The Marlins’ new ballpark is more than 60% complete “nineteen months after construction began,” according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The ballpark's foundation is in place, and its “lights and 51-by-101-foot scoreboard” have been installed. Marlins President David Samson said, “The concrete is all poured, 90 percent of the masonry is completed.” Players yesterday took batting practice at the facility, which is scheduled to open March 1, 2012. The ballpark's first concession stand “will be completed within seven weeks.” The Marlins yesterday “installed the first seat, not far behind the visitor’s dugout.” A fan e-mailed Samson last month “suggesting the first seat be painted a different color than the others,” and the Marlins agreed. The first seat was painted red. All of the others in the 37,000-seat ballpark "will be blue." Jackson notes there are “many remaining assignments that will keep the construction crew busy,” including “finishing the retractable dome, which is more than half completed.” Crews will also be tasked with “installing the unique water-themed signature pieces: two 450-gallon aquariums behind home plate, and a 60-foot sculpture beyond the center field wall” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/16).
FISHING FOR A NAME: Samson yesterday indicated that the team “expects to have the stadium's naming rights sold around Opening Day.” Samson: "We've got the place where the name is going to go. The steel is already up. We're negotiating. I really want that done by the end of this first quarter -- so done by April -- and that's still the goal." The project is “still on time and on budget, and an estimated date of completion has been tentatively set, but that could change if South Florida experiences an active hurricane season.” Samson: "We'd like it done for March 1, because we want soft openings with college baseball games and pro exhibition games leading up to Opening Day" (MLB.com, 2/15). In Miami, Spencer & Navarro wrote it would “only be fitting if the University of Miami played the Marlins in the first official game seeing as its the site where the Orange Bowl once stood” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 2/15).
CONSTRUCTION ZONE: Miami's WFOR-CBS noted the “first of three segments of the Center Retractable roof truss has been de-centered and moved,” and the “second section of the Center truss erection has begun.” Interior walls are “approximately 85% constructed,” with final finishes “continuing throughout the year.” The main scoreboard video panels “have been erected,” and installation of “the Right Field Score Board Panel and fascia ribbon boards began last week” (CBSMIAMI.com, 2/15). Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria said, “The building is gorgeous and will be even more gorgeous as we keep adding the glass and steel and the paint, and eventually the infield and other surprises that will be in here" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/16).
Developers and supporters of a proposed football stadium in downtownL.A. met yesterday with California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators "to showthat the project is politically and financially viable," according to Patrick McGreevy of the L.A. TIMES. AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke was"accompanied to his meetings with state officials by labor leaders andan executive from Farmers Insurance, which recently agreed to a$700-million naming-rights deal for the proposed 64,000-seat stadium." Officials who met with the delegation said that Leiweke "briefed the state leaders on the plan but did not make anylegislative proposals for state help." But McGreevy noted "some lawmakers expect legislation that would grant the LosAngeles stadium the same immunity from environmental lawsuits that wasgranted to a competing stadium project in the City of Industry" (LATIMES.com, 2/15). In L.A., T.J. Simers writes Leiweke in the last few weeks "has come off sounding as arrogant as the NFL, and nobody does arrogance better than the NFL." Leiweke is "now making like the NFL and stomping on anyone who challenges or questions his downtown stadium plan," and "we are to believe whatever he says because he says so." On top of that, AEG Chair Philip Anschutz "doesn't deign to talk publicly." But it "gets no better out in the suburbs," where Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski has allowed Majestic VP John Semcken "to spew venom" regarding their proposed stadium in City of Industry. Roski is "not very highly regarded in NFL circles, and Semcken's attacks have further damaged Roski's standing" (L.A. TIMES, 2/16).
UCLA will give fans "a say in where the Bruins men's basketball team plays its home games next season," when on-campus Pauley Pavilion "will be shut down for a renovation project," according to Peter Yoon of ESPN L.A. UCLA this week sent surveys to season-ticket holders and "individuals who have purchased single-game tickets to gauge their interest in other possible venues." The facilities under consideration are the L.A. Sports Arena, Honda Center, Staples Center, Citizens Business Bank Arena, RaboBank Arena and Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The "most likely possibility is that some combination of those arenas will be used." UCLA Senior AD for External Relations Mark Harlan said that the school "will use the survey results to determine fan interest in attending games at the listed venues." UCLA "hopes to have a decision made in the next two or three weeks." Yoon noted the school had been "close to closing a deal to play all of its home games at The Forum in Inglewood, but the owners of Madison Square Garden recently purchased the Forum and plan on renovating it and making it into a concert-only venue, so it became unavailable." The Sports Arena is the "only one of the current candidates available for UCLA's entire 18-game home schedule next season." UCLA players indicated that they "prefer Staples Center, but that arena is available for only two UCLA home dates next season because of conflicts" with the Lakers, Clippers and NHL Kings. Honda Center, home to the NHL's Ducks, is "available for nine home games." A UCLA spokesperson said that the women's basketball team, men's and women's volleyball teams and the gymnastics team "also use Pauley Pavilion and will be shifted to the on-campus gym at the 2,500-seat John Wooden Athletic center 'in all probability'" (ESPNLA.com, 2/15). In L.A., Bolch & Holmes note the Sports Arena has "offered to spruce up its interior and accommodate 18 home dates, though some might be leery of the 52-year-old facility's proximity to USC." The UCLA men's basketball team "played home games at the Sports Arena before Pauley opened in 1965" (L.A. TIMES, 2/16).
In Arizona, Rob O’Dell reports the Univ. of Arizona is "pushing the idea of a new downtown arena" in Tucson, "possibly with seating up to 18,000.” The “likely location is property west of the Tucson Convention Center that the city put up for sale after the previous arena plan was dropped.” UA also has talked with city officials about “a potential baseball, softball and general athletic complex west of Interstate 10, near downtown.” The project “could include everything from an indoor driving range to a domed, multiuse facility.” There has “even been talk of a new football stadium, although those talks are on a slow track because of probable opposition from west-side neighbors and the UA's current $85 million in upgrades being done at Arizona Stadium.” O’Dell noted there has been “no real talk about how the new arena and athletic complex would be funded” (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 2/13).
EARLY STEPS: In St. Paul, Dave Orrick reports Ramsey County (Minn.) Commissioners yesterday “voted overwhelmingly to move ahead -- officially -- to negotiate with the Vikings on building a new stadium in Arden Hills.” No formal proposal exists “for how to finance such a stadium, which would be built on an abandoned Army ammunition plant along U.S. 10 near Interstate 35W, and commissioners portrayed the action as merely an early step to determine whether any deal would be worthwhile for the county.” Yesterday’s vote “authorizes the county to spend what could amount to more than $100,000 in reserves on environmental reports, traffic studies and legal costs to investigate the project.” Orrick notes 11 members of the county's state legislative delegation signed a letter to commissioners calling the idea "foolhardy" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/16).
LOSING THEIR SIGNAL: In Oklahoma City, Ryan Aber reported for the first time since AT&T Bricktown Ballpark opened in '98, it will “not carry the name of the communications company” as its corporate sponsor. Mandalay Baseball’s Michael Byrnes, whose company owns the Triple-A PCL RedHawks who play in the facility, said the stadium will be referred to as “RedHawks Ballpark.” Byrnes: “AT&T told us they were changing their marketing strategy. We’re talking to a number of companies in the community, but there’s nothing set yet.” The stadium was called Southwestern Bell Ballpark before a name change in ’02 to SBC Bricktown Ballpark. The AT&T “moniker replaced SBC in 2006” (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 2/15).
BREAKING GROUND: In Baltimore, Kevin Van Valkenburg notes Johns Hopkins Univ. yesterday announced that it “plans to build a $10 million, 14,000-square foot lacrosse facility on the south end of Homewood Field that will serve as the home for its men's and women's programs.” The building -- which “will be named the Cordish Lacrosse Center in honor of developer David Cordish, the lead donor and a former Hopkins player -- is believed to be the first of its kind, constructed solely for lacrosse.” The project, “being funded entirely by private donations,” will break ground in June (Baltimore SUN, 2/16).