The Redskins and NRG Energy today announced a nine-year agreement to install solar panels at FedExField. The solar power system will provide a portion of the stadium’s electricity needs on game days and can generate enough power to serve all of its electrical needs on non-game days. NRG will cover 850 spaces in the Platinum A1 Parking Lot with 8,000 solar panels. The system will be unveiled in September (Redskins/NRG Energy). Redskins officials said that installation of the panels “will generate two megawatts of electricity -- enough to decrease FedEx Field’s annual energy use” by 15%. In DC, Mike Jones notes the panels “also will be used to create an 850-space covered carport that will feature 10 charging stations for electric vehicles.” NRG Energy will install “three different types of solar panels at the stadium,” making the Redskins “one of the few NFL teams to use alternative sources of energy at their stadiums.” NFL Dir of Community Affairs David Krichavsky said that the Eagles and Seahawks “also have projects underway to decrease their dependency on traditional energy sources” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13).
Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood yesterday said he is "concerned about the damage" done to NASCAR by the traffic jam prior to Kentucky Speedway's inaugural Sprint Cup Series race Saturday, according to George Diaz of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. After a "flood of mea culpas and 'we're sorry' e-mails and offers of free tickets" from the Kentucky Speedway's owner, SMI, the "focus shifts to next year." It is "highly unlikely that NASCAR would yank that date away from the track, but it's very likely that thousands of frustrated customers won't bother coming back." Chitwood, whose track is owned by SMI rival ISC, said, "I'm not concerned about Talladega, Daytona, Las Vegas or other properties. But there might have been new NASCAR fans who were there. Who knows if it turns off people to our sport altogether" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/13). ESPN.com's Terry Blount wrote SMI and Kentucky Speedway are "saying all the right things now about the traffic mess Saturday night," but it "never should have come to this." Blount: "How could NASCAR sanction a stop at a facility that clearly didn't have the infrastructure in place to handle a Cup event?" Still, the speedway "deserves a second chance" to get it right (ESPN.com, 7/12). SPORTING NEWS TODAY's Reid Spencer writes under the header, "Perhaps Kentucky Should Forgo Its 2012 Cup Date." Spencer: "The traffic jam that brought Kentucky to a standstill requires huge remedial action -- not just a solution to the problem itself but also a more-than-generous gesture to fans who were robbed of their time and ticket money by what can only be described as an egregious shortfall in planning" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 7/13). SI.com's Brant James: "Nothing short of [SMI Chair & CEO] Bruton Smith standing outside Churchill Downs handing out free vouchers to the potential second Sprint Cup race at the track would suffice in displaying true contrition" (SI.com, 7/12).
WORKING ON A SOLUTION: Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear yesterday said that his Chief of Staff, Mike Haydon, "will lead a team looking at ways to avoid traffic jams on race days." Beshear said that the team "will look at whether more roads are needed at the track" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 7/13). SMI President & COO Marcus Smith on Monday said the traffic jam "was disappointing," and he vowed to "make it up" to fans. Smith, appearing on Speed's "NASCAR Race Hub," said, "In hindsight, we can see where we need to make adjustments. ... We really pride ourselves on being the best in racing with fan amenities and customer service, so for something like this to happen at one of our speedways is very unusual. We're really sad that it happened and we really want to do what we can to make it right for fans out there.” He added, “When fans come back next year, what they're going to see is a completely different scenario. We're going to have shuttle buses coming from hotels in the cities that are nearby the speedway. We're going to have more remote parking where people can park a little farther from the speedway and come in on bus” (THATSRACIN.com, 7/12).
CORRECTION: THE DAILY yesterday in our story about Kentucky Speedway misidentified the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track is owned by the Hulman George family. THE DAILY regrets the error.
L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti yesterday promised that the panel "will have plenty of time to debate a plan to bring an NFL stadium to downtown, seeking to soothe anxiety that a vote would be rushed." In L.A., Rong-Gong Lin II reported several city council members "expressed concern that they could feel pressured to approve the deal before July 31, a deadline that had been issued" by AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company wants to build Farmers Field. AEG officials now are saying that they "hope to get a vote on the project framework before the council begins a two-week recess on Aug. 20." A team of city negotiators, led by Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller, is "negotiating a draft memorandum of understanding with AEG in private" (LATIMES.com, 7/12).
SAFETY FIRST: MLB Rangers Exec VP/Communications John Blake said team execs started face-to-face meetings with industry officials yesterday to determine "whether to raise railings or do whatever might be appropriate for the safety of our fans." Blake said that team officials "called contractors, architects and other experts familiar" with the 17-year-old Rangers Ballpark last week after fan Shannon Stone fell to his death (DALLASNEWS.com, 7/12).
STOP, DROP & ROLL: The GUARDIAN's Owen Gibson reports U.K. Minister of Sport Hugh Robertson has urged EPL club Tottenham Hotspur to "abandon legal action over the future of the Olympic Stadium, warning that London's bid to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships will be dead in the water unless the matter can be resolved soon." Robertson said that "unless the future of the stadium, awarded to West Ham by the Olympic Park Legacy Company but the subject of an ongoing legal challenge from Spurs, was decided by 1 September then the bid would have to be withdrawn." He added, "I would hope Tottenham would see the greater good to London" (GUARDIAN, 7/13).
COMING FULL CIRCLE: In K.C., Kevin Collison reports 360 Architecture "has won another big sports facility design contract in Iraq, this time for two soccer stadiums with a total value" of $170M. The K.C.-based firm "will be teaming with Anwar Soura General Contracting Co." on the projects. 360 Senior Principal George Heinlein said that the new commissions "were the result of the firm’s experience" designing a complex in the Basra, Iraq, that includes a 65,000-seat soccer stadium. That project is "about two-thirds complete" (K.C. STAR, 7/13).