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SBJ/September 30 - October 6, 2002/InternationalPrint All
Financial pressure on soccer clubs in England's Nationwide League isn't stopping them from building new facilities, or at least planning them. Two clubs in the league, which lost its cornerstone television rights deal last spring when ITV Digital collapsed, have taken steps toward construction of new stadiums.
Welsh club Cardiff City, in the second of the Nationwide League's three 24-team divisions below the Premiership, has received the green light from local government for plans to build a $150 million sports and retail complex.
The Cardiff City Council has given the club the exclusive right for 18 months to develop property across from its current stadium, 22,000-seat Ninian Park, where it has played for more than 90 years.
Cardiff City plans to meet the total cost on its lonesome. The new stadium is designed to seat 30,000 at the start, with the possibility of expanding to 60,000.
Ninian Park would be turned into housing.
In the First Division, Coventry City Football Club has formed a joint venture company, Arena Coventry Ltd., with the Coventry City Council to make its 32,500-seat stadium project a reality after long delays.
On Sept. 24, Arena Coventry named Birse Stadia Ltd. to build the $90 million stadium in time for the start of the 2004-05 season. Birse is scheduled to complete Third Division Hull City's new $70 million stadium in November.
The new Coventry complex is to be owned by the council, which will lease it back to Arena Coventry.
Coventry City's home since 1899, the 23,615-seat Highfield Road stadium, has already been sold for residential use.
Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletter.
A chain of opticians, SpecSavers, has signed a sponsorship deal that will pay the referees of the Scottish Premier League $1.5 million over four years. The SpecSavers logo will appear on the shirts of all Scottish Premier League referees and also in other leagues in Scotland.
DESTINATION: NASCAR: Britain's Motorsport Industry Association is organizing a trade mission to North Carolina in February to help U.K. companies get some of the millions spent each year by NASCAR teams on racing technology. Those attending will be eligible for travel grants worth $525.
PORTUGUESE SUPPORT: Preparations for the European Soccer Championships, starting in June 2004, have been made more difficult by the financial difficulties of some of Portugal's leading clubs, but UEFA President Lennart Johansson said Portugal is facing only "traditional problems" faced by all tournaments. "It seems to me that things are under control and they will be ready by the end of next year, in due time," he said.
SEASONAL INCREASE: Milan's rival soccer clubs have enjoyed increased season-ticket sales for the new Italian League season, which kicked off Sept. 15. Pre-sold seats have accounted for more than 60 percent of capacity. Internazionale's season-ticket base has climbed 13.1 percent from last season to 49,212, and AC Milan's is up 7.4 percent to 49,748. The teams share the Stadio Meazza, which holds 81,700.
CRICKET CUISINE: Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar is 51 percent partner in Tendulkar's, a new restaurant scheduled to open in Bombay in October. Partner Sanjay Narang, a Cornell University hotel school graduate who is the hands-on manager of the venture, said the plan is to open other branches of Tendulkar's, serving a contemporary international menu, in Delhi, Bangalore, Madras and Calcutta over the next year or so.
— Jay Stuart