SBJ/20090316/Facilities

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  • Wisconsin counts on Badgers hockey fans to back new project

    The University of Wisconsin is moving ahead with developing a $25 million hockey arena/practice facility next to Kohl Center and banking on 100 percent private financing to do it.

    The credit crisis has eliminated traditional methods of underwriting sports projects, including those at colleges, which often sell bonds to initially pay for construction. But in Madison, where Wisconsin’s women’s team entered last weekend’s NCAA tournament as the top overall seed and the men were seeded third in their conference tourney, athletic officials are confident they will cover building costs by passing the hat among Badgers hockey’s biggest supporters.

    “We have great fans and a great hockey tradition here with eight national titles between the two programs,” said Sean Frazier, Wisconsin’s associate athletic director for events and facilities. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we have committed donors who want to see this facility happen. We are actively and aggressively going after those folks.”

    There is a huge need for the building, said Frazier, which would be the home of the women’s games and a practice venue for both teams, in addition to consolidating some of their support spaces.

    The addition would be next to Kohl Center, where
    both the men’s and women’s teams now play.

    Both programs play their games at Kohl Center, the school’s basketball arena, and practice off campus at other venues in Madison. The men practice at the Bob Johnson Hockey Facility, part of the county-owned Alliant Energy Center complex.

    The university expects to select an architect later this month to design a four-level building with bench seating for 2,400 spectators, concessions and rest rooms. The goal is to break ground in 2010 for a fall 2012 opening, Frazier said.

    Wisconsin recently announced that both of its hockey teams will play outdoor games at 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium on Feb. 6, 2010. It will be the first women’s college outdoor game, according to Frazier.

     DASH OF LEGENDS: The Class A Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash is negotiating with Legends Hospitality Management to be the food and beverage provider at its new ballpark, team officials confirmed.

    No deal was signed as of last week, said Kevin Mortesen, a spokesman for Mandalay Sports, the company operating the Carolina League club for team owner Billy Prim.

    The contract would be the second agreement between Mandalay and Legends, a joint venture involving the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and two private equity firms that was announced in October. Legends recently took over the food operation for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre (Pa.) Yankees, the Class AAA team the Yankees own and Mandalay manages.

    In Winston-Salem, the Dash is expected to play the first six weeks of the season at Ernie Shore Field before moving into its $38 million park still under construction, Mortesen said.

     The Dash, formerly the Warthogs, have shared their current park for the past several years with Wake Forest University’s baseball team.

     PHILLY’S FANATIC: Global Spectrum has extended its ballpark management services contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, its next-door neighbor, through the 2010 season. The facility management firm has been responsible for maintaining Citizens Bank Park since the ballpark opened in 2004.

    As a result, Global’s relationship with the team has expanded to working with Live Nation promoter Larry Magid to book annual concerts at the ballpark to generate ticket, concessions and parking revenue that the Phils do not have to share with other MLB clubs.

    This summer’s concert, the Elton John-Billy Joel Face 2 Face tour, is July 30. Global Spectrum has a similar contract with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, where the tour plays July 11.

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

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