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The 49ers have yet to sell naming rights for their new stadium in Santa Clara, and the S.F. CHRONICLE's Andrew Ross asks, "How about Levi Field, Levi Stadium or Levi Strauss Park?" A deal with Levi is “pure speculation, but those are among the Internet domain names” the S.F.-based jeans maker recently registered. That “suggests it's interested in getting into the stadium-naming-rights business.” The company would not provide details, but spokesperson Kris Marubio said, "As a part of routine business, we proactively protect our brands and company for future opportunities. In a modern digital world, this involves proactively managing your online presence, and as such, we've registered several domain names.” Ross writes Levi Strauss, which was founded in S.F. in 1853, would "be a nice fit," as it is a "global brand, and still here" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/22).
The Bills' new Ralph Wilson Stadium lease agreement will include a requirement that the state of New York have "access to a 16-person suite" at all home games for its "I Love New York Hospitality Center," according to Denise Jewell Gee of the BUFFALO NEWS. The state also will "be able to use Bills logos and trademarks for its 'I Love New York' campaign and to promote Western New York and the state." Both are part of a 10-year stadium deal that "moved a step toward completion Thursday as the Erie County Legislature unanimously approved the final lease documents" and authorized the county to borrow $40.7M for its share of the stadium renovations. The deal calls for $130M in stadium upgrades "split among the state, county and the team." The team will provide $35.5M for the stadium renovation, and "will pay for a portion of the annual stadium upgrades through rent payments." The suite will give New York state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, "a new place to schmooze executives and other bigwigs as they try to lure them to the region." State officials said that the idea is to "have a place where state agencies can host out-of-town executives who might be considering moving a company to Erie County or to hold events to promote the region" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/22).
The Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage on Thursday announced that the school's new on-campus sports arena “will be named the Alaska Airlines Center” in a 10-year, $6.3M agreement, according to Bob Hallinen of the ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS. The deal “takes effect July 1” and includes $1M to establish a new scholarship endowment for UAA athletes and $5.3M in sponsorship, "much of which will be used to cover travel for the school's sports teams.” The new $109M arena is set to open in August ’14 and “will seat about 5,600.” UAA's men's and women's basketball teams, along with its volleyball and gymnastics teams will compete in the arena, and "all the school's athletic programs will have some training facilities available there.” UAA AD Steve Cobb said that Alaska Airlines' commitment to help the school with travel costs is "critical because the school's athletic teams travel Outside frequently and travel costs are the athletic department's largest single expense.” Cobb: "It's absolutely huge for us. We have to spend two and half times to three times as much on travel than the rest of the world. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say it's a game-changer for us.” Alaska Airlines has sponsored UAA athletics “for more than 30 years” (ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, 3/22). In Alaska, Laurel Andrews notes the new venue “will replace the Wells Fargo Sports Arena, built in 1978.” Alaska Airlines Regional VP Marilyn Romano said that once fully funded, the new scholarship endowment will be “used to provide $40,000 in athletic scholarships annually, funding student athletes ‘in perpetuity’” (ALASKA DISPATCH, 3/22).
REBEL FORCES: The AP’s Jeff Amy reported Ole Miss is “taking concrete steps toward building a new basketball arena.” The Mississippi College Board on Thursday “approved plans" for the school to spend $6M for architects to "design a 10,000-seat venue, a parking garage and other facilities.” The arena would “replace Tad Smith Coliseum, built in 1967.” The school said that the current arena is “outmoded and worn out.” Costs of the project remain unclear (AP, 3/21).
MIAMI MAKEOVER: ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich noted a “rebuilding effort is underway” at the Univ. of Miami in “the most literal sense.” The UM football program's $16M upgrades include a new "stink-free football locker room.” A 30,000 square-foot addition includes “a bigger, better academic center, a ‘gallery of champions’ to display national championship trophies, an expanded training facility, a new hydrotherapy pool and an overall upgrade to Miami’s old-school building.” The facilities should be “ready for use before spring practices are over, but the expanded training room and new pools will be done closer to August” (ESPN.com, 3/20).
The Dolphins “made a deal with Miami-Dade County voters Thursday: if South Florida doesn't get Super Bowl 2016 or 2017, the team won't use tax money for Sun Life Stadium renovations,” according to a front-page piece by Chris Perkins of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that he “couldn't guarantee which Super Bowl South Florida would get.” But he added, "We are guaranteeing the referendum will be predicated upon a successful Super Bowl outcome on May 22." Perkins notes South Florida is “battling" Santa Clara for Super Bowl L in '16, and if "unsuccessful in that bid, then South Florida goes against Houston” for Super Bowl LI. Dee “wasn't sure the Dolphins would have made the money back guarantee if they didn't experience such a positive outcome after speaking with NFL officials and owners in Phoenix." Meanwhile, the Dolphins announced that Miami “will be hosting the core of the Super Bowl activities" if South Florida secures the game (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/22). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes the Dolphins hope the referendum "will be held a week or two before" NFL owners vote on the Super Bowl host. Dee said, “Even with a successful referendum, we’re going to give the community the option to not move forward.” Several owners this week said that they “likely wouldn’t vote for a Super Bowl in South Florida unless the stadium were improved significantly.” Colts Owner Jim Irsay: “Without the referendum and the stadium improvements, I don’t believe there’s a high likelihood that Florida’s going to get it” (PALM BEACH POST, 3/22). In Miami, Patricia Mazzei notes the decision “marks the latest concession from the Dolphins as they seek political support" to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. The Miami-Dade County Elections Department "estimates" the referendum would cost $3-5M (MIAMI HERALD, 3/22). NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said what the team did on Thursday “in an interesting and kind of clever announcement (“NFL Total Access,” NFLN, 3/21).
In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes the BMO Harris Bradley Center brought fans in "for a focus group to learn what their impressions were" of the facility. Arena President & CEO Steve Costello was "surprised" to find that fans have noticed that the venue and concessionaire Levy Restaurants "offer a wide variety of food and beverage choices in the building." Costello said, "They know we have different options, even a gluten-free offering." Fans also have "noticed the new gate signs inside and outside." But some fans "did raise some concerns" about long concession lines and cramped seating (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/22).
FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: In Baltimore, Sarah Meehan reported as Preakness Stakes mascot Kegasus "gallops into the sunset," the event is "getting a classier addition to its festivities." The Maryland Jockey Club will host "what it deems the world’s largest farm-to-table dining experience" at the May 18 race. DC-based chef Mike Isabella, who previously competed on Bravo's "Top Chef," created the menu for the event. The Jockey Club "hopes to make the farm-to-table option a preakness tradition" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/20).
HICCUP IN THE PLANS: In South Carolina, Adam Beam notes Darlington Raceway “could exempt itself from its own tax exemption.” Track President Chris Browning said that the track “has plans to widen its seats, currently 18 inches wide, in order to make the race more comfortable for its fans.” But if it does that, Darlington’s capacity “would fall below 60,000 seats -- the threshold required to qualify for an exemption to the state admissions tax.” A state Senate subcommittee on Thursday “advanced a bill that would rewrite that exemption to apply to any ‘motorsports entertainment complex’ that ‘is a NASCAR sanctioned motor speedway or racetrack that hosts at least one race each year featuring the preeminent NASCAR cup series.’” Southern Strategy Group Owner DeWitt Zemp, whose firm lobbies for the track, said, “We accidentally defined ourselves into a box” (Columbia STATE, 3/22).