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SBD/September 23, 2013/FacilitiesPrint All
Barclays Center is a "true Brooklyn success story" and is "making big strides" after one year in operation, according to Phyllis Furman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Ticket and concession sales "are booming," but profits are "lagging because of the high cost of running the arena." Still, Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner calls the arena "a great financial success." He said, "In a year, we have become the major arena in the U.S." Furman noted Barclays Center is the centerpiece of Forest City Ratner's $4.9B Atlantic Yards project and has "brought jobs to the neighborhood, employing 2,000 people -- 80% are Brooklyn residents and one third are from local housing projects -- though 1,900, are part-timers." Ratner said, "We have exceeded all of our benchmarks and that translates into more taxes." Brooklyn-based commercial realtor Adam Hess said that the price per square-foot of mixed-use buildings in the immediate vicinity of the arena has "doubled since it opened to $700 a square foot." He added demand from "retailers large and small has mounted." But Furman writes, "Not everyone is enjoying the party." Some local merchants say that "a much expected jump in sales has yet to materialize," while others contend the number of jobs created is "coming up short when measured against the hundreds of millions in public subsidies invested in the project" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22). In N.Y., Reuven Blau wrote businesses around Barclays Center are "reaping record profits from a bonanza of customers flooding to the popular arena" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22). Meanwhile, the DAILY NEWS' Matt Chaban reported Forest City Ratner in the coming weeks "will truck in the cornerstone of the first of 14 residential towers planned for the decade-old project." The 32-story apartment building will be "the largest modular building in the world when it is completed, tentatively next summer" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22).
MORE IN-ARENA RETAIL: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret reports the Nets are "opening a second team store at Barclays Center and have signed a long-term deal" with New Jersey-based frozen yogurt chain Let's Yo!. Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said that Let’s Yo! "grabbed the final retail spot along Flatbush Avenue." He added that the new team store "will focus on selling Nets-branded lifestyle apparel by Mitchell & Ness and other sports clothiers that speak to a broader audience." Yormark said that Forest City Ratner is investing more than $1M in "aesthetic improvements to the premium clubs, and concessionaire Levy Restaurants is expanding its Taste of Brooklyn food program" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/23 issue).
ISLANDER IMMERSION: In a special to SPORTS ON EARTH, Stu Hackel wrote of his experience during the Islanders' preseason debut at Barclays Center, "The sightlines seem mostly good, even for those watching from the soaring upper level, which looks like a mile from the ice." It will be "tough to match" Nassau Coliseum's "intimacy and sightlines." But today's fan "supposedly wants a more complete experience, and from the many luxury suites to the booming sound system to the ubiquitous video screens to the Barclays Center mobile app, you can't get much more complete than this" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 9/22).
Saturday's Southeast Missouri State-Southern Illinois college football game at Busch Stadium caused "significant wear and tear in the outfield," leaving the stadium's grounds crew with "about 48 hours to return the field to normal baseball conditions" for tonight's Nationals-Cardinals game, according to Langosch & Thornburg of MLB.com. Cardinals VP/Event Services & Merchandising Vicki Bryant said, "We certainly expected that there would be a lot of damage, and we were prepared for it." Langosch & Thornburg reported Busch Stadium grounds crews "began by removing the goalposts and tearing up the sod along the middle of the football field, which was oriented across the outfield to avoid removing the mound and minimize damage to the infield." Cardinals Senior VP & GM John Mozeliak said that he would "reserve commenting on possible field problems until he sees the condition in a few days" (MLB.com, 9/22). In St. Louis, Joe Strauss noted the Cardinals have "successfully hosted" concerts and other sporting events in the past during baseball season, "always allowing at least a four-day buffer" between the event and the next Cardinals game. But Saturday's football game created "a blighted surface with less than 48 hours to fix it." Rainy conditions on Thursday and Friday "followed an extended smoldering and dry period that had left the outfield a slip-and-slide zone." Conditions were "dicey enough that the Cardinals and the two schools discussed cancelling" the football game. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said, "There was an option to cancel the game. It turns out a majority field replacement is required. But the thick cut sod you have will likely perform better for us than what was there already." But Strauss asked, "Isn't there some corner within the organization where hosting a football event in November makes more sense than two days before the regular season's final home stand?" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/23).
When heavy rain hit O.co Coliseum prior to Saturday's Twins-A's game, storm sewer drains in both dugouts "couldn't handle the deluge and backed up, flooding the bench areas," according to Mark Purdy of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The backup led to "another sewage volcano," which would be "a travesty and an embarrassment on the national stage" during the upcoming AL Playoffs. Oakland and Alameda County "are responsible for Coliseum upkeep," and both parties "should be mortified." Jokes will "only continue to multiply" until the situation improves. Fans "have to wonder if more people are turned off" by the sewage issues or by A's Owner Lew Wolff's recent comments about attendance (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/22). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote under the header, "Coliseum Sewage Problems Growing Tiresome." The entire system "needs a full-blown cleanout." The sewage jokes "were funny the first two times they made the circuit," but now are "just a cliché" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 9/21). In S.F., Matier & Ross write the Oakland Coliseum Authority "now has its own plan to fight all the bad publicity and to try to sell the public on any ideas the city and county have for redeveloping the stadium site." The board on Friday "voted to spend $65,000 to bring aboard a PR consultant -- a firm aptly dubbed Full Court Press" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/23). ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the situation could be a "potential national embarrassment" for MLB if the A's reach the World Series. Olney: "This is when you don't want naming rights to a stadium" (ESPN.com, 9/22). ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez said, “Oakland Coliseum’s plumbing issues have left sewage flowing through its dugouts. So now it’s official: No one wants to play the Oakland A’s in the playoffs” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 9/22).
PLAYING MONEYBALL: In L.A., Bill Shaikin noted this year's AL West title is the A's sixth during the 16-year tenure of VP & GM Billy Beane. Wolff gives Beane "a budget, and autonomy to run the baseball operations as he sees fit." Beane in '05 was given a 4% stake in the team by Wolff, while President Mike Crowley was given "a 1% ownership stake." Wolff said that "neither Beane nor Crowley has liability for any losses." Beane "resents that Wolff has become something of a pincushion in Oakland." He said, "Some of the personal shots he has taken have been so far out of bounds. I'm at a point in my career where I don't need to score brownie points by saying nice things about my owner. But, in my opinion, I have the best owner in the game to work for" (L.A. TIMES, 9/22). ESPN.com's Dave Schoenfield writes under the header, "With Another Division Title, Beane Is Best GM" (ESPN.com, 9/23).
The Cleveland City Council is worried that Browns fans "might not support a vote to extend the tax that pays for improvements at FirstEnergy Stadium" after the team traded '12 first-round draft pick Trent Richardson last week, according to Melissa Reid of Cleveland-based WJW-Fox. Council member Mike Polensek said, "The reality is that we are going to try and market at some point, an approval for an extension of the sin tax improvements at FirstEnergy Stadium and we need to have a winning football team to convince voters that it’s worth their investment." About $134M is "still owed on the facility" (FOX8.com, 9/20). In Akron, Marla Ridenour wrote of the team's personnel plans after trading Richardson, "I don’t trust anyone in the Browns’ front office to find the quarterback of the future." The decision on next year's first-round draft pick "will rest with CEO Joe Banner, and he’s never made a choice of this magnitude." Browns GM Mike Lombardi "might be taking the blame" for the trade, but fans "don’t realize Banner is the Browns' version of the Great and Powerful Oz." Ridenour: "As logical of a business move as the trade was and as well-positioned as the Browns are, I can’t say I trust the front office when it comes time to make it bear fruit" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 9/20).
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Exec VP & GM Jerry Gappens said that he "has been advocating for lights the past two years," but a five-year-old agreement between former track Owner Bob Bahre and the town of Loudon states that "racing must be through" by 7:30pm ET, according to Ray Duckler of the CONCORD MONITOR. NHMS is "one of four tracks" used during NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup that does not have lights. Loudon residents "have shied from the lights," despite the fact that "fans tell Gappens that they want them so the July race can run on a Saturday night, thus reducing heat and humidity, and the September race can have an insurance policy." Gappens said, "Look at what Monday Night Football did for the NFL. It opened it to new audiences. It would take the race to a new level, make it a spectacle." He added that he is "not worried about losing the Chase race." But Duckler notes with NASCAR's new TV deals with NBC and Fox that begin in '15, race officials "might make some changes to offer the best product possible." Gappens: "I can see NASCAR saying that with this investment, we need to get these races in. They may say we need lights" (CONCORD MONITOR, 9/23). Gappens said, "New Englanders don't like 90-95 degree heat and high humidity. And I’m seeing the (ticket) numbers reflect that in renewals for July." He added he is "in the process of trying to navigate through" Loudon's time restrictions for races. Gappens: "The town obviously doesn't want to re-open the lawsuit and have to defend itself. So we just have to navigate our way through … we have a couple of approaches that we are working on" (NASCAR.com, 9/21).