Minnesota state Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers "want local voters to have a say in a new Minnesota Vikings stadium project," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The move "potentially creates a major obstacle for the plan." Vikings Owners the Wilfs "have an agreement with Ramsey County officials to build a more than $1 billion stadium" in Arden Hills. But stadium backers believe that voters "would be likely to reject a countywide half-percent sales tax planned to fund the project." State Rep. Morrie Lanning, the Chief House author of the stadium proposal, said, "I think that puts the kibosh on the stadium project." Lanning added that the "chances of a special legislative session this year for a Vikings stadium subsidy package are now 'slim.'" He said that "there is no longer enough time to resolve the project's financing package and surrounding road issues and then round up the votes needed for passage." Instead, Lanning indicated that "the stadium plan would probably have to wait until legislators convene in late January." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley "declined to speculate whether a referendum would virtually scuttle the stadium" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/2).
Churchill Downs "has implemented a new online ticket request procedure for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks that it says is more democratic and provides fans a ‘significantly improved’ chance of getting seats by using a first-come, first-served criteria,” according to Jennie Rees of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. CDI Senior Dir of Communications & Media Services Darren Rogers said that “up to 20,000 seats will be available, ranging in cost from $196 to $1,076 for a two-day package that includes the Oaks.” The remainder of the approximately 54,000 seats -- including “the very best seats -- will be sold to the owners of Personal Seating Licenses, season box-holders, Turf Club members, select sponsors, VIPs, the track’s biggest bettors, Derby and Oaks horsemen and select employees.” For decades, the "allocation of Derby tickets was cloaked in secrecy." Fans were “advised to write letters every year requesting tickets while also telling a little bit about themselves because the track sought geographic diversity.” Under the new system, fans “can sign up online at churchilldowns.com/tickets to start the process." Rees notes those applying for tickets will be charged a $50 administrative fee, whether they "get seats or not," marking the "first time in Derby history that those applying for tickets will have to pay even if they are turned down" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/2).
OUT OF THE GATES: In Albany, Leigh Hornbeck notes “ambitious plans to improve Saratoga Race Course include new dorms for backstretch workers, 200 more stalls, a new, air-conditioned, three-story building at the top of the stretch; a new paddock and a new jockey house.” NYRA President & CEO Charles Hayward said that the 21 projects are "ideas only and the NYRA board has not decided which ones will be built or how much construction might cost.” NYRA is “counting on income from video lottery terminals under construction now at Aqueduct Racetrack to pay for the projects.” Current estimates “show the 4 percent share from the machines will come” to $27.5M per year. Hayward said that the plan is to “leverage the income into a bond, but NYRA must first show it is profitable -- an outcome the CEO expects in 2012.” The NYRA BOD “will not make a decision about which projects to pursue until next year and construction will not begin until after the 2013 meet” (Albany TIMES UNION, 9/2).
The Redskins announced on Thursday that they "will be breaking ground for an indoor practice facility at Redskins Park.” Described as "an 'air structure,' the facility will be built over a full-size football field and is expected to be completed later this fall.” A team spokesperson said that “construction of the practice bubble in Ashburn has no bearing on whether the Redskins would move their practice headquarters to Prince George’s County.” A decision on that has yet to be made (WASHINGTON POST, 9/2).
BILL OF RIGHTS: In L.A., McGreevey & Riccardi report a "final bill was being frantically drafted Thursday evening” in the California state Legislature in response to AEG's request for an "expedited process for any legal challenges" to its Farmers Field project. Sources indicated that the measure "would allow legal challenges to the stadium’s environmental impact report to be heard immediately in the state court of appeals, which would have between 150-175 days to rule.” That “would avoid protracted litigation.” In exchange, AEG “would pledge to build a carbon-neutral stadium with more public transit users than any other stadium in the country.” The company’s “push to get special treatment was spurred by a 2009 vote to grant a complete environmental waiver to a competing stadium proposal by Majestic Realty in the City of Industry.” State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier said that he "was concerned by AEG’s plan to gut an existing bill on an unrelated subject, insert language on the stadium and fast-track it through the Legislature” (L.A. TIMES, 9/2).
NOTHING TO SEE HERE: In Detroit, Gregg Krupa reports Red Wings and Amway officials “discouraged any thought the growing relationship has much to do with the prospective development of a new arena for the Red Wings, beyond adding some revenue.” Sources said that “with the company owning the naming rights to the Amway Center in Orlando and the Van Andel family, which founded Amway with the DeVos family, having its name on the arena in Grand Rapids, stadium marketing opportunities appear to be maximized.” Officials said that “no move is imminent on a prospective arena, especially given the state of the economy” (DETROIT NEWS, 9/2).
THRILLER: In Boston, Donna Goodison reports “Spooky World, the haunted Halloween attraction, will celebrate its 20th anniversary" this year with an event at Fenway Park. The Fear at Fenway runs Oct. 28-Nov. 6 and includes “three all new haunted attractions: 3D Freakout, Hancock Hill Cemetery and Brigham Manor” (BOSTON HERALD, 9/2).