SBD/December 17, 2013/FacilitiesPrint All
A's Owner Lew Wolff for the first time in nearly a decade said that Oakland "might have a viable location for a new ballpark" in the Coliseum complex, according to Matthew Artz of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. Wolff yesterday said a ballpark on Port of Oakland property was "absolutely impossible." But he then made "a departure from years of declaring that he had exhausted all his options in Oakland." Wolff said, "That doesn't mean there isn't a place in Oakland where you could do something." He said the most likely location "would be where we're at right now," on land that is "controlled by (the city and county)." Rather than "continue his critiques of the aging Coliseum, Wolff emphasized that the team has 'an excellent relationship' with the joint Oakland-Alameda County board that runs the Coliseum complex and would like a longer-term lease than the recently signed two-year extension." Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said of Wolff's comments, "I think that's progress, and we'll reach out and continue to talk to him." Wolff's refusal to "outright dismiss the Coliseum site comes on the heels of Oakland business leaders renewing their push for a privately-financed stadium at the 51-acre Howard Terminal site." Wolff reiterated that the team "is not for sale and that his studies of the site showed that it would require an expensive environmental cleanup and present access issues" with public transportation nearly a mile away. Wolff: "It may get an A in artist renderings, but it's an F in implementation. We know that we can't do a ballpark on that site" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 12/17).
The Univ. of Arizona yesterday formally announced a $30M phase of renovations for McKale Center, to include "new seating, upgraded lighting and a new floor in time for next season," according to Bruce Pascoe of the ARIZONA DAILY STAR. Also, a new videoboard "will be finished in time for the Pac-12 season." The lower bowl seats will be "padded and all will be blue, except for enough red seats to make an Arizona 'A' in the Zona Zoo section." UA AD Greg Byrne said that seating capacity will be "about the same as the current 14,545 ... though fans will have new seating and eventually, new restrooms and concessions." Byrne said that the school has "already received pledges" for $12.5M toward the first phase of the project. Pascoe notes that includes "benefactors Jeannie and Cole Davis kicking in" $6M. The project, most of which "will begin in May," is eventually scheduled to hit $80M "after improvements (and possibly an enclosure) to the outside concourse at an undetermined point in the future" (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 12/17). UA President Ann Weaver Hart said, "We want McKale to be an iconic building with a new facelift." In Tucson, Anthony Gimino notes construction also will include "a new women's basketball locker room, new video rooms for each basketball program, a new coaches' locker room for men's basketball and a new player's lounge" (TUSCONCITIZEN.com, 12/16). The ARIZONA DAILY STAR's Pascoe noted there "won't be a timetable for future phases" until pledges exceed $30M. Byrne said that UA expects the entire $80M project "to be financed with donations, though he said funds from the Pac-12's television contracts may be used for collateral in the event that the pledges default" (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 12/17).
A proposed stadium lease for the Angels "contains benefits so generous that in addition to covering the cost of the team's renovation of the ballpark, it could bring team owner Arte Moreno tens of millions of dollars of new income," according to Martin Wisckol of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The proposal, being used as a basis for lease negotiations between the Angels and city of Anaheim, shows that the money would "continue to flow to Moreno's investment group for 66 years, even if the team opted out decades earlier for a ballpark elsewhere." At the "heart of negotiations" is the $130-150M in stadium renovations the Angels "are obligated to perform over the next 20 years under the current lease." In the city's effort to "help the team defray those costs -- and to ensure the team stays in town for the immediate future -- city staff has proposed letting Moreno develop 128 city-owned acres surrounding the stadium." Moreno would "pay the city $1 per year for the land under the draft terms." The proposal, which "appears far from finalization, also would rebate to Moreno all city taxes generated by the new development." Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said, "I would not do the deal. ... We certainly value the Angels, but the economic value to the city doesn't merit giving away the land for free." Wisckol noted the council is "awaiting an appraisal of the land, but estimates have run as high" as $380M. Eager to "dispel the impression that it's making a land grab, the team emphasizes that the proposal originated with city staff." Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey said, "Including the land was the city's idea as their contribution to fund the much-needed stadium improvements." Wisckol noted driving the city's "decision to renegotiate the lease is a desire to ensure the team doesn't relocate" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/14).
The MLS Fire yesterday announced plans for a new year-round facility called the Chicago Fire Soccer Center. The 140,000-square-foot facility on 4.7 acres of land is expected to open next summer. It will include two regulation-size turf soccer fields and the first air-supported dome within Chicago's city limits. The majority owner of the project is an entity controlled by Fire Owner Andrew Hauptman, with minority partners Richard Levy and Jared Schenk (Fire). In Chicago, Danny Ecker noted the facility will cost $15-20M, and is expected to grow the team's recreational leagues and "broaden its fan base in the city." The Center will be located "along the north branch of the Chicago River in the North Center neighborhood," and will be Chicago's "largest year-round soccer facility." The Center also "will house several indoor-size fields and about 15,000 square feet of mixed use space for offices, training and retail." The Fire will "practice there periodically," although the team "normally practices in a dome in Bridgeview near Toyota Park." The facility will be Hauptman's "largest single non-player investment in the team" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 12/16).