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Volume 24 No. 112


Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on Thursday detailed plans for “three potential sites in downtown Minneapolis for a Vikings stadium, financed with a sales and lodging tax or revenue from a downtown casino,” according to a front-page piece by Doug Belden of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. While the Vikings reiterated that Arden Hills is the "ideal stadium site" for the team, state and fans, Rybak “insisted he's not too late.” Rybak proposed “renovating the aging Metrodome ($895 million price tag) or building stadiums at the Farmers' Market site ($1.05 billion) or on an adjacent Linden Avenue parcel near the Basilica of St. Mary ($1.03 billion).” In any of the three scenarios, funding to “pay off the bonds would come from a citywide 0.35 percent sales tax and a 1 percent additional lodging tax or a percentage of revenues plus a $20 million license fee from a privately operated casino at Block E.” The new money also “would go toward a $150 million renovation of Target Center ($50 million of it from private sources)” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/28). Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Roper in a front-page piece note Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton “toured the Arden Hills site by helicopter in advance of announcing his own stadium plan by Nov. 7" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/28). The STAR TRIBUNE’s Mike Kaszuba noted Dayton on Wednesday “did not rule out tapping the state's Legacy funds to help pay for a Vikings stadium, raising protests about whether an NFL team should qualify as a piece of the state's cultural heritage” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/27). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman notes Vikings officials are “working with the governor, but as long as the Republican majority in the Legislature won't help solve the problem, neither Rybak's stadium plan nor the Arden Hills site will keep NFL football here” (Minneapolis STAR TRUBUNE, 10/28).

NFL teams will start using handheld metal detectors in November to upgrade the screening process at all 31 stadiums, according to an e-mail issued by NFL Chief Security Officer Jeffrey Miller. In the Oct. 14 e-mail obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, Miller informed stadium managers that the league plans to buy 3,100 handheld scanners from Garrett Inc. and distribute 100 to each NFL facility. There is no cost to the teams. In addition, Garrett will provide DVD instructional videos to train security personnel how to use the devices, and the league will conduct a video conference with Garrett officials demonstrating their use. The NFL's intent is for teams to phase in the scanners in an effort to identify the best way to deploy them at their stadiums. The action comes after a fan was arrested for illegally using a small stun gun at the Cowboys-Jets game Sept. 11 at MetLife Stadium. Earlier this season, the NFL implemented full patdowns at stadiums after a serious threat was identified through intelligence briefings by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. About six weeks later, the security threat remains and the current patdown system is "not an adequate response," according to Miller's e-mail. During the recent league meetings in Houston, Miller presented information on the benefits of using handheld scanners at stadium security checkpoints. After team owners approved their use, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell directed Miller to develop a plan to buy and use the scanners. League officials believe the handhelds will provide a method to screen fans and speed up crowd flow into the stadium that is more efficient than the current pat-down system. The units will "close the security gap" in the overall screening process to provide a safe game-day experience for all fans, Miller reported.

LESS INVASIVE FOR FANS: From a fan perspective, the handhelds are "much less invasive" than the patdowns and "that's great news," said Lucas Oil Stadium Dir Mike Fox. The Colts bought several scanners on their own to supplement the 100 the NFL is supplying at no charge. Whether it speeds up or slows down the flow of fans into the stadium remains to be seen, Fox said. Fox: "We won't take shipment until mid-November and as soon as we get them we will get our people trained." Contemporary Services Corp., Lucas Oil Stadium's security firm, is happy to use the devices compared with the intrusive patdowns, he said. Using those devices, or wands as they are commonly called, "will help you catch things like stun guns," said Erik Stover, a veteran stadium manager who spent a combined 13 years operating NFL facilities for the Chargers, Giants and Jets. "There is a lot of training involved." The NFL has previously used handheld metal detectors and walk-through scanners for the Super Bowl. NBA teams have been using the handheld units for the past several years to screen fans entering their arenas.

EPL club Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday “suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the club's fans after shareholders in the Chelsea Pitch Owners company rejected a proposal to buy back the land upon which Stamford Bridge is built at a fractious extraordinary general meeting,” according to Dominic Fifield of the GUARDIAN. Chelsea secured 61.6% of the shares “held by those present in the club's Great Hall or voting by proxy, falling well short of the 75% required if they were to force through proposals to secure the pitch and land upon which Stamford Bridge is built.” Securing 75% of the vote “would have represented the first step towards leaving Chelsea's home of 106 years for a new, 60,000-seat stadium.” Those opposed to the club's proposals “had expressed grave concerns at the prospect of surrendering the safety net provided by CPO -- a company which was formed in 1993 to prevent the stadium falling into the hands of property developers -- and expressed outrage that around [US$322,000] worth of shares, at [US$161] each, had been sold to only 20 individuals since the club's plans” were detailed on Oct. 3 (GUARDIAN, 10/28). The GUARDIAN's Fifield notes what “must have shaken the Chelsea hierarchy was the animosity to which they were subjected.” Tim Rolls, a spokesperson for Say No CPO (SNCPO), said, "The club simply do not understand the fans. That has been totally demonstrated by the emotions that surfaced.” Fifield writes lessons “need to be learned from this defeat.” There is “an acceptance among many, even in SNCPO, that this club may need to move from Stamford Bridge to compete with rivals who can get 60,000 fans through the turnstiles.” But the board “will need to engage more properly with the shareholders who successfully deflected the proposal to buy back the freehold to Chelsea's home of 106 years if they are ever to secure the land and, therefore, the option to move to an alternative site” (GUARDIAN, 10/28).

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly wants a Jumbotron “in Notre Dame Stadium by next year, and synthetic Field Turf, too, another proposed improvement that makes traditionalists cringe,” according to Eric Hansen of the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. It is a “ticking, rabid, malignant debate," and one that Kelly "sounded hell-bent on winning." Kelly said, “I don’t think it’s a mystery that we’d like that, but it’s not going to be my call. They know how I feel. I don’t want to beat a dead horse with it either, but I think it’s pretty clear we want to create a great atmosphere” (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 10/27). In Chicago, Brian Hamilton noted Kelley “didn’t sound worried that reiterating his Jumbotron dream likely caused traditionalists’ heads to explode seconds after the words left his mouth.” He also “unapologetically reconfirmed his preference for an artificial playing surface at Notre Dame Stadium, all in the name of improving the gameday experience and product.” Kelly said, “I hope that we continue to move forward in creating an incredible atmosphere in there” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/26).

SILENT NIGHT: The SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE's Hansen wrote under the header, "Smooth ND Night Game May Mean More." There was “relative quiet” following last Saturday's Notre Dame-USC game, a rare night contest at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame Dir of Game Day Operations Mike Seamon said, “There’s a lot at stake there. And, for it to go as well as it did this weekend, I think speaks well of a lot of different people and a lot of different groups who came together to pull it off.” There were “six arrests on campus Saturday night -- three inside the stadium, three in the lots surrounding it.” Seamon: “That’s right in line with what a normal game would be.” Pregame traffic “was staggered and thus never an issue.” Postgame traffic “was snarled, as expected, because there weren’t postgame events on campus late at night to keep everyone from leaving at the same time” (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 10/27).