More Than 50,000 Fans Flock To Travers Dodgers' Scully Says Next Year His Last In Role U.S. Open Set To Begin With Renovated Stadium Nationals Xerox Launching Campaign Around U.S. Open Road America Eyeing Sprint Cup Race Funding For Wilson's Family Pours In Fan Dies From Turner Field Fall Sonoma Looking To Be Finale Again For '16 Renovated Sun Life Stadium Gets Good Reviews
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Effects from the bombings yesterday at the Boston Marathon “could be seen quickly" at other sporting events Monday night, including "bomb-sniffing dogs sweeping the arena before the doors opened for an NHL game in Nashville between the Predators and Canucks" and armed police officers "in front of each dugout at the Padres-Dodgers baseball game in Los Angeles,” according to Howard Fendrich of the AP. A police officer with a German shepherd “patrolled near an entrance” at Marlins Park for the Nationals-Marlins game. Two Marlins officials inside on the field “gave a security supervisor a briefing about the ballpark's layout” (AP, 4/16). Baltimore police said that fans at tonight's Rays-Orioles game at Camden Yards “might see tactical officers deployed outside the stadium as they step up cautionary patrols.” The Maryland Stadium Authority also said that there “would be enhanced security” (Baltimore SUN, 4/16). In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna reports the Twins “did not beef up security” for last night's game at Target Field against the Angels. But the team in a statement reiterated its normal measures include "sweeps with bomb-sniffing dogs every homestand, inspection of garbage cans before each game and ongoing contact with Department of Homeland Security officials regarding potential threats” (L.A. TIMES, 4/16). In N.Y., Stefan Bondy reports Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark before the team’s game against the Wizards “sent out a statement reiterating his faith in the safety and security of the $1 billion arena, which opened almost six months ago” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/16).
TAKING PRECAUTIONS IN L.A.: L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck yesterday said that his department “will increase officer deployments at sporting events" in response to the Boston bombings. He said that beginning with the Padres-Dodgers game last night, the “additional police presence would include deployment of bomb-squad personnel, dogs and other ‘precautions geared to preventing a similar event.’” Beck said, "We will be increasing deployment at all scheduled sporting events in the near future. I’ve already been in contact with the Dodgers about this" (LATIMES.com, 4/15). ESPN's Pedro Gomez noted there was an LAPD helicopter “flying over Dodger Stadium” last night and there were police officers "at every entrance gate." Gomez: “I was here for a Wednesday night game just two weeks ago. There were no LAPD officers at the entrance gates. The fact that they’re here at every gate indicates to you that there is a difference” (ESPN2, 4/15). In L.A., Andrew Blankstein noted the LAPD had “planned to increase the number of officers at the game anyway, expecting it would draw more people after a brawl last week in San Diego left Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke injured.” Meanwhile, this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach also is “stepping up security.” The event each year “draws more than 170,000 spectators for three days of racing Friday through Sunday” (LATIMES.com, 4/15). L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca said his department was on "heightened alert." He added that his staff had “increased patrols at government buildings, shopping centers, athletic events, and public transit centers” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/16).
NFL LOOKING TO INCREASE DRAFT SECURITY: ESPN's Adam Schefter notes the NFL Draft will take place next Thursday at Radio City Music Hall in N.Y., and the league will "enter into discussions to see if there's any way that it should heighten awareness ... and take extra measures" regarding the security presence at the event. Events like yesterday's Boston bombings are a reason the NFL "has a heightened state of alert at big events, all its games, the Super Bowl." Schefter: "You're going to see every team talk about what it can do, every league talk about are there any measures that it can take to improve the chances of people being safe in light of what happened yesterday in Boston” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/16).
GETTING A GAME PLAN: Kansas Speedway Senior PR Manager Kelly Hale said that the track, which hosts NASCAR races this weekend, had been “meeting with its local police department to review its security and safety policies.” USA TODAY notes Hale’s comments come in “the wake of a fan death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.” Kansas Speedway's meeting with authorities “began shortly before news broke of the Boston tragedy, and Hale said it was too early to determine how it might affect procedures this weekend.” Speedway President Pat Warren said, "We evaluate the security before and after every event ... We're very confident in the steps we've taken, and we have a really good relationship with state and local authorities in the Kansas City police department and the highway patrol. Both of those agencies interface on anything we're doing on property and help staff and operate our command center" (USA TODAY, 4/16).
OTHER BIG EVENTS ON NOTICE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway COO Doug Boles said that yesterday's attack “will be a part of future meetings to review what precautions should be taken" for the Indianapolis 500. Boles: "I guess this will bring a new topic or dialogue to those discussions, to see if there's anything more we need to do to prepare with respect to what's happened in Boston. And we will learn more about that over the next couple of days, as the folks in Boston do, and we will be prepared for that." The AP's Fendrich noted at the Kentucky Derby, which “pulls in crowds approaching 250,000 each year at Churchill Downs Racetrack, security was beefed up recently following the death of Osama bin Laden.” '16 Rio Games organizers said that they “consider security a top priority and are working closely with the local government on safety issues” (AP, 4/15).
WAS IT ONLY A MATTER OF TIME? CBS Sports Network’s Bruce Feldman said he was "kind of surprised we have not seen more tragic events at sporting events in our country because there are so many people there.” Feldman noted there is added risk because “the level of screening you have just to get on an airplane, it’s not like that to get into a sporting event” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 4/15). ABC's Dan Harris asked, “Will the Boston bombings bring major permanent crackdowns and security measures? Super Bowl-sized protection for every sporting event in the country?" ("GMA," ABC, 4/16). In Orlando, Mike Bianchi asks, "Remember the old movie 'Black Sunday' about the terrorist plot at the Super Bowl? Well, this time it was real and the plot wasn't foiled" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/16).
Texas Motor Speedway officials said that they will “review current procedures and policies in light of a man fatally shooting himself while in the infield” during Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500, according to Deanna Boyd of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Police said that Kirk Franklin “shot himself in the back of his pickup after arguing with other race fans in the infield campground near the end” of the race. TMS VP/Media Relations Mike Zizzo in an e-mail wrote that Franklin had “a reserved recreational vehicle spot on the grounds.” Zizzo said that TMS “screens fans similar to what is done at other major sporting events.” He added that authorities “conduct random checks of some of the approximately 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles that travel in and out of the tunnels to the infield area per day during a NASCAR weekend.” He said that “among those vehicles are the 1,000 RVs or campers that have parking spots in the infield.” Zizzo: "While it would be an extremely daunting task to search every vehicle that travels into the infield -- which could number as high as 7,000 vehicles per day on a NASCAR weekend -- we still will perform our due diligence of these procedures and policies as we traditionally do after every race.” Zizzo said that while he “could not divulge the amount of security or specific procedure for security reason, TMS works in unison with Fort Worth police, several surrounding and outside agencies and multiple third-party security vendors to comprise the track's security force” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/15).
Chicago rooftop owner Beth Murphy said that she and fellow owners "haven’t seen the Cubs’ renovation plans and wouldn’t say whether the group would take the team to court if any of their views were blocked" in the proposed $500M renovation plan announced yesterday, according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Murphy said, “We have a contract with the Chicago Cubs and we intend to see that it’s enforced." Murphy added the rooftop owners “hope it doesn’t get to (litigation).” Murphy: “Without seeing the plan, we really can’t comment on it. It does seem that it’s a possible violation (of the contract).” Murphy said the rooftop owners are “not trying to block” the Cubs’ construction plans, which the team hopes to begin after the '13 season with a new clubhouse, training room and dugout. Murphy "believes the Cubs can begin that part of the project before resolving the separate signage and Jumbotron issues." But the Cubs "would like to get everything in the plan revolved before starting construction." Murphy: "I’m hoping we can work together and figure something out. But we will certainly try to enforce our contract. ... We have a contract with the organization and it has 11 years to go.” A rooftop spokesperson said that the rooftop owners "have paid the Cubs 'over $20 million' since the contract began, as well as the amusement, county and state taxes" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joe Barrett notes previous team owner the Tribune Co. "agreed to a 20-year deal in 2004 that required the rooftop owners pay the team 17% of their gross revenue" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/16).
MY KIND OF TOWN: The AP's Don Babwin noted the Cubs said that the "rooftop views would be 'largely preserved' and that the sign and screen are 'far less than our original desire for seven signs to help offset the cost of ballpark restoration.'" Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts "would not say what the team means when it says the signs would have 'minimal impact' on the views from the rooftops." He also would not "discuss the likelihood of a lawsuit." He said, "We will take that issue as it comes" (AP, 4/15). In Chicago, Sachdev, Dardick & Byrne note Ricketts "cautioned that some of the team's wish list has to go through a democratic process of community input and zoning hearings." Ricketts "indicated that he expects to win approval of his restoration plan without significant alterations" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16). Ricketts said, "If this plan is proposed, we will win the World Series." In Chicago Greg Hinz noted Ricketts was "pretty cagey on when work would begin and what exactly was involved, saying only that rebuilding the player clubhouse is near the top of the list" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 4/15). Meanwhile, the TRIBUNE's Sullivan writes the Cubs' decision to add a 6,000-square-foot videoboard is the "political equivalent of the hidden-ball trick." The scenario is "almost as jarring as dropping a spaceship into historic Soldier Field, obscuring the colonnades that made it an iconic American sports venue." Ricketts yesterday called himself "very traditional." But he said that fans were "asking for a better game-day experience." The Cubs said that polls "show fans want a Jumbotron." Cubs Senior VP/Strategy & Development Alex Sugarman said, "We found 60 percent would actually be in favor of a video board as long as it didn't interfere with the historic scoreboard." Cubs Senior VP/Community Affairs & General Counsel Mike Lufrano was asked why the Cubs "didn't reveal their Jumbotron plan during" the team's fan convention. Lufrano: "We've had things we've been looking at as to where it will go. But obviously we're working through some of those issues as to where the placement is" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16).
IN IT TOGETHER: In Chicago, Fran Spielman writes there are "still big discrepancies between what" Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has "agreed to support and what the Cubs say they need to preserve Wrigley for 50 years and make it the moneymaker Ricketts says he needs to turn the Cubs into a perennial contender." The team’s five-year construction plan "also calls for 'no compensation' to Chicago taxpayers -- either for air rights over Clark Street to accommodate a pedestrian bridge linking the hotel to a new office building and plaza or for taking out a lane of parking on Waveland and a sidewalk on Sheffield to extend the right- and left-field walls outward to minimize the impact of those signs on rooftop views." Ricketts when asked why Emanuel and Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney were not at yesterday's news conference joked, "It's cold and dark and kind of out of the way." But he added, "The fact is, we're all together on this" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/16). Also in Chicago, David Haugh writes what "began as Ricketts' grand plan to upgrade a dilapidated facility that makes winning a World Series even more challenging for a woebegone baseball team effectively has become a citywide referendum on the Cubs." It was "special enough that Ricketts left millions on the table by negotiating exclusively with the city." Without ever "entertaining the idea of investing his family's half-billion dollars elsewhere for a greater return, Ricketts reaffirmed his commitment to Chicago." But is Chicago "as committed to Ricketts?" If Ricketts eventually "gets everything he wants, the lack of government assistance still makes the deal the worst among Chicago's five pro sports teams and the most lopsided in the majors." All Ricketts "really won" yesterday was a "method that would allow him to spend his own money -- but it easily represents the Cubs' most significant victory since his family bought the team" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16).
LOOSE CHANGE: In Chicago, Rick Telander wrote, "Not only did this thing take about four years to come together, but its glacial formation helped provide an excellent smoke screen for a team that is about as bad as they come in the major leagues." Telander: "All this renovation and building will cost about a half-billion dollars." That is "chump change for the Ricketts family, which is too smart to use its own piggy bank when wondrous things such as bonds, notes and loans are available." It is "not certain this deal won’t get sued back to the Bricks-and-Ivy Age by that renegade band known as the rooftop owners, who have 11 years left on a contract with the Cubs that guarantees them an unobstructed view" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/16).
TRANSLATING TO THE FIELD: ESPN CHICAGO's Bruce Levine wrote the renovation proposal "does not address how soon the baseball department" headed by President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein "will be able to add significant free agents." Ricketts said, "We anticipate it will be helpful to get financial flexibility to the baseball team before the end of the five-year term and process. We will see that sooner I am sure." Epstein and his "baseball people may want to know how soon." The fan base could "waver if it takes five years to put a championship product on the field." The Cubs' payroll has "dropped" $40M since '08, the "last season the team was in the playoffs" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 4/15). In Chicago, Phil Rogers writes Ricketts "loves Wrigley Field but knows he's not a miracle worker." Ricketts "didn't say when the Cubs will win their first championship since 1908." But he "plans to be there when it happens" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16). ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg wrote, "Maybe once this deal is finished, the Ricketts Cubs will stop whining about their limitations and act like a big-market organization again." The Cubs were "never going to move." Greenberg: "Dumpy old Wrigley Field is a cash machine for the Cubs. A new one with enhanced revenue capabilities might as well double as a U.S. Treasury mint." The Cubs in the coming years "will get their new TV contract, which will line their pockets and pay off the debts incurred to buy the team and rebuild the stadium." It is "all about the money, and there's nothing wrong with that" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 4/15).
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank said there was “never a doubt we’d be in a new stadium in 2017,” but the “question was where,” according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Blank said, “There’s still a question as to whether it will be south or north (of the Georgia Dome). Our preference is for the south site, along with everybody else’s, but we’d be happy going (1/2 mile) north if we can’t end up facilitating the real-estate purchases necessary for the south.” Blank addressed several other issues surrounding the new stadium. Excerpts of the Q&A follow:
Q: When you envision the stadium, what do you see?
Blank: I’m going into the design process very open-minded. I want to see a design that reflects the history of Atlanta, the traditions of Atlanta, the best of Atlanta and our visions for the future. What it looks like, I’m not sure.
Q: When will the Falcons start selling personal seat licenses for the right to buy season tickets in the new stadium?
Blank: We’ll have a PSL program. We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. We’ll be working on that probably in the next three to six months. Expect it to be a much more modest program than some other franchises have done.
Q: Has it surprised or disappointed you that the public’s view of the project has been largely unfavorable?
Blank: I think, to be fair, it’s a relatively complex agreement. I think the reason it got the overwhelming votes it did from the Congress Center and eventually the City Council and Invest Atlanta was all because they understood the deal. So if we had the time to get in front of 11 million people one at a time and explain it to them in a way that we could have done effectively, I think the views would have been very different than what the general populace’s was.
Q: Was building the stadium in the suburbs a real possibility?
Blank: That was always an option, but it was not an option we considered seriously (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/14).
MIGHT I SUGGEST...: In a special to the ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, selling and communication firm Speechworks President Joey Asher reports “five world-class design teams have already been selected to give presentations for the chance to win the prize” to design the stadium. Such presentations are called “bake offs.” But “bake off” participants “often misjudge the goal of the presentations and undermine their chances of winning.” The goal “isn’t to show that you’re the best,” but rather to show “that you will be the best partner.” To that end, the winning firms “separate themselves by focusing on five areas.” Those areas are presenting solutions to the owner’s hot button issues and nothing else, simplicity, personal likability, nailing the Q&A and practice (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 4/12 issue).
SHOW ME THE MONEY: SI.com’s Peter King wrote the Falcons “won $200 million in government support for a new retractable-roof downtown stadium because they showed the suits the money -- $800 million of it from" Blank and other non-taxpayer sources. Blank indicated that he will “still probably have PSL seating in the new stadium, with user fees helping defray his investment” (SI.com, 4/15).
Although DC United remains "optimistic about reaching an agreement to build a stadium at Buzzard Point in Washington, the MLS club has taken renewed interest in Maryland," according to sources cited by Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. DC United will "not, however, reconsider Baltimore, which, in association with the Maryland Stadium Authority, had been seeking to attract the MLS club in recent years." A source said that DC United is "looking at two Maryland sites in the Washington area." The club already "rejected one other suggestion: near Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County." DC United Managing Partner Jason Levien and associates are "in weekly contact with city officials about forging a deal to build a facility at Buzzard Point in Southwest DC." District Council member Tommy Wells was Levien’s "guest at United’s match Saturday night." Wells represents Ward 6, which "encompasses Buzzard Point." Sources said DC United officials also have forged a “good relationship” with Mayor Vincent Gray. The club has "pledged to pay all costs of the new stadium, which would accommodate at least 20,000 spectators and also host college sports, non-MLS soccer events and concerts." One source said that DC United would "like to see the city make 'tangible progress' this summer and complete land acquisitions by the end of the year" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/15).
Sea Pines Resort, which includes Harbour Town Golf Links, host of the RBC Heritage, has seen "nearly $30 million" spent on improvements to the course since '05, and Resort President Steve Birdwell said that plans "call for another $30 million to $50 million to be spent in the next few years for more upgrades," according to Gina Smith of the Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET. Sea Pines officials said that the improvements are "part of an islandwide resurgence that will help ensure" the tournament "stays put." Sea Pines in '11 "signed a five-year contract to remain the tournament's home." Sea Pines has "shifted into high gear, improving its facilities and golf courses" since then. Tournament Dir Steve Wilmot said that the improvements "make it more likely the tournament's long history in Sea Pines will continue for the foreseeable future." He added that the upgrades "come about a year to 18 months before the tournament is set to begin negotiations to renew its title-sponsor contract with RBC and its contract with Sea Pines for the use of Harbour Town." Wilmot: "Sponsors will see the commitment the resort is making, and it will make a difference. Sea Pines is truly stepping up." Planned and ongoing work includes "rebuilding the clubhouse at the Pete Dye-designed Harbour Town Golf Links, where the tournament is played." If plans are "approved by resort and town officials, the new club will include locker rooms on the first floor that members and guests will use throughout the year, and a larger locker room on the second floor for the PGA Tour pros that will serve as a special-events room other times of the year." The clubhouse also will "feature an expanded pro shop, a pub and grill, and ballroom where tournament sponsors can entertain" (Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET, 4/15).
Southeast Missouri State and Southern Illinois Univ.-Carbondale on Sept. 21 will play the "first college football game at the current Busch Stadium," according to Vahe Gregorian of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. MLB Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said, "We're really excited ... to be able to showcase Busch Stadium in another capability." The schools envision the showcase as "a vehicle to enhance their ties to St. Louis and their considerable alumni bases here." SEMO AD Mark Alnutt "began scoping out" Busch Stadium with the prompting of St. Louis Sports Commission VP/Events Chris Roseman in the fall of '10 as the Univ. of Missouri and Illinois were "wrapping up for the foreseeable future their series at the Edward Jones Dome and the Commission was seeking to keep major college football alive in St. Louis." Alnutt said, "I was kind of scratching my head a little bit, wondering how is that going to work in a baseball stadium." But he was "sold promptly on a visit to Busch, particularly after seeing the proposed layout of the playing field (largely extending through the outfield) and the clubhouses that would serve as the team's locker rooms." While organizers hope for "a full stadium, in which capacity will remain the same in the transition from baseball to football, drawing between 15,000 and 20,000 is the seemingly modest goal to make the event fully worthwhile for all." The Sports Commission has "expressed interest in creating a bowl game in St. Louis, potentially at Busch" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/16).