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Dolphins President & CEO Tom Garfinkel yesterday said that the team is "working on a new approach to upgrading Sun Life Stadium after last year's push for a tax-funded renovation failed," according to Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Garfinkel, speaking after a panel discussion at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on the local sports industry, said, "We are working hard on trying to put together a time line and a plan on how we can get this accomplished." However, he "offered no specifics." Garfinkel said that the plan "involves no major changes to the architectural design unveiled last year," suggesting the $350M price tag would be the same. When asked if the discussions involve a new approach to financing the construction, he replied, "There are a lot of ways to skin the cat; we need to figure out a way to get it done, and we're looking at a lot of different options on how to get that done." Hanks writes Garfinkel's comments "mostly amplify what owner Stephen Ross said in September when he announced Garfinkel's hiring." As the Dolphins "consider their next moves, two sports organizations are on the hunt for new deals with Miami-Dade." An investor group headed by David Beckham is pursuing a new MLS franchise that aims to "play at a stadium on public land at Port Miami," while the Heat are "trying to extend a county deal that currently delivers its arena operation" a $6.4M yearly subsidy (MIAMI HERALD, 1/9).
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: Garfinkel said that the Dolphins tomorrow "will hold their first interview" to fill their vacant GM position. While Garfinkel would not name the first interviewee, he said that the team "would soon release a list of prospective candidates who agree to be identified." In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson notes Garfinkel does not believe that previous experience as a GM "would be required." The Dolphins and Buccaneers reportedly have "requested permission" from the Giants to interview team VP/Player Evaluation Marc Ross (PALM BEACH POST, 1/9). In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly cites a source as saying that Ross is "looking for a team player, someone who can foster 'a more harmonious organization.'" Garfinkel yesterday said of the ideal GM candidate, "A football person. Intellect, a collaborative team player. Someone who is creative and has an open mind" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/9).
More than 60 people last night attended a public meeting in Lexington, Ky., to "hear more about the preliminary designs for a newly redesigned Rupp Arena and convention center," according to a front-page piece by Beth Musgrave of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Seattle-based architectural firm NBBJ Partner Robert Mankin "gave people an overview of some of the changes." Rupp Arena "will be 'freed' from the current design so it can be seen." Currently, the arena "can only be seen from" the back of the complex. Despite the changes, Mankin said that the "large, two-tiered bowl" of the arena will "remain largely the same." The upper deck will "get chair-back seats, improved lighting and its own concessions and restrooms." Mankin said that bathrooms "will be improved, and there will be more of them." The overall number of seats "will remain the same, but there will be hospitality or luxury boxes." Project consultant Jay Isaac said that planners are "still working out exactly what those luxury seats will look like." Mankin said that a "new center scoreboard and a strip of lights around the center of the stadium will also enhance the fan experience," and that there will be a "new audio system and better WiFi." Construction will take place in phases, and Isaac said that UK will "continue to play" in Rupp Arena during the renovations. Musgrave notes previously mentioned cost projections have "put the convention center rebuild" at $110M, with the Rupp Arena renovation costing $140-150M. But those figures "could change" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 1/9).
ROCK CHALK: In Kansas, Gary Bedore reports a proposed $17.5M apartment complex would "house up to 32 Kansas University men’s and women’s basketball players as well as 34 other students." The project will be funded "through a combination of private funds and bond proceeds, the bonds to be paid for by revenue generated by the apartments." Other schools, including Kentucky, have recently "upgraded living quarters for athletes." A dormitory for UK basketball players, which opened in '12, cost $7M to build "and was privately funded" (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD, 1/9). In K.C., Rustin Dodd writes the KU apartment complex is "another investment designed to keep its basketball program among the nation's best, specifically in the area of recruiting" (K.C. STAR, 1/9).
In Ottawa, David Reevely reports the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group is "out to find more parts of Lansdowne Park for businesses to sponsor" after having sold naming-rights for Lansdowne Park to TD Bank Group. OSEG Chair Roger Greenberg said, "Theoretically, everything else is available. It's just a question of what somebody wants." While Greenberg did not specify what TD is paying for the naming rights, Reevely reports it is "more than" C$1M per year in "a long-term deal." The "next task is to make deals with about four 'founding partners,' more big-name sponsors who will probably get their logos on the stadium" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/9).
OHIO PLAYERS: In Cleveland, Mark Naymik noted the Indians and Cavaliers "each have a long list of needed repairs and proposed improvements for their publicly-owned homes." But the teams "are not sharing the information just yet." The teams' lack of disclosure is "disgraceful when you consider that the teams and corporate leaders are asking taxpayers to cover these yet-to-be defined costs" via a sin tax. This is "like a mechanic asking you to agree to pay for car repairs and improvements before you receive an estimate" (CLEVELAND.com, 1/8).
THE 12TH MAN: Seahawks VP/Technology Chip Suttles said of expanded Wi-Fi capabilities at CenturyLink Field, "We're trying to roll it out by the 2015 season. It will be full WiFi for the whole stadium. Let's just say it costs more than $3 million." He added, "I've been to Gillette and AT&T stadiums and I've seen their installations. We're trying to accomplish what they have. ... We are currently looking for (corporate) sponsorship on the WiFi" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/6).