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Dolphins CEO Mike Dee yesterday said that team Owner Stephen Ross "would not invest any money" into Sun Life Stadium after the Florida legislature rejected a referendum bill to provide taxpayer support for $350M in renovations, according to Jim DeFede of WFOR-CBS. Dee said, “We cannot do this without a private-public partnership. ... At this time we have no intention of investing more.” Dee added that the team has “no plans to try and return to Tallahassee next year to renew their request,” since Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford “will still be the Speaker.” With the stadium “in decay, Dee raised the possibility the Dolphins may be forced to leave.” Dee: “I wouldn’t want to prognosticate what the future holds, but it is clearly bleak.” Dee, when asked if he envisions a scenario in which the Dolphins would leave South Florida, said, “Not under Steve Ross’s ownership. He’s said that over and over again. But he also said that at some point he will sell the team. At some point somebody is going to buy the franchise from Steve and clearly the stadium issue is going to be the first thing that they would need to address.” Dee said of whether Ross is currently looking to sell the team, “I don’t think so today.” Dee “cryptically noted” that the Dolphins are one of the only NFL franchises that “do not have a long-term lease with their community.” That means the team “could pick up and move at anytime” (CBSLOCAL.com, 5/5). In Ft. Lauderdale, Deslatte, Haughney & Garcia noted the bill would have helped the city of Orlando “move forward" with a $110M stadium construction project it hopes to use to land” an MLS franchise. The bill’s failure also “doomed sales-tax subsidy packages" sought by Daytona Int’l Speedway and the Jaguars (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/4).
NO LOVE LOST: In Miami, Olorunnipa & Mazzei wrote the Dolphins “suffered an epic loss” on Friday as Florida lawmakers “ended the 60-day legislative session without approving a deal.” With last-minute “amendments and late-game Hail Marys, the Dolphins held out until the final hour.” But a deal “was not to be had, as Weatherford rejected the overtures of several lawmakers who pleaded with him to hear the bill.” The House “instead killed the stadium effort without a vote.” Ross “responded with a harshly worded statement, blasting Weatherford.” Ross in the statement said of Weatherford, “He put politics before the people and the 4,000 jobs this project would have created for Miami Dade, and that is just wrong.” But Olorunnipa & Mazzei wrote the bill “simply did not have adequate support of power players in the House.” Weatherford said, “We’re talking about a lot of money. We’re talking about a major public policy issue. ... Before we spend $300 or $400 million in tax subsidies, I just think we need to talk about it and evaluate it more." The impact of the “non-deal quickly rippled down the state," as the Miami-Dade referendum vote scheduled for May 14 “was abruptly called off and more than 60,000 ballots cast early and by mail will be thrown out" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/4). Ross in his statement said Weatherford “gave me and many others his word that this legislation would go to the floor of the House for a vote. … It’s hard to understand why he would stop an election already in process and disenfranchise the 40,000 people who have already voted. I can only assume he felt it was in his political interest to do so” (Dolphins). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote, “To his credit, Ross isn’t biting his tongue.” He is “unloading on the man Ross deems directly responsible.” Ross "is right," and the bill is “something the people should have decided” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 5/4).
SUPER BAD: In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin noted San Diego has been “removed from the Super Bowl rotation because it refuses to update Qualcomm Stadium with public funds.” South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee Chair Rodney Barreto said, “San Diego turned its back on the Super Bowl and hasn’t hosted one since (2003). I only hope the events in Florida today have not sentenced Florida to a similar fate” (PALM BEACH POST, 5/4). In Oakland, Josh Richman wrote the “only competition remaining for the Bay Area's quest to host Super Bowl 50 seemed to evaporate” with the Florida legislature rejecting public funding for Sun Life Stadium renovations. Bay Area Super Bowl Bid Committee spokesperson Nathan Ballard said on Friday it is "too early to break out the bubbly. It ain't over until May 21, when the NFL owners make their decision” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/4). In Sacramento, Matthew Barrows wrote the 49ers and the Bay Area” took another step Friday toward securing Super Bowl L” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/4). But CSNBAYAREA.com’s Matt Maiocco wrote there was “no celebration” in the Bay Area. 49ers CEO Jed York on Saturday wrote in a text message, “Nothing changes” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 5/4). Houston Super Bowl Bid Committee Chair Ric Campo said, “This definitely improves our chance to get the Super Bowl." He added, "If Miami isn’t willing to invest capital to make that facility world class, that puts them at a disadvantage. It improves our competitive advantage” (CHRON.com, 5/3).
DOOMED DEAL? In Miami, Greg Cote wrote the Dolphins’ plan “faced a likely defeat in a Miami-Dade referendum vote even if the Legislature had let it get that far.” Ross should "understand that most Dolphins fans think the stadium is fine as is (and it is), and are hugely more concerned about the Dolphins getting in the Super Bowl than they are about the stadium hosting Super Bowls.” Cote wrote the NFL "threatening to withhold future Super Bowls if this renovation didn’t pass sounded a bit like extortion to folks down here, and that didn’t play well” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 5/4). Also in Miami, Marc Caputo wrote Florida House Republicans “won’t support a measure that appears to undermine the honor of their speaker or institution.” Republicans in the “more-moderate Senate, where support was once strong for the Dolphins’ plan, will be less inclined to back a bill that seems to challenge the conservative House and needlessly takes on a rising star of the party.” If Ross “wants another shot, he needs to apologize to Weatherford and the House” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/5). In Orlando, Kathleen Haughney named the Dolphins a “loser” in the Florida legislative session (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/5).
SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND: In West Palm Beach, Emily Roach wrote an economic development measure that “designates sales tax money to keep spring training teams in Florida could provide the spark to bring another two-team baseball stadium to Palm Beach County.” A bill “passed unanimously by the House on Friday" could bring as much as $50M for a two-team facility. A deal for a venue shared by the Astros and Blue Jays "has reached the stage that county and Palm Beach Gardens officials are meeting about the project.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott wanted $5M "designated each year," but the bill earmarks $3.3M. The money “would be awarded through an application process” (PALM BEACH POST, 5/4).
The Warriors’ proposed 18,000-seat, waterfront arena in S.F. would feature “more views, more glass and less parking,” according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Revised designs for the arena at Piers 30-32 “appear to be aimed" at making the $1B-plus project "more waterfront-friendly -- and in the process help win approval from local, regional and state regulators.” Snohetta co-Founder Craig Dykers, whose firm will lead the arena design, said the proposed venue has a “very simple, very contemporary design that doesn’t have lot of visual chaos.” Matier & Ross write the architects "hope to minimize the arena’s impact on waterfront views." The architects, who also will come from AECOM and BAR, are “proposing to reduce the arena’s height by 10 feet, to 125 feet -- roughly the size of a 12-story building.” They also plan to “reduce on-site parking from 630 spaces to 500, move the arena back from the water’s edge to make room for a park that would encircle the structure, and wrap the arena with a spiraling, exterior pedestrian walkway that would allow for views of both the city skyline and the bay.” It would be “open to the public both during and outside game times.” The plan also “calls for retail buildings along the Embarcadero and acres of terraced plazas” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/5). Meanwhile, the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES reported S.F. Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials are "trying to introduce the legislative equivalent of a shot clock to the deliberations" on the Warriors' proposed arena. The legislation would "prevent arena foes from running a procedural version of the Four Corners by bogging the project down needlessly in a legal exercise" to define or redefine the city's "vaguely worded 'public trust doctrine.'" S.F.'s existing planning procedures "offer too many opportunities for small (and small-minded) but determined groups to introduce delay into considerations of projects large and small" (S.F. BUSINESS TIMES, 5/3 issue).
The Cubs are "seeking permission" from the city of Chicago to place more than 35,000 square feet of signs on the exterior of Wrigley Field and outside the stadium as part of their $500M renovation plan, but the precise locations of the large outfield signs the club wants were "not included" in a zoning application filed with City Hall, according to Sachdev & Dardick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The 63-page document indicates that the team wants to "install 6,560 square feet of signs on a planned hotel," and create a plaza "on a triangle-shaped parcel just west of the stadium" that would include 5,825 square feet of signs. The team also would like to "sell naming rights to a six-story office building it would like to construct on Waveland Avenue." However, the paperwork "barely mentions the biggest sign the Cubs would like to put up: a giant 6,000-square-foot video scoreboard behind the left field bleachers." The signs would "come in several styles, including banners, LED screens and ribbon board," and much of the space on them would be "devoted to advertising, featuring the names and logos of the team’s sponsors" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/4). In Chicago, Paul Sullivan wrote, "No matter how big it will be or where they will put it, there's little doubt the Cubs soon will erect a giant video board, probably in time for the ballpark's centennial celebration next year." The proposed jumbotron is "of the most debated parts of the club's renovation plan, but even some purists are giving way to progress." Sullivan offers advice on "how to create ballpark magic without dumbing down the experience." The advice includes "Avoid the 'Cams" and "No marriage proposals" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/5).
LATE-NIGHT TIP: In Chicago, Fran Spielman noted city Mayor Rahm Emanuel will "start delivering" this week on the "promises he made to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts by introducing an ordinance authorizing 40 night games per season at Wrigley Field." However, area residents are "anxiously awaiting the fine print." If the City Council agrees to "raise the night-game ceiling from 30 to 40, the Cubs have agreed to schedule just 35 of those dates and hold five in reserve for night games dictated" by MLB or its national television contract. If MLB "dictates more than five night games a season, the Cubs want" the City Council to "authorize it without 'counting' those games against the 40-game ceiling." Playoff games, re-scheduled games or the All-Star Game "would not count, either." All of that is "in addition to four concerts-per-season and six 3:05 p.m. starts on Friday afternoons." Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said, "It’s been averaging three to four a year. But under the new (TV contract), it could be more than that -- up to 11. That would happen if you were a playoff team headed toward a World Series." Sources "refused to disclose the fine print until the mayor introduces the ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/4).
FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS: In Indiana, George Castle writes, "Lost in the hubbub of Tom Ricketts’ threat to move from Wrigley Field is the Cubs chairman’s desire for vastly increased TV rights fees that could bump WGN out of the picture for the first time in 65 years." The list of "suitors for the over-the-air rights portion may be small." Ricketts’ choices could be "limited to WGN and media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s Fox-32 and My-50 over-the-air stations." Ricketts would "likely want to remain on WGN," but that station's execs may "feel sticker shock when Ricketts presents his demands for broadcast money to approximate the megabucks of other major baseball markets." It is "hardly a slam-dunk" WGN will "retain the Cubs beyond 2014." Murdoch has "less network programming to clear on Fox-32," and he "has a 'shadow' station in My-50 for ballgames that conflict with Fox-32 entertainment shows." Murdoch has "no other logical well-heeled competitors in Chicago" (Northwest Indiana TIMES, 5/6).
MLS Union CEO & Managing Partner Nick Sakiewicz and other members of the team’s ownership group "have been meeting in recent weeks to explore enhancements to the viewer experience at PPL Park," according to Matthew De George of the DELAWARE COUNTY TIMES. The club is "feeling out the cost and logistical impact of such additions, having engaged consultants to determine what changes can be made to the fan experience over the coming few years." Among the renovations "on the table for the immediate future are increasing the number of suites, new offerings outside the stadium at the hospitality area known as Toyota Plaza and the addition of a restaurant or party deck behind the Sons of Ben section on the River End." While there "are no definitive time lines," Sakiewicz is "hopeful that some changes will be implemented" for the '14 season. Sakiewicz projects that "a decade on, PPL Park’s capacity can be increased from the 18,500 it can currently accommodate to near 30,000." But the "intimate feeling of the stadium is something Sakiewicz will take pains to preserve." Sakiewicz called views from PPL Park such as the Commodore Barry Bridge and the Delaware River "iconic symbols of our brand" (DELAWARE COUNTY TIMES, 5/3).