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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday said that it is "up to the Raiders to decide whether they want to try to build a stadium in Oakland or share the facility at Levi's Stadium with the 49ers," according to Antonio Gonzalez of the AP. Raiders Owner Mark Davis has said that he "doesn't want to be a renter in the 49ers' facility, which is now fitted with red seats and posters of past and present" 49ers greats (AP, 7/17). Goodell said of the Raiders, "They have to make that determination, whether they're in a new stadium in Oakland or whether they feel that it's best to join this stadium. We're working on that, and that's one of the decisions they'll have to make." ESPN.com, noted the Raiders are in the final year of their lease at O.co Coliseum and "are interested in building a new stadium at the site." If the Raiders and 49ers were to share Levi's Stadium, they would "become the second pair of NFL teams to share a home," joining the Jets and Giants, who both play at MetLife Stadium (ESPN.com, 7/17). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami notes the NFL has "always wanted the Raiders, lacking other options, to move into Levi's at least temporarily." That prospect was "an assumed part" of the $200M loan package from the NFL "to get the building started, and it's part of the term sheet with the city of Santa Clara." Kawakami: "I'm not saying the NFL will ever demand that the Raiders and 49ers agree to split Levi's." But realistically, the 49ers "must always seriously consider any potential second team at the stadium -- though the 49ers would have No. 1 priority no matter what" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/18).
GOLD RUSH: In San Jose, Mike Rosenberg notes the 49ers on Thursday officially opened Levi's Stadium with a "showstopping ceremony." In typical NFL tradition, the ribbon-cutting ceremony "had all the pageantry of the April 2012 groundbreaking event, which also felt like a Super Bowl half-time show." After 49ers CEO Jed York and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews "officially cut the long red ribbon outside the south entrance," thousands of white, red and gold pieces of confetti "burst into the air." The ceremony marked the "opening of the first new NFL stadium in California" since '67 in San Diego. Despite the ceremony, there "is still work left to be done before the first event" -- an Aug. 2 Earthquakes match -- and also before the 49ers "take the field afterward for their first preseason game Aug. 17, and the first regular-season game Sept. 14." A 49ers museum and HOF area and the new Michael Mina restaurant "are both unfinished" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/18). Also in San Jose, Mark Purdy in a front-page piece notes while some "work remains to be done on the stadium," if the 49ers "needed to play there this weekend, they could." Throughout the stadium there "are nifty little touches that jump out, such as the concourse around the lower deck with concessions and restrooms being 63 feet from side to side, more than three times wider than the Candlestick Park concourses." There also is an "express lane" outer concourse "dedicated solely to walking the stadium perimeter, for people who want to reach the opposite side without fighting cross-traffic from fans in line for food or toilets." And there are "the big touches that blow you away, such as that 'far beyond different' rooftop hospitality area high amidst the stadium light towers that features an eco-garden and amazing views" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/18).
IS BIGGER BETTER? In S.F., Ann Killion notes Levi's Stadium is "an enormous $1.2 billion structure of steel and concrete and corporate branding." It is "full of wow factors, most notably two overwhelming HD video boards at either end of the stadium, the most notable parts of the building's profile." But there is "a reason that NFL stadiums are not known for their charm." It is "not the same as the romantic journey baseball fans make to the nation's ballparks." NFL stadiums "are big, impersonal, infrequently used and tend to be the same, depending on what era they were built in." Levi's Stadium "doesn't offer anything to make it the NFL's equivalent of AT&T Park" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/18).
A's co-Owner Lew Wolff was not ready Thursday to "sign off on changes" Oakland City Council members inserted into a lease agreement approved hours earlier, but in a departure from recent statements, he said that he would "give them serious consideration," according to Matthew Artz of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. Wolff's "apparent change of heart left city officials hopeful that after several months of rancorous negotiations a deal was finally in place that could keep the team in Oakland for another decade and set the stage for talks" about a new ballpark at the O.co Coliseum complex in East Oakland. Until Thursday, Wolff had been adamant that he was "done negotiating the lease deal." Wolff said that his "willingness to now consider the lease amendments was in part due to a call he received after the vote" from Council member Rebecca Kaplan, who has forged a "strong relationship with him." Wolff: "Just based on her asking me alone is enough for me to tell [A's President Mike Crowley] and the guys to look hard at it." Wolff also indicated that the council vote and the "testy lease negotiations that preceded it would not preclude the A's from one day building a new ballpark in Oakland" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 7/18). Wolff said of the proposed lease amendments, "If it fits, we'll do it. If it doesn't, we won't" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/18).
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Supporters of the proposed U.S. Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs have "signed a 30-year agreement" with the USOC that will "allow the venue to showcase Olympic artifacts and displays," according to a front-page piece by Rich Laden of the Colorado Springs GAZETTE. Supporters said that the agreement will "lend credibility to efforts to raise millions in private donations to help build the project." The museum's cost is estimated at $59.4M, with nearly $28M to "come from private sources." Museum BOD President Richard Celeste said that he hopes to raise $70M, which would "help create an endowment to help cover operating costs in the museum's early years." USOC Senior Dir of Communications Mark Jones said that the museum deal was "approved last month by the USOC's board and signed Tuesday" by USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. At the "conclusion of the 30-year deal, both sides could renew it for 10 years at a time." The agreement also "gives the museum authority to create a logo that incorporates" the USOC's logo or a "composite Olympic/Paralympic design." The museum would be near the USOC's HQ and "backers hope to open it" in '17. The museum would "include a U.S. Olympic hall of fame, a theater, a 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall, retail space and an outdoor plaza." Along with Olympic artifacts, it would "have interactive displays, temporary exhibits and permanent collections all relating to the U.S. and global Olympics and Paralympics" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/18).
Harris County (Texas) Judge Ed Emmett on Thursday called a proposal by the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo to "demolish the Astrodome and replace it with a park-like green space 'a silly plan'" and pleaded with members of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston to "give a repurposing of the iconic structure a second chance." In Houston, Kiah Collier notes Emmett in a luncheon speech was "not advocating for a specific proposal and told members there is not one currently under consideration" by the Harris County Commissioners Court. Rather, he said that tearing down the vacant stadium would be a "waste of a valuable taxpayer asset" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/18).
MOVING THE BALL FORWARD: In DC, Mike DeBonis notes city Council member Muriel Bowser announced Thursday she will "hold two hearings" on the DC United stadium deal next week. On would be in Southwest DC, "not far from where the proposed stadium would be located," and another in the Frank D. Reeves Center, the municipal building that is a "key cog in the deal's financing scheme." No votes are expected on the MLS venue plan until fall at the earliest, but several council committees have moved to "gather input on the proposal, and independent consultants are expected to analyze the real estate aspects of the deal for lawmakers in the coming weeks" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/18).
SPACE JAM: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler reported work on San Diego State's new $14.5M basketball practice facility "quietly began this week." The "estimated completion date" is toward the end of August '15. Zeigler cited a California State Univ. Committee on Institutional agenda as saying the facility's "proposed name" is the Jeff Jacobs JAM Center (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/17).
HALL PASS: In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly reported the Motorsports HOF of America has started the "arduous task of moving its priceless collection of cars and racing artifacts" from its base in Novi, Mich., to storage in Daytona Beach. The HOF has begun preparing for its '16 opening that aims is to "coincide with the debut" of the Daytona Rising project at Daytona Int'l Speedway. The HOF will "eventually relocate" near Daytona Rising (NEWS-JOURNALONLINE.com, 7/16).