Marlins President David Samson confirmed the team’s new ballpark will be called Marlins Park until it lands a naming-rights partner. Samson, appearing on WAXY-AM’s “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” said the club was “down the road” with a naming-rights partner prior to the free-agent signings of SS Jose Reyes and Ps Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. Samson said, “We signed some players and some more companies got interested and then the price started changing. All of a sudden, when you get really into bigger numbers, it takes a lot longer to finish a long-term deal like that, and I didn’t want to pressure anyone or myself.” He noted the team hopes to "begin the season with 15,000-17,000 season-ticket holders,” which will mark the “most in our franchise history.” Samson: “From a business standpoint, what I’d like to see happen through the efforts of our sales and marketing department and the performance of our on-field team would be to have approximately 17,000-18,000 season-ticket holders and then a waiting list where you fill up half of the bowl with season tickets and the other half through individual. That would be an amazing percentage” (“The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” WAXY-AM, 1/25).
NEW VENDORS FOR BALLPARK: In Miami, Andres Viglucci reports the Marlins have "signed up three food vendors to fill shops at the new ballpark's West Plaza" -- salad and sandwich shop La Baguette, Cuban-style bakery Holiday Bakery and frozen yogurt shop YoBlendz. All three vendors are "local operators and will be open every day to serve both fans and the local community" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/26).
Giant marquees that are at "least four stories tall flash digital ads in front of the US Airways Center and next to Chase Field," and these "marquees, signs and screens add up to an $8.6 million, first-year investment and mark the first phase of the city's new Legends Entertainment District," according to Emily Gersema of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The city of Phoenix "provided $2 million for the initial investment," with the rest coming from the Suns, D'Backs and investors. The district "seems largely focused on advertising, but the Legends district's general manager, Judd Norris, is promising more attractions." Norris: "We want to start by bringing more interaction -- have people send Twitter or text messages that would get posted (on the marquees) like 'Go Suns.' And we want to start to sink our teeth in the 'legend' aspect." Norris said that additions to the district "will include a legends' mural highlighting star athletes on the Luhrs Building near Central Avenue and Jefferson Street, and a 'Walk of Fame' near Jefferson Street that would be similar to Hollywood's Walk of Fame for movie stars." Included in the "legend" category are former Suns G Dan Majerle and former D'Backs LF Luis Gonzalez. Phoenix Community Economic Development Department Program Manager Eric Johnson said that Legends "will not begin sharing revenue with the city until its second year." Norris did not disclose any figures, but said that Suns and D'Backs officials are "happy with what they're seeing so far and they are enjoying a boost in advertising revenue." D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said, "We could not be more pleased with the look and the results. There's definitely a continuous flow of energy" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/25).
Groundbreaking for a “multi-million-dollar, 12,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor entertainment area at Honda Center is set for early February,” according to Eugene Fields of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The improvements could make Honda Center “more attractive” to an NBA team looking to relocate. The Grand Terrace “will be the largest improvement in the history of the 19-year-old facility,” and will include “an 80-foot-long bar, upscale décor and a 200-seat restaurant.” Anaheim Arena Management Dir of Media & Communications Merit Tully said that the space “will also be used for entertainment, such as live music.” More than “80-percent of the 1,100 annual memberships for the bar -- at $400 each -- have currently been sold.” Tully noted that Ducks Owners Henry and Susan Samueli “are paying ‘100 percent’ of the expansion.” The project “will cut in the parking lot a bit, taking 25 of the Honda Center’s 4,500 spaces” and is scheduled to be completed “by early 2013, in the middle of the 2012-2013 NHL season” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/25)
In Lexington, Beverly Fortune wrote Mayor Jim Gray “unveiled a conceptual drawing Tuesday that showed the inside of a renovated Rupp Arena with an eight-sided scoreboard over the center of the basketball floor and a reconfigured lower level with more seats.” Gray at the annual State of the Merged Government speech said that “the lower arena seating capacity would increase by 800 to 1,000 seats.” The upper level would be “rebuilt with all chair-back seats,” and premium seating “would be added.” Other features would include “enlarged concourses, additional restrooms and a lobby entrance off Triangle Park.” The design was proposed by Gary Bates, “the arena, arts and entertainment district's master planner.” Gray said, “This is a big project. Don't think you can snap your fingers and it will happen overnight. We are at step three of a 10-step process” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 1/25).
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: In San Antonio, Brent Zwerneman writes rumors “have festered that Texas A&M might play a season away from Kyle Field -- likely at Houston's Reliant Stadium -- while the Aggies' home of more than 100 years undergoes a big-time renovation.” Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said, “Forgoing a season at Kyle Field has a huge impact economically on Texas A&M and you. We're in this together.” Loftin “stopped short of ruling out the Aggies playing away from Kyle for a season, however, because all renovation options are still open.” Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne said playing away from Kyle for a season is “way, way down” the list of options (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/26).
OVER BUDGET: In Michigan, Brandon Howell reported planned upgrades to Spartan Stadium's scoreboards and sound system “will cost more than Michigan State University officials originally estimated.” The $10M project proposal “goes before the MSU Board of Trustees at its regular meeting Friday for approval.” The board in December “authorized university officials to begin planning for the project, which at that time sported" an $8M bill (MLIVE.com, 1/25). In Detroit, Kevin Bull noted MSU Tuesday “released artist renderings for the proposed new scoreboard and video screens and video fascia.” The new scoreboard “would be in the south end, and the two video screens and video fascia would be in the north.” The scoreboards “would be installed before games this fall” (FREEP.com, 1/24).