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The Dolphins yesterday "cleared another hurdle" in a bid to get taxpayer financing for half of the $400M renovations to Sun Life Stadium when a state Senate committee "unanimously approved the team's plan," according to Toluse Olorunnipa of the MIAMI HERALD. Lawmakers also "agreed to allow Miami-Dade voters to have the final say on whether or not to approve the taxpayer subsidies for the stadium." But the referendum could be "a tough sell, and potentially a deal killer because a new poll suggests Miami-Dade voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the Dolphins’ proposal." A poll conducted by Florida Int'l Univ. political science professor Dario Moreno showed that more than 70% of people surveyed in a 1,000-person poll taken Monday and Tuesday "oppose the proposal and most of those strongly oppose it." State Sen. Oscar Braynon, who is sponsoring the bill, said that he "is not concerned about the referendum, and is instead focusing on getting the bill through the Legislature." An amendment allowing the referendum to "take place before the bill is enacted" could allow Miami-Dade to "set a referendum vote in the spring." This would be ahead of the NFL's decision as to "where the 50th anniversary Super Bowl game will take place." Another amendment added yesterday "increased the minimum stadium renovation cost" from $250M to $300M (MIAMI HERALD, 3/7). In West Palm Beach, Jim Turner reports another amendment "ties into the proposal the elimination of a decades-old tax incentive" worth about $10.8M a year to bankers, "designed to draw international banks to locate in Florida." The Dolphins and Miami-Dade County hope to use $3M a year "from bed tax money" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/7).
POLL POSITION: In Miami, Caputo & Olorunnipa in a front-page piece write results of Moreno's poll indicate that the issue is "politically damaging for lawmakers." The poll shows that opposition to the plan "cuts across racial, ethnic, party and geographic lines." Moreno said, "There's not one group of likely voters who supports this idea." But the poll was "criticized by the Dolphins management and lobbyists." Dolphins CEO Mike Dee in a statement said that the poll "asked misleading or unfair questions." The Dolphins "shared only one result from one of their polls," conducted by a group called OnMessage Sports, showing 59% of voters approved of the plan, while 33% disapproved (MIAMI HERALD, 3/7).
A bipartisan group of North Carolina legislators led by State Sen. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, “rejecting a plea from tourism officials,” indicated yesterday that their proposal to help finance renovations at Bank of America Stadium “might be the best the city can hope for,” according to Morrill & Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. A bill introduced last week “would allow the city to use taxes earmarked for the Convention Center to help pay for stadium renovations.” The bill was “offered as an alternative" to the city of Charlotte’s request to double the 1% local food tax to raise $144M for stadium upgrades. The existing taxes earmarked for the Convention Center would allow $110M in "new city debt," $34M less than the Panthers "requested from the city.” Using that money also could “leave nothing for Convention Center upgrades.” Samuelson said, “The reality is that the amount of tax revenue is not going to be enough to do everything the city wants to do. So the city is going to have to prioritize” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/7).
A pair of "controversial, billboard-size digital signs will grace the facade of Verizon Center by summer, generating millions in new revenue" for Wizards and Capitals owner Monumental Sports & Entertainment, according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. The signs, which had "drawn public opposition because of their size and bright lights, overcame their final hurdle this week when they received permit approval from the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs." MSE Founder, Chair & CEO Ted Leonsis, whose company also owns Verizon Center had "fought a two-year battle to get the city’s approval for the project." MSE Vice Chair Raul Fernandez said, "The digital signs will also help us spotlight some of our ... content." Sources said that the signs cost $4-6M and are "expected to recoup that outlay in the first 12 months." Leonsis "compromised on key issues, such as turning the signs off at midnight, reducing the light intensity and agreeing not to allow tobacco advertising or political ads." The sign panels are "under construction by China-based Sansi" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/7).
Cubs Owner the Ricketts family “sweetened the pot Wednesday in an apparent attempt to prod” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel into “siding with the team in the dispute over Wrigley Field signage that’s holding up" a $300M plan to renovate the ballpark, according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The Ricketts family announced that it has “signed a letter of intent with Chicago Athletic Clubs to open a 40,000-square-foot ‘state-of-the-art’ athletic club in the boutique Sheraton hotel the family hopes to build on the northwest corner of Clark and Addison.” The hotel is part of a $500M "development in limbo because of the dispute between the Cubs and the rooftops over signage inside the ballpark.” Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts in a statement said, “All of this can happen if we can reach a common-sense solution that allows us to run our business.” But Spielman writes if the health club announcement was “supposed to be a pressure tactic, it failed miserably with Emanuel.” A source said, “It didn’t work when the Cubs were demanding public financing and it won’t work now” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/7). In Chicago, Danny Ecker reported locally owned Chicago Athletic Clubs will invest $5M and "lease two floors of the hotel development" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 3/6).
A redevelopment of the current site of Candlestick Park and its surrounding neighborhood “would bring in a 3,000- to 4,000-seat amphitheater, new streets, homes, a movie theater, a shopping district and about 360 acres of parkland over the next 15 to 20 years,” according to Greg Bensinger of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The redevelopment is “projected to cost roughly” $8.5B in public and private funds. Lennar Bay Area Urban Division President Kofi Bonner is “seeking tenants for the shopping district and hopes to woo a WNBA team or the San Francisco Bulls minor league hockey team.” There is “some uncertainty about when much of the work can begin" at Candlestick Park. It is unclear when the 49ers will officially leave, as "another postseason run in the coming season could extend that period by a few months.” The team also will “have to be satisfied its stadium in Santa Clara is ready” for the ‘14 NFL season. S.F. Recreation & Park Department GM Phil Ginsburg said that if the new stadium “isn't ready in time, the 49ers could opt to stay for more games or even a full season instead of moving out" following the ‘13 season. He added that the department is “still deciding whether to schedule special events, such as concerts, flea markets and truck rallies before the stadium is ultimately demolished.” Meanwhile, Bonner said that it is “undecided” whether Candlestick Park “would be imploded or taken down beam by beam.” He added that he “hopes the stadium could be demolished” in late ’14. Also upcoming is a “city-run auction of seats, signs, lockers and other memorabilia from Candlestick” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/7).
PLAYING NICE WITH OTHERS: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Jim Kozimor noted S.F. Mayor Ed Lee after years of trying to get the 49ers to stay in the city “is now endorsing the 49ers stadium down in Santa Clara.” Kozimor: "What is he, a turncoat or something?” CSNBayArea.com’s Andy Dolich said, “If you look at the Super Bowl, which the Niners are going to host, it’s the entire Bay Area.” Dolich: “That’s good because as you look forward to bigger events, maybe the Olympics in 2024. We don’t really play that well in the Bay Area … so for somebody to kind of go across county lines, literally, I think it’s a positive” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 3/6)
In N.Y., Michael Kimmelman wrote Columbia Univ.'s new $30M Campbell Sports Center is a "tough, sophisticated and imaginative work of architecture." The five-story, 48,000-square-foot sports complex "has coaches' offices, an auditorium and various meeting rooms," and anchors the Baker Athletics Complex. Campbell "makes a striking sight in Inwood, its facade a mix of irregular blocks and voids, quasi-Cubist, crisscrossed by exterior stairways." All sorts of "cuts, setbacks, overhangs and terraces animate the design" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/6).
CROSSING THE ATLANTIC: FAU officials and students last week met to discuss the school's naming rights deal with GEO Group, and a South Florida SUN-SENTINEL editorial stated while it is "possible a university president could have handled a controversy worse" than FAU President Mary Jane Saunders did last week, it is "not likely." It is up to Saunders to "have knowledge of all aspects, particularly any controversies involving a company with which she is doing business." The university "made a good deal ... even with the controversy." But Saunders needs to "explain to everyone why this is a good deal." To do that, she "needs to be better informed about GEO's history" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/6).
COMMON WEALTH: In Richmond, Tim Pearrell noted Health Diagnostic Laboratory is giving $4M to the VCU athletics department as "part of a partnership to enhance athletics facilities." It is the "second major gift to the athletics department in a little more than a week." The partnership will "make each of the university's athletic facilities part of an 'HDL, Inc. Athletic Village,' including the Siegel Center." HDL will have "street signage at the facilities" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/6).