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Volume 24 No. 117


The Rupp Arena, Arts & Entertainment District Task Force's final report "envisions a $250 million to $300 million 'transformation' of Lexington Center, including Rupp Arena, the Lexington Convention Center, the Civic Center Shoppes and immediate environs, but it does not outline a specific plan to pay for the huge project," according to Beverly Fortune of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. The report, issued yesterday, said that "building a new Rupp Arena would not be economically feasible." The task force "proposes a major renovation of the city-owned arena rather than replacing the 24,000-seat home of the" Univ. of Kentucky. The Lexington Convention Center, "including the Civic Center Shoppes, would be removed." A new convention center made up of a "cluster of buildings on a campuslike setting would be built immediately west of Rupp." UK has a contract with Lexington Center to "play its men's basketball games in Rupp Arena through 2018." If financing "is found, phased demolition and construction of the civic center and Rupp Arena could start as early as 2014." Task Force Chair Brent Rice said there was "tremendous retail opportunity (and) tremendous opportunity with the technology changes inside Rupp." Rice added that the Packers' model of "selling stock to fans to raise money to renovate Lambeau Field also will be looked at" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 2/1). In Louisville, Kyle Tucker notes the task force's goal is to "have basic project organization, a complete business plan and surveys and environmental studies done this year, while concept design and engineering, pre-construction cost estimates and a construction schedule are tabbed for 2013." The schematic design could be "completed in 2014 with initial construction beginning on the convention center that spring." The renovation is "tentatively pegged to begin in the spring of 2015 and be completed in the summer of 2017." The task force said that it spent "significant time exploring the recent Madison Square Garden renovation, which was done in three phases and allowed" the Knicks to "keep using the building throughout, to ensure this project can be completed without displacing UK’s team" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 2/1).

The Royals' Kauffman Stadium is "getting greener with the largest in-stadium solar array generating electricity" in an MLB ballpark, according to Steve Everly of the K.C. STAR. The facility's "160 solar panels, which have been installed and tested, are expected to produce 36,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is enough to power four homes." That amount of energy "won’t be enough to meet all the stadium’s electricity needs but should provide most if not all of a crucial element of the game." K.C. Power & Light VP/Marketing & Public Affairs Chuck Caisley said, "Your beer is going to be cooled by the sun." The move into solar energy comes as MLB is "making a push to encourage teams to be energy efficient and use more renewable energy." Kauffman Stadium joins five other ballparks, including Coors Field and Progressive Field, that are already "equipped with solar panels." The Giants have a "bigger solar installation than the Royals’ but it is outside" AT&T Park. The Royals will host the '12 All-Star Game, and the team "wanted renewable energy to be part of putting its best foot forward for the national audience watching that game." The panels are "at the back of the ballpark and stretch around most of the outfield." They can be "clearly seen from most seats although they blend in -- blue solar panels in brushed aluminum frames." The panels are "non-reflective and tilted to keep any reflections from interfering with play" (K.C. STAR, 2/1).

Broward County commissioners "overcame concerns about a lopsided deal for taxpayers and gave the Florida Panthers a $7.7 million loan Tuesday for arena renovations," according to Brittany Wallman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The Panthers' sister company, Arena Operating Company, "plans to plow the millions back into the county's BankAtlantic Center ... constructing a new club and mini-suites for top-dollar customers." The arrangement also "increases the profits the Florida Panthers organization can reap before Broward receives a share to use elsewhere in the county." The Panthers will "have to make $13.25 million in profits from the arena before Broward would start earning 20 percent." The threshold "had been $12 million." The newly approved deal states that after the Panthers "hit $12 million in profits, the first $250,000 in profit-share goes into a Broward-Panthers reserve fund for the arena -- not $500,000 as the Panthers had proposed before" yesterday's debate. It takes a Panthers' profit "of $13.25 million in order for that $250,000 reserve fund payment to be made." The Panthers "made $10.4 million in profits at the county arena in 2011 and expect to make $21 million this year" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/1).

The Islanders and Devils will play the first NHL game at the Barclays Center on Oct. 2 at 7:30pm ET. The preseason game will also mark the first hockey event at the new Brooklyn arena (Islanders). In N.Y., Liz Robbins notes the Islanders are scheduled to play in the exhibition game "perhaps to test the ice for a future move." Islanders Owner Charles Wang for several years has been "pushing for significant upgrades to the 40-year-old Coliseum or for a new building when the Islanders’ lease expires, in 2015." Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said, "We would love for Charles to consider Brooklyn.” Yormark added that the Nets "had not inquired about ownership of the Islanders or any other" NHL franchise. Barclays Center, under the "original design of Frank Gehry, was configured to accommodate professional hockey." But when Gehry was "replaced by SHoP Architects and the company now known as Aecom, hockey became an afterthought." Now, the developer of the arena and the surrounding Atlantic Yards site, Forest City Ratner Companies, "is adjusting to make the arena suitable for hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Scott Cacciola notes Barclays Center "will have a capacity of 14,500 for hockey, which would make it the smallest arena in the NHL" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/1). Yormark said that there are "no issues with changing the arena over from basketball or other events to hockey." He added, "You always have to take that first step. This is a good first step" (NEWSDAY, 2/1). Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello said, "It was really the Islanders' choice because it's their home game. We honored it. We certainly have no issue with it. It's probably closer for us than Long Island." He added, "I'm sure it's also a test to see how Long Island people respond" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/1).

EPL club Tottenham Hotspur has "moved a crucial step towards building a new stadium with a capacity of up to 60,000 on the site of their existing White Hart Lane home after reaching a new agreement with local government over the area's redevelopment," according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. After the Haringey council "promised to invest" US$14.2M into improvements to the public realm, to add to US$28.4M already promised by London Mayor Boris Johnson toward "regeneration in the area in the wake of the riots last summer, the club will now begin talks with banks and commercial partners regarding the scheme." The US$631.4M Northumberland project "includes the development of a new stadium plus the redevelopment of the surrounding area and new commercial premises including a supermarket, offices and residential properties." Tottenham has applied for planning permission for an "amendment to their scheme for a new supermarket on the site, which could be the first part of the development to be built if permission is granted next month." Continuing attempts to find a naming-rights partner will be "redoubled and conversations with banks about the required financing are expected to step up a gear" (GUARDIAN, 2/1).

SWEET 16: The PA reports English soccer club West Ham United is one of "16 parties interested in moving to the Olympic Stadium after this summer's London Games." The original deal for West Ham to take over the venue "collapsed in October amid concerns over delays caused by the legal dispute" with Tottenham and English soccer club Leyton Orient. West Ham remains the favorite to "become the tenants, although the Olympic Park Legacy Company confirmed it would accept a ground-share bid from a football and a rugby team, and said retaining the athletics track was non-negotiable" (PA, 2/1).

Minnesota state officials said that they are "confident that electronic pulltabs in bars and restaurants could generate $72 million annually -- enough to fund the state's share of a proposed" Vikings stadium. In Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Olson note a legislative stadium working group has "tentatively endorsed using electronic pulltabs as a way to provide $340 million toward the state's share of a stadium, projected to cost at least $900 million." Meanwhile, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman yesterday met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to "complain that a Minneapolis proposal to locally fund a new stadium, which includes money to renovate Minneapolis' Target Center, would financially harm the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/1).

KEEPING SCORE: The GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE reports the Packers have "removed the scoreboards from Lambeau Field and are preparing them for recycling." Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video boards will "replace the scoreboards." The new video screens, 108 feet wide and 48 feet high, will be "about the size of the scoreboards that were removed," and they will be "in place for the 2012 season" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 2/1).

PR PROBLEM: In Edmonton, Nicki Thomas reports Oilers Owner Daryl Katz may have a $920M (all figures Canadian) “public relations problem on his hands,” after he “sold a chunk of his pharmacy business for that much Monday.” The sale “earned him online accolades from some for being ‘a shrewd businessman,’ but raised the question for others: ‘why are we paying’ for the downtown arena?” Thomas writes the “general social media sentiment appears to be that Katz has more than enough to cover, if not the entire $450-million downtown arena, at least the $100-million funding gap” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 2/1).