AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, who is leading a drive to build a downtown L.A. NFL stadium, yesterday said that his company will present “a revised financing plan to the city, one that calls for less money in bonds and contractually obligated revenue to cover them,” according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. Leiweke will “present the latest plan Thursday to the city’s ad hoc committee reviewing the offer.” Leiweke at a Mar Vista town hall meeting yesterday said that the “original request of $350 million in municipal bonds to relocate the West Hall of the Convention Center … will be reduced to ‘the high $200 millions.’” AEG would “pay for and control two parking garages,” allowing for the reduction in the bonds. Leiweke also said that AEG will “lease the stadium land and secure advertising deals that, when combined, will equal the bond payments.” The previous plan “called for AEG to cover any payment shortfall on a year-by-year basis.” Leiweke said that AEG “needs to know by July 31 … if the city will agree to the framework of a deal.” L.A. City Council member Paul Koretz said, “By having a good degree of healthy skepticism, this plan already is considerably better than the one that originally came to us” (L.A. TIMES, 6/28). Leiweke also noted that his company is “completing a full environmental review, but conceded that it was talking to state lawmakers about how to protect AEG from what he characterized as frivolous legal challenges to its environmental clearance.” Leiweke said that he “hoped the deal with lawmakers is one that environmental groups would support” (AP, 6/27).
Downtown Atlanta is “no longer the region's only place for major event space and that logistical fact will make it more challenging to fill the 43 days suddenly available at Philips Arena because of the departure” of the Thrashers to Winnipeg, according to Leon Stafford of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Since the Thrashers began play in '99, the metro area “has exploded with events venues, especially in the northern suburbs where residents no longer have to drive downtown for a concert or a play.” Hawks and Philips Arena President Bob Williams said that the task of filling the dates left vacant by the Thrashers “will be challenging, but he expects to fare well.” Williams said that the facility “will target concerts, family shows, rodeos, figure skating shows, gymnastics meets, bull riding, multi-day events and big name sports contests like the NCAA basketball tournament.” He will also be able to place the Hawks “in some of the Thrashers' weekend dates, which attract bigger crowds.” Williams said that Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, two acts that played at the Gwinnett Arena, “could have played at the bigger Philips had the facility had the dates open to accommodate them.” Williams said that the arena's booking department -- “about six people -- are ‘aggressively’ in pursuit of business, talking with promoters, family show operators and others to find business.” He added that the departure of the Thrashers will also “open up more dates for the WNBA Atlanta Dream.” Veteran promoter Peter Conlon said that the “market has become over-crowded.” More available venue space “can drive down prices and force some facilities to cut deals that could be detrimental.” But Williams said that Philips, which “generally makes money on concessions, parking, suite sales, merchandising and sponsorships, has kept its rental rates flat for the last three years” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/28).
PARK & RIDE: Atlanta-based car dealership Jim Ellis Audi today announced a multiyear partnership with the Hawks and Philips Arena that includes the entitlement to the Jim Ellis Audi Lounge, which is located on the court and stage level near the courtside seats. The deal also includes sponsorship of the Atlanta Hawks Foundation’s Full Court Fest annual fundraiser and vehicle displays outside the arena (Hawks).
In Pittsburgh, Ray Fittipaldo reports the Steelers' plans for training camp “have not changed,” and the team still plans to hold camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. Saint Vincent Dir of Public Relations Don Orlando yesterday said that the college "is ‘optimistic’ that the Steelers will hold training camp there despite the uncertainty of the lockout.” Orlando also noted that the Steelers “have not informed the college of a date when they would make a decision regarding training camp” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/28).
GOALS TOO LOFTY: In Charlotte, Doug Miller noted a report released yesterday from Pricewaterhouse Coopers reveals that Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority officials “rejected early, more modest attendance projections for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as competition to host the facility intensified.” The PWC report said that “it is possible that the hall’s failure to hit its projected first-year attendance of 800,000 -- 274,000 visited in its first year -- resulted from the weak economy.” But the report also said that the CRVA “should have clearly identified the potential lack of supporting evidence for the projections at the tax-supported project” (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 6/27).
MOVING INTO COLLEGE: In Baltimore, Sandra McKee reported the Troy Park Tennis & Sports Center in Elkridge, Md., was “supposed to be developed enough to host a $220,000 WTA International-level event next month, but because funding did not come through as expected in December, the tournament is being moved.” Instead, the Tennis Center at College Park will host this year's Citi Open from July 25-31. Troy Park developers will “wait for an independent economic impact study, approved by the Maryland Stadium Authority last week, before pursuing other sources of financing.” Howard County Tennis Patrons President Art Tollick said, “We thought we had the financing lined up last December, but the bond markets, the economy is a mess and no one was lending” (Baltimore SUN, 6/27).
SPEND SOME TIME ON THE ISLAND: Nassau County officials said that they are “conducting an environmental assessment of the property surrounding Nassau Coliseum in advance of an Aug. 1 vote on whether to build a new arena” for the Islanders. The environmental assessment will “examine the proposed $400 million development’s possible impact on area traffic, air, water and noise quality, visual aesthetics and human health.” The assessment, begun “several weeks ago by planners and engineers from the Department of Public Works, is expected to be completed after the Aug. 1 vote” (NEWSDAY, 6/28).
ALL BECAUSE OF YOU: THEPOSTGAME.com's Jeff Arnold reported U2 “will foot the bill to have the playing surface at Spartan Stadium replaced after playing in front of a sold-out crowd of 65,000 crazed fans Sunday night.” U2 will pay the Michigan State athletic department “a little more than $253,000” to cover the cost of new grass. Workers will “begin removing the old sod July 5th, and then will regrade the field two days later before the new grass arrives” on July 11th (THEPOSTGAME.com, 6/27).