SBJ/July 17 - 23, 2006/Facilities

Rossetti working with Cleveland, Tampa arenas on projects

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Tampa Bay Lightning have hired sports designer Rossetti to plan significant improvements to their arenas, both finalists for the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The projects at Quicken Loans Arena and the St. Pete Times Forum could cost up to $50 million each depending on what the clubs want to accomplish, said Gino Rossetti, the architect’s chairman, but plans are in the early stages.

“It’s premature to discuss anything specific; we’re more in the discovery phase right now,” said Len Komoroski, Cleveland Cavaliers president.

In Tampa, Rossetti is working “hand in hand” with local architect BDG to map out a comprehensive arena renovation for the next 10 years, said Sean Henry, Lightning executive vice president and the arena’s chief operating officer.

Quicken Loans Arena, finalist for the ’08 GOP
convention, could get up to $50M in renovations.
“We’re just now getting [both projects] in high gear,” Rossetti said.

Bunker suites like the ones that Rossetti designed for the Palace of Auburn Hills, which sell for up to $450,000 and opened last year, are not in the works for Cleveland and Tampa, Rossetti said.

Additional hospitality space, however, is one idea the Cavs and Lightning are seriously considering as they research adding areas where VIPs and general fans can congregate on game day, and Republican delegates can mingle during their weeklong stay. The Tampa arena already has the 40,000-square-foot XO Club and wants to add a backstage club for patrons in the first few rows around the ice.

There are opportunities for more creativity in developing premium spaces and selling naming rights for them, Rossetti said.

“We’re really going to push the edge,” he said.

Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York are finalists for the 2008 Republican National Convention. RNC officials plan to tour arenas in the four markets in August and make a decision by Feb. 1, 2007.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is also a finalist for the Democratic National Convention.

“When you think in terms of convention opportunities, you’re dealing with massive [numbers of] people, and you’ve got to have a real wow factor that sometimes has been missing,” Rossetti said.

CUBBY CASH: Ovations Food Services beat out Levy Restaurants and Sodexho to get the food and merchandise contract at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz., the Chicago Cubs’ spring training facility and one of MLB’s most lucrative preseason accounts.

Ovations and the city of Mesa agreed to a seven-year deal starting in March, said Ken Young, the concessionaire’s president.

The Cubs generated $1,011,509 in food and beverage sales and $729,749 in retail sales for 14 games at HoHoKam Park in 2006.

Per caps were $6.50 for food/drink and $4.70 for novelties based on the team’s MLB-leading 154,978 spring training attendees.

“Merchandise is the big part,” Young said.

The Arizona Fall League’s Mesa Solar Sox also play at HoHoKam Park.

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

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