The NFL has “decided to make room for 5,000 extra ticketholders for the Super Bowl in Lucas Oil Stadium,” according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. NFL officials on Monday said that they “plan to expand the stadium capacity to 68,000 during the Feb. 5 event in Indianapolis.” Capacity for Colts games “is typically 63,000.” The decision was made after the league “evaluated how much room it would need for media auxiliary seating and for NBC’s production facilities within the venue.” When Indianapolis made its bid for the Super Bowl in '08, local officials said that they “could expand Lucas Oil Stadium capacity to 70,000.” But in recent weeks, the Super Bowl Host Committee said that it was “only going to expand capacity by 254 tickets.” Most of the extra capacity “will come from additional standing-room tickets sold for each suite and by filling platforms that are not normally used during Colts games with padded chairs.” NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that “all the temporary seats have been inspected and approved by the city’s Department of Code Enforcement.” He added that “no bleachers or temporary structures will be built to accommodate the additional capacity” (IBJ.com, 1/24). The AP’s Michael Marot noted after "hundreds of ticketed fans were left without seats" during last year's Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, the league “took a more cautious approach and in March settled on the rough number of 68,000” for this year's game. McCarthy: "It played a role." The actual capacity is “still to be decided,” and it “won't be announced until late next week.” McCarthy said that the timing of that announcement “is customary” (AP, 1/24).
SUPPLY & DEMAND: In Indianapolis, Zak Keefer wrote this year’s Super Bowl venue is “among the five smallest ever, sandwiched amidst XXXVII in San Diego (67,603) and XL in Detroit (68,206).” The smallest Super Bowl ever was “the very first one at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where 61,946 watched” the Packers defeat the Chiefs (INDYSTAR.com, 1/24). YAHOO SPORTS’ Maggie Hendricks wrote fans interested in buying tickets to the game should “expect to spend at least $2,500 per ticket.” StubHub's tickets “start at $2,450 for individual seats.” Indianapolis-based broker Circle City Tickets had seats “starting at $2,760 in the highest reaches of the stadium.” SeatGeek reports that the average seat “is $3,470, making it the most expensive event they've ever tracked” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/24).
The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board is “mulling a proposal to purchase naming rights for the New Orleans Arena,” according to Cara Bayles of the HOUMA COURIER. The marketing board’s Exec Dir Ewell Smith said that the Hornets could “soon play in the Louisiana Seafood Arena.” Hornets Senior Dir of Communications Harold Kaufman said, “We've been aggressively seeking a naming-rights partner for many months, but we can't specify who those discussions are with.” Bayles noted should the naming-rights deal go through, it “would not be the first time the Seafood Board and the Hornets worked together.” Prior to the BP oil spill in '10, the marketing board “opened a Louisiana seafood vendors' booth at the arena," which Smith said was "a tremendous success." Since the spill, the group “has bought signs in the arena, and the Hornets agreed in February to exclusively serve locally produced seafood” (HOUMA COURIER, 1/24). Smith said that the board “might use a portion of the $30 million it received from BP after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to buy the naming rights” to the arena. In New Orleans, Nakia Hogan writes a deal is “far from [a] slam dunk.” But Smith said that it “could have great value as part of their campaign to restore confidence in the seafood industry, which took a major blow following” the spill. Under their current lease with the state, the Hornets “would receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of naming rights at the state-owned building.” Smith said that a decision “could be made within 30 to 90 days.” The Hornets, “whose lease with the state is set to expire following the 2014 season, are in negotiations with the state to extend the lease while also seeking to find an owner to purchase the team from the NBA.” A naming-rights deal and a new lease “would seemingly make the team more attractive to potential buyers,” but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal yesterday said that the negotiations “are separate transactions.” A naming-rights deal for an "arena in the New Orleans market likely could cost about $35 million for 10 years" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/25).
While the Rams' lease states that the Edward Jones Done "has to be a 'first-tier' stadium by 2015, or among the top 25 percent" of NFL venues, the document "doesn't offer much clarity on what constitutes first tier," according to Matthew Hathaway of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The lease "identifies several components that need to meet that bar, but also includes vague factors, such as 'the physical structure of the facilities'" and stadium seating. It includes "enough broad language that negotiators could argue just about every inch of the Dome is subject to the standard." Hathaway writes the key to "winning over" Rams Owner Stan Kroenke "may be not necessarily to offer enough to make the Dome one of football's first-tier shrines, but perhaps enough to get the Rams to look the other way or renegotiate the agreement." The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which manages the Dome, "has a week left to present the Rams with a plan for revamping the stadium." The Dome must be "deemed first tier in each of 15 categories, though the lease doesn't spell exactly what would make each of those areas first tier." The categories include "fan amenities, such as box suites, club seats, lounges and any other public areas, including elevators and escalators." Also included are "technical areas, such as scoreboards, lighting, sound, computer and emergency systems, as well 'advertising infrastructure in, on and around the facilities.'" In addition, "revenue-generating facilities, such as food-preparation areas, shops, concession stalls and box offices," and "behind-the-scenes areas related to the team" are included. Hathaway notes considering the "state of the economy -- and the fact that the original construction debt still hasn't been paid off -- publicly funded improvements to the Dome could be a tough sell" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/25).
English soccer club West Ham United officials “are reconsidering their plans to move to the Olympic Stadium after London 2012,” according to Ashling O’Connor of the LONDON TIMES. Signs that the club has “gone cold” on a deal to relocate to the US$757M stadium “threaten to reignite a politically sensitive issue about the future use of the taxpayer-funded East London venue from 2014 onwards.” The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), the government agency managing the commercial transformation of the publicly owned 500-acre site in Stratford, is “seeking expressions of interest in the stadium by Monday.” O’Connor notes it “has always been assumed that West Ham would return to the negotiating table after they were chosen as the preferred bidder ahead of Tottenham Hotspur under a previous tender process, which was subsequently abandoned because of legal complications.” But West Ham reportedly “will not submit a formal bid by the March 23 deadline unless the terms of the draft contract are vastly improved.” The club has “expressed an interest in a 99-year lease, but will not begin work on any detailed plan until there is greater clarity from the OPLC about what is being asked of potential bidders.” The main stumbling blocks include “the share of naming-rights revenue, branding issues on match days, flexibility on fixture dates, the ability to shape the stadium’s design and the identity of co-tenants” (LONDON TIMES, 1/25). U.K. Minister for Sport & Olympics Hugh Robertson said that if a soccer team “wanted to buy the stadium outright ... that remained a possibility.” Robertson: "If a football club was one of the legacy users and there should be a change of ownership, that would be built into the process. It's not designed to stay in public ownership indefinitely" (GUARDIAN, 1/25).
In St. Paul, Charley Waters cites sources as saying that Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf “reluctantly will accept the Metrodome site for a newly constructed stadium, although nothing is final” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/25). In Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Roper note negotiators for a new Vikings stadium are “working to sweep aside two major legal obstacles to building the project in Minneapolis, moves that are raising objections from stadium funding critics and supporters of an Arden Hills site.” Metropolitan Sports Commissioner Chair Ted Mondale said that stadium legislation “will seek to nullify a Minneapolis charter provision that requires voter approval if the city pays $10 million or more for a sports facility.” Mondale said that lawyers “were also confronting another obstacle: how to get around a charter requirement for nine City Council votes to sell city land” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/25).
TALKING THE TALK: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Falcons eleven months ago “agreed to enter negotiations about a potential new open-air football stadium downtown,” and both parties said that they are “still negotiating.” GWCC Authority Exec Dir Frank Poe said of how far along the process has moved, "It would be hard to say we're 10 percent or 50 percent or 60 percent there. There are some areas where there is common acceptance of positions, but there also are a lot of areas in which we still have work to be done. It's not going to be something that will be resolved real quickly." The Falcons in a statement said, "There are no further developments to discuss at this point out of respect for the negotiation process." Poe described the negotiations as "amiable, collaborative and cooperative." He added that there “is no timetable for a resolution” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/25).
GAINING STEAM: In San Diego, Matthew Hall reported a proposal by San Diego Union-Tribune’s ownership and opinion arm that “champions a football stadium, a sports arena and an expanded convention center along San Diego’s waterfront has revived a public debate over 96 acres of land long coveted by developers.” Padres Chair John Moores “first suggested a stadium at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal in 2004, but the idea has been rebuffed so often by labor officials and the Port of San Diego that the Chargers always discounted the option.” Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani on Monday “called a waterfront stadium viable, but emphasized the team remains committed to pursuing a $1 billion stadium at the Metropolitan Transit System bus yard in East Village.” Fabiani: “If we can, obviously, that will be the direction everyone heads off in. If we can’t, I presume that discussions about 10th Avenue will continue and even intensify” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/23).
GRASS IS GREENER: In Cincinnati, Sharon Coolidge reported Hamilton County taxpayers “are buying the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals new playing fields.” Hamilton County Stadium Dir Joseph Feldkamp said that the total cost is $1.53M with the county to pay “$3.6 million in 2012 for the fields, repairs and equipment replacement at Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium.” The Bengals have “agreed to pay the $850,000 cost of replacing two of its three practice fields” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/24).