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Volume 24 No. 157


The Sacramento City Council last night "gave its blessing to hire a panel of consultants" and "approved entering into an exclusive agreement with a development team" consisting of David Taylor and ICON Venue Group to build a $387M downtown arena for the NBA Kings, according to Ryan Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The "debate over whether to spend $555,000 on the consultants -- including $375,000 from the city's battered general fund budget -- drew the first City Council opposition to the arena discussion since the city's latest stadium push gained momentum earlier this year." But in the end, the council voted 7-2 to approve the plan. One of the contracts "approved was a $125,000 agreement with Barrett Sports Group, a sports facility financing consultant that has already served as a city consultant on this issue." Other contracts "will pay for parking experts, legal counsel and municipal financing consultants." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that it is "possible that the cost of the contracts could be reimbursed to the city by a private investor in the project." City officials are in talks with AEG to "provide upfront financing to the project, run the facility and take in arena-related revenue." By entering into an agreement with Taylor and ICON, the council "lets the developers seek a business partner to invest, such as AEG" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/28).

The 49ers yesterday gave members of the media tours of a full-scale model suite for their proposed stadium in Santa Clara -- "complete with a pair of flat screen TVs, theater-style seating and porcelain tiles," according to Julia Prodis Sulek of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. A "9-foot 'touch wall' created by HP allows potential owners to touch an image of the suite or seat location and ... see a virtual view of the field from there." Santa Clara City Council member Kevin Moore said that "many successful companies already have signed up for suites." The 49ers have promised that the luxury boxes in the new stadium "will be as nice as any in new stadiums across the country." While the suites at Candlestick Park "have been refurbished since they were built in the early 1960s, many are about half the size of the new ones with barely any entertaining space." The suites at the new stadium "will be outfitted with designer finishes and full-size refrigerators," and "if you feel like another beer, just touch the screen in your new luxury box and it will be delivered." The 49ers have sold "about $173 million worth of suites" since the model opened "nearly a year ago, including $40 million worth in the past two months alone." 49ers officials refused to "reveal a price tag on any suite or even hint at a range, but reports are swirling that they run from $160,000 per season to $500,000 per season with long-term leases." The "nearly 500 square-foot suites ... come with 16 seats." In January, "season ticket holders will also get to tour the preview center and choose their seats in the new stadium, which -- if all goes according to plan -- is expected to open for the 2015 season" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/28).

California Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday "signed a law that will fast-track lawsuits challenging" AEG's proposed Farmers Field in downtown L.A., according to Dakota Smith of the WHITTIER DAILY NEWS. Brown's signature "marks the end of a yearlong lobbying frenzy" by AEG, which had indicated that its $1.3B stadium proposal "would collapse without protection from lengthy and complicated lawsuits." Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in '09 "signed a similar bill that [benefited] Ed Roski Jr.'s proposed $800 million stadium project in Industry." Brown said he was backing the law because the state "has too many damn regulations." Politicians already are "looking at the law to see what local projects could fall under the legislation" (WHITTIER DAILY NEWS, 9/28). ESPN L.A' s Arash Markazi noted although Brown's signing of the law "is a huge victory for AEG because the expedited process would bypass the Superior Court and avoid the protracted litigation AEG has been fearful of, it doesn't change the fact that it will still take close to six months for any case to be decided." AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke expects to file the environmental impact report for Farmers Field "by June 1." Markazi noted Leiweke "would like to break ground that day but that's not going to happen." Once the EIR "is filed, the clock begins on legal challenges and if one is filed within 30 days it will likely not be decided on until November 2012" (, 9/27). In L.A., Linthicum & Farmer note with the stadium deal in place, AEG "must focus on its next and most critical step: luring a team." Leiweke in recent weeks has "met with the owners of several NFL franchises," but an AEG spokesperson "would not say which ones" (L.A. TIMES, 9/28).

FORWARD PROGRESS: In San Diego, Matthew Hall notes Brown's signature "could be a boon for plans to expand the San Diego Convention Center and build the Chargers a new football stadium in East Village." Darren Pudgil, Communications Dir for San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, said, "I'm gratified that San Diego's stadium project will be given the same considerations as L.A.'s project." Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani said, "The precedent has now clearly been set to expedite major, job creating projects, and we hope to take full advantage of that precedent with our downtown stadium here in San Diego." But Hall notes despite "assurances from Chargers officials that the team wants to remain in San Diego, speculation has mounted for months that the team might eventually relocate to Los Angeles" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/28).

AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke before last night's Penguins-Kings preseason game at Sprint Center said there is "not an urgency" for the arena to land an anchor tenant, according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. Leiweke, whose company manages Sprint Center, said, "We’re fine without one, and we probably make more money without one. And the city makes more money without one. That said, if we can make the right deal and find the right team, I definitely think that’s what we have to do here." Last night's game drew 17,779 fans, the "largest crowd ever to see a hockey game" in K.C. Leiweke noted, "I'd say a third of this crowd has someone's jersey on and an affiliation to a team. It tells me what I've always known: This is a good hockey town." But he added, "Kansas City can take its time. ... The key is you can chase a team, but you’re going to end up not making a great deal and maybe being disappointed. Or you can wait and not only try to find the right situation, but economically make the right deal. We’re not chasing, and I love the mayor’s attitude, which is: 'Under our terms.'" Covitz notes it "would seem many of the 72 suite holders, whose leases come up for renewal in another year, would be disappointed they’re still without an anchor tenant." But Leiweke said that the "opposite is true." Leiweke: "I talked to a bunch of them (Tuesday night), and what they told me was the variety of events that appeal to everyone within their company, within their family or organization means the suites are more valuable" (K.C. STAR, 9/28).

The NBA's 29 arenas and their workers "are bracing for a loss of revenue and wages totaling tens of millions of dollars if the labor dispute" leads to a canceled '11-12 season, according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. If the NBA "cancels games this fall in dribs and drabs it will create a financial headache for many arenas." Only a "limited number of entertainers, such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and U2, can sell out NBA-sized arenas, and those shows are booked months in advance and can't be signed by arenas on short notice." Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Exec Dir Mark Kaufman, whose city-county entity owns Oracle Arena, said, "There's really no way it could be made up." The financial impact of canceled games on the 30 NBA teams and the arenas "would vary widely because of vastly different lease agreements." For example, a source said that the Lakers "don't pay rent at Staples Center but pay an undisclosed percentage of their games' tickets sales to the arena." But both the Warriors and Suns "will owe their full rent to their government-owned arenas if the season is canceled." Kaufman said that the Warriors' rent "obligation is $1.5 million a year." But he added that if the entire season is canceled, the team "would also be on the hook eventually for nearly $6 million that normally would be paid to the county authority by the Warriors mainly from premium-seating revenue and concessions at Oracle Arena." Phoenix gets "roughly $1.6 million a year from the Suns for playing at the city-owned US Airways Center." Phoenix Finance Dir Jeff DeWitt said that the city "gets a fixed lease payment of about $850,000 from the Suns, and a 10% portion of the team's net revenue that has been totaling about $750,000 a year" (L.A. TIMES, 9/28).

DUEL IN DALLAS: American Airlines Arena in Dallas on Dec. 28 will host a men's college basketball doubleheader dubbed "The Showcase." Oklahoma State-SMU will tip off at 6:30pm CT and "will be televised by ESPNU." Baylor and Mississippi State are scheduled to play at 8:00pm, and that game will air on ESPN2 (, 9/27).

Capitals fans at Verizon Center Monday night "weren’t happy about the new white protective netting behind the goals," and the team yesterday announced the "old black netting would return" for Friday's game against the Sabres, according to Stephen Whyno of the WASHINGTON TIMES. There was a "long list of season-ticket holders who were unhappy about the netting." Some "complained of headaches and eyesight problems, while others decried not being able to see certain parts of the ice or the scoreboard." Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis on his blog wrote, "It clearly isn’t what we had anticipated. It hinders the fan experience and it is not an asset to our local rights holder, Comcast SportsNet. We were attempting to improve the arena and television viewing experience, but we fell short of that mark." CSN Mid-Atlantic "acknowledged Tuesday it was not an upgrade." CSN Mid-Atlantic Senior Dir of Communications Brian Potter said in an e-mail, "After seeing the white netting in place at Verizon Center, the network feels that it obstructs with end-zone camera positions more than the previous material" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/28). Leonisis on his blog wrote, "We will take a closer look at it ASAP. The plan was to improve the fan and TV experience. If we aren't able to accomplish that goal, then we will return to the netting we used previously" (, 9/27).

As a companion to his cover story in this week's SportsBusiness Journal, reporter Don Muret discusses the renovations in and around the Superdome in New Orleans, exploring how these upgrades have changed the Saints gameday experience. Muret details how new features -- such as bunker lounges and a reconfigured seating bowl -- have made the Superdome "basically a new stadium." Muret, who attended the Saints' home opener on Sept. 18, talks about how the suites' convenience and proximity to parking were a "major selling point" to ticket buyers. Muret also explains how the Champions Square area outside the stadium extends the fan experience and provides the team with an additional revenue source. Read Muret's full story in this week’s issue and watch the full video below.

Musician Roger Waters is “making plans to bring his highly successful Wall tour back to America in 2012,” and he will likely play “baseball stadiums in a few big cities,” according to ROLLING STONE. Waters said, “We want to base the tour around Saturday nights in baseball stadiums. … I’m at my office working on an outdoor version of the show.” Pink Floyd in ’80 and ’81 played live versions of “The Wall,” and Waters “spent the last year reviving it -- but it’s always been an indoor show.” Waters: “We’ve done light tests [at] Fenway Park and Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium just to see what the ambient light is like. And it’s fine. It works. We’ve taken part of the Wall and the projectors into those three places” (, 9/28).