Metropolitan Sports Commissioner Chair Ted Mondale Friday said that "‘time is not on our side right now’ for getting a Minnesota Vikings stadium plan through the Legislature this year, although proponents are still pushing for a solution,” according to Mike Kazuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Mondale said that while "divisions over the best site and financing plans remain," time may be the project's "‘biggest enemy’ in trying to draw up a final proposal.” He added that the stadium's prospects “could change dramatically ... should supporters agree on a stadium site and a public funding mechanism.” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said it is a "genuine possibility" that a decision on the stadium could be delayed until '13. Dayton last week said that while he "leaned toward building a stadium near the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, all of the proposed locations still have multiple problems.” Mondale Friday predicted that the region's “top business leaders and labor unions would quickly get behind a stadium drive once a proposal is made final” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/21). In Minneapolis, Rochelle Olson noted even though an analysis last week by Dayton put the Vikings stadium site in Arden Hills “on the disabled list,” Ramsey County officials said that they are “waiting on the sideline and ready to reenter the stadium fray when called.” As negotiators “turn their focus to potential Minneapolis sites, the county and Vikings officials plan to stand firm on their $1.1 billion proposal and see what shakes out when the Legislature convenes next week.” Ramsey County is “staying in the hunt because officials believe it is possible there are deal-busting pitfalls at the Minneapolis sites, too” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/21). In St. Paul, Joe Soucheray wrote there “was never any chance of the Arden Hills site.” Soucheray: “We are governed by new urbanists and their rosy vision of a sustainable urban core and whatnot, and the prospect of building a place out in Arden Hills surrounded by acres of parking smacked of such a 1950s suburban idyll that it never stood a chance even if somebody could write a check for it. Metrodome. Basilica. Those are the options” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/22).
The SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE in a front-page editorial laid out its plan for a new Chargers Stadium, stating it is a "vision that would not just integrate a new stadium with an expanded convention center, but, in phases, would include a sports/entertainment district with a new sports arena, new public parkland, public beach and promenades -- all in an area that today is unsightly industrial property inaccessible to the public." The plan “starts at the 10 Avenue Marine Terminal, just south of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.” The total tab of about $1.5B would be more expensive than the current plans, but the "rewards would be far greater, too." The editorial: "We believe this vision is not just grand but achievable, financially and politically. It would transform the waterfront into a regional economic powerhouse far beyond what it is today. It would produce a convention center that could compete with any other center in the world. And we believe it is a far better approach than current plans to build a new stadium away from the waterfront and an expanded convention center as separate projects" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/22). The UNION-TRIBUNE in a separate editorial spelled out details of its plan and stated, "Built in sync with a new stadium, sports arena and a sports-entertainment-resort district, the result would be an enormous engine for economic growth and job creation -- a bold project far more likely to attract future Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours and other mega-events than the present plan" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/22).
REACTION TO THE PLAN: Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani said, "The Chargers are excited about this new and ambitious vision for San Diego’s waterfront. The multi-use facilities envisioned by UT San Diego would allow us to retain the Chargers, attract regular Super Bowls, and put San Diego at the forefront of the national sports, entertainment and convention markets. This is a bold and serious proposal that deserves a vigorous public debate." However, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said, "I think if we put it down on port property it’s just going to take forever to get it done because there are too many battles to fight" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/22).
Legends Sales & Marketing has “agreed to a two-year deal to sell premium seats and PSLs for the new Formula One racetrack in Austin,” according to Don Muret of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Legends must “fast-track a marketing campaign to sell 29 suites and seat licenses for 8,000 seats in the main grandstand by the start and finish lines.” The projected suite prices at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) are “$100,000 to $200,000 annually for 24- and 30-seat units, and $1,000 to $5,000 for PSLs.” Legends Sales Division President Chad Estis said the “terms of the seat licenses have not been determined.” Temporary suites will be “set up along the racetrack’s 20 turns, similar to the chalets set up at PGA Tour events.” Legends officials also believe the suites “will be a regional draw for companies from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico, buying skyboxes for race weekends (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/23 issue). In Austin, John Maher noted that COTA officials have said tickets for the race “will be available in early summer,” but fans “can go to the Circuit of the Americas website now to join the waiting list for seat licenses, which will go on sale March 1.” The PSLs are “for all racing events at the circuit for the next 15 years.” Maher also noted a license “does not include the price of tickets for those events,” and that the price for the PSL “varies according to the proximity to the finish line and the amenities offered.” Fans will be able “to join the waiting list for a seat license until Feb. 13” and a deposit “of $100 is required.” The PSL also "gives the holder priority position to buy tickets for entertainment events.” The circuit, which “will be able to hold 120,000 fans for the F1 race, will have a 5,000-seat amphitheater that will be used for concerts” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 1/22). In L.A., Jim Peltz reports prices of the actual grandstand seats, “along with prices for all seats and general admission to the race, will be announced later this year” (L.A. TIMES, 1/23).
In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted Bradley Center officials have been "signaling for several years that the building has a limited shelf life, and it's time to start the discussion on a new arena." But in the "current political climate nationally ... that discussion isn't getting any traction." Bradley Center President & CEO Steve Costello said, "The Bradley Center is smaller than most buildings of its type and has limited revenue generating options. It is difficult to find more ways to generate new revenue to address mounting needs. ... The continued success of the Bradley Center needs attention now." Walker noted the average NBA arena "has 2,200 club seats," while the Bradley Center has none. Costello: "We need more premium areas" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/22).
UNIQUE CAMP: In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy notes when Bengals training camp opens at Paul Brown Stadium in July, it "should be a unique scene," as no other NFL team holds "regular practices inside their stadium." The only place "that could mirror that is New England, which has the Patriots Place development adjacent to Gillette Stadium and the practice fields." The one thing that is "certain is that no other team holds their camp downtown." Reedy asks, "How do you replicate the access that fans enjoyed at Georgetown and in many cases how do you improve it? And what are the special events and attractions going to be that the team touted in its release?" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/23).
OLYMPIC CONVERSION: In Atlanta, David Wickert notes local developers "want to turn the former Olympic tennis venue near Stone Mountain into a mammoth sports, commercial and residential complex that would host young athletes from across the country." Plans submitted to Gwinnett County indicate that the 207-acre complex would "include a 7,000-seat arena, 33 sports fields, 700 hotel rooms, 915 town homes and 180,000 square feet of commercial space." David Stedman, a partner in the proposed Stone Mountain Athletic & Recreational Training Center, "cautioned that the project is in its early stages and would take a decade to fully develop" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/23).