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The process of building a new downtown arena for the Bucks will "get a jump-start" tomorrow when "three or four stadium design firms present plans" to co-Owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry in N.Y., according to Charles Gardner of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Lasry yesterday said, "We're taking that lead and making sure we know what's happening first. Once we have something we believe will work and is sort of a reasonable cost, then at least we can go to the city and state and say, 'Here's what we think. Can we do this?'" Lasry also said that he and Edens "plan to announce additional local investors in the franchise on or about July 15." He added that he "anticipates an arena cost" of $350-400M. Lasry: "We hope to do it as a partnership with the people of Milwaukee and the people of Wisconsin." Lasry also said that he "expects a new arena to seat 16,000 to 18,000 fans with more seats in the lower bowl." Approximately 10,000 seats at the BMO Harris Bradley Center "are in the upper deck." Meanwhile, Lasry said that he had a "location in mind for a new arena, but declined to say where." He added he and Edens would have a clear picture of "what we are prepared to push for in the next couple of months." Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Timothy Sheehy said that the information "would be shared with the MMAC arena panel, which is working with the Hammes Co., on a financial model for the proposed arena" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/24).
NOT BUSINESS, STRICTLY PERSONAL: In Milwaukee, Rich Kirchen notes Lasry threw out the first pitch prior to last night's Nationals-Brewers game. Although Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio has "expressed an interest in financially supporting a new arena where the Bucks would play," Lasry said that yesterday's visit to Miller Park was "more about fun than business." Lasry: "I don’t think tonight’s the night for us to discuss that. I think we’ll have plenty of time to discuss it over the next couple months" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/24).
BIG BUCKS, NO WHAMMIES: Lasry said that it will "not be a financial issue on the new owners' part to pay players or seek out free agents." In Milwaukee, Charles Gardner notes the Bucks have been a team that has "stayed out of luxury tax territory and has tried to stay close to or just over the league salary cap." But Lasry said, "We have to increase our payroll." Asked if free agents would want to come to Milwaukee, Lasry said, "Nobody's going to come to Milwaukee if the team did what it did last year." He added, "If the Bucks are doing well, you're going to be able to attract people" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/24).
With a proposed redesign of Rupp Arena "on indefinite hold," the Univ. of Kentucky's announcement of a lucrative multimedia rights deal with JMI that "includes money for a baseball stadium raised fresh questions Monday about the possibility of an on-campus basketball arena," according to a front-page piece by Jennifer Smith of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. UK AD Mitch Barnhart said, "I don't want to tie these two things together. Everybody's gonna mistakenly look at this deal today and say, 'Oh, is this taking you down a different path with basketball and the arena?' And this is not what today's about. Today is about the foundation for the program for years to come." Still, Barnhart said he was pleased the university and city were taking a step back from the proposed Rupp project to "reassess where we are and figure out what the next best thing to do is." In addition to sports marketing, JMI "specializes in sports facilities, including feasibility studies, financing, design and construction management." The company's multimedia rights deal with UK is "expected to help move along several projects on UK's wish list." Barnhart "confirmed that UK was in the 'design' phase for a new football practice facility, which is expected to be built near Commonwealth Stadium." Meanwhile, other "facilities face lifts discussed in UK's request for contracts that led to the JMI deal include a desire for 'creative solutions' to fund supplemental digital signage and a public wireless Internet system at Commonwealth Stadium, a new video board at Memorial Coliseum, and renovations for video control rooms at both venues" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/24). Barnhart said, "Those other things take care of themselves over time. We'll figure that out. We'll work our way through those pieces (but) this is about multimedia rights, and people don't need to read more into it than that" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/24).
SHOW ME THE MONEY: In Kentucky, John Clay writes yesterday's "financial futures news is really about money and money and more money," as it "brings possibilities." Barnhart, on having a new UK ballpark completed in three years: "I don't know, I hope so." Clay writes there will be the "possibility of selling naming rights to athletic facilities, something the traditionalist in Barnhart may question, but the realist knows as prudent for athletic departments searching for new revenue streams." Barnhart: "The end game for us, (is to) keep our programs moving in the direction we've got them going" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/24).
Birmingham-based BL Harbert Int'l will be building another SEC arena, as Ole Miss yesterday announced that the general contractor "has been awarded" the $68.9M contract to build the school's new arena, according to Bryan Davis of the BIRMINGHAM BUSINESS JOURNAL. The company said that construction "would begin immediately," with K.C.-based AECOM as the architect. The arena will "seat 9,600 and will be ready" for the '16-17 basketball season. The project will "include the basketball court, premier locker room suites for players and coaching staff, training facilities, a Courtside Club, All-American Suites and the Arena Club" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/23). NBCSPORTS.com's Scott Phillips noted the new arena "will be right next to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on the southeast side of the school’s campus." Ole Miss basketball has played in the 9,065-seat Tad Smith Coliseum since '65. BL Harbert recently constructed Auburn Arena, which was completed in '10, while AECOM designed FedExForum and CenturyLink Field. With the arena "coming right next to the Ole Miss football stadium, it makes for a nice area on campus where fans can always go to attend marquee sporting events" (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/23).
In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reports the $47M renovation to Thomas & Mack Center "means the National Finals Rodeo will lose about 200 seats and ticket revenue from those lost seats" starting in '15. The 10-day event is "losing seats because the 31-year-old sports and entertainment venue needs to comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards." Thomas & Mack Center Exec Dir Mike Newcomb said that UNLV's renovation work "will not begin until Oct. 1, and the seat removal will not affect ticket sales at this year’s National Finals Rodeo." Newcomb said that the project, which "includes modernizing and expanding bathrooms, overhauling the air and heat systems, adding more concession space and applying a new main concourse floor surface, is in its design phase" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/24).
TIGERS' LAIR: LSU AD Joe Alleva said the school's $80M south end zone addition to Tiger Stadium "is on time" and "should be ready for the home opener." In Baton Rouge, Scott Rabalais notes the project will "take seating capacity of the 90-year-old facility to near 100,000." Alleva said that most of the project is "now enclosed, lessening the chances of a weather delay" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 6/24).
ROOM SERVICE: Int'l Speedway Corp. yesterday announced a deal with Shaner Hotels and Prime Hospitality Group to develop a 145-room, boutique hotel at One Daytona, the mixed-use development planned across the street from Daytona Int'l Speedway. Shaner will be the hotel operator and Prime Hospitality Group will be the developer. They are in talks to have the boutique hotel be part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, a group of boutique hotels worldwide like the Algonquin Hotel in N.Y. and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. One Daytona is slated to open in '16 (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).