Originally scheduled to open later this year, the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta “is headed back to the drawing board with no new date for the project's groundbreaking, much less its completion,” according to Stafford & Tucker of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Atlanta Hall Management is “reassessing all its plans for the football shrine, including its cost, size and anticipated annual attendance.” Among the reasons for the delay was “a fall-off in fundraising” because after “an initial burst of donations, new investors have become difficult to find.” The possibility that Atlanta “could lose the hall has prompted other cities to renew their own bids for the attraction.” National Football Foundation President & CEO Steve Hatchell said that the group “expects to see a new plan at its board meeting in mid-April.” Hatchell also said that while the NFF “still believes ‘100 percent’ the attraction will be built in Atlanta, other cities have heard about the delays and expressed interest in the project.” The hall's reset “is the latest hindrance to a project that was considered a coup for Atlanta when it was announced with great pomp in September 2009 that Atlanta won out over Dallas.” What was set to cost $50M “for a 50,000-square-foot facility later grew to $82 million for 75,000 square feet” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/23).
In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes a group of Republican lawmakers Thursday “introduced the latest plan to finance a new Minnesota Vikings stadium -- and its reception ranged from lukewarm to icy cold.” The plan would “shift much of the cost to the team and corporate community and phase out statewide business property taxes as a way to make it easier for the Vikings to line up private support to bankroll stadium construction.” But Belden notes the fact the bill “comes as negotiators say they're nearing agreement on a deal for a stadium in downtown Minneapolis makes the odds against it long” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/24). In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba reports Gov. Mark Dayton and team officials “quickly dismissed” the plan proposed by the Republican lawmakers, and Vikings VP/Stadium Operations & Public Affairs Lester Bagley said the plan "would not allow the Vikings to be competitive" compared to the revenue generated by other NFL stadiums in markets of similar size (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/24).
BUSINESS IS BOOMING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Kavita Mokha notes Barclays Center, “part of a larger planned business and residential development, has already touched off a significant spurt in commercial and residential real-estate activity spreading out from the junction of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.” North Flatbush Business Improvement District Exec Dir Sharon Davidson said, "Five years ago, it was difficult to get anyone to rent in this district. Now with the arena, the rents have doubled and I get calls from people who want to move to this area." Paul Zumoff, an agent with Corcoran Group and an area resident, said, “On every corridor and street that leads to the arena, there is a rush for retail space.” Commercial broker TerraCRG VP/Retail Services said that commercial rents “generally range between $75 and $150 a square foot depending on proximity to the complex and even more for spaces facing the arena” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/24).
PUSHING AND SHOVING: In Chicago, David Roeder reports Chicago Sports & Novelty, which "for decades has sold souvenirs at Clark and Addison across from Wrigley Field," is charging that it is being "unlawfully pushed out of its coveted location with opening day just five weeks away." The lawsuit shows that “those doing the pushing" include McDonald’s and Cubs owners the Ricketts. The team “plans to sell its own merchandise from the same property, part of a parking lot for a McDonald’s restaurant.” Chicago Sports & Novelty Inc. said that it has “sold its wares from the corner since 1970” and that it has “a valid lease to use the property through at least 2015 when the Cubs play at home.” The suit said that the lease “was canceled after McDonald’s Corp. sold the property to the Rickettses for $20 million last November” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/24).
ALL IN FAVOR: In Sacramento, Dale Kasler wrote Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena task force yesterday released a poll “showing broad public support for the parking privatization plan that would form the linchpin of the $387 million project.” The weekend poll of 500 city residents by SurveyUSA “shows that 64 percent support the plan while 22 percent are opposed” (SACBEE.com, 2/23).