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Volume 24 No. 133


Northlands President & CEO Richard Andersen said that the company “needs more information about a proposed downtown arena deal to determine how well Rexall Place would do as a competitor,” according to Gordon Kent of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Although Andersen has “vowed since last year to keep operating Rexall for concerts and other events if the Oilers move out,” yesterday he said that Northlands has “always looked for a ‘collaborative’ way to be part of the arrangement.” Andersen: "There's a lot of information that still hasn't been sorted out. We're really unclear how this works, how the (ticket) surcharge works. Candidly, we don't think the city is clear either." City Manager Simon Farbrother told City Council members last week that Oilers Owner Daryl Katz has “dropped his insistence that Northlands accept a non-compete clause before a new building can be constructed.” Farbrother also indicated that tickets for events at Rexall “face the same surcharge imposed to help pay” the C$450M cost of the downtown facility. He said that this would “keep the playing field level between the two sites.” Andersen said that he “only heard about these details, which came out of bargaining last week between Katz and the city at NHL headquarters in New York.” Kent notes the Oilers “originally hoped to be in a new rink by the time the lease expires in 2014, but now says that won't happen.” Andersen said that the Katz Group “hasn't responded to a Northlands request to discuss extending their arrangement” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/19). Andersen said that he is “ready to go head-to-head with a new downtown arena if he has to.” Andersen: “We will manage Rexall Place -- obviously it will have a new name -- and if there’s a new arena, you’d have to surmise these two would be in competition with each other.” He added, “We didn’t get to being who we are by being afraid” (EDMONTON SUN, 10/19).

English soccer club Leyton Orient Chair Barry Hearn "has demanded" that London Mayor Boris Johnson "be removed from any discussions over the future of the Olympic Stadium after the London Mayor said that West Ham would 'almost certainly' end up occupying the arena," according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Hearn has "written to the Government asking for Johnson to be stripped of any decision-making power because he fears his views will prejudice Orient’s chances in the new tender process." Hearn is "keen to submit a bid on behalf of Orient for a reduced capacity of around 25,000, and believes his chances of success have been prejudiced by Johnson’s comments." Hearn said, "The ineptitude of our mayor of London in this is unbelievable, the fact that he can say something like that and put the whole process in jeopardy. Why should anyone now bid if the mayor of London who makes the final decision, says West Ham are a near certainty? What’s the point in spending tens of thousands of pounds on evaluations and reports when the mayor has made his mind up?" Meanwhile, EPL club Tottenham has until Wednesday night to "accept an offer from Johnson of a [US$26.9M] contribution to the planning costs of upgrading the area around their proposed new stadium development at Northumberland Park in Haringey." The money "would be used to improve infrastructure and facilities around the stadium, requirements that could be placed" on Tottenham as a developer in the area (London TELEGRAPH, 10/18).

NO CAPACITY: In London, Martin Samuel writes, "Don't do us any favours, Barry. We'd hate to inconvenience a football club that currently averages 3,710 fans per league game with something as trifling as an Olympic legacy." Samuel asks, "What do Leyton Orient want with a 25,000 capacity stadium anyway? They cannot fill the 9,271 space at Brisbane Road." Samuel: "Maybe Hearn thinks he can pad out the arena with discount offers and reduced ticket prices, except it is precisely that type of pledge that has made him such an opponent of the West Ham bid" (London DAILY MAIL, 10/19).

The city of Mesa, Ariz., has "approved key agreements that let the city and the Chicago Cubs design and build a new $99 million training complex, despite a last-minute protest the arrangements are a bad deal for taxpayers," according to Garin Groff of the EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Mesa now has a "30-year deal in place for building the stadium, managing it with the Cubs and selling parcels to the team for the private Wrigleyville West entertainment complex." The city “insists the Cubs will pay any expenses exceeding” $84M for the stadium and $15M for related projects. Scottsdale-based Hunt Construction Group “has become the contractor,” and Mesa’s contract with Hunt “differs from how many projects were managed for decades.” Instead of “choosing contractors by the lowest bid when design is complete, Mesa picked Hunt while design is underway because of its experience.” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said that he “found similar arrangements cut construction costs when the builder can work with the architects early on to identify more efficient designs.” Hunt was “awarded $380,000 for the design phase of the project,” and will “seek competitive bids on numerous subcontract jobs.” The Mesa City Council expects to break ground “by spring or summer of 2012 and open for spring training” in ’14. The Cubs must have “at least 10,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space by opening day to secure development rights on up to 6 acres of land.” The team also “must begin that much development every 18 months to keep having the first option, or other developers can submit bids” (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE, 10/18).