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Volume 24 No. 116


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is "giving Minneapolis and Ramsey County until next week to submit final proposals" on a new Vikings stadium, according to Kaszuba & Roper of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Dayton Thursday said that a location for the "much-debated project soon will be 'clear cut.'" Dayton: "One of them will show ultimately to be a better option." While the Vikings "have insisted for nearly a year that they want to build in Arden Hills," team VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley Thursday acknowledged that "others will influence the decision." Dayton set a deadline of 5:00pm CT Thursday and said that he "wants to choose a stadium site and funding plan by the time the Legislature convenes Jan. 24." Recently elected state Senate majority leader Dave Senjem has said that "any stadium plan would 'move deliberately' through the Legislature." Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Thursday that the city "will stick with its proposal to build on the site of the Metrodome." Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett "expressed frustration Thursday, wondering whether the latest timetable was 'the last hoop' in his efforts to bring a $1.1 billion stadium to suburban Arden Hills" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/6). Dayton Thursday said, "I've always believed you need to have deadlines in order to get people to finally do what they need to do." In St. Paul, Belden & Murphy note Dayton "set a similar timeline last fall to have information submitted in preparation for a pre-Thanksgiving special session, but that plan fell apart in the face of opposition from Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers." Dayton "acknowledged there's no guarantee that this deadline -- which he set for 5 p.m. Jan. 12 -- will be met either, but he said he collaborated with key stadium lawmakers Rep. Morrie Lanning and Sen. Julie Rosen in setting it in order to facilitate legislative buy-in" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/6).

Kansas State Univ. officials at a Cotton Bowl pep rally Thursday announced “a $75 million expansion plan to the West side of Snyder Family Stadium,” according to Kellis Robinett of the WICHITA EAGLE. The school is “aggressively trying to catch up with other Big 12 programs that have pulled away from it in the facilities race.” Designs for the new 250,000 gross square-foot complex "compete with most current structures across the league and resembles Texas Tech's stadium in size and appearance.” The facility will be built “in six phases and include everything from a new press box to renovated restrooms and a student-athlete dining hall.” KSU AD John Currie said that he is “optimistic K-State can begin construction on the project before the start of the 2012 regular season.” His staff has “already raised approximately one third of the money needed for the project,” and once funds “reach the halfway mark, K-State will begin construction.” Currie said that crews will “work around the current facility in a way that will not interrupt its use.” When the expansion is complete, KSU “will benefit from 40 private suites, 36 club boxes and 800 club-level seats.” Fans will also “have a ‘Hall of Honor’ and a new ticket office and athletics store to walk through on the main concourse” (WICHITA EAGLE, 1/6). The project will be led by the sports design firm AE Com (formerly Ellerbe Becket) with design support from Heery Design in conjunction with Construction Managers GE Johnson and Mortenson Construction. The initial construction process will take place around the current press box structure before being fully completed. No tax or tuition dollars will be used, as the facility will be funded entirely by gifts (Kansas State).

COMPLEX CASH: In San Antonio, Dan McCarney reports construction on the initial phase of Univ. of Texas-San Antonio's Park West athletic complex is “set to break ground in March.” Phase 1 of the development “will include 1,000-seat venues for track and women's soccer and a joint press box.” The school received “$22.05 million for the project, which should be completed in the summer of 2013, from several city and county bond elections.” UTSA AD Lynn Hickey said that “roughly half of that money would go to infrastructure.” Of most immediate concern “is getting a facility built for football that would include a headquarters and two synthetic grass practice fields with lights and a scoreboard.” Hickey said that her goal “is to concurrently construct buildings for track and soccer and expand the capacity for both venues to 5,000.” A source “pegged an estimate for such a project at $20 million, but Hickey said the cost is still being evaluated.” Former Vikings, Nuggets and Spurs Owner Red McCombs has already “donated $1 million for the football practice fields” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/6).

Staples Center Owner AEG said that in the "first four months of this year, the arena will make up for most of the events lost" during the fall as a result of the NBA lockout, according to Alex Pham of the L.A. TIMES. Staples Center GM Lee Zeidman said that in the "124 days of the shortened NBA season -- which started on Christmas -- Staples is scheduled to host 127 events." Zeidman added, "From a financial standpoint, the arena has a good chance of hitting its original budget." Zeidman also noted that because some days "have more than one event, the arena still has nine empty days, but many of them are likely to be filled as the Los Angeles company continues to reach out to concert promoters and event managers." Staples "managed to fill four of the empty dates" during the lockout with a boxing match in October, an additional concert from Katy Perry in November and two additional performances from Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne tour in December. A Pollstar report indicated that Staples was the "No. 1 concert venue in 2011 in number of tickets sold, beating out New York's Madison Square Garden" (L.A. TIMES, 1/6).

The MLB Rangers Thursday "provided local news media a first look at the $12 million in improvements" to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which "hasn't been significantly renovated since it opened in 1994," according to Susan Schrock of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Team officials said that renovations to Vandergriff Plaza and the first floor of the center-field office building, as well as taller railings, are "expected to be complete by Opening Day" on April 6. To help give fans "relief from the elements, the Rangers are adding 23,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space." That includes a "two-story restaurant and sports bar with views of the field, a Kids Zone to replace the outdoor Vandergriff Plaza Sports Park and a 100-seat Batter's Eye Club atop Greene's Hill in center field." A new sports bar and "concession stands, an air-conditioned children's play area and additional club seating with spectacular views of the field are among fan-friendly features under construction." Rangers Exec VP/Ballpark Operations Rob Matwick said that even before these renovations are complete, team officials "are evaluating the next phase of new amenities, including possibly selling wine throughout the ballpark instead of just in certain areas." The renovations "come one year after the team spent $13 million to install new video boards and overhaul the ballpark's aging audio and video systems." While the city "isn't directly financing the project, the City Council approved a deal this week that lets the Rangers take advantage of the Arlington Convention Center Development Corp.'s tax-exempt certificate" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/6). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson reports the ballpark's new railings, "built to the highest standard, are expected to be installed before Opening Day, a $1.1 million project spurred by the death of fan Shannon Stone in July." Prototypes of the design "now being fabricated were on display Thursday in left field, a few sections from the site of the accident." All railings "will be 42 inches -- 8 to 10 inches taller in most places -- and will be installed in front of the first row in all elevated levels." The project "is on pace to be done March 20, thanks largely to favorable weather" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/6).

The Twins "would like to host" the NHL Winter Classic, and also are "giving serious consideration to hosting outdoor college and high school games at Target Field next winter," according to Charley Walters of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The Twins will have reps at Fenway Park and Progressive Field "within the next few weeks to observe outdoor college hockey games." Progressive Field "will host a game between Ohio State and Michigan, and Fenway Park will host a college and high school hockey showcase." The Twins feel the Fenway Park model, "which will include 16 days of college and high school outdoor games, could work at Target Field." The Univ. of Minnesota "has considered a series of outdoor college and prep hockey games for its TCF Bank Stadium, but the cost has been prohibitive." If the school's men's and women's games "were not included at Target Field for some reason, the Twins still could host other Division I teams from around the state and North Dakota." Some Division III teams "could be included, too." Walters notes the site for the '13 Winter Classic "hasn't been determined, but a good bet is Michigan Stadium." The NHL also has yet to determine the site for the '14 Winter Classic, but the Twins "are expected to be awarded Major League Baseball's All-Star Game for that year, and hosting both at Target Field would seem a challenge" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/6). 

The Kraft Group "discussed a potential Foxborough casino with two top town officials last summer, months before the public, or other town officials, learned of plans to build a $1 billion gambling resort in their town," according to Mark Arsenault of the BOSTON GLOBE. Both sides "confirm that Town Manager Kevin Paicos and Selectman Larry Harrington discussed casino issues privately with top Kraft executives, including Robert and Jonathan Kraft, in a meeting at Gillette Stadium organized by The Kraft Group." The meeting included a discussion of the "need for zoning changes if a casino proposal was to move forward." Harrington Thursday said that public officials, "including the town manager and selectmen, meet as a matter of routine with developers who might be interested in building in the town." He said, "There wasn’t a conscious effort not to tell anybody. We came back from that meeting and said: 'Let’s bring it to the Planning Board. Let’s bring it to the Board of Selectmen and see if there’s any interest.'" Paicos "lashed out at The Kraft Group yesterday, accusing the developer of mischaracterizing the substance of the August meeting" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/6). Harrington said, "The Krafts indicated they wanted to test the town's interest in a resort casino. The Krafts talked in general terms about a billion-dollar investment in real estate for a hotel, conference center, retail and gaming establishment, noting the gaming part would be a small part" (FOXBORO REPORTER, 1/6).

GROWING OPPOSITION: In Boston, Christine Legere notes rumblings of opposition to the casino "are becoming louder in neighboring communities, as officials worry about the strain the operation would place on local schools, housing, roads, and public safety departments." Town officials Thursday said that selectmen in Wrentham and Norfolk are "sending letters this week to their Foxborough counterparts, protesting any plan for a local casino." Town leaders in Walpole had "previously penned their own letters of opposition." The vote by Norfolk’s selectmen "was also unanimous." The letter "goes on to offer Foxborough assistance in any battle it wages against a local casino" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/6).

In Miami, Barry Jackson notes the Marlins' new stadium, "for now, remains nameless." Marlins President David Samson said that the team has "spoken with several companies -- and were close with at least one -- but decided to reassess." The Marlins said that the stadium "likely would be called Marlins Park, at least at the start, if they don’t strike a naming-rights deal before the opener." Meanwhile, Jackson notes ticket sales "remain brisk." Although Samson "will not release numbers, he said the team likely will finish with the eighth- or ninth-most season ticket sales in baseball." Marlins Exec VP/Ballpark Development Claude Delorme said that most of the "premium seats have been sold, but 'a decent' number of club seats remain" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/6).

: In Milwaukee, Don Walker reports Packers and construction execs Thursday "gave members of the media a tour of what work has been done so far" at Lambeau Field. On the "north side of the stadium, steel work is up where a new stadium gate featuring six elevators and a new entrance for the disabled will be built." That work "also will include construction of a rooftop viewing terrace for use by fans with club seats." On the "south side, workers were busy putting in foundations and elevator pits for what will be a 6,700 seat section." All of the work "is expected to be completed in time for the 2013 season." By the beginning of the '12 season, the north section "should be finished, and two new videoboards will be in place at both end zones" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/6).

: In London, Ashling O'Connor reports London taxpayers "will bear the burden of a [US$358M] debt on the Olympic Park for the years after the 2012 Games under a new land transfer deal agreed [to] with the Government." The liability "will pass to the Greater London Authority (GLA) in April after months of negotiations with the Treasury during which" London Mayor Boris Johnson "sought to reduce the risk of owning a 500-acre property whose commercial worth after the Games is uncertain." The revised agreement "will mean that the GLA is entitled to the first" $346M of any "future receipts from land sales in order to repay the debt," which stands at $541M. The government "will pay it down" to $358M by March 31, 2014, but it had "originally been envisaged that it would cover it in full." Any further "upside from sales will be split 25:75 with the Lottery, which was raided for" $1B in '07 to help fund the $14.4B Olympic project, and then "50:50 with the Exchequer" (LONDON TIMES, 1/6).

GOING OUT WITH A BANG: In Orlando, Mark Schlueb notes developers of the site where Amway Arena sits "have revised their demolition plans and now say they'll use explosive charges to implode the entire building sometime in March." Officials in Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's administration had previously said that imploding the arena "was too risky because explosives could damage a 9-foot stormwater drainage pipe that runs beneath the building" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/6).