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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is "privately pushing" City Council members to "hit the brakes" on the pending 10-year lease for the A's at O.co Coliseum to give her team more time to negotiate, according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Quan said that she had asked interim City Administrator Henry Gardner to "negotiate a few 'clarifications'" with A's co-Owner Lew Wolff "before the deal was approved." Quan "did not elaborate on what those clarifications were." Sources said that Wolff has "made it clear he has no interest in reopening the deal" approved by the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, which is run jointly by the city and county. But City Council member Noel Gallo said that Quan wants to "hold off on the vote until the end of the month to give Gardner time for more negotiations" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/16). Wolff, at yesterday's MLB All-Star Game, said a new ballpark on the Coliseum site was an "option to look at." Wolff: "We don't have much of an option right now anywhere except there. We're going to revisit that." Wolff expects that the Coliseum Authority will vote today on the lease. Wolff said, "If it isn't, it's my last time" (AP, 7/15).
RETIREMENT PACKAGE: In S.F., John Shea notes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had "vowed to settle the A's stadium situation before he retires in January, but beyond a lease settlement, that seems unlikely." Selig said, "It's a very complex situation. Right now, we want to get the lease situation satisfied in Oakland. We worked hard at it and made significant progress, but as Yogi (Berra) once said, 'It ain't over 'til it's over.' Hopefully, we will have that done. There are a lot of complicating things that have happened in that situation, and someway somehow, it'll be worked out" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/16). Selig said MLB and the A's have been through "the tortures of hell" trying to get the deal done and called the city council's suggestion that he has seriously considered allowing the club to relocate out of the Bay Area "patently absurd." Wolff said he harbors no ill will towards the Raiders, with whom the A's could be grappling with over the long-term future of the Coliseum property, as both teams have entertained notions of building new facilities on the site. Wolff: "I don't think the Raiders are really behind any of this. Their owner (Mark Davis) is a nice guy, and I think he's just trying to do what we're trying to do, make sure that one guy doesn't cause the other guy any problems" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
Rays Owner Stu Sternberg said that recent conversations with new St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman have left him "optimistic and hopeful of a long-term solution" for the franchise's ballpark situation, according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday "reiterated the team's need for a new stadium but also expressed some faith in the Tampa Bay market." Selig said that he was "willing to leave the matter in the hands" of Sternberg and suggested that there could be a "breakthrough before he leaves office in January." Sternberg in an e-mail wrote, "Bud is aware of my optimism, which has come out of the chats with Mayor Kriseman. I continue to believe that the civic, business and political leaders in the city as well as the region will do their best to ensure that Rays baseball is here for generations to come." Selig said that he had an opinion on whether the Rays "would be better off seeking a new stadium in Tampa but would not share it." Selig: "That's a local club's decision, (Sternberg) knows the market" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/16). Selig said, “It’s obvious they need a new stadium. It’s no secret. All you have to do is look at the daily attendance figures, the attendance figure to date this year … and you can see what they need.” However, Selig continued to back Sternberg, and said, “He’s very smart, and he knows what he has to do there. He’s talking to a lot of people, and he keeps me briefed on what’s going on. Look, there are some problems that take longer to solve than others. But I do have a lot of faith in him and that organization" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
Syracuse-based real estate developer Scott Congel has added Dallas-based architecture firm HKS Sports & Entertainment and Buffalo First Deputy Mayor Steven Casey to his team, moves that underscore his “commitment to present a multi-purpose complex to the NFL should he pursue building a new stadium” for the Bills on land adjacent to the old Seneca Mall site, according to Robert McCarthy of the BUFFALO NEWS. Congel said that he “remains interested in the possibility of bidding for ownership of the team.” He said that HKS will “remain committed” to the $700M multi-purpose complex proposal even if “the stadium concept never materializes.” Congel said that he recruited HKS to “concentrate primarily” on the complex, but it “stands ready to complement the development with an adjacent stadium design that he says fits 21st century requirements for a facility devoted to far more than eight to 10 football games per year.” Congel: “They bring a great knowledge of sports to this. But they also bring in other business beyond NFL games. It’s all about the other events.” HKS Principal John Hutchings said, “It’s hard to justify money for a stadium used only eight to 10 times per year. But if you have concerts, and moto-cross and basketball tournaments, you raise the bar. It creates a lot of dynamic for the folks of the NFL and of New York.” McCarthy notes adding HKS and Casey “significantly ramps up the Syracuse developer’s already intense efforts to undertake one of the biggest private projects in area history” (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/16).
In Richmond, Tim Pearrell reported VCU expects to have the "footings poured" for its $25M, two-story basketball practice facility in mid-August and the project is "expected to be completed" by October '15. The 60,000-square-foot building "will house" two practice courts, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, strength and conditioning areas, as well as a sports medicine center with a hydrotherapy room, viewing decks, lounges, a dining room for players, an academic center, a laundry and equipment room and video viewing rooms (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 7/12). Meanwhile, in Memphis, Jason Smith noted the school hopes to "break ground on a new 50,000-square-foot men's basketball practice and training facility within the next three to six months." The facility is "expected to cost" $16-20M and "could be completed within the next 18 months" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 7/13).
IT'S FIVE O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE: In K.C., Tod Palmer reported Missouri last week announced details of a "new tailgating area," which has been added as part of a "ongoing eastside expansion" at Memorial Stadium. Truman's Terrace "replaces the Amphitheater at Mizzou" and is located "just outside the southeast corner" of the stadium. It has been "transformed into a tiered hillside" where individuals and groups conduct "catered pre- and post-game tailgate parties." Truman's Terrace will "require a game ticket and a special pass for the new created tailgate experience" (K.C. STAR, 7/12).
PERMANENT VACATION: In Columbia, Andrew Shain reported the floor of the Carolina Coliseum, which was home to South Carolina basketball games from '68-'02, will become "two permanent practice courts" for South Carolina's men's and women's basketball teams in October. No other events will be held inside the "bowl of garnet-colored seats" as the school has already "auctioned off the old basketball court and is selling some of the chairs" (THESTATE.com, 7/14).
SEEKING APPROVAL: In Pennsylvania, Bob Flounders reported $2M in renovations for Penn State's football facilities "were approved" at Friday's BOT meeting. The university will "upgrade the team meeting room and lobby" of the Lasch Building. The improvements "include new carpeting, lighting, furniture, finishes and wall graphics" (PENNLIVE.com, 7/11).