Oilers Owner Daryl Katz Thursday said that Rexall Place Owner Northlands "will do the right thing and not operate" the facility as a competitor to a proposed $450M (all figures Canadian) arena for the Oilers in downtown Edmonton, according to Kent & MacKinnon of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Northlands officials have "repeatedly indicated they might continue holding concerts and other events at Rexall if the Oilers move out," but Katz said that "that wouldn't be best for Edmonton." Katz: "This (project) is in the best interests of the city, and clearly we can't support two arenas." Katz and the city have "reached a deal in principle on how to build and operate a 18,500-seat arena, including a 35-year location agreement." But Edmonton City Council member Bryan Anderson "warned Thursday the arrangement will be derailed unless Rexall is effectively shut down once the downtown facility opens." Anderson: "If there's no non-competition clause, I think then this deal will fall apart." Katz said, "Northlands has always said that they would do what's in the best interests of the city. The mayor has spoken and I think council has spoken, and the citizens of Edmonton have, too." Northlands Dir of Government & Public Relations Cathy Kiss said that the organization is "still waiting to see details of the proposed agreement, but a lease that can be renewed until 2049 prevents the city from forcing it to mothball Rexall." Kent & MacKinnon note the "proposed arena funding scheme includes $100 million cash from Katz, $125 million from a ticket surcharge, and $125 million from property taxes on surrounding development and other city sources." Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach "has consistently ruled out putting money into such a facility," but Katz "supports city efforts to pry the remaining $100 million out of provincial and possibly federal coffers" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/20). Meanwhile, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that he is "open to discussions with the Flames over a multi-million project similar" to the Oilers deal. Nenshi: "I've never been a huge fan of public dollars for that kind of infrastructure but I'm willing to be open-mined" (CALGARY SUN, 5/20).
OUT OF THE LOOP: Kiss said that Northlands officials "learned the Oilers -- which have been playing at the Northlands-owned Rexall since the early 70s -- were moving to a new home after picking up the newspapers Thursday." Kiss: "We're shocked. Certainly we would have hoped we would have been advised." She added that Northlands "was never consulted with about how a new arena could hurt its business." Kiss said that she is "confident Northlands can survive the blow," but noted that the organization "needs to consult with the city about what this will mean about the venue" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/20).
ISSUES TO SORT OUT: An EDMONTON JOURNAL editorial notes with Ottawa "having categorically ruled out a direct contribution, the Alberta government will be asked to ... fill most if not all of a $100-million hole in current financing arrangements." That is a "significant chunk of cash for a government with a serious deficit problem, made doubly uncomfortable by the Alberta reality that a similar sum would have to be set aside to even things up with Calgary." Additionally, "significant fine print almost certainly still needs to be worked out between the parties," and there is "no language for dealing with cost overruns." But the editorial states, "Make no mistake, major steps forward have been made" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/20). In Edmonton, Terry Jones writes, "Do you think Mayor Stephen Mandel and city council, as well as Daryl Katz and his team, would have done so much work to complete the framework for a deal that will change the face and image of the city, if they were worried about the missing $100 million? ... I'm sure the mayor has assurances that if they finally managed to get the framework built, the rest of the money to top it off to a $450 million building would be forthcoming" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/20).
The Rays and team partner Hooters have developed the Hooters Owls Den Suite, a new indoor group space near the foul pole in the right-field corner at Tropicana Field. The expanded, rebranded room can accommodate 48 people and it has the same interior look as a Hooters restaurant. Hooters chicken wings and other food and beverages served by the chain are menu options at the Owls Den, and Hooters hostesses are on hand. The cost to buy the suite for a single game is $2,500-4,000 depending on the opponent and day of game. The expense covers 32 tickets and six parking passes. Up to 16 tickets can be purchased at a pro-rated cost of $78-125 a game, said Rays Senior VP & Chief Sales Officer Mark Fernandez. The food and drink is catered by Centerplate, the stadium’s concessionaire. It is a separate cost. The Rays refused to disclose the investment to tear down the walls of three regular suites to create one large room. Construction was completed just in time for Opening Day, so the Hooters Owls Den was not part of the team’s initial suite marketing plan for the '11 season, but it has quickly become popular, Fernandez said. Club beer sponsors Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors use the Owls Den for corporate hospitality and cross-promotional opportunities with Hooters. Denise Williams, a marketing official representing Hooters, confirmed the Rays have the first Hooters Owls Den in a sports facility. The suite expands upon Hooters’ existing deal with the Rays. Hooters previously has sponsored the team’s radio and watch party promotions. The Hooters Owls Den is Tropicana Field’s second branded premium group space. The Rays several years ago developed the Advantica Eyecare Executive Suite, a higher-end space, after consolidating two regular skyboxes.
Hamilton County (Ohio) Commissioner Todd Portune “wants voters to approve a new ticket tax this fall” to "pay for the operation" of Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, according to Sharon Coolidge of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Portune said that he is “not sure yet how big the tax would be, or whether it would be only on Reds and Bengals tickets or all events at the two stadiums.” The tax “could add $14 to the price of a Bengals ticket” and $0.44 to the price of a Reds ticket. Under the Bengals' and Reds' leases, any ticket surcharge “must be approved by the teams.” A Reds spokesperson said that the team “would consider the proposal once it was presented.” The Bengals “could not be reached for comment, but the team has repeatedly told the county it doesn't want to raise ticket prices.” Portune said, "I've been watching the NFL fighting over $9 billion of profit every year and thinking it's crazy ... for taxpayers to have to subsidize any of their expenses. An admissions tax is a user fee. It's those who use the stadiums paying for the stadiums." The City of Cincinnati “already imposes a 3 percent admissions tax, levied on sports games, concerts, dances and plays.” The deadline to “put an issue on the November ballot is Aug. 10” (CINCINATTI ENQUIRER, 5/19).
The Univ. of Michigan Board of Regents on Thursday “unanimously approved the designs for the $52 million second phase of renovations” for Crisler Arena, according to Kyle Feldscher of ANNARBOR.com. Among the planned renovations are “glass entry ways, which will give the building its nighttime glow; more restrooms for both men and women; new concession areas and a waterfall with a glowing blue M.” The Regents “originally approved renovations to the core of Crisler Arena” in Oct. ’09, which “cost approximately” $20M. Both phases of the renovation “will be paid for with athletic department funds.” The renovations approved Thursday “amount to a whole new building wrapping around the existing Crisler Arena.” The designs included renovations “of all the building’s entryways, including a large lobby area in the northeast corner of the arena, which will have the building’s ticketing areas” (ANNARBOR.com, 5/19).
BLUE PRINTS:Duke AD Kevin White said that the university is “considering a $100 million facility expansion that would include a substantial enhancement of Wallace Wade Stadium.” White said that the school “has consulted with a group headed by former Duke trustee Roy Bostock about a project that could ‘totally rework, revitalize and re-create Wallace Wade.’” The stadium “has the smallest fan capacity in the ACC” with 33,941 seats. In Raleigh, Ken Tysiac noted White “provided few details, though, about a project whose workings have remained extraordinarily secretive” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/19).
On Long Island, James Bernstein notes Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano's plan for the county-owned land around the Nassau Coliseum “was dealt a blow Thursday after Long Island's largest developers group objected over the issue of who has the right to develop the property.” The Association for a Better Long Island on Thursday told Mangano “it was unhappy because Islanders' owner Charles Wang was negotiating with him for the right to develop not just a new sports arena and a ballfield, but the rest of the property around the arena, which amounts to about 40 acres.” ABLI Exec Dir Desmond Ryan said that the county “should put that taxpayer-owned land up for bid” (NEWSDAY, 5/20).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? T’Wolves officials said that Target Corp. “hasn’t made a decision yet whether it will continue to hold the naming rights on Target Center when its contract runs out at the end of September.” In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman noted the T’Wolves “have 14 years left on their lease with the city and would prefer a 14-year naming rights contact.” There have been reports that South Dakota-based Sanford Health “would be a candidate, but apparently that’s not the case.” Life Time Fitness, which “has a health club in the arena, is reported to be one of the leading candidates if Target doesn’t renew” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19).
LACING UP THE SKATES:In Boston, John Connolly notes the universities of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont may participate in a “college hockey doubleheader at Fenway Park next January.” Fenway Sports Management President Sam Kennedy “offered no confirmation” on the games but had “plenty of optimism.” Kennedy: “While there is nothing to report, as we said in the past, the Red Sox would love to work with the city of Boston and bring outdoor skating and ice hockey back to Fenway Park.” Fenway in January ’10 hosted the “largest crowd ever to watch a college hockey game in the eastern United States” when Boston Univ. defeated Boston College in front of 38,472 fans (BOSTON HERALD, 5/20).
DEAD ON ARRIVAL? In Milwaukee, Walker & Sandler note Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele are “opposed to extending the Miller Park stadium sales tax to help build a new arena” for the Bucks. The idea was “floated” by Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Timothy Sheehy, who “raised the possibility at a civic forum Wednesday, in part to jump-start a communitywide discussion on the Bucks’ future in Milwaukee, and finding the best way to build a new facility.” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he considered the idea “a dead issue” as soon as Walker announced his opposition (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/20).