SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Facilities

Football country: Chesney will return to NFL stadiums

Don Muret

The Gridiron Stadium Network helped Ford Field in Detroit and Qwest Field in Seattle book Kenny Chesney's "The Road and the Radio" tour this summer after the organization used Chesney's 2005 concerts at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., as a test model.

Eleven NFL teams, including the Lions and the Seahawks, formed the network in 2005 to lobby the entertainment industry for non-football events at their venues. They committed to paying the nonprofit group's annual fees of $25,000 apiece.Group officials have developed a relationship with Louis Messina, Chesney's exclusive tour promoter, as part of their effort to steer more concert dates to their buildings, said Steve Klegon, the Green Bay Packers' network representative.

Three other NFL stadiums that will host Chesney shows this summer — Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and Nashville Coliseum — are home to non-network members and secured dates without the network's help.

The Packers operate Lambeau Field, and the team, the promoter and Chesney's booking agent decided it did not make sense to schedule the event at their facility after Chesney played two shows in March 2005 at Resch Center, across the street from the stadium, Klegon said. Chesney instead is performing four dates elsewhere in Wisconsin, including Aug. 3 at Kohl Center in Madison.

Last summer, The Messina Group/AEG Live, co-owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, reported grosses of $3.4 million at Heinz Field, $3.3 million at Gillette Stadium and $2.9 million at FedEx Field, according to Billboard magazine.

 COMPETITION BUILDING: Turner Construction and Hunt Construction are competing for the opportunity to build a new NFL stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, industry sources said.

The two contractors have built a combined 11 NFL facilities and renovated many others, and they were the only two firms the team invited to bid for the job, sources said. Their bids are due today, and interviews are scheduled March 23-24 in San Francisco.

Fans check out a merchandise stand at a World
Baseball Classic matchup in San Juan.

The 49ers plan to pair a national contractor with local firm Devcon Construction, a company that has worked for the team on stadium development. Together, they will team with a sports facility architect to deliver a design-build project.

The team shortlisted HKS, HNTB and HOK Sport for the stadium's programming and design services, sources said. Seven architects were thought to have received proposals.

 GLOBAL COMMERCE: World Baseball Classic merchandise per caps averaged between $7 and $8 for the first 25 games at six North American ballparks and surpassed $10 for the Japan-USA game March 12 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, said Alan Fey, co-owner for XP Events, the event concessionaire.

"There's a patriotic passion," said Fey, supervising the souvenir stands at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "It's not about the players, it's about the countries."

Team jerseys bearing a player's name are selling for $110, and jerseys that are blank on the back are $90. Fitted caps are $35 and adjustable hats $20 to $25. T-shirts are $18 to $25.

Fans attending the Italy-Venezuela game March 8 in San Juan bought all 300 Venezuela team jerseys available in a half-hour before the game started. Fey credited MLB vendors Antigua, Majestic, New Era and others for reacting quickly to restock the venues, especially in Puerto Rico, where it's more expensive for U.S. suppliers to ship merchandise overnight.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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