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Volume 24 No. 155


Twelve months after a "high profile groundbreaking" for the $1B Barclays Center in Brooklyn, "concrete and steel testify to the reality of the Nets' pending exit from New Jersey," according to John Brennan of the Bergen RECORD. Arena officials said that "about 30 percent of the steel is already up, and the foundation is 70 percent complete." The precast steps "will be put in place within the next 30 days or so, giving a sense of the bowl." The "first part of the facade is expected to be in place by mid-July, and the roof should be in place by year's end." The 18,000-seat arena "will have what team officials say is a unique weathered-steel facade, with a 35,000-square-foot outdoor plaza greeting fans at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues." Nets CEO Brett Yormark: "We've been talking to artists and promoters, and the biggest names in the business want to play here. I think our opening-month celebration is going to be unprecedented." Yormark added that the "concert schedule that will serve as the 'soft launch' for the arena, and the opening date for the Nets should be announced soon." Brennan noted arena officials are "boldly declaring that the Barclays Center will attract more than 200 events in its first year -- an unusually high number, although not all of those events will use the entire seating bowl." As for Nets fans, Yormark said that season-ticket holders "will begin receiving invitations to reserve Barclays Center seats in the next 10 days." Yormark added that all 16 "brownstone suites," featuring 16 seats each, "have sold out at $450,000 apiece." Yormark said about 40% of the suites are sold overall, with the "nine most-expensive, event-level, Jay-Z-designed suites being held off the market until the fall" (Bergen RECORD, 3/28).

Angels Owner Arte Moreno Sunday said that he "has not begun to explore the possibility of building" a ballpark to replace Angel Stadium of Anaheim, and that such a process "would have to start at least four years before a planned opening date," according to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. TIMES. Moreno said that the Angels "must address a number of issues with the 45-year-old stadium, the fourth-oldest in the major leagues," to keep the facility "up to date and safe." Angel Stadium underwent a $118M renovation in '96, "after the Rams left for St. Louis and the Walt Disney Co. bought the team from the Autry family" (, 3/27). Moreno: "You build something 40-some years ago, what do you think the structure's going to look like? And we're putting 40,000 people in it every night. ... At the end of the day, it's just like owning a house. You have to replace the roof." Moreno said all of the issues are "fixable" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/28).

NO MOVEMENT ON RAYS BALLPARK: In St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin noted there has been "very little public discussion anywhere" about Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg's efforts to "get a new stadium for the Rays in the Tampa Bay area." Sternberg suggested that there has been "some slight progress." But there "seemingly won't be any real movement until either St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster allows the Rays to look at sites outside the city limits, as they've requested, or, conceivably, a plan is presented that works in the city and they accept it." There is a "sense that a clock, somewhere in MLB's New York offices, is ticking." Sternberg: "It seems clearer to me by the day that we're going to be the last man standing. And everything I know, and talking to these guys, baseball is just not going to stand for it anymore. And they'll find a place for me. They won't find a place here though" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/27).

NEW LOOK BALLPARK: In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks reported the D'Backs are "gearing up for opening day of the 2011 baseball season with a number of upgrades and enhancements at Chase Field and a new pricing system for fans buying single-game tickets." The ballpark's retractable roof "has been recoated, painted and adorned with new Chase Field logos," and AT&T and the team "have installed more technology at the stadium to improve Wi-Fi hookups." In June, the D'Backs hope to "add a remote ordering system," allowing fans to "order concessions from their seats and then pick them up via an express line." The D'Backs also have "renovated outfield party suites and added more space by taking out some kitchen and pantry areas." D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said that the team "has faced some challenges selling those party suites in recent seasons, but he's seeing more interest in the revamped boxes" (, 3/25).

MLS Revolution co-Owner Jonathan Kraft and MLS Commissioner Don Garber yesterday said that the club intends "to be playing in a soccer-specific stadium, and Major League Soccer is committed to helping them make the move," according to Frank Dell'Apa of the BOSTON GLOBE. The "hangup, though, involves finding a suitable venue, preferably in Boston." Kraft said, "We believe if we’re going to build one of these, then it should probably be closer to the urban center and public transportation. We’ve looked at a number of locations that could make sense but haven’t yet been able to get anything finalized." The "focus on finding the properly scaled facility for the Revolution has increased as other MLS teams attract attention and fill medium-sized stadiums in cities from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest to Ontario." Garber: "Our stadiums are a lot less expensive than larger stadiums but this would be an expensive proposition. We’ve got to find a way to drive more commercial revenue into the team so we can marshal some of that support to funding the package, coupled with getting a local municipality believing in it enough that they would work with us on some public support. ... I don’t think anybody questions that this is a fantastic soccer market. The question is how to bottle all that up, harness all that passion and convert that passion into support for the Revolution." Dell'Apa notes the Revolution and DC United are the "only MLS teams that have played under their orginal names and in the same location" since the league started in '96 (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/29).

KICKING IN: In Atlanta, Douglas Sams reports Brazilian soccer team Cruzeiro Esporte Clube "wants to build a $30 million youth soccer complex" in Alpharetta, Ga., and its leaders "say they have deep-pocketed investors to pull it off." Cruzeiro "might also consider introducing a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta, though that part of the plan is not as far along." One site under consideration for the youth complex is developer Stan Thomas' "stalled Prospect Park at Georgia 400 and Old Milton Parkway." The soccer complex "could cover 100 acres and contain up to 18 fields." Cruzeiro President Zezé Perrella said that "expanding its youth soccer program into Georgia is part of the club’s broader effort to build its name in the United States" (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 3/25 issue).

Wrigley Field is “swapping vendors” for the ’11 MLB season, as Vienna Beef will “once again become the official hot dog” of the Cubs, replacing Sara Lee's Ball Park franks, according to Gregory Karp of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Vienna hot dogs have not been served at Wrigley since '81. Another “major change for fans” will be the pizza, as D'Agostino's Pizza “replaces Connie's Pizza as the brand served at the park.” Other changes include “hamburgers by Stanley's Kitchen & Tap and jumbo chicken wings from The Fifty/50 restaurant of Chicago.” In addition, Enjoy Life Foods will be the supplier of “gluten-free, allergy-friendly food,” and Lifeway Food “will provide its frozen kefir, a low-fat soft-serve treat -- an alternative to ice cream -- that is 99 percent lactose-free and gluten-free.” Levy Restaurants Exec Chef David Burns, whose company “handles most of the food for Wrigley Field,” said that he “started looking at changing the menu shortly after the season ended last year.” Burns said that Cubs Owners the Ricketts family gave direction “to look at using local vendors and offer more healthy food options.” He said that “in addition to allergy-sensitive foods, the park will offer a vegetable chopped salad and assorted fresh vegetables with hummus.” Meanwhile, at U.S. Cellular Field, the White Sox replaced Connie’s Pizza for Nestle's DiGiorno pizza. Other new offerings “include an Irish pub, cheesesteak sandwiches and tamale carts.” The ballpark will “change its Beers of the World locations to Midwest Brews, featuring craft beers from neighboring states’ (, 3/28). U.S. Cellular Field also will offer “chicken and pork tamales" and "healthy snacks from Levy Restaurants, including chop salad and grilled chicken sandwiches” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/29).

CHECKING THE MENU: The Rays and hospitality partner Centerplate announced changes to the menu at Tropicana Field, including gluten-free items, local craft beers and a new burger spot. The Brewhouse, a pub-like restaurant, will open close to the rotunda entrance. Burger Up! will open along the first-base food court, and a GF! stand at Center Field Street will feature gluten-free versions of traditional ballpark fare like hot dogs, pretzels and beer (Rays). Meanwhile, the Twins and Delaware North Sportservice announced new local additions to Target Field concessions. New this season will be a turkey sandwich from Turkey to Go, a Walk A Taco from St. Paul-based El Burrito Mercado, Minneapple Pie from Cottage Grill and two Kramarczuk's bratwurst dishes. There also will be a new Kosher hot dog cart at the ballpark (Twins).   

FLIPPING A QUARTER: In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted “most food and beverage items at Miller Park will stay the same as last year, but there will be higher prices for some beer, soda and food offerings.” A 16-ounce plastic bottle of beer “will now be $6.75,” a Chicago-style hot dog will be $4.50, and a 28-ounce soda will be $4.50. All three items are increasing $0.25 over last year's prices (, 3/28).

In Boston, Jerry Kronenberg reported Ace Ticket is moving to a $3M Kenmore Square HQs, "complete with a high-tech ticket kiosk, barely a long home run away from Fenway Park." Ace recently bought $2M of Commonwealth Avenue commercial space "across the street from Kenmore's landmark Citgo sign to serve as the company's new base." The firm also "intends to build a $750,000 storefront at the site in the next few months," offering what Ace Owner Jim Holzman called the "most modern, technologically advanced ticket location anywhere in the world." Planned amenities include "special video screens that will let customers preview exactly what they’ll see from any seat in Fenway or other venues." Ace "expects to relocate 22 employees to the Kenmore site." The firm also is "expanding into selling tickets over the Web to events in other cities, although it currently only has kiosks" in Boston (BOSTON HERALD, 3/28).

CONTINGENCY PLAN: In Pittsburgh, Jeremy Boren reported the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority "would tap into a reserve of ticket surcharges for the first time since" Heinz Field opened in August '01 if the NFL lockout "sacks the 2010-11 football season." Allegheny Regional Asset District Dir David Donahoe, whose organization pays $13.4M yearly toward debt for the $281M Heinz Field and PNC Park, said that the SEA "prepared for an NFL work stoppage." Each Steelers ticket sold "includes a surcharge equivalent to 5 percent of its value, up to $3 a ticket." SEA Exec Dir Mary Conturo said that each year, the authority "collects more than it needs for the $1.5 million debt payment from Steelers home games and other events," and the "excess goes into a reserve account that pays for stadium improvements" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/25).

OPEN SECRET: In N.Y., Doyle & Bennett reported the USTA has announced that the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park "will get a brand-new 3,000-seat stadium to complement its three existing arenas." The N.Y. Parks Department said that it "wouldn't require any public money and would not change the current borders beyond the 46.5 acres the tennis center already has." USTA Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier said that the new stadium "could be ready for side matches at this summer's U.S. Open and will definitely open by 2012" (N.Y. POST, 3/28).