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Volume 24 No. 116


The Vikings said that they will "meet with Minneapolis city leaders in the next few days and help them narrow their list of potential stadium sites -- even as the team continues to assert its preference for Arden Hills in Ramsey County," according to Eric Roper of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Vikings Dir of Corporate Communications Jeff Anderson said that team officials "received a letter from Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis Council President Barb Johnson on Wednesday and will meet with city officials before next Tuesday's stadium hearing at the State Capitol." Anderson said that the team "remains committed to Arden Hills site but is willing to 'assist the city in their analysis.'" Anderson said the Vikings would not be "going in there with the intention of telling them what site." Rather, he said that team officials will "give feedback that is requested on the Metrodome, the Farmers Market site and a third location on Linden Avenue, near the Basilica of St. Mary." Rybak said earlier in the day that the Vikings' "reluctance to meet was the only factor preventing the city from winnowing its list of stadium sites" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/1).

MAKING PLANS: Rybak claimed that a stadium "can be built on the Metrodome site for a lot less money than it can be in Arden Hills," and he said that there are "a couple of other site options on the table." Rybak and Johnson "claim they can gain support for the Vikings stadium in Minneapolis with their plan that also would enable them to take care of remodeling Target Center." Since that arena is "supported by property taxes, their proposal would reduce those taxes in Minneapolis, something residents could support" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/1). In St. Paul, Melo & Belden noted as Minneapolis "makes a move on a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, Ramsey County officials are quietly looking at new funding options -- such as taxes on booze and hotels -- to keep their Arden Hills location competitive." At a Capitol hearing this week, Senate Taxes Committee Chair Julianne Ortman "told Ramsey County officials to come up with a plan that reduces the state's contribution toward a stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/1).

Architect Gary Bates last night “unveiled ambitious preliminary ideas for reinventing Rupp Arena” and proposed “tying the University of Kentucky campus more closely to downtown,” according to Beverly Fortune of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Bates said that his urban-design team “wanted community input before making final recommendations to the task force at the end of January about the future of Rupp Arena, the Lexington Center and a proposed arts-and-entertainment area.” Ideas that Bates proposed at a public meeting last night included a “commons area running through the public spaces of downtown” and a “'Cat Walk,' basically a procession route from the UK campus to Rupp Arena” that would cut through the parking lot to the arena. Bates said that the route “would have its own identity … possibly with its own lighting and graphics, such as blue paint or giant cat pawprints on the street.” The plan also proposed "reskinning" the exterior of Rupp Arena “with a translucent covering and changing the interior to expand lower-arena seating, add backs to upper-arena seats, and boost the fan experience with technology, such as an electronic ribbon around the arena and a drop-down scoreboard above the center of the floor.” The plan also would include “building a new Lexington convention center, perhaps to the west of Rupp Arena” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 12/1). Fortune cited a feasibility study that shows renovating the arena “would cost less than half of what the city would spend to build a new arena and at the same time would include the priorities that the University of Kentucky says it wants in a basketball facility.” Renovation would cost “between $110 million and $130 million, compared to $300 million to $325 million for a new arena” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 11/30).

Orioles Park at Camden Yards may "soon be getting a makeover -- one that will make the area overlooking center field into a year-round attraction," according to Steve Kilar of the Baltimore SUN. The Maryland Stadium Authority plan indicates that the street-level picnic area behind the center-field wall "would be reconfigured into a park where fans can stroll in and gaze out on the diamond, even in December." The area would have "expanded space for concessions and a rooftop viewing area." The MSA "will be asking the Board of Public Works next Wednesday to approve a $1.8 million contract for renovations to the center field Bullpen Picnic Area." Orioles Dir of Communications Greg Bader said that the new park "will be closed at night." He added that an "event revealing more specifics will be held next week." In addition to the picnic area renovation, "new restaurant concessions and retail are planned for the ballpark." MSA Exec Dir Michael Frenz said that the "bulk of the funds for the renovations will come from the Supplemental Improvements Fund for Maryland Stadium Authority structures." Additional funds "will come out of the authority's Operations Funds" (Baltimore SUN, 12/1).

The MLS Earthquakes will begin selling luxury suites to season-ticket holders tomorrow for the team's proposed $60M soccer-specific stadium that officials hope will be ready for the '13 season. The team is asking for five-year commitments for the 12 suites, which will cost $70,000 a year and will include all events at the stadium. The team has no suite seating at Santa Clara Univ.’s 10,300-seat Buck Shaw Stadium, which has hosted the Earthquakes since the '08 season. The proposed suites are located on the field level adjacent to the player benches. “The genesis of (the suites) was actually Buck Shaw, because we have field-side seating there and people are always telling us that they’ve never sat that close to the action,” said Earthquakes President David Kaval. “It’s an intimate feeling being that close to the action and we felt a field suite would be a great way to capture that.” The team worked with K.C.-based 360 Architecture to design the stadium; California-based Devcon Construction will build the facility. Kaval said the plans for the stadium also call for additional luxury boxes at the press-box level, though the team has not finalized the number of suites or the price. The field-side suites are 350 square feet and will accommodate 23 people and feature 17 seats, a private bar, couches and flat screen monitors. Food and beverage are available at an added cost. The team has submitted its plans to the San Jose City Council for the stadium and are waiting on approval for a development permit, which will be decided on at a Dec. 14 public meeting. The permit is the final barrier the team faces in approving the planned stadium, according to Kaval.

A feud between the city of Miami and the agency that will "manage the parking garages at the Miami Marlins’ new Little Havana ballpark is making it more unlikely that ground-floor retailers will set up shop by Opening Day in April 2012," according to Patricia Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. The city and the Miami Parking Authority have yet to "agree on the fine print of a deal laying out how the garages will be run." Potential retail and restaurant tenants "can’t sign leases until the two sides have inked the agreement." City commissioners "put forth a proposed contract two weeks ago after a commercial real-estate broker warned that time is tight for businesses to open their doors in the four months left before Opening Day." To speed up the process, the "semi-autonomous parking authority set a special board meeting for Wednesday to finalize the deal." But board members "voted unanimously for the agreement -- only if the city first agrees to a pair of changes." The changes will "push back the signing of any leases by at least another two weeks ... further diminishing the chances that any retail stores will be up and running in the garages by the start of baseball season." No restaurants, "which take considerably longer to set up, will be open, either" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/1).