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  • Breeders’ Cup hopes new corporate chalets are an infield hit

    The Breeders’ Cup World Championships has hired the same firm that sells corporate hospitality packages for the Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby to market its first infield hospitality offering.

    QuintEvents, official provider for the NFL’s On Location corporate program the past four Super Bowls, is selling 26 infield chalets called Champions Village for this year’s Breeders’ Cup races. They’ll take place Oct. 24-25 at Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles.

    The chalets are priced at $30,000 to $150,000. Most will accommodate 40 to 60 patrons, but LeadDog Marketing, the firm constructing them to specifications, can produce larger tents if needed, said Peter Land, chief marketing officer for the Breeders’ Cup.

    “We have had a couple of calls about building 100-person chalets,” Land said.

    The Champions Village amenities include access to an outdoor lounge, an exclusive view along the rail as close as 150 feet from the finish line, breakfast and lunch, open bar, plasma televisions, private rest rooms, and private tellers to handle bets on the 14 races.

    Breeders’ Cup officials decided to launch the Champions Village after signing a two-year contract at Santa Anita, the first time in its 25 years that the event has booked a facility for consecutive years.

    QuintEvents, which offered Kentucky
    Derby packages, is now selling
    chalets for the Breeders’ Cup
    races at Santa Anita.

    To “jump-start the brand” in Southern California, Land said, the Breeders’ Cup spent “close to seven figures” to create an infield hospitality program, modeled after what the Kentucky Derby has done at Churchill Downs.

    “There are only 22,000 permanent seats at Santa Anita, and that’s the other reason we’re building out the infield: to take care of folks that normally might not be able to get a ticket,” Land said. Churchill, another frequent Breeders’ Cup host, has 52,000 fixed seats.

    QuintEvents is paid by commission, receiving a fee for each chalet it sells. The firm is also selling VIP packages for premium seats in the grandstand, clubhouse and FrontRunner restaurant, company President Brian Learst said.

    Breeders’ Cup corporate partner Grey Goose vodka and ESPN, which is sharing nine hours of coverage with ABC on Friday and Saturday, have each bought one chalet, Land said.

    Nine others also have committed, including Little Red Feather and West Point Thoroughbreds, two companies that own horses that may be competing.

    CHANGEOVER IN CHARLOTTE: The Charlotte Bobcats should expect to pay at least $2 million to convert the signs at their building after its April name change from Charlotte Bobcats Arena to Time Warner Cable Arena, a consultant working with the club said.

    Michael Rowe and Anthony James Partners, the firm where he is a principal, met with the Bobcats last week to determine the how to proceed with the changeover at the three-year-old facility.

    Most likely, the club will spend a few million more, changing not only the arena name on interior and exterior signs but also installing some new LED signs with video capabilities and upgrading others.

    Additional signs will include those identifying Time Warner’s interactive area showcasing its products and services near the main entrance.

    The revamped space will replace the maps of North Carolina and South Carolina adorning the walls above each side of the largest entry into the bowl. Most of the changes should be completed by the time the new NBA season starts in the fall, Bobcats spokesman Michael Thompson said.

    Anthony James Partners also helped the San Antonio Spurs rebrand AT&T Center.

    Don Muret can be reached at

  • Toledo project in the running for first new ‘green’ arena

    Developers for the ECHL facility opening in Toledo in 2009 expect it to be the nation’s first new LEED-certified pro sports arena.

    The nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council started the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, known as LEED, in 2000 as a voluntary benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings worldwide. Buildings score points toward certification by meeting environmental standards in six categories.

    “Everybody wants to be first,” said Tom Tingle, vice president for HNTB, the architect designing the $74 million Lucas County Arena. “It’s bragging rights, and being in the same circle as other premier projects.”

    There are five LEED-certified sports venues in the U.S.: the Utah Olympic Oval, the Detroit Lions training facility, UConn’s football practice facility, a minor league/college ballpark in Pennsylvania, and Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

    In the big league arena ranks, two NBA facilities in development — Orlando Events Center and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. — are registered for LEED with the intention of being certified upon completion, said Green Building Council spokeswoman Ashley Katz. The Magic’s arena is targeted to open in October 2010, and the Nets’ facility could open later that year or in early 2011.

    Questions remain as to whether the Nets’ project will break ground this year following reports in New York that team owner Bruce Ratner is struggling to secure financing for a $4 billion development that would include the $950 million arena. Nets officials maintain that construction will start by December for a late 2010 debut.

    AT&T Center in San Antonio, which opened in 2002, registered for LEED certification in January under the existing buildings category. The Spurs have been phasing in eco-friendly methods for facility operations over the past six months, and have signed a contract to buy “windtricity” from a firm producing the alternative energy source at a wind turbine farm in the Texas plains, said John Sparks, the arena’s general manager.

    A “green wall” on the Toledo arena will help
    shade the glass-enclosed main entrance.

    “We hope to be in the evaluation phase [for LEED certification] in the next three to six months,” Sparks said.

    Lucas County Arena, with 8,000 seats, will be the home of the nonprofit Toledo Walleye, a minor league hockey team operated by the Toledo Mud Hens, the Class AAA baseball team in town.

    The arena’s signature design element, a 900-square-foot “green wall” outside the building, will help it score LEED points, Tingle said. The plant life growing on a rectangular-shaped structure attached to the arena’s exterior will help cool the arena during the summer by shading the glass-enclosed main entrance, he said.

    The green wall also should provide relief for suite and club-seat patrons who congregate in an outdoor plaza above the primary entryway.

    The arena’s downtown site near mass transit, the light-colored roof membrane that reflects sunlight and underground cisterns collecting rainwater to re-use for landscaping around the facility are other examples of green elements used to gain LEED points, Tingle said.

    Two Toledo-based companies — Pilkington, a glassmaker, and Owens Corning — are principally involved in the green effort and are contributing materials to help get the arena LEED certified.

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