Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton yesterday said that a local sales tax “has been taken off the table as a funding source for a new” Vikings stadium, according to Doug Belden of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Dayton “left the door open for the state to up its contribution to the construction of a new home for the team and tagged electronic pulltabs as the leading funding option at the moment.” The Vikings, “whose plan for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills relies on $350 million from Ramsey County financed through a countywide sales tax,” said that they “remain committed to the site.” Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, “The Arden Hills site has not been eliminated. The sales tax option has been eliminated.” Dayton added, “We're continuing to look at other means of financing the public share of the stadium project” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/2). Dayton said that the proposal “to let bars offer electronic versions of pulltabs was the most politically viable method of garnering money for a new stadium.” In Minneapolis, Eric Roper notes about “1,300 nonprofit organizations, from VFWs to hockey teams, are licensed to conduct charitable gambling at bars across Minnesota.” State Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk “first pitched the idea of linking it to a Vikings stadium two weeks ago in Dayton's office.” Bakk said that he “won't support a broader gambling expansion, but he supports the pull tab idea to help pay for a stadium and provide some relief for charities” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/2). Dayton said that while “he had hoped to have a special session on the stadium before Thanksgiving, mounting obstacles could move it closer to December” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/2).
The MLB Rangers are "planning a multimillion-dollar renovation to the center-field plaza at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that could add a sports bar and reconfigure the visitors' bullpen," according to Sandra Baker of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Rangers Exec VP/Communications John Blake said that "details won't be released until possibly later this week." He added that "some demolition work has started." Baker reports plans filed with the state indicate that the work will "likely involve the demolition of Vandergriff Plaza and adjacent spaces to accommodate a new concession pavilion, club pavilion, renovation of a suite for a sports bar, and a mezzanine and family entertainment area." The filing said that project costs are "estimated at $11 million," with renovations to be completed by April 1. The city of Arlington "issued a building permit for the project on Oct. 12 that shows the work area will involve about 65,590 square feet of space." Baker notes it "appears that the renovation plans were well under way before a bullpen controversy erupted in Game 5 of the World Series," when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa "claimed he couldn't be heard over the bullpen phone" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/2).
BankAtlantic Center, the home of the NHL Panthers, "could see a name change" after yesterday's announcement that BankAtlantic is being sold to BB&T, according to Ashley Torres of the SOUTH FLORIDA BUSINESS JOURNAL. Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark said, "We expect that BB&T will eventually replace BankAtlantic as a naming rights partner for the arena." Yormark added that a "possible name change could take a few months, but will take place quickly once the deal between the two banks is finalized" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/1). Yormark said that it "could take several months before the BankAtlantic Center becomes the 'BB&T Center or BB&T Arena or whatever they decide." BB&T's "burgundy color scheme will blend in with the Panthers' emphasis on red" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 11/1). This would mark the fifth name for the arena since opening in '98. The venue opened as Broward County Civic Arena, then became National Car Rental Center, followed by Office Depot Center before BankAtlantic acquired naming rights (THE DAILY).
LIGHTNING GET NEW ARENA NAME: The Lightning's home arena will be known as the Tampa Bay Times Forum through August '18 as part of a naming-rights extension announced by the team and Times Publishing Co. yesterday. The St. Pete Times Forum will officially change its name to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Jan. 1 to coincide with the newspaper's name change. The arena opened in '96 as the Ice Palace before selling the naming rights to the St. Petersburg Times in September '02 (Lightning).
The Univ. of North Carolina-Charlotte yesterday announced the field at its new on-campus stadium set to be completed in '12 will be named McColl-Richardson Field as donations to the school were made by former Bank of America Chair & COO Hugh McColl and NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson. The 15,000-seat stadium will open when UNCC's football program begins play in '13 (UNCC). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reported neither UNCC nor McColl or Richardson "disclosed the amount of the donation." UNCC AD Judy Rose said that the donation is "'significant' and would go a long way toward reaching the goal of generating $2.5 million in contributions for field naming rights." While a proposed $5M fee "to put a corporate or donor name on the stadium will have a limited shelf life, the McColl-Richardson name will be permanent" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/1). Rose said, "With their names going on the field, other (potential sponsors) will say, 'Gosh, look at the names they have associated with this school.' They add tremendous value and credibility to our program" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/2). Rose said UNCC did not want to put the names of McColl and Richardson on the stadium because that “will be on a timeframe and will be renewable, as most stadiums are done these days." Rose: "We wanted the field to be in perpetuity, so you look for individuals for perpetuity and you can look for corporations more if it’s going to be a rollover effect.” She said the construction of the stadium has been set "back a little bit" due to recent weather conditions, but added UNCC is "still on path to be on time." Rose: "It’s a very tight schedule because we don’t have to have the stadium completed by next July/August. But we really do need the fieldhouse completed and the practice fields because that first class of redshirt student-athletes will be signed on February 1st and they will come to our university in August ready to begin practices” ("The Bottom Line," ESPN Radio 730 Charlotte, 11/1).
UAB STADIUM IDEA SHOT DOWN: In Birmingham, Steve Irvine reports the Univ. of Alabama System Board of Trustees yesterday indicated that the UAB football program "has not generated enough fan support or money to justify building an on-campus stadium." The statement from the board called a new stadium the "wrong project at the wrong time." The decision "came after UAB officials completed an on-campus stadium feasibility study" by UAB AD Brian Mackin and VP/Financial Affairs Richard Margison. UAB booster Jimmy Filler, who "played a key role in getting purchase commitments for all 27 luxury suites in the proposed stadium," said that he "believes the board's decision is intended to be the 'final nail' for the idea of a new stadium." UAB currently plays at Legion Field (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 11/2).
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin “has received permits from Travis County to begin above-ground construction on five significant buildings, including the main grandstand for the track,” according to John Maher of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. County officials issued permits last Friday “authorizing construction of the grandstand, the pit building and the teams building at the $300 million racetrack.” Travis County Senior Engineer Teresa Calkins said that the county “also approved construction of the track's media center and medical building.” The 3.4-mile circuit “is scheduled to host its inaugural Formula One U.S. Grand Prix on Nov. 18 of next year.” F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone said that he “didn't think Austin developers were struggling to build the track.” But he added, "We can have (the race) next year or the year after. … It is not the end of the world" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/2).
UPSET INVESTORS: In London, Tom Cary reports investors who were involved in the bidding process to develop Silverstone race track “are unhappy at the way in which the Alpha Group … leapt to the front of the queue in the summer” to purchase the facility. There is “particular concern over an alleged non-refundable payment of [US$1.6M] to the British Racing Drivers’ Club, Silverstone’s owners, as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ to secure and facilitate the position of exclusivity and preferred bidder status for the 150-year lease.” It is understood that four bids “had been shortlisted by the BRDC following the start of the bidding process some 15 months ago.” However, in August “a letter was sent … stating that a fifth party had been identified and granted preferred bidder status.” Sources said that “a non-refundable deposit of [US$1.6M] was paid by the Alpha Group ‘as a gesture of goodwill’ to secure this privilege.” Cary notes a “deal is expected to be announced shortly” (London TELEGRAPH, 11/2).
Crowd Seats, the sports daily deals site, has a deal with the Yankees for discounted tickets to the Army-Rutgers football game Nov. 12 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees provided 150 end zone seats for the two-day offer running today and Thursday. Fans go to crowdseats.com to buy vouchers to exchange for $35 tickets at the box office. They also get a $10 site credit toward a future Crowd Seats purchase. The savings is 30% off the regular $50 price for those seats. To date, Crowd Seats’ six deals with sports teams and properties have accounted for 63 tickets sold with a total savings of $1,801, according to company Founder Justin Cener.
In S.F., Matier & Ross reported the 49ers have told Santa Clara officials "to expect a financial plan soon for the team's billion-dollar stadium -- raising hopes for a groundbreaking on the project by late next year." Santa Clara City Council member Lisa Gillmor said, "We are hoping to approve (the finances) before the end of the year." Matier & Ross noted the team "appears so confident of coming up with the money -- even in these lean times -- that it wants to speed things up and shoot for a 2014 opening, instead of the current target of 2015" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/31).
CUTTING BACK? Bobcats President Fred Whitfield indicated that the "number of suites at Time Warner Cable Arena could change in future years." The arena currently has 60 suites, and Whitfield "wonders whether a couple of them could be consolidated into 'super suites,' larger luxury boxes sold on a per-game basis for private parties at games and other events." A "decision on what will be changed and a timetable is expected early next year" (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/28 issue).
FILLING THE VOID: WXIA-NBC's Michael King reported Georgia Tech has "already started marketing its basketball program to displaced NBA fans left with no basketball action this season." The school has "decided to move 10 games to the now-all-but-empty Philips Arena," which typically would host Hawks games. GT had already planned to "move all of its home games to Duluth's Gwinnett Center," as the school's on-campus Alexander Memorial Coliseum is being renovated this winter (11ALIVE.com, 10/31).
LAND GRAB: In Edmonton, Michelle Thompson reported the city of Edmonton gave out nearly C$75M "on land for the downtown arena and surrounding developments," though the Katz Group will "cover nearly half that bill by buying one parcel from the city." The deal will "still see Edmonton taxpayers paying about [C$41M] for arena-related land." Those costs are not included in the C$450M "building cost estimate and are nearly twice as high" as the C$25M land estimates earlier floated (EDMONTON SUN, 11/1).