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Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney yesterday sent a letter to the Cubs saying that if the organization "wants his support" for its $300M Wrigley Field renovation plan, it will "need to cut by one-third the size of a left field video scoreboard and greatly reduce the size of a requested right field advertising sign," according to John Byrne of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Tunney's plan would see the Cubs "reducing the left field Jumbotron from 6,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet and the right field ad board from 1,000 square feet to 650 square feet." He said that he spoke to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel about "those and three other specific changes he wants to the Cubs plan before sending the letter to team officials." Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green reiterated the team's position, saying if team Owner the Ricketts family is to invest $300M in Wrigley upgrades, and another $200M for a hotel as part of the project, then "all elements" of the plan must be in place. But Tunney said that the team also will "need to get rid of a request for a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street," which Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts wants to "connect the ballpark to the hotel." Tunney: "I don’t think there’s a functional reason to put a bridge over Clark Street. To transport 175 hotel guests?" He said that he sent the letter yesterday, in advance of today's Commission on Landmarks meeting to consider the plan "because he needed to let his constituents know where he stands" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/27).
MEETING IN THE MIDDLE: In Chicago, Fran Spielman reports the Landmark Commission will "hold off on outfield signs, but give the Cubs the go-ahead Thursday to extend outward the right- and left-field walls of Wrigley Field, build a new western entrance, remodel the dug-out and build a new Captain Morgan Club." Sources said that the decision to "postpone until a regularly-scheduled July 11 meeting a vote on the two most controversial elements of the Wrigley project -- a 6,000 sq.ft. video scoreboard in left-field and a 1,000 sq.ft. see-through sign in right -- is a concession" to Tunney. The delay "gives him two more weeks to try and wring those concessions" out of the Cubs, provided Emanuel "stands behind him" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/27).
The four companies bidding to redevelop Nassau Coliseum and its surrounding property yesterday "announced new details of their plans," including the addition of an AFL team and a "proposal to reduce traffic backlogs on Hempstead Turnpike," according to Robert Brodsky of NEWSDAY. With less than three weeks before Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano "selects a winning bidder," the developers used a meeting with Long Island Real Estate Group to "disclose new elements of their proposals." Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner announced that an AFL team "would relocate to the Coliseum," but he did not identify which franchise. Ratner also said that a pro lacrosse team "would play at the arena, joining a minor league hockey squad." Additionally, Nets and Barclays Center Senior VP & Chief Communications Officer Barry Baum said that Nets coach Jason Kidd would "host an annual clinic at the Coliseum for local high school coaches." Meanwhile, MSG President & CEO Hank Ratner "disclosed plans to improve traffic flow into the Coliseum." MSG would "charge visitors in advance for parking, so that entrance gates that can clog traffic along Hempstead Turnpike can be removed." Blumenfeld Development Group in its bid plans to offer Nassau a lease payment of 20% of "the arena's net operating income, or $350,000, whichever is greater." The other bidders "declined to say how much they will pay the county in rent." Blumenfeld also would "create a digital memorial and exhibit to Nassau veterans and would sell the naming rights to the arena for an estimated $750,000" (NEWSDAY, 6/27).
Kentucky Speedway officials are "hoping the big crowds will return" this week when NASCAR's three series return to the track, which appears to have "solved the traffic and parking nightmare that marred" the venue's '11 race weekend, according to Lawrence Smith of WDRB.com. Thousands of fans "stayed away" last year, "even after the track spent millions to upgrade traffic and parking following 2011's horrific bottleneck." Kentucky Speedway Communications Dir Tim Bray said, "I think people will come because they've heard that we got it fixed. Maybe they've talked to their buddies that were here last year, and they didn't have any problem." Smith noted the track has made "only minor changes" this year, including "reinforced safety fencing and upgraded concessions" (WDRB.com, 6/25). In Cincinnati, Kevin Kelly noted the track "reinforced its catch fence in spectator areas," as new vertical steel cables have "been installed between the support posts." The cables are "anchored into the concrete retaining wall and connected to the existing horizontal steel cables with a unique steel clasp" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/25).
MUSICAL CHAIRS: In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski wrote of Daytona Int'l Speedway's plans to reduce seating capacity, "You would think Daytona would be the last place where seats would be subtracted for stock-car racing." While attendance is "good at NASCAR races, attendance also is down." Sources said that 11 of NASCAR’s 23 tracks "reduced seating capacity" in '12. Kantowski noted that "doesn’t include places such as Las Vegas Motor Speedway," which in '10 widened its bleacher seats by 2 inches, "even after having announced a virtual sellout for its Cup race" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/25).