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SBD/December 5, 2012/FacilitiesPrint All
Officials from Tigers and Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch's Olympia Development Company yesterday said that they "intend to build a new downtown hockey arena as part of a $650 million mixed-use development that would be both publicly and privately financed," according to Bill Shea of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS. The project will include "residential, retail, office facilities and an events center." Olympia Development in a statement said the project "incorporates a significant private investment supplemented by existing dollars currently collected by the (Detroit Downtown Development Authority) supporting economic development and requiring no new taxes." No details were disclosed on "how much the Ilitches would spend and how much would come from DDA taxes collected from businesses within designated areas of the city." Olympia Development in the statement added the "exact location of the district has not been determined" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 12/4). In Detroit, Martinez & Livengood in a front-page piece report Ilitch is "asking the state for nearly $13 million in tax money to help finance" the project. Olympia Development "offered no details on a timetable or additional financing for the 35-acre project." Yesterday it was "unclear ... how much legislative support the project would receive from Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated Legislature." Ilitch, who "paid for more than 60 percent of the construction of Comerica Park, has said getting financing has been a key snag in constructing an arena." A hockey arena to "replace the aging Joe Louis Arena has long been on Ilitch's wish list" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/5). Also in Detroit, Gallagher & Egan in a front-page piece note Ilitch as long ago as '93 "was hiring top-ranked architectural firms to create master plans for the district around the Fox Theatre," which he "purchased and restored in the late 1980s" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5).
CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG: The DETROIT FREE PRESS' Tom Walsh writes now that Ilitch "has finally declared his intent to build a new arena and other cool stuff in downtown Detroit, the debate can commence." People will "squeal about spending tax dollars on a hockey palace or some trendy downtown stores when Detroit can't keep the streetlights on." Other people, "just as passionately, will sing the praises of the Ilitch family for moving Little Caesars downtown when most other businesses were fleeing, and for reviving the Fox Theatre, and for spending money to make winners of the Red Wings and the Tigers." The great "paradox of Detroit is that it is widely perceived as one of the nation's worst places to live, yet it also occupies a unique place in the American culture." Walsh: "That paradox will play out for months amid the debate and speculation about the Ilitch development plans and how they will be financed." What the Ilitch "declaration does not do is provide any hint about whether Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores might someday be interested in sharing an arena with the Red Wings and moving the basketball team downtown from the Palace of Auburn Hills" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5).
DOUBLE DIPPING? In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes the Red Wings are "long overdue for a new home, but the only way this entertainment district makes business sense would be if the Pistons are involved, ensuring more dates at the arena and improving the financial viability of restaurants, bars and retail outlets." Gores is a "very shrewd businessman and might have some negotiating leverage because the Ilitches will need the Pistons to make their vision work." Detroit can "no longer provide the necessary corporate backing for four professional teams in four separate facilities." Sharp: "It isn't economical. The consolidation of assets is the action that makes the most sense" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5). Also in Detroit, JC Reindl writes under the header, "If New Home Built For Red Wings, Will The Beloved Joe Have To Go?" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5).
EPL Club West Ham United has been “named as the top choice to move in to the Olympic Stadium when it reopens,” after a “three-year saga over the fate" of the facility, according to Sale, Edwards & Cass of the London DAILY MAIL. The London Legacy Development Corporation board (LLDC) “unanimously made the decision in favour of the Premier League club ahead of rivals from Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One, UCFB College of Football Business and [League One club] Leyton Orient.” LLDC Chair and London Mayor Boris Johnson said, “It will, if it goes through, mean a football legacy for the stadium but there is still a lot of negotiation to go on between the LLDC and West Ham United about the terms of the deal.” The choice of West Ham as tenants “on a 99-year lease came after a bitter drawn-out battle.” West Ham, which offered $24.2M (all figures U.S.) in cash plus a minimum $14.5M-a-year in rent and “share of commercial revenues to help pay for the renovation costs, must also help to fill the funding gap in the building work necessary to transform a track and field venue into a multi-sports arena.” The hole in the projected $241.6M finances “necessary to install a new roof, retractable seating over the running track and corporate boxes is now less” than $32.2M (DAILYMAIL.co.uk, 12/5). The BBC’s David Bond notes the $691M facility is “not expected to fully reopen before August 2015.” The move would see West Ham “relocate two miles from their 35,000-capacity Upton Park to a stadium reduced from 80,000 seats at the Olympics to 60,000.” West Ham would be “the anchor tenants, with other events, such as the 2017 World Athletics Championships, staged at the stadium.” West Ham Vice Chair Karren Brady has told supporters that the club “will not make the move unless the stadium is judged to be acceptable for hosting football” (BBC.co.uk, 12/5).
DEAL DETAILS: Johnson "insisted that 'plan B’ -- reopening the stadium more rapidly and cheaply as a venue for concerts and one off sporting events without the involvement of West Ham -- remained viable.” Johnson said, "We have got plenty of time to get a football solution, if this is what we get, in time for 2016-17. People will understand that my job is to get the best possible deal for the taxpayer. I can see a great future for the stadium with or without association football." The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson notes an investment bank is “likely to be engaged to help structure the deal in such a way that the public purse shares in any potential upside for West Ham.” U.K. Athletics will be “guaranteed around 20 dates a year in the new stadium and plan to use it for Diamond League meetings as well as for smaller events and the 2017 World Athletics Championships.” While the Olympic Stadium is “on the list of venues to be used for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, if West Ham do conclude a deal to move in then the timetable will be extremely tight to complete the necessary construction work in time.” If the West Ham deal is “finalised the club will sell Upton Park to developers and use the proceeds to help pay down the debt on their balance sheet” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 12/5). In London, Paul Kelso notes the decision means West Ham “are now back where they were more than a year ago, when their original selection as preferred bidder collapsed under legal challenge.” City Hall will “seek a clawback of any profits should West Ham be sold on by the current owners.” Johnson said any deal will have to contain “a mechanism to protect the taxpayers’ investment in the stadium were the value of the club to increase significantly through a change in location” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 12/5).
WHAT'S AT STAKE: The London TELEGRAPH’s Kelso in a separate piece notes for rival EPL clubs, West Ham’s move to “what will be the second-largest stadium in the league is bad news.” By securing a 60,000-seat stadium West Ham “will, at a stroke, move to a new competitive level.” The financial benefits of a new ground “in the iconic surrounds of the Olympic Park, close to the corporate fortunes of Canary Wharf with excellent transport links, should be vast.” Kelso writes, “Exploited well, the stadium should guarantee West Ham an annual contest for European football.” The next time “an oligarch or sheikh casts their eye [on] England’s football portfolio in search of a trophy investment West Ham, with a long-lease to a new stadium and a heritage ripe for exploitation, will look very attractive.” This is why the U.K. government is “keen to ensure the public share in any profits from a quick sale” (London TELEGRAPH, 12/5).
The Mariners yesterday "announced plans to build a new open-air restaurant" at Safeco Field named "Edgar's" for former MLBer Edgar Martinez, according to Nick Eaton of SEATTLEPI.com. The new eatery is "part of the team's $15 million plan to move Safeco's outfield walls closer to home plate and install a huge new video screen in the outfield." The Mariners said that the restaurant "will have a 'south of the border' culinary theme and will replace the current Flying Turtle Cantina." It will "serve Martinez's line of Mexican tequila, Zac." Edgar's will "consist of two main areas: a restaurant at field level where the Flying Turtle Cantina previously was located, and an open-air lounge right above it." Safeco Field's manual scoreboard will "move above its former location as the outfield fences are standardized to 8-feet tall around the entire stadium." To create a new façade for the scoreboard, the Mariners "plan to remove most of the seats from two sections in the left-field corner." The team said that anyone at Safeco will "be able to go to Edgar's on a first-come, first-served basis" as long as they have tickets (SEATTLEPI.com, 12/4). The lounge will be "accessible from the main concourse and will be a casual space similar to The 'Pen, the gathering spot beyond the center-field fence" (SEATTLE TIMES, 12/5).
BAITING BATTERS: USA TODAY's Paul White notes the Mariners and the Padres are "banking on shorter fences next season to help their on-field fortunes." The moves will not "suddenly turn their pitcher-friendly ballparks into hitter's havens," but they will "serve to put out a welcome mat of sorts for those who hit the long ball for a living." Mariners Assistant GM Jeff Kingston said, "The one immediate result is that we're not dealing with the obstacle of trying to convince hitters to consider Safeco (Field). They're more open-minded about coming to Seattle than they were. In the past, we felt like we were swimming upstream." The Mariners' plan is to "make each part of the ballpark have neither a hitters' or pitchers' skew," which is why they "didn't touch more hitter-friendly right field" (USA TODAY, 12/5).
Comcast-Spectacor President & COO Peter Luukko yesterday "repeated his contention ... that Hampton Roads is ripe for a facility" and said that negotiations with a team are "moving forward," according to Aaron Applegate of the Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT. Luukko said, "We're still negotiating. We're negotiating hard. We're making progress, but we're not there yet." Luukko "declined to name the team." Virginia Beach Economic Development Dir Warren Harris said that the project "is at a 'very critical' stage as it relates to the team." The City Council is "scheduled to decide next week whether to move forward to the next stage of negotiations, and all indications on Tuesday were that they will proceed" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 12/4). Harris said that if an NBA team decides to relocate to Virginia Beach, it could “temporarily play in arenas as far west as Richmond over the next two seasons while a new area is built near the oceanfront.” Harris added that Richmond was “among the sites under consideration to serve as a temporary venue.” The NBA deadline for a team to file an application to move is March 1 (AP, 12/5).
MAYORAL MUSINGS: In Sacramento, Tony Bizjak writes as "upbeat Virginia Beach officials on Tuesday pushed forward with their effort to land an unnamed professional sports team," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "lamented that he once again has that helpless feeling of watching a 'slow death'" with rumors linking NBA Kings Owner the Maloof family to the Virginia Beach facility. Johnson said that Sacramento "deserves better than to be left hanging." He said, "I don't like not being able to fight and not being able to determine the outcome." He added, "If they believe they need to look at their options in Seattle and Virginia Beach, then there's nothing we as a community or I as a mayor can do to prevent that." Johnson said that the financing plan for a downtown arena "crafted earlier this year is still on the table" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/5). Also in Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes it is "hard to tell whether the Maloofs are purposely letting the Kings die on the vine to make it easier for them to move the franchise or if this is the best they can do." Few people are "going to games, tickets are selling for peanuts on the Internet, the team is more dismal than ever and excels mostly in play suspensions" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/5).
In Chicago, Kathy Bergen reports the prospect of a DePaul Univ. men's basketball arena “being constructed on land just north of McCormick Place is drawing strong opposition from the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, a South Loop residents' organization.” PDNA President Tina Feldstein in a letter wrote that a survey “of 700 neighbors of the site, conducted by the community group, found more than 70 percent oppose construction of a Blue Demons arena there.” The letter stated that an arena would “not fit within the residential and historic character of the area and could put two landmark structures, the Harriet F. Rees House and the American Book Co. building, at risk” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/5).
ON THE PROWL: In Phoenix, Kent Somers reports the NFL Cardinals’ contract with Northern Arizona Univ. “has ended, and it's possible the team's history of training in Flagstaff is over, too.” The Cardinals are “exploring several options, including returning to NAU, where they've trained every year but one since moving to Arizona in 1988.” The team has become “disenchanted with its arrangement with NAU, especially in terms of the facilities.” Team execs "continue to meet with officials from NAU and Flagstaff but have opened bidding for other cities” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 12/5).
SERVING ALL: In Boston, Ira Kantor notes animal advocacy group PETA ranks Gillette Stadium No. 2 on this year’s list of “vegetarian-friendly” NFL stadiums. The group “specifically called out such menu options as black bean burgers, grilled portobello mushroom burgers and grilled veggie flatbread wraps.” Gillette Stadium Senior VP/Operations, Administration & Finance James Nolan said, “We wanted the new menus to reflect the changing taste of our guests.” Gillette Stadium took second place behind the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field (BOSTON HERALD, 12/5).