SBJ/Feb. 3-9, 2014/Facilities

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  • Ballpark Village venue will host studio

    The Ballpark Village in St. Louis pushes the bar higher for entertainment districts tied to sports facilities, according to project officials.

    The project’s first phase, a $100 million development across the street from Busch Stadium, officially opens its doors April 7 for the Cardinals’ home opener. It is a partnership between the Cardinals and The Cordish Cos., the Baltimore developer of entertainment destinations next to arenas and stadiums. It follows the Kansas City Power & Light District and Xfinity Live!, two Cordish-driven developments next to Sprint Center and the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, respectively.

    Fox Sports Midwest will produce game-related shows for the Cards and others from the site.
    Photo by: ARNOLD IMAGING
    The Cardinals and Cordish advanced the concept by signing a deal with Fox Sports Midwest, the team’s local broadcast rights holder, to build a permanent studio inside a 20,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor entertainment space at the Ballpark Village. The title of that space, Fox Sports Midwest Live!, reflects a long-term naming-rights deal valued at seven figures annually, officials said. The studio’s perch overlooks both the ballpark and the atrium below where most of the venue’s activities will take place.

    “It’s a perfect partnership because their studio is in the catbird seat of the district and it will also help drive people down there when they see what that looks and feels like on camera,” Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said.
    The studio component alone marks the first time a regional sports network has made a commitment to produce most pregame and postgame shows for a major league team at a Cordish project, said Chase Martin, the company’s development director for Ballpark Village.

    “This is the next evolution for a vision that the Cardinals have had for a long time,” Martin said. “The Fox naming-rights deal provides for multimedia exposure and team affinity on a year-round basis.”

    Previously, Fox Sports Midwest sets for Cardinals home games were on the suite level at Busch Stadium. For the team’s road games, the network used a studio at the local PBS affiliate where Fox rents space, network spokesman Geoff Goldman said.

    That all changes now when Ballpark Village opens, eight years after the stadium debuted. In addition to the Cardinals, Fox Sports Midwest will use its new studio for programming connected to about 35 St. Louis Blues road games starting next season, Goldman said. Pregame and postgame shows for Blues games will continue to be produced at Scottrade Center.

    All told, Fox Sports Midwest will broadcast about 150 Cardinals games plus the Blues games at Ballpark Village as project developers position the complex as the home for St. Louis sports, Martin said.

    Developers hope Fox Sports Midwest will become St. Louis sports fans’ home base for away games.
    Photo by: ARNOLD IMAGING
    “We’re creating a venue with the pageantry and programming and extending it from the stadium on game days to all the games the network covers,” he said. “It creates a ‘clubhouse opportunity’ for fans that have no real tangible place to go to for road games. It started with Xfinity Live! and Comcast in the first iteration and this takes it another step further, specific to baseball.”

    Fox Sports Midwest Live!, the centerpiece of the development, extends to a 200-seat restaurant/bar and can accommodate up to 2,500 for concerts in a stage setup. The digital signs framing the space, including a 40-foot-high Daktronics video screen and LED ribbon boards, bring a piece of the ballpark experience into the facility. It all sits underneath a 100-foot-long, retractable glass roof, another new twist to the Cordish development model.

    Entertainment Consulting International, a separate company whose principals include Reed Cordish, a Cordish Cos. vice president, will operate Fox Sports Midwest Live! ECI is charged with booking special events at the venue in addition to the broadcasts tied to Cardinals, Blues and University of Missouri sports carried on the network. To date, there are about 300 events on the books through November 2015, including events tied to the NFL and NHL drafts, Cinco de Mayo, World Cup, St. Patrick’s Day, Movie Mondays and Rally Nights for big Cardinals series.

    “The whole idea behind it from a development standpoint is to create activities on non-game days,” DeWitt said. “For 81 days a year, we don’t need to prime that pump. We’re going to have 3 million people down here for Cardinals games. That’s not the issue, [but] it’s all those other days.”

    The Ballpark Village’s first phase also covers Cardinals Nation, a building containing a museum, hall of fame and restaurant, and the Budweiser Brewhouse, an eatery themed after the St. Louis-based beermaker.

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  • Cardinals fans will get rooftop views into Busch

    The Wrigley Field rooftop experience is coming to St. Louis, courtesy of the Ballpark Village.

    Starting this baseball season, the new entertainment complex across the street from Busch Stadium will have two rooftop viewing areas to choose from during St. Louis Cardinals home games.

    Cardinals Nation, a building with a hall of fame, museum and a restaurant, was designed with a rooftop with 330 reserved seats looking down into the ballpark from left field. The Budweiser Brewhouse, to the center-field side of Cardinals Nation, has a general admission deck that can hold about 250 fans, team President Bill DeWitt III said.

    Both products are reserved for single games only, to be sold on the Cardinals ticketing system run by Tickets.com and priced dynamically in conjunction with Qcue, the team’s technology vendor, DeWitt said. The Cardinals and Cordish Cos., their development partner, share that ticket revenue, he said.

    Tickets sold for the Cardinals Nation perch are an all-inclusive package covering the cost of food and drink, modeled after Busch Stadium’s Champions Club. Pricing has not been set, but those tickets will most likely be in the $60 to $120 range, DeWitt said.

    As part of the ticket price, those patrons get access to a museum tour and the hall of fame below the rooftop. A buffet meal will be served in a party room adjacent to the rooftop that can also be used for special events when the team is on the road and during the offseason, he said.

    At the brewhouse, those opting for a rooftop view of the game will pay an up-charge of $10 to $30, DeWitt said.

    “We’ve all seen things like Wrigley’s rooftops and San Diego’s [Western Metal] building. I think this is taking it to another level because of the way it was master-planned,” DeWitt said.

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  • 76ers have designer for practice home but aren’t set on site

    Don Muret
    The Philadelphia 76ers have hired 360 Architecture to design their new practice facility, but questions remain over the viability of the proposed site at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard.

    The team intended to start construction in January on the facility, according to a design proposal issued to architects in May. But as of last week, no shovels had broken ground, and the 76ers continue their due diligence on the site and are considering other locations, industry sources said.

    “We aren’t ready for comment given nothing much has changed,” Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said in an email exchange.

    O’Neil would not say whether the Sixers remain committed to building at the Navy Yard. The site, a vacant lot, sits less than two miles from the Wells Fargo Center, their home arena. The team’s offices are situated elsewhere in the Navy Yard.

    The design proposal pointed out that the NBA club would have some regulatory approvals to meet before it could break ground on the 55,000-square-foot project, including environmental issues tied to an old Navy aircraft factory that once operated on the site.

    In addition, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a portion of the property contains a prehistoric archeological area, a designation that triggers oversight by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (SportsBusiness Journal, June 10-16, 2013).

    360 Architecture is also designing the Bulls’ new practice facility next to United Center.
    Photo by: 360 ARCHITECTURE
    Meanwhile, 360 Architecture is designing the Chicago Bulls’ new $25 million practice facility just east of United Center. The privately funded venue broke ground in June and is set to open this August, said Terry Savarise, United Center’s senior vice president of operations.

    As part of their research, the Bulls toured practice facilities for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, among others in the NBA.

    The team also visited college basketball practice facilities at West Virginia and Nebraska. The Mountaineers’ $24 million building encompasses 64,000 square feet, on par with the cost and dimensions of the Bulls’ project.

    The layout and work flow of the Thunder’s Integris Health Thunder Development Center impressed the Bulls’ brass. C.H. Guernsey & Co., the building designer, was recently hired to help plan the Toronto Raptors’ new practice facility.
     
    On the technology front, the Bulls’ facility will integrate the newest player performance analytics tied to the use of video cameras and laptop computers connected to the practice court, said Michael Day, 360’s project manager.

    There will be also multiple layers of security using biometric readers to separate the athletes from media entering the facility, Day said.

    “We have players show up at midnight to shoot free throws,” Savarise said, referring to the Berto Center, the Bulls’ current practice facility in suburban Chicago. “The new facility will be open 24/7, but we don’t want the whole building lit up. We can adapt, and there are clever ways to do it.”

    > COLLEGE TRY: AECOM has hired former Populous designer Ryan Sickman as a sports principal focusing on college projects.

    Sickman
    His first day on the job was Jan. 27, and to date Sickman said he has not been assigned a project. AECOM has plenty of college work going on these days, including arena projects at Arizona, Illinois and Ole Miss.

    “It’s a great opportunity for me and presents some new challenges,” Sickman said.

    Sickman spent the past eight years with Populous. His recent projects cover, among others, the expansion of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at Arkansas and a new dugout club underneath the concourse at Georgia’s Foley Field, which he believes is unique in college baseball.

    Before Populous, Sickman was employed for three years with the old 3D/International, where he worked on the renovation of the Pentagon in Washington. Parsons, a California engineering and construction company, bought 3D/International in 2006.

    Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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