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Volume 24 No. 155


A number of Saints ticket holders have "expressed dissatisfaction with the location of their seats in the newly configured Plaza level" of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, according to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The building's new layout resulted in a permanent "expanded configuration," adding "more than 3,000 seats to capacity, but leaving longtime Saints season-ticket holders whose seats might have been moved clearly unhappy." Many of the letters "received and published by the newspaper indicate that fans got little or no warning about potential sight-line issues with their seats if they'd been moved." SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton said that ticket holders "should have received a letter directing them to a three-dimensional mockup of the new configuration on the SMG website." He mentioned that "concerns over the 'pitch' of the seating area, which has resulted in complaints about the inability of some fans to see over those in front of them, has been lowered by only one-quarter of an inch per step between the new and old configurations." Thornton: "There's always a price you pay for progress. If we want to be competitive, these are the things we felt we had to do. I think you'll find the overwhelming majority of people who sit in the lower bowl, 90-percent plus, have no complaints." Thornton said that fans in the "four corners of the Plaza level, which were reconfigured as well, also have experienced seating changes which resulted in complaints," especially the "last 10 rows which now are under the Loge overhang." To compensate, Thornton said that fans have been "provided with 52-inch flat-screen televisions to enhance the experience and provide access to replay screens that are obscured" (, 11/28).

The A's have begun "exclusive negotiations" with Mesa for use of Hohokam Stadium for the team's spring training "as early as 2015," according to Gary Nelson of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The A's have trained at the "half-century-old Phoenix Municipal Stadium" since '82. Phoenix Deputy Parks Dir Rob Harman said that it was "way too early to speculate on what the city might do with an empty stadium." The A's said that the "negotiating period began Monday and lasts through May 15." A's Dir of Minor League Operations Ted Polakowski said that the team will "closely observe how Hohokam and Fitch [Park] function during the coming spring-training season to assess the feasibility of moving, as well as the need for facility upgrades." The Cubs are scheduled to "use Hohokam through 2013 and move to Mesa's Riverview area in 2014." Polakowski said that the A's are "committed to staying in Phoenix through 2014." Harman and Polakowski said that the A's and Phoenix have "had an outstanding relationship." But Phoenix Municipal has "fallen behind newer Cactus League venues." The stadium is "in line for $3.7million for renovations from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority." An additional $8M is "on tap for Hohokam, possibly cushioning the cost to Mesa of absorbing another Cactus League team" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/29). A's co-Owner Lew Wolff "talked last spring of the need for renovations at" Phoenix Municipal. The A's said that they "would have no further comment until an agreement is reached with Mesa or talks break off" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/29).

In S.F., Heather Knight wrote 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in his first year has led the team to a "surprisingly good season, guaranteed to be its first winning once since 2002." Knight: "So City Hall must be skywriting declarations of love over Candlestick every game day, right? Not so much." S.F. Mayor Ed Lee said, "It's more like, 'Let's keep in touch, let's keep talking to each other and see where our proposals go.' I admit we're a Plan B." Lee is "hoping it's an opening to present 'a more robust proposal' for the Hunters Point stadium plan." The new plan could "include securing private financing for some kind of exchange on Highway 101 to shave 15 minutes off the travel time to the stadium." The city is "also playing up its financial strengths, including its natural clientele for luxury boxes and its potential to draw concerts and other sporting events to a new stadium." Lee said that his staff has "begun talking to the Oakland Raiders about turning the Hunters Point stadium into the homebase for both teams," an idea the NFL has promoted (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/27).

VIDEO GAME: In Charlotte, Joseph Person noted as the Panthers "begin a yearlong study for renovating Bank of America Stadium, experts say fans can expect to see bigger and better videoboards, improved suites and premium seats, and enhanced technology when work is finished at the 16-year-old facility." David Wagner, whose Charlotte-based Wagner Murray Architects is serving as a consultant on the renovation plan, said, "Five years ago nobody brought PDAs to football games. Look around now. How many people are on their BlackBerries? Half of them. They're checking scores." Wagner added, "No one watches the field. It's the craziest thing. They're looking at the videoboards. They're looking at the ribbon boards. They're looking at their PDAs" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/25).

SUMMER FOOTBALL: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec noted the Ravens are "currently negotiating with several international soccer clubs with the hope of playing host to two potentially high-profile games in the summer." M&T Bank Stadium was the site of an exhibition game between Serie A club AC Milan and EPL club Chelsea in July '09 that "attracted more than 72,000 fans." The Ravens were "hoping to have a soccer game at the stadium this past summer, but they were unable to secure an agreement" (Baltimore SUN, 11/27).