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The NFL could contribute $150M toward the Dolphins’ proposed stadium renovation, "lowering the direct costs to the team for the estimated" $350M project, according to a Miami-Dade County report cited by Mazzei & Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Miami-Dade officials “see the NFL and Dolphins contributions as coming from the same pot of private money, which would account for about 55 percent of the costs and leave the county paying about a third.” The NFL’s contribution “had been one of the last remaining questions” as county commissioners meet today to consider a deal between the Dolphins and Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who want to ask voters to raise hotel taxes to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. Teams may “use revenue that otherwise would go to the NFL to instead pay down a league loan used for stadium construction or renovation, provided the project has government participation.” A report yesterday on the proposed stadium financing deal “prepared for the county" by a consultancy firm notes the Dolphins would "likely qualify" for $150M in NFL financing. That would leave the Dolphins to raise another $41M to reach the $191M in "private dollars" Owner Stephen Ross has committed to the project. A team spokesperson said when adding in “about $170 million in rebates the Dolphins will pay the county and state after 30 years," the franchise "will end up contributing 70 percent of the renovation costs.” Gimenez outlined some of the dollar amounts in a summary sent to commissioners last night. It included that Ross would have to pay the county $20M "if he sells the team in the next five years." Dolphins execs have “declined to talk about NFL loans” since launching the “public push for government dollars for a stadium renovation in January.” Team officials said that it was “too early to say how much money might be available” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/10). In Miami, Patricia Mazzei reports the Dolphins “can use the hotel-tax revenue" to finance at least $112M but "no more than" $120M toward the renovation. The county projected that the Dolphins will receive some $289M "in hotel taxes over 26 years" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 4/10).
GAINING FAVOR: In Miami, Toluse Olorunnipa reports lawmakers in the Tallahassee “have to change state law before the deal can proceed.” The “biggest divide is not between the Dolphins and their potential governmental benefactors,” rather it is between the “Florida House and Senate, which have two very different blueprints for how the tax break should be structured.” The Senate “wants the state’s sports teams to compete each year for a pot of tax dollars, with the money going only to those who can prove the money will boost economic development.” The House plan “more closely mirrors the Dolphins’ original proposal" -- up to $90M in "guaranteed tax breaks specifically carved out for the Dolphins and the opportunity to raise millions more through local hotel taxes, if voters approve” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/10). A MIAMI HERALD poll shows 69% (666) of voters are for the plan to use tax dollars to help fund improvements to Sun Life Stadium, 29% (281) are against the idea and 2% (23) were undecided (MIAMIHERALD.com, 4/10).
APPLES TO ORANGES? Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said of the comparisons of the team asking for public funding and the Marlins' recent publicly funded ballpark, the “sound bite war against those who oppose us is difficult because it’s easy to say ‘Marlins II’ or ‘welfare for rich people,’ we hear it every day. But the thoughtful discussion when you take a step back and look at the facts … we will bat a thousand in converting people.” Dee added, “We just got to get that message out and explain it in a way that folks know this isn’t about just a free ride. This is a true partnership.” This deal “keeps the Dolphins stable and solid playing in Miami for the next three generations” (“Joe Rose Morning Show,” WQAM-AM, 4/9).
Arbitrators recently ruled that the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission must pay $2M in "legal expenses incurred by the Rams as the team fought over renovations" to Edward Jones Dome, according to David Hunn of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Commission officials yesterday said that the CVC has estimated its own arbitration expenses will "total about $2 million more." That puts the "total public cost at nearly" $4M. St. Louis County Exec Charlie Dooley's Chief Policy Adviser Mike Jones said, "Obviously, it's a sum we would rather not pay." The Rams "asked the arbitrators to award the team nearly" $3.5M in costs. The arbitrators "sided with the CVC in several places, however, denying reimbursement for expert witness fees and 'duplicative' services performed by a second law firm." The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which owns the Dome, "hired Goldman Sachs" in February to "advise the authority" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/10). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Ackerman cited sources as saying that the SEC is "scrutinizing" the contract between Goldman and the authority. Local officials who were "worried about losing" the Rams hired Goldman to "analyze a range of financing options to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome and keep the team in the 18-year-old stadium." The options "include a bond deal to finance contractually required upgrades." Goldman's $20,000-a-month contract as "financial advisor" to the authority states the bank is not providing "advice" -- just information to senior officials. The bank said that it may "seek to underwrite the authority's bonds should the agency issue debt in the future." A source said that the firm was "hired on a broad assignment that is still in its early stages, and that there is currently no plan to sell municipal bonds for the stadium." Still, sources said that regulators are "concerned the firm is calling itself an adviser and then disclaiming responsibility to act as a fiduciary" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/9).
As the Nets make a run to the playoffs in their inaugural season in Brooklyn, the "hottest ticket in town has become the hottest scene in New York City," according to Jason Sheftell of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. This is "not the hottest new club in town or a celebrity roll-out event." It is "pregame at the Calvin Klein Courtside Club, below street level at Barclays Center -- and only players’ families, VIPs, or paying courtside seat holders get in." The "sleek black-and-white design motif, a collaboration between arena architect SHoP, the Nets, Barclays Center, and Courtside Club sponsor Calvin Klein, came about after" Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark identified brands "who embrace the black-and-white team color scheme." Calvin Klein CEO Tom Murry said, "The space was meant to be sexy, sleek and cool -- which is what our brand is all about." Sheftell noted the Nets made a "conscious decision not to hand out free tickets to celebrities or embrace a celebrity row strategy." Instead of a "paparazzi scene, it’s relaxed and unassuming, but highly stylish." Tickets for premium seats "are pricey." A Vault suite "costs $600,000 at 3-, 5-, 7- and 10-year terms." Calvin Klein Courtside Club entrance "goes to seatholders in rows one through six surrounding the court." Tickets "range from $250 to $3,000 per seat per game." Those seats "come with pregame player views." With the placement of the club "feet from the court and the Nets locker room, players pass by often" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/9).
CHRISTENING THE ICE: The Islanders yesterday announced that they will play a preseason game at Barclays Center on Sept. 21 ahead of their planned move to the arena in '15. The contest against the Devils will mark the first NHL game played in Brooklyn (Islanders). In N.Y., Brett Cyrgalis noted the same matchup "was supposed to take place this past preseason but that was cancelled" due to the lockout. There remain "some alterations to be done" at Barclays Center "before a hockey team can move in full time" (NYPOST.com, 4/9). Also in N.Y., Jeff Klein noted tickets for the game "will be available for" Islanders season-ticket holders and some Nets season-ticket holders starting tomorrow. Ticket sales "to the general public begin April 17" (NYTIMES.com, 4/9).
In Milwaukee on Monday, "round one of the arena debate" began at Marquette Univ.'s law school with a conference "intended to explore and discuss whether an arena is needed, how it would be paid for, what would happen if the Bucks leave town and whether the time is right for a more aggressive plan to address the needs of other artistic and cultural institutions," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. For several participants, the loss of the Bucks "would be a devastating wound to the area." Wild Owner Craig Leipold, who lives outside Milwaukee, said, "The only time you let a franchise leave a market is (after) you try every possible way to keep it there." Leipold added, "The NBA will work to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee, but it has to have a new arena." Leipold when asked if he is interested in buying the Bucks said that he is "dedicated to his hockey franchise." Leipold: "But I would say I would like to be part of the solution to have them stay here. If it means working with people, I will raise my hand up and be one of those guys who help out." Not attending Monday's conference were Bucks Owner Herb Kohl, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Bucks execs "sat in on the discussion but did not speak" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 4/9). Walker reported Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy, Common Council President Willie Hines and other elected officials "sounded a note of caution about the need for a new arena and how it fits in a long line of community priorities and needs." Murphy said that while there is "talk of razing the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the city doesn't have enough money to raze dilapidated homes." He added that there "seems to be support among the business community to finance and construct a new arena to keep the Bucks in town." Murphy: "But the reality is, I'm having a tough time keeping libraries open" (JSONLINE.com, 4/8).
In Chicago, Matt Abbatacola wrote Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts is the "one person to blame ... for the fiasco that is the 'Wrigley Field Renovation Project.'" Ricketts "had the necessary money in his own pocket to renovate Wrigley Field." He "never needed state funding to repair and remodel the now 99-year-old building" (CHICAGO.CBSLOCAL.com, 4/9). Meanwhile, MLB.com's Terrence Moore wrote when it "comes to making changes" to Wrigley Field, the new "shouldn't strangle the old." Cubs P Jeff Samardzija said, "I don't think you have to necessarily tear the whole thing down and start new in these situations. There's a certain way of keeping that old feeling and that old mystique relevant and still finding ways to make it nice and up to date in a new age" (MLB.com, 4/9).
GOING MOBILE: In Baltimore, Jack Lambert noted Oriole Park at Camden Yards will accept tickets "through Apple’s Passbook ticketing app in 2013, and the team has plans to possibly add mobile concessions in future seasons." The Orioles have "always trailed the Ravens when it comes to using their facility; big name athletic events, concerts and shows always seem to take place across the street at M&T Bank Stadium." But a "successful season from a stadium perspective could change that" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/5 issue).
NEW ON THE SCENE: The SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE noted restaurateur Phil Pace debuted a new location "inside Petco Park." It is "in the corner of the centerfield bleachers next to Showley Bros Candy Factory." Petco also added Ballast Point Beer, which is "tucked behind the left field scoreboard" and was the park's "newest drinking hangout on opening day" (UTSANDIEGO.com, 4/9).
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reported future Triple-A PCL Las Vegas 51s Owner Steve Mack is "less than a month" away from closing on his $20M purchase of the team. Mack said that he will "lobby city, county and convention authority officials for help" in building a new $65M ballpark next to Red Rock Resort in Summerlin. He added that new ownership’s "biggest aim is winning support from the city of Las Vegas, Clark County and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to finance a new ballpark with 8,000 to 9,000 seats" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/7).
CSNBAYAREA.com’s Andy Dolich reported the 49ers are “closing in on a naming rights partner for their new stadium in Santa Clara.” Three companies reportedly are “in the hunt for a long term deal in the neighborhood of $12-14 million a year” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/9).
SWITCHING TO THE NEWCOMER: In Atlanta, Melissa Ruggieri reports the Gwinnett Center, which houses The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Convention Center and Performing Arts Center, will “switch to AXS Ticketing” after using Ticketmaster as its provider. The Gwinnett Center in March “entered into a partnership” with AEG, which owns AXS, that “will provide support services on both the facilities and ticketing sides of their business” (AJC.com, 4/10).
SECURITY FRONT: In Memphis, Kyle Veazey wrote the Grizzlies’ “new, stricter security measures” at FedExForum have “been in place for every game since the All-Star break.” Forum VP/Arena Operations Eric Granger “wants to make one thing clear: It's a mandate of the NBA, which has asked all of its arenas to comply this year -- and into the future, too.” Granger said that the NBA “told him there was no specific intelligence that prompted the crackdown, but the league is taking extra measures not just to protect fans, but players, too” (COMMERCIALAPPEAL.com, 4/8).
SUGGESTION BOX: ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert wrote “cracking down harder on aggressive drunks in the stands” at NFL games would help the game-day experience. Perhaps a “hard-line, behavior-changing approach is in order for at least some stadiums.” Seifert: “Maybe obviously drunk and/or aggressive fans should get ejected, regardless of the degree to which they're disturbing others, until behavior changes” (ESPN.com, 4/9).