Browns execs yesterday said that they "envision a mixed-use project, including athletic fields and a potential sports-medicine or wellness facility, on more than 20 acres north of Cleveland Browns Stadium," according to a front-page piece by Michelle Jarboe of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Browns and the city "expect to unveil their plans -- and a bid to bring the Cleveland Clinic to the project -- during a news conference today." A sketch of the "possible lakefront district also shows a 1,000-car parking garage to the south, connected to the stadium by an enclosed pedestrian walkway." The Browns believe that they can "use their local clout and widespread name recognition to attract developers and dollars to an extremely valuable, yet long-neglected, piece of downtown Cleveland." Browns President Mike Holmgren said, "We would like to be known as a catalyst. We're not developers. We're in the football business ... but we have a wonderful stadium down there and a great piece of property." The team has retained Hammes Co. to "study the potential of a lakefront site largely owned by the city of Cleveland." Greater Cleveland Partnership CEO Joe Roman contends that the proposal "builds on billions of dollars in downtown investment, including a medical mart, a new convention center, a casino and the Flats East Bank project; takes advantage of city-owned property; and focuses attention on a much-needed private-sector commitment to reinventing the waterfront." Team officials "did not shut the door Tuesday on putting money into projects -- at least, those associated with football -- but they stressed that the Browns are not developers" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/20).
PACE YOURSELF: In Cleveland, Steven Litt notes the "initial renderings of the Browns’ lakefront proposal," prepared by Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects, "look more polished than they actually are." The pitch is "intended to create interest among potential developers, who would then hire their own architects and come up with their own plans." Despite the "early and hypothetical nature of the Browns’ vision, it’s important to make sure that Cleveland is sending clear signals to potential developers about civic goals for the lakefront." Litt notes now that the Browns have announced the plan, they could "work with Elkus Manfredi and with the public to develop urban-design guidelines that express firm understandings about views, public spaces, sustainability and other features that could help make their project a success" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/20).
AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke yesterday said that his company and the L.A. City Council “need to reach an agreement on the Farmers Field project by early summer to show a skeptical NFL that the city is serious about bringing the league back to the nation's second largest market,” according to Scott Reid of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Leiweke: “We keep on asking them to see if we can't come to an understanding by June or July so that we can at least prove to the NFL that you can do business in the city of L.A. The biggest issue the NFL has is they don't believe the city of L.A. will ever get a deal done no matter how good the deal is they're being offered. I don't believe that and I think we will get a deal done." L.A. Council member Jan Perry, Chair of the committee looking at the downtown stadium project, said that it is “unlikely that the city and AEG would finalize a deal by early summer but left open the possibility that the two sides could have an agreement on principle terms on the Farmers Field plan by June.” Leiweke yesterday also said that he “appreciates the concerns of some city officials that an NFL team be locked into a 20- to 30-year lease for the downtown stadium,” and said that he is “confident AEG can get an NFL franchise to agree to a long-term lease.” Leiweke: “We understand that a long-term lease with an NFL team is an important part of this and obviously that's subject to getting a team and we're in the midst of beginning and continuing those conversations.” But he “dismissed city council member Bill Rosendahl's demand that the city receive a significant portion of the stadium project's naming rights deal with Farmers Insurance.” Leiweke also said that AEG “would not be able to act as a guarantor on $350 million in public bonds to pay for replacing the Los Angeles Convention Center's West Hall” because the city will retain ownership of the facility. AEG instead “has proposed using a plan similar to one safeguarding bonds on Staples Center." Leiweke: “That's worked for 12 years at Staples Center and I'm fairly certain that same vision will work well for Farmers Field" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/20).
In Denver, Andy Vuong reports CenturyLink has "tossed the first pitch" in its rebranding of Qwest after the two companies merged last month. CenturyLink "started displaying video-board and LED messages at Coors Field and other ballparks last weekend stating that 'Qwest is becoming Century Link.'" The company in an e-mail this week also indicated that in "early August, the Qwest brand in its 14-state local-phone service territory ... will be replaced with CenturyLink-branded products and services." CenturyLink added more details would come soon "regarding venues that currently carry the Qwest name," including the Seahawks' stadium in Seattle (DENVER POST, 4/20). MONEY ON THE WAY? In San Jose, Mike Rosenberg reports the Santa Clara City Council "voted unanimously Tuesday night to sell up to $25 million in bonds to refurbish public buildings in the Bayshore area, and possibly up to an additional $10 million to help fund a new 49ers stadium." If the city "sells more than $25 million in bonds, that extra revenue -- up to $10 million -- will go toward funding the planned 49ers stadium." The amount of bonds sold "will depend on the financial market," and officials are "not overly optimistic that they will have takers for the full $35 million offer" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/20).
EXPRESSING CONCERNS: In N.Y., Clare Trapasso reported while the USTA "hopes to break ground" this summer on a 3,000-seat stadium at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, site of the U.S. Open, the facility "has raised concerns about increased traffic congestion and parking woes." Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy President Pat Dolan said her advocacy group is "not opposed" to the stadium, but added, "There is a very, very real burden on the people who live and do business around the park." Dolan noted that she is "worried that green spaces will be converted to temporary parking lots in the park during the Open to accommodate" fans. However, USTA Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier said that the stadium "isn't expected to add many spectators to the roughly 700,000 who attend the Open" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 4/19).