Some of Minnesota’s “top business executives are working -- discreetly -- to shape how and where” a new Vikings stadium will be built, according to David Phelps of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. They have been “talking privately to the Vikings for more than a year.” But their efforts “didn't get much attention until last week,” when former Wild Vice Chair Jac Sperling “registered as a lobbyist for the corporate coalition known as the Minnesota Competitiveness Fund.” Sources said that “eight to 10 CEOs of some of the Twin Cities largest companies have contributed $25,000 each to hire Sperling and analyze the various stadium site proposals.” The group includes General Mills Chair & CEO Ken Powell, U.S. Bancorp Chair & CEO Richard Davis and Ecolab Chair & CEO Doug Baker. The leaders of the fund insist that they “are neutral on the site location.” Davis said, "We are all about keeping the Vikings here. We don't have a favored location. When there is a plan that looks doable, we will roll out our support." Davis said that his group has “had weekly meetings with the Vikings for a year and has met with NFL officials, including Commissioner Roger Goodell.” He added that the organization has “had talks with Gov. Mark Dayton, but not local officials” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/17).
Global Entertainment persuaded 10 cities that it could “build them an arena, sell everything from tickets to hot dogs, and book enough events to turn a profit,” but in “most cases, Global failed to meet its financial projections and was replaced, leaving the cities to pay for expensive arenas that they often have had no experience running,” according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Former Global employees said that the 6,500-seat Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., was “too small to attract big-name bands yet too big for up-and-coming acts.” Former Star Center Ticket Manager Doug Priestap said, “Global’s thrust is the smaller markets and 6,000-seat buildings, which are a funny size for the touring industry. Global got in way over its head. But these small towns, they get stars in their eyes and want to have an arena.” Global Entertainment also owns the Central Hockey League and “put its teams in many of the arenas.” But hockey has been “a hard sell in places like Rio Rancho, where the Scorpions of the CHL failed in 2009.” Now, Rio Rancho is “suing Global Entertainment to recoup more than $300,000 that it claims the company owes dozens of local businesses that provided services at the arena.” Meanwhile, in Prescott Valley, Ariz., Global Entertainment “built and still runs Tim’s Toyota Center.” But “several investors who bought some of the $35 million in bonds issued to pay for the arena have sued the company and its top executives, the city and its underwriter, Wells Fargo, alleging that they ignored pessimistic feasibility studies and knowingly issued overly optimistic growth forecasts so they could win higher bond ratings” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17).
The Indians yesterday announced the opening of a new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic that will house the franchise's Dominican Summer League team and the club's Latin American operations. The facility, located in the town of San Antonio de Guerra, includes two playing fields, an agility field, two hitting tunnels and four bullpen training mounds. It can accommodate up to 60 players and four coaches, with daily meals provided, and also includes a classroom where the Indians English language program will be taught (Indians).
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG: In Portland, Ken Goe reported the Univ. of Oregon "plans to begin construction in June of a 130,000-square foot, six-floor football operations center that will include offices, team video theaters, offensive and defensive strategy rooms, a coaching conference suite, a video editing center, a dining hall and a weight room." The project "also will include a soccer and lacrosse complex on the east side of Autzen Stadium" (OREGONLIVE.com, 5/16).
WE BUILT THIS CITY: GOAL.com's Wayne Veysey reported Manchester City is "close to finalizing a stadium naming rights deal and an agreement could be announced" within the next two weeks. Two of the EPL club's current sponsors -- Abu Dhabi-based investment company Aabar and Ferrostaal, a German engineering firm taken over by the Abu Dhabi government -- are the "favorites to be the stadium sponsor." Sources indicated that the deal will be worth about US$16-19M annually. There is "no firm agreement yet about the length of the term although it is expected to be between 10 and 15 years" (GOAL.com, 5/13).
DINING IN? In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko notes the Penguins will take their "first stab at retail development when a 7,500-square-foot T.G.I. Friday's restaurant" opens May 31 at Consol Energy Center. Penguins COO Travis Williams said that team officials are "close to a lease with another restaurant to take the same amount of space." The Penguins also are "in talks with other potential tenants about the remaining 4,000 square feet." Developer David Glickman said that "one factor that may be hampering" development at Consol Energy Center is that "some of the properties in the area are priced at three to four times the value they were at before the new arena opened" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/17).