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Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts' $300M Wrigley Field renovation plans this week created "a sense of momentum even as competing interests continue to try to wring out the best deal," according to a front-page piece by Sachdev, Dardick & Byrne of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Sources said that there "could be something for everyone in the plan, but concessions will have to be made to get over the hump." The talks have placed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel "in the role of a deal broker." A source said that Emanuel is "prodding all parties to move quickly." New signs around Wrigley Field are "a sticking point." Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney has "come out against more advertising signs if they block views from neighboring rooftops." Another "contentious issue" is the possibility of more night games and concerts. The Cubs are "currently limited to 30 night games a year," but the team is "looking for as many as 11 more." Neighborhood groups are "willing to allow three more." The team "can hold three concerts, but wants more." Neighborhood groups said that "one additional concert would be OK." A source said that while additional night games are "considered a part of the larger discussion on renovating Wrigley, the mayor is open to considering the issue as early as next month" because of the scheduling needs of MLB. Tunney said that he "would support more night games if the team addresses the quality-of-life issues such as traffic congestion." Sachdev, Dardick & Byrne write that a Cubs deal is "even being talked about, much less optimistically, is quite a turnaround." The breakthrough came "when the team removed taxpayer funding from the equation." Sources said that more signs "could generate" an additional $10-20M a year in revenue (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/25).
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said Thursday he "wants to keep his team in the region, but ‘Major League Baseball at this point no longer believes in the Tampa Bay area,’” according to a front-page piece by Stephen Nohlgren of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Sternberg told the Hillsborough County Commission, "Put yourself in their place. They look at the success, we have an exciting team, and then they see where the gate is. They don't care whether it's Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa. They just know this as Tampa Bay.” Sternberg would not “speculate about what action baseball officials might take, or when.” He did “soften his statements at times, suggesting that a new stadium in the right location could keep the team in Tampa Bay.” But his “underlying message -- that time is running short -- struck a chord.” Commission Chair Ken Hagan said, "It's not a matter of whether the Rays ultimately relocate but when and where. To simply put our heads in the sand and take the position that the issue will mysteriously resolve is short-sighted.” MLB in response released a statement later on Thursday that read in part, "The status quo is simply not sustainable.” Thursday's one-hour presentation was the team's “first wide-ranging, public stadium discussion since June 2010, when Sternberg announced that he needed to explore stadium options outside of St. Petersburg.” He would not say Thursday that “he prefers a downtown Tampa location, as many observers believe.” But he did say that fellow owners "will be looking to me to explain to them just why this market can work” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/25).
IF YOU BUILD IT...: MLB.com’s Adam Berry noted Sternberg, team President Matt Silverman, Senior VP/Development & Business Affairs Michael Kalt and Senior VP & Chief Sales Officer Mark Fernandez “didn't lay out a timeline for starting construction on a new stadium or say where they would like to build it.” But they did “present statistics and studies supporting their belief that staying at Tropicana Field won't work” (MLB.com, 1/24). A TAMPA BAY TIMES editorial states Thursday’s meeting “marked a welcome step toward building the regional support necessary to keep Major League Baseball.” It set the “appropriate tone, with the commissioners pledging to work as partners to preserve a regional asset.” The editorial: “Most importantly, the discussion underscored the urgency of the stadium situation.” Elected officials in both Hillsborough County and Pinellas County “need to embrace the same sense of regionalism that Sternberg sees as essential to the franchise's success” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/25).
The AP reports the home for the MLS Galaxy and Chivas USA “could have a new name by the end of the year.” Home Depot’s 10-year, $70M naming-rights deal for the facility in Carson, Calif., expires in May, and a company spokesperson said that it “will not be renewing the deal” (AP, 1/25). A spokesperson for the facility “confirmed that they are in the final negotiations with a new naming rights partner” (LAGALAXY.com, 1/24).
MUSIC CITY MAKEOVER: In Nashville, Joey Garrison noted architectural firm Populous “released a pair of renderings Thursday that detail $7 million in proposed renovations to the south side of Bridgestone Arena.” The makeover, “designed to create a new entranceway to what is currently an underutilized back side of the arena, is part of Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed $110 million mid-year capital-spending plan, which is set to go before the Metro Council on Feb. 5” (TENNESSEAN.com, 1/24).
NEW COMPETITION: In Edmonton, Elise Stolte reports a new downtown arena “will eliminate a major tenant for Rexall Place, but it will also free up about 110 days in their schedule for programming.” Northlands President & CEO Richard Andersen, whose firm operates Rexall Place, said that his company “will compete in the concert business." He added he "likes their chances.” Stolte notes Northlands also will “gain additional revenue from advertising and naming rights, which currently all go to the Oilers.” That means when the new arena opens, Northlands will lose around C$2 million annually "it gets from the current ticket tax, and continue to be responsible for all its own capital maintenance and improvements” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/25).