Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to deal with the Vikings stadium in a special session before Thanksgiving "appeared dead Wednesday after he and legislative leaders met for about an hour but couldn't agree on a way forward," according to a front-page piece by Doug Belden of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Dayton said the talks are now in "limbo." He "canceled a Friday meeting with the Vikings as well as the release of his own stadium plan, which he had set for Monday." Dayton said that "no further talks are scheduled with legislative leaders." Minnesota state Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said that they are "proposing a series of hearings to get citizen input on various aspects of stadium proposals, but they didn't provide details or a schedule." The Vikings called the developments "very disappointing." Dayton "had hoped to convene a special session Nov. 21-23 or perhaps a bit later if lawmakers needed more time." But Zellers said, "We can't have a vote or special session without having a plan." Dayton said that "not wanting a special session because there is no plan is 'a chicken-and-egg kind of thing.'" Belden reports as word spread yesterday that Zellers "opposed a special session," Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley "warned that delaying the issue until next year's regular session, which begins in late January, would increase the project's already hefty cost." Bagley "stopped short of saying the team would pull up stakes but noted that after this season the Vikings 'will be the only team without a lease.'" Dayton Tuesday announced that he and legislative leaders "determined there was not enough support in the Legislature to exempt either Ramsey County or Minneapolis from the requirement to hold a referendum on proposed sales tax increases to fund a stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/3).
MOVING A REAL THREAT? In Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Stassen-Berger in a front-page piece note yesterday's events "signaled that Republican lawmakers, despite mounting political pressure from the Vikings, are not convinced that the February expiration of the team's lease at the Metrodome is sufficient reason to rush into special session." Dayton said, "Nobody's ever told me explicitly that they opposed the special session. They walked away from it" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/3). Meanwhile, the AP noted there has been "little outward recruiting of the Vikings by Los Angeles or other cities seeking an NFL presence, though Dayton has said he takes the prospect seriously that failure to act could mean losing the team" (AP, 11/2).
Maricopa County yesterday “created a special revenue district that will allow Arizona State University to develop or refurbish athletic facilities, the first step in a long-term plan by ASU to create an amateur sports destination,” according to a front-page piece by Michelle Ye Hee Lee of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The County Board of Supervisors “voted unanimously to create the district, giving ASU the ability to collect revenue from commercial developments on 300-plus acres of property the university owns on or around its Tempe campus.” The funding mechanism is similar to a property tax, “but applies only to commercial developments on land the university owns.” Revenue raised in this way “eventually will be used to back bonds to fund construction projects for the university's athletic facilities.” The first project in line is "a full renovation of Sun Devil Stadium that is projected to take about 10 years at a cost" of at least $170M. Creation of the district will allow ASU “to issue construction bonds whose debt service will be financed by charges on developers building on or leasing property within the district.” The charge is in lieu of a property tax “because commercial developments do not pay property tax on university-owned land.” ASU VP/Public Affairs Virgil Renzulli said that construction “will not begin until there are commercial developments under way and there is a large enough revenue stream.” ASU President Michael Crow has said publicly that “he envisions ASU's athletic facilities by 2020 growing to become a major destination for amateur sports that is capable of hosting the Pan American Games and Olympic trials.” Meanwhile, ASU officials “estimate they could save $18 million to $23 million if ASU partnered with the Chicago Cubs to share the baseball team's new spring-training facility in Mesa” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/3).
CHANGE IS COMING: ASU Athletics COO Steve Patterson said that “a decision could be made by the first quarter of 2012 whether Sun Devil Stadium will be completely rebuilt or undergo ‘dramatic renovation.’” Patterson said that rebuilding “could prove too costly … although a renovation of the 53-year-old stadium would require extensive infrastructure work in addition to improving amenities.” In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe notes ASU “might have to play at University of Phoenix Stadium for a season depending on the construction/repair timetable” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/3).
NFL Panthers President Danny Morrison yesterday confirmed that the team has chosen Populous, the architectural firm that designed Bank of America Stadium, to "lead a year-long study" for renovating the facility, according to Joseph Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Morrison said, "The major emphasis will be on improving the fan experience. That's what we've always tried to put the major emphasis on." The study was first reported last week by SportsBusiness Journal. Person notes the Panthers chose Populous, "which is also working with the Buffalo Bills on a stadium renovation, because of its familiarity with Bank of America Stadium." Morrison said that "all of the competing firms agreed the stadium is in great shape." He added that team officials "are not interested in increasing the capacity of the stadium, but he provided few details of what the renovation might entail." Morrison "previously has talked about bringing the home-viewing experience to the stadium." Morrison: "Technology is so fast-moving that you don't know what technology will be in the next five years. We've done a pretty good job of staying current." He gave "no timetable or cost estimate for the project" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/3).
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel yesterday said that he “won’t change his mind about a taxpayer-financed plan to renovate Wrigley Field.” In Chicago, Fran Spielman notes Emanuel wants to “find a way to save Wrigley without forfeiting 35 years’ worth of amusement-tax growth.” The mayor has called that plan a “non-starter.” Emanuel asked, “Do you think that by choosing a guy called Theo Epstein that this mayor, Rahm Israel Emanuel, would be more sensitive to their needs? Is that what you’re asking?” He added, “I’m excited that the Cubs have made the decision and wish him the best. But I am not changing my perspective from the taxpayers just because people are excited” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/3).
PARKING LOT PARTY: In Chicago, Dave Hoekstra reports Red Bull Fuel + Fury, “a freestyle snowmobiling competition, makes its ballpark debut Saturday in a Wrigley Field parking lot … that has been turned into a track space.” The event has “never taken place at or near a sports stadium.” The event “is free, but tickets are required.” The city expects “a couple thousand people to attend the event, which is co-produced by Red Bull and Jam Productions” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/3).
IMPORTING RUGBY: Rugby club London Irish said that they “are considering playing a match overseas in the next few years,” with Boston mentioned “as a potential venue.” BBC Sports notes they would “be the first club to take a fixture to America.” London Irish CEO Andy Martin said, “You can imagine the scene. Fenway Park in Boston full of Irish people, hopefully with some of the fans from here going across to watch us playing an Italian side in the Heineken Cup” (BBC.co.uk, 11/1). In Boston, Peter Abraham writes in the rugby world, “this would be a very big deal.” Fenway has hosted “hockey games and a soccer match in recent years, so why not rugby?” (BOSTON.com, 10/2).
WELCOME TO MIAMI: In Miami, Clark Spencer reports yesterday the Marlins “unveiled four new street names bordering their gleaming new ballpark in Little Havana.” The street names include Marlins Way, Orange Bowl Way, Felo Ramirez Drive for the Marlins’ HOF Spanish-language broadcaster and Bobby Maduro Drive “in honor of the late baseball aficionado from Cuba whose name came to be recognized with the sport in Miami.” Marlins President David Samson said of Maduro, “We did some homework and realized he was critical in bringing Hispanics and baseball together in Miami” (MIAMI HERALD, 11/3).
In K.C., Terez Paylor notes MLS Commissioner Don Garber yesterday "reaffirmed what was already known: that an All-Star Game or MLS Cup remains in Kansas City’s future." Garber said, "I think it’s just a matter of when -- certainly not if -- we bring some major MLS events to this market." However, when "pressed to give an answer on when an announcement would be made, Garber remained noncommittal" (K.C. STAR, 11/3).
NO HALT IN SIGHT: In Nashville, Nate Rau reported the Metro Sports Authority "could halt its $7.8 million in annual incentive payments for the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena by giving notice before the end of the year, but both parties say an extension of the lease agreement is more likely." Predators President Sean Henry said, "I would be shocked, and I haven’t thought much about it because the incentives are working. The building is the fourth busiest (arena in the nation)." According to an initial agenda, the Metro board "had planned to discuss the termination of the incentives at its Nov. 7 meeting" (Nashville TENNESSEEAN, 11/1).
SEEKING GROWTH: In London, Ed Hawkins reported EPL club Chelsea has "urged Hammersmith and Fulham council to enter 'prompt' discussions about the possibility of redeveloping Stamford Bridge." Chelsea has "failed in a bid to buy back the freehold of the ground from Chelsea Pitch Owners, a move that was seen as a sign of the club wanting to move to a new stadium." But the council said that it "wanted Chelsea to remain in the borough and would look at ways of increasing the capacity from 42,000." Chelsea is "unlikely to change their view about the importance of building a new stadium." The club is "keen to exploit increased naming rights and revenue from corporate boxes at a new ground" (LONDON TIMES, 11/2).
FREE FUN FOR EVERYONE: In Indianapolis, Chris Sikich reported the Super Bowl Host Committee last Friday "outlined plans to transform Downtown streets into a super-village of fun and entertainment that includes zip-line rides, a turf field for competitions and two concert stages." But details on the Super Bowl Village, "which will be open from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5, offered the highlight." Most of the entertainment in the village will be free (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/29).
Would you wear your Cowboys jersey to an Eagles game in Philly? What about a Red Sox cap at Yankee Stadium? SBD/SBJ is asking readers to vote on the toughest sports venues to attend a game when pulling for the opposing team. Are there any stadiums and arenas where you would not wear a jersey or hat of the visiting team? Follow the link and cast your vote. The survey site also provides space where you can explain your choice and share any personal experiences. All responses are completely anonymous. Highlights of the results will appear the week of Nov. 21 in both SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Journal. Vote now!