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Volume 24 No. 115

Facilities

The NFL Panthers have selected Populous to design a master plan tied to upgrades at Bank of America Stadium over the next 10 years, according to sources familiar with the process. The K.C.-based architect originally designed the stadium when the firm was known as HOK Sport. Sports design firms AECOM, HKS and 360 Architecture also competed for the job. The 74,459-seat stadium opened in Charlotte in '96. Two regional sports designers are part of Populous’ team -- David Wagner of Wagner Murray Architects in Charlotte, and Ron Smith of McMillan, Pazdan and Smith of Spartanburg, S.C. Wagner “has been involved from the stadium since day one,” designing premium spaces, said Panthers President Danny Morrison. Smith designed the renovation of the Panthers’ weight room inside the stadium. Wagner and Smith join Populous senior principal Dennis Wellner, a designer of multiple NFL facilities. Together, they will spend the next year forming a plan addressing all areas of the stadium. “The good news for us is this is a great stadium designed for NFL football,” Morrison said. “It has been fabulously maintained. The Panthers have put a lot of dollars into it over the years and it is still one of the best in the NFL.”

The “sweet deal Jerry Reinsdorf has at U.S. Cellular Field is prompting the state agency that runs the ballpark to re-examine its lease agreement, which requires the White Sox owner to pay $1.5 million annually in rent while keeping all proceeds from ticket sales, parking, concessions and his growing merchandise operations,” according to Shia Kapos of CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS. Illinois Sports Facilities Authority Chair Emil Jones, whose company oversees Cellular Field and Soldier Field, said, “If you compare (lease terms) to other sports stadiums around the country, the Sox pay the lowest rent of all the facilities.” He added, “It's something we'll be looking at." Plans to re-evaluate the contract come as Reinsdorf “prepares to open a retail shop across from the South Side ballpark on state-owned property.” Kapos noted the lease agreement came about when James Thompson was governor of Illinois, and “the additions to the agreement -- the retail shop and restaurant -- were added when” Thompson was ISFA Chair (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 10/25).

The AP's Danica Kirka noted British officials "showed off a new apartment Tuesday in the athletes village for the 2012 London Olympics as they announced a milestone -- more than 2,012 of the units are now complete." U.K. Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport Jeremy Hunt and Olympic Delivery Authority CEO Dennis Hone declared that the project is "firmly on schedule for the games that begin July 27 and last until Aug. 12." Some 17,000 Olympic athletes and 6,000 Paralympic athletes and officials "will stay in the village, which will have 2,818 units when completed" (AP, 10/25).

FAST FORWARD: Mortenson Construction, which is advising the Vikings on stadium plans in Arden Hills, said that Minnesota officials "have it wrong and that there is enough time to build the project by 2015." The company said that if state legislators "approve the Arden Hills project by the end of this year, the stadium would be ready by the team's 2015 season." Mortenson Senior VP John Wood in a letter released yesterday said that the schedule "was aggressive but was 'very adequate.'" The Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission two weeks ago "concluded that the proposed $1.1 billion project in Arden Hills was 'aggressive' and 'unrealistic'" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: In Orlando, Schlueb & Damron note Orange County auditors after two years of scrutiny "gave the Orlando Magic and Orlando a largely glowing grade for the construction" of Amway Center. The audit did, however, document a "few problem areas." The building is owned by the city and was funded mostly with public funds, but the project agreement "failed to make sure no public money was spent on furnishings in areas of the arena where the public isn't allowed." Also, Hunt Construction Group, the Magic's general contractor, "was slow to pay subcontractors." Auditors "recommended that in the future, more documentation be required when construction contracts are bid" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/26).