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A $16.5M deal between the Bengals and Hamilton County (Ohio) Commissioners will "upgrade Paul Brown Stadium" and "pave the way for the next phase" of The Banks mixed-use riverfront development, according to a front-page piece by Sharon Coolidge of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. The deal marks "what one commissioner called a 'new era' between the team and county -- which owns Paul Brown Stadium -- after decades of lawsuits and vitriol." The Bengals "waived height restrictions" at The Banks and the county in exchange "negotiated six stadium upgrades -- some of which the Bengals themselves will pay for despite their lease requiring taxpayers to foot the bill." The deal includes a new scoreboard, which is "expected to cost" $10M, of which the Bengals will pay $2.5M. The county also is "allowing the team to expand its locker room into a space that had been set aside in case a professional soccer team came to Cincinnati." The stadium will "be outfitted with Wi-Fi, as required by the NFL." Taxpayers will pay $3M of the $3.5M project, although the Bengals "are paying the entire cost up front and then will be reimbursed by the county over five years." The county also is "allowing the team to play two international games as the 'home' team." The Bengals are paying $6M of the $16.5M agreement, with $4M going "toward projects their lease requires the county to pay for." The deal was "hammered out in secret over the past few weeks, with negotiations ramping up this week as commissioners prioritized a riverfront deal to land GE." Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune has "long attacked the Bengals as taking advantage of taxpayers with an unfair lease." But he said that it was "time to put differences aside" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/18).
The ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers are moving their "proposed rooftop ice-rink facility at the Plaza to a ground-level parking lot at the hotel-casino on Main Street," according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Wranglers spokesperson Lucy Stewart "cited structural issues for shifting the tentlike arena structure to the Plaza parking lot on the south side of the hotel parking lot." The new site plan "shows the seating surrounding the entire rink." Under the previous plan, seating was "in the shape of horseshoe around the rink." The new rink location at the Plaza also "means less parking." Wranglers President & COO Billy Johnson in a text message wrote, "We wanted to explore a higher seating capacity.” Snel noted the "first rooftop plan allowed seating for 3,500 fans," and the second parking lot plan submitted Wednesday "showed more space for fans." An exact number of seats "was not submitted." The Wranglers are "moving from The Orleans Arena because the Boyd Gaming property chose to not renew the arena lease with the hockey team" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/17).
Barclays Center vs. Madison Square Garden has become "the latest intrametro rivalry pitting borough against borough," according to Eriq Gardner of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The "war between the two giant sports and entertainment arenas has been fairly civil by Big Apple standards -- mostly because Manhattan's MSG was partly closed for renovations when Brooklyn's Barclays opened its doors 18 months ago." But since the "refurbished Garden started selling tickets again in October, there have been signs that the crosstown dissing is heating up." With more than 300 events since opening in September '12, Barclays "was the top-grossing venue in the U.S. last year," and has been averaging $6M a month from live concerts. While it "doesn't have MSG's cash-cow sports franchises, like the Knicks and the Rangers, it does have the Nets, and soon the building will be getting ice ready for the relocating Islanders." Barclays Center also has "partnered with Disney to train staff on such courtesies as the proper way to smile at patrons." MSG since reopening in October has sold about 35% "more tickets than Barclays, with the Garden averaging 10,682 per live concert versus 7,287 for Barclays." This summer will be "the first concert season with Barclays and MSG competing head-to-head, so the rivalry is only going to get more intense." Inevitably, the Barclays Center vs. MSG "throwdown will play out along age-old borough stereotypes." One will be "perceived as glitzy, the other as hip." Nets and Barclays CEO Brett Yormark said, "If you look at the young, up-and-coming artists, they don't have the attachment to legacy brands that legacy artists do, so they might prefer the young and hip and cool flavor of Brooklyn" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/2 issue).
In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reports AEG and MGM Resorts Int'l plan "to move the first chunk of earth" for their $350M arena behind New York-New York at "a groundbreaking ceremony set for May 1," with a projected opening in spring '16. It will "open without an NBA or NHL tenant because AEG and MGM plan to line up programming such as concerts, MMA fight shows, sports events, award shows and boxing matches." Still, the arena "will be built to NBA and NHL specifications" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/18).
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? In Ft. Lauderdale, Miriam Valverde notes Verizon has "installed advanced in-building 4G LTE wireless systems" at AmericanAirlines Arena and BB&T Center "to improve high-speed wireless service to customers." Verizon "picked up the tab for the 'multimillion-dollar'' investment" at both venues. Upgrades at AmericanAirlines Arena were "completed this week, just in time for the NBA playoffs" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/18).
REBEL WITH A CAUSE: In Mississippi, Hugh Kellenberger noted Ole Miss "hopes to break ground on the north endzone project" at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium "as soon as after" the upcoming football season. AD Ross Bjork on Wednesday said that the school "needs additional financing in its Forward Together campaign to make that a reality." The school is "almost done renovating the Manning Center, and has broken ground" on a new basketball arena and parking deck (CLARIONLEDGER.com, 4/17).
TED TALKS: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Thursday announced that the city already has "received multiple offers on Turner Field." Reed: "We can sell Turner Field right now." He added that Atlanta has "received two to four offers on the 77-acre property." While Reed declined to give specifics, he acknowledged that he has been "in conversation" with Georgia State Univ. officials. He said the school "has some interest" in the land (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/18).