The city of Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota and the Vikings have "reached a tentative agreement on a new, $975 million stadium on a site at or near the Metrodome and on how to divide the costs," according to sources cited by Olson & Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Under the preliminary deal, the city would contribute $150M in construction costs to the downtown Minneapolis project, the state would add $398M, while the Vikings would pay $427M. Sources said that the city also would pay approximately $180M in operating costs "over the next 30 years." Sources added that some details remain, such as "who is responsible for cost overruns, but said a formal announcement is anticipated" this week. The preliminary agreement would commit the state to nearly $60M "more than previous estimates for a new stadium at the Metrodome, and would have the Vikings pledge roughly the same amount the team had agreed to pay as part of a former stadium plan in Ramsey County's Arden Hills." Any agreement would be "just the first step in the stadium process: The package would need to pass the Legislature and likely the Minneapolis City Council -- neither of which is assured." The NFL also would "have to approve any stadium deal." Vikings VP/Stadium Operations & Public Affairs Lester Bagley "declined to comment Friday on the numbers, but said 'there is no agreement.'" He added, "Everything is subject to negotiations. We're working hard on an agreement, but we're not there yet" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/18).
DRAWING OTHER EVENTS: In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman writes a new covered stadium would "allow this area to compete for many national events." Look at the "success they have had at new domed stadiums in Dallas, Indianapolis and Houston, as well as the events that have been held at Atlanta, St. Louis and the remodeled Superdome in New Orleans." Since the '06 Final Four at the "now-demolished RCA Dome in Indianapolis, every Final Four has been held or will be held at a building built in the past 20 years, with the exception of this year's event at the Superdome." After this year, the following three Final Fours "are at NFL stadiums that opened in the past 10 years" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/20).
The NBA Kings filed a claim in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for $8.3M -- the “unpaid amount left on the naming rights deal that turned Arco Arena into Power Balance Pavilion last year,” according to a front-page piece by Dale Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. While the contract “was supposed to run through 2016, the relationship was left in limbo after Power Balance filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall.” The Kings said that they are “still talking to the company that bought Power Balance out of bankruptcy about salvaging the relationship.” But the court filing “raises the possibility of the team severing its ties.” Not only would Kings Owners the Maloof family “be out millions, they would have to spend money erasing all traces of Power Balance from the arena.” Team attorney Robert Trodella in the court filing said, "The Kings estimate that removing (Power Balance's) logo from the arena building and practice facility, various locations within the arena, and other locations such as programs, stationery and merchandise will cost approximately $200,000." The court filing said that Power Balance “was to pay $975,000 the first year, $1.53 million the second, $1.9 million the third, $2.25 million the fourth and $2.35 million in year five.” The team thus far has “collected just $700,000 of the first year's amount” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/18).
ROCK THE VOTE:In Sacramento, Tony Bizjak noted an opinion poll was circulating over the weekend that asked city residents “whether they would support a $1 to $3 surcharge on out-of-town motorists who park in city garages when sports, concerts or other entertainment events are being held at a planned downtown arena.” If surcharges were to be included in the plan, they “could help bump up revenues to finance the arena.” A city official on Saturday said that the parking surcharge on non-city residents “is not, however, part of the city's still-forming financing plan for a $387 million arena” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/19).
Officials from MLS DC United and Events DC "are close to agreeing to a two-year lease extension at RFK Stadium," which would create a "window in which the team and some officials likely will attempt a last-ditch effort to build a stadium for the team in the District," according to Jonathan O'Connell of the WASHINGTON POST. The lease is "expected to provide more favorable conditions for the team -- as well as possible incentives for the team to remain in the District long-term." The combination of the lease and an "improved budget situation for the city has created optimism." Team officials have been "pursuing a more favorable lease to stave off financial losses." Events DC President & CEO Gregory O'Dell did not disclose terms of the lease but said that it could "include contingencies to give the team incentives to commit to the District long-term." He added that he "hopes it will be complete" by the team's home opener on March 10 (WASHINGTON POST, 2/20).
The concept of "replicating Fenway Park but incorporating a Southwest Florida feel -- has become a living, breathing reality," as JetBlue Park will "soon be open for business," according to Ian Browne of MLB.com. The Red Sox "unveiled their plush new Spring Training facility during a tour" for Lee County officials and media members Friday. Red Sox Exec VP & COO Sam Kennedy said, "It will give a competitive advantage. That was the goal, was to get everybody together in one place -- Major Leaguers, Minor Leaguers -- and have state-of-the-art facilities. Mission accomplished, hopefully. They've still got a few things to work out, but we're almost there." Red Sox Exec VP/Business Affairs Jonathan Gilula said, "It was just a concept four years ago. To get to this point, it's so refreshing. We can't be happier about how things have turned out." Browne wrote, "Look at [the] bottom half of the Green Monster, including the scoreboard, and you'll swear you're at Fenway. But look in the middle of it, and you'll see a new touch -- there are seats with mesh netting which will keep spectators in the shade." Balls hit off that netting "will be in play, giving fans seated behind it a unique vantage point." At the "top of the Monster -- in home run territory -- there is a row of 120 barstool seats," and included on the Monster Deck is a "spacious area in which you can get a view of all six practice fields, as well as the bullpens and batting cages." Browne noted the roof "looks nothing like Fenway." It is "white and artsy, with several geometric turns" (MLB.com, 2/17).
SECOND HOME: In Boston, John Tomase wrote New Englanders "looking for a taste of summer will not be disappointed in JetBlue Park." The park "features a 37-foot wall in left field, a familiar hand-operated scoreboard, and dimensions that any Sox fan can recite in their sleep: 310 to left, 379 to left-center, 420 to the triangle, 380 to right." In addition to the park, there are "state-of-the-art training facilities." The park, which "seats nearly 11,000, sits off Daniels Parkway just minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport." It "boasts eight private suites" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/18). Also in Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote fans are "going to love Fenway South." Shaughnessy: "I particularly like the authentic, tinny manual scoreboard in left field" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/19).