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Volume 24 No. 117


Vikings Owners the Wilf family for months now “has clearly favored the Arden Hills site as their chosen location for a stadium, and while it still remains No. 1 on their list, it appears the team doesn't believe Ramsey County can handle the finances necessary to get the $1.1 billion stadium built,” according to Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Vikings VP/Stadium Operations & Public Affairs Lester Bagley “made that very clear Thursday.” He said Arden Hills "is on life support" as far as a stadium site goes. Bagley said that it “appears that Minneapolis, with three possible stadium sites proposed, is in a better position to finance the stadium.” Meanwhile, Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf talked to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday “to try to encourage the governor to get something going with the Legislature on Tuesday.” For a period, it “appeared the stadium situation was making good progress but now there is talk, even by Dayton, that a bill won't be passed in this session.” That would be “a disaster, and it might make for a great possibility that the Vikings could move to Los Angeles, where they are set to build a stadium that will be ready by 2015” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/20). Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, a key architect of the Arden Hills deal, said, "The Legislature needs to find the funding sources. We've jumped every friggin' hoop there is in town." In St. Paul, Frederick Melo writes Ramsey County stadium proponents “still may have one key advantage over Minneapolis: votes.” Arden Hills stadium proponents are “hoping for a Hail Mary pass.” For instance, Native American gaming interests “recently made a controversial pitch to a state Senate tax committee.” The White Earth Tribal Council -- the “largest American Indian tribe in the state -- has proposed a Twin Cities casino to fund the stadium” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/20).

The A's Coliseum lease "expires at the end of the 2013 season," and even if MLB "decides to grant the wish of A's co-owner Lew Wolff to move the team to San Jose, they won't have a ballpark to play in for several years," according to Angela Woodall of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. That means the A's will be in Oakland until "at least 2015 -- if not much longer -- giving the city and county a bargaining chip when they start talking about extending the Coliseum contract." Woodall noted the question is whether Mayor Jean Quan and other elected officials will "leverage their advantage to get a better contract or do whatever they can to keep the team in Oakland." A's President Mike Crowley said that he sent what he "considered a fair lease extension proposal in June that was met with a 'convoluted' response from the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, which oversees the municipally owned complex." Crowley said, "If we can't work something out here, we'll have to find somewhere else to play. There are not many options. But we have time. We're here in 2012, and we're here in 2013." The A's have control over concessions "during all events, as well as parking and pouring rights." That is "worth as much as $4.5 million." The team also "keeps all revenue from their games and nearly three-quarters of money from concessions, which is above industry standards of 50 percent." But the next deal may "not be so generous." The A's are "supposed to pay $1 million in rent on June 30, 2012, and $800,000 on June 30, 2013." Referring to the '13 deadline and lack of alternatives, Oakland City Council member Ignacio De La Fuente said, "The reality is they're the ones who have a timeline, not us." Woodall noted if the A's move to San Jose and the Raiders head south to L.A., the Coliseum will be left "without a permanent tenant, although it could be used for soccer and more concerts." Stanford Univ. professor and sports economist Roger Noll said, "This is a unique situation when neither side has any options"(OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 1/19).

Regardless of who takes ownership of the Dodgers, it is likely that motorcycles "will still be racing inside" Dodger Stadium on the third weekend of January in the future, according to Keith Lair of the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE. Feld Motor Sports, which "owns and promotes the AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series, will hold its second race in the venue on Saturday night." Supercross Dir Dave Prater, when asked if the contract could end once the Dodgers are sold, said, "I don't think so simply because it is signed. We'll have to wait and see with the new owner and their desires. But I doubt it." Saturday's race and the Feb. 18 Monster Jam truck show will be "part of the second year of a three-year contract, which has a clause for an optional fourth year." Dodgers Chief Revenue Officer Michael Young said of ending the agreement early, "I don't believe there is any reason. Financially, it has worked out great for both sides. I don't see any reason why it would not be extended." Young added that another reason "to keep the sport at Dodger Stadium is the ease in which the baseball stadium has been transformed into the supercross stadium." Last year's inaugural race "drew 41,107 fans in a facility that holds about 56,000." Prater said, "Everyone is open-minded that stadiums are multi-use venues. The days of only having baseball games in a stadium are over." Lair notes the supercross series also competes at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 18 and Daytona Int'l Speedway on March 10 (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 1/20). 

Sacramento city officials said that they are “buoyed by a flurry of interest this week among private parking operators in a deal to finance a downtown arena” for the NBA Kings. In Sacramento, Tony Bizjak notes 25 entities, including “most of the country's largest parking companies, notified the city they are considering applying to manage city downtown parking facilities, in exchange for paying hundreds of millions of dollars upfront to help the city build an arena.” The city has given private companies “until Jan. 30 to respond to its recently issued” request for qualifications, and is “expected to update the City Council on the parking effort on Feb. 14” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/20).

WALL PIECES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Brian Costa reports the Mets are “selling several pieces” of the original Citi Field outfield wall, which “is being renovated to reduce the ballpark's dimensions, in an auction.” Items for sale include “ads for Wheat Thins, Delta, Lincoln and Verizon, along with banners commemorating" the Mets' '00 NL championship and '88 and '06 division titles. Leading bids for the wall panels Thursday “ranged from $800 to $1,100” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/20).

NEW DIGS: In Las Vegas, Matt Youmans notes UNLV's Mendenhall Center practice facility Thursday “was unveiled in a private celebration.” The facility took “about five years of planning,” and cost “approximately $13 million.” The three-level building, which “is connected to Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center, is a 35,000-square-foot showcase.” UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice said that the team “could start practicing in the Mendenhall Center ‘in the next few weeks’ after building inspections are completed” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/20). Meanwhile, Temple Univ.'s men's basketball  team held its first practice at the Donald and Nancy Resnick Court at the school's newly renovated practice facility. A grand opening for the 30,000-square-foot facility will be held later this year (Temple).