of the ballpark in the future, Sloat said, “All I can tell you is it isn’t part of this transaction." U.S. Cellular Senior VP/Marketing & CMO Dave Kimbell "confirmed that 'the Cell' likely will continue." He said, "Our naming rights to the ballpark are not a part of this deal with Sprint. The White Sox are a great partner and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them.” White Sox Dir of PR Lou Hernandez "confirmed there are no plans to change the name of the ballpark" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 11/8). IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews said that U.S. Cellular, which in '03 signed a 20-year naming-rights contract with the White Sox, "likely couldn't drop out of the deal even if it wanted to." He said that stadium naming-rights contracts signed in more recent years "are more likely to have flexible options compared to contracts signed when U.S. Cellular inked its deal" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/8). Meanwhile, U.S. Cellular said that its "consumer experience" center at the ballpark "will be staying in place." In Chicago, Wailin Wong notes the company "operates 116 retail stores in the Chicago area, but the U.S. Cellular Field location is not included in that total because no products are sold there" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/8). U.S Cellular also holds naming rights to four arenas in Milwaukee; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Bloomington, Ill.; and Asheville, N.C. (THE DAILY).
El Paso residents on Tuesday "voted in favor of increasing the hotel tax" to pay for construction of a proposed downtown ballpark, according to Cindy Ramirez of the EL PASO TIMES. The vote was "in favor of Proposition 3, which called for the designation of the ballpark project as a sports venue and the use of hotel occupancy tax dollars to finance it." About 60% of voters "cast ballots supporting the proposition." With the approval, the $50M Triple-A stadium will be "financed primarily by customers of El Paso hotels." The remaining portion "would be paid for by lease payments, baseball-ticket surcharges and parking revenues, among other sources." The decision on Proposition 3 follows "months of heated debate" over the process and cost of bringing the PCL Tuscon Padres to the city. El Paso in June entered into partnership with MountainStar Sports Group "when the City Council agreed to build the ballpark Downtown." The council in September "approved a contract with the group for the lease of the ballpark." MountainStar in October "officially became the owner" of the PCL Tuscon Padres. The team will play its '13 season in Arizona and is "expected to play in El Paso in 2014" (EL PASO TIMES, 11/7).
TENNIS, ANYONE? In Miami, Charles Rabin noted Miami-Dade (Fla.) county voters passed a "planned expansion and renovation of Key Biscayne's popular Sony Open tournament facilities" at the Crandon Park Tennis Center for which the county would have to issue $50M in bonds that would be "paid off with tournament revenue" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/7). The HUFFINGTON POST's Christiana Lilly noted "preliminary voting results" showed 72.59% of Miami-Dade voters are in favor of the renovations. A public vote was "required under Miami-Dade County's 'Save Our Parks' amendment, which protects public lands." Tournament organizer IMG said that the $50M facelift would be "funded solely by private funds and event proceeds, though that would likely happen through a revenue-backed county bonds issue" (HUFFINGTONPOST.com, 11/7).
London Olympic Park officials warned that the Olympic Stadium “may not be ready” for EPL club West Ham United or any other tenant “until the start of the 2016/17 season,” according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. The London Legacy Development Corporation is “still deciding whether to accept” any of the four bidders “seeking a 99-year lease on the [US$799M] stadium, some of which requires substantial modifications, including providing a roof to cover all of the seating, and possible retractable seating.” LLDC CEO Dennis Hone told the London Assembly that there have been “no formal bids from an NFL American football franchise, although the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and others had held ‘encouraging’ talks about stadium management with NFL executives.” Although soccer was “still among the front-runners to take up tenancy of the venue, Hone insisted a 2014 reopening was out of the question.” Hone said that if “none of the current bidders were accepted, with a decision expected in the first half of next year, the promise to the International Association of Athletics Federations for covered seating during the hosting of the 2017 World Athletics Championships may have to be renegotiated.” He added that it was “unlikely the corporation would pay for covered seating without the changes being required by a long-term tenant” (London TELEGRAPH, 11/8). Hone said the stadium's reopening date "would be August 2015 at the absolute earliest and possibly August 2016.” In London, Ashling O’Connor notes the new timeline for the stadium's conversion "would put the reopening three years behind schedule.” The longer the negotiations “drag on, the less likely it seems West Ham will get their way.” The U.K. government is “categorical no more public money will be spent on it, although there may be calls to cover future maintenance and repair costs” (LONDON TIMES, 11/8).
UFC President Dana White yesterday said that a victory by UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre on Nov. 17 over interim titleholder Carlos Condit “could set up a superfight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva at Cowboys Stadium.” White said, "We've been talking to (Cowboys Stadium officials) for a while. They're pumped and ready whenever we can bring an event there. They're ready for it.” ESPN.com’s Franklin McNeil noted White has “two other options if a Cowboys Stadium deal can't be finalized,” as he is “looking at Toronto, where Rogers Centre is located, or a soccer stadium in Brazil.” White did not discuss a date for the potential bout (ESPN.com, 11/7).
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: Duke Univ. football coach David Cutcliffe yesterday said that recently announced renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium will "begin at the end of the 2013 season and be completed before the start of the 2014 season.” Cutcliffe: “We’ll do what Stanford did, and as soon as we finish the last ball game, construction will start. It will require a day and night operation to get it up and running.” In Raleigh, Laura Keeley notes by the time the ‘14 football season starts, the “track will be gone, the field will be lowered, and the façade of the stadium will be bricked in a style that matches the rest of the campus” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/8).
LIFE'S A BEACH: In Virginia, Aaron Applegate reports the proposal to build a $350M arena near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront to attract an NBA team is "moving forward with behind-the-scenes meetings.” Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said that he “plans to update the City Council on Tuesday.” Virginia Beach Economic Development Dir Warren Harris said that a “representative of an NBA team eyeing a move to Virginia Beach has had meetings in Richmond with Gov. Bob McDonnell and the city.” But Harris “declined to say which team” (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 11/8).