In Minneapolis, Jay Weiner writes an open letter to
Vikings Owner Red McCombs offering advice on pursuing a new
publicly-funded stadium: "Please, as you crank up the volume
on the Vikings stadium debate, address specifics. Please
don't insult the intelligence of Minnesota's public and
sports fans. We've seen it all, Red" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10).
Meanwhile, fallout continued from the departure of Vikings
VP/Football Ops Jeff Diamond, and in Houston, John McClain
called McCombs' action in Diamond's exit "a foolish decision
at such a crucial time to build support and good will with
the media and fans" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/8). One day after
Diamond left, the team "fired" his secretary and 32-year
franchise employee Roz Sorenson. In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere
wrote that McCombs "might be a competent businessman, but he
sure isn't a compassionate one" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/9).
OTHER NOTES: NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made his
"pitch" for Patriots stadium luxury seat sales at Citizens
Bank's Boston office on Friday (BOSTON HERALD, 5/8).
Five security guards at Lowe's Motor Speedway were
fired Friday for "roughing up" a Charlotte Observer
photographer and "seizing" his cameras and film after last
week's accident in which three spectators were killed at the
VisionAire 500, according to Foon Rhee of the CHARLOTTE
OBSERVER. LMS President Humpy Wheeler said the track
employs "approximately" 200 part-time security staffers and
that they "will get trained in new policies" before NASCAR
races later this month "to prevent this from happening
again." Videotape shows about a half-dozen security guards
"surrounding" Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, pushing him
and grabbing cameras from around his neck. The cameras were
later returned, but a roll of film was "destroyed."
Wheeler: "It was an unfortunate situation for everyone
involved. While no one from speedway management directed or
instructed the action taken during the incident, we still
deeply regret it happened" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8).
WILL SPONSORS RETURN? The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Bill
King examines Lowe's association with the tragedy through
its naming rights deal at the Charlotte speedway. Lowe's
execs said they had "not begun to assess the impact of the
association on their business." Lowe's Senior VP/Marketing
Gregory Bridgeford: "We really haven't focused on anything
but the personal aspects of this tragedy." But David Paro,
VP/ProServ's consulting division, said of the tragic
incident at Lowe's: "I hate to admit it, but it will hurt
the naming-rights situation in motorsports" (SPORTSBUSINESS
JOURNAL, 5/10 issue). VisionAire has not decided whether it
will remain as title sponsor of the IRL event, even if the
race returns to Charlotte. VisionAire Chair Jim Rice:
"Whether you keep the race or not, I don't know."
Communications Concepts and Sports Media Challenge President
Kathleen Hessert said that VisionAire and other sponsors
"were saved" by LMS management's decision to cancel the race
after the severity of the accident was determined. Hessert:
"If they had kept racing here, VisionAire would have been
bombarded" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/10 issue).
A new poll shows that the Rio Salado Crossing campaign
is "so close" that the last vote cast on May 18 "might
literally decide the race," according to Robbie Sherwood of
the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Voters in Mesa, Gilbert and Queen
Creek "remain almost evenly split" on the $1.8B development,
which would include a new stadium for the Cardinals. The
closest race is in Mesa, where 45% of the voters support the
project, 45% oppose it and 10% remain undecided. The poll
numbers "hardly budged" from an Arizona Republic poll taken
in January. The development project would be funded by a
quarter-cent sales tax "increase" in Mesa to help pay for
the $497M stadium and convention center. The other $1.3B is
for retail, commercial and office development that will come
from "private monies." Analytical Research surveyed 407
registered voters in Mesa, 203 in Gilbert and 141 in Queen
Creek, from May 1-4 (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/9). The AZ REPUBLIC has
endorsed the Rio Salado Crossing project (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/9).
In Phoenix, Robbie Sherwood writes that voter turnout is
expected to be low next Tuesday (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/10).