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Volume 24 No. 160


Sacramento city officials yesterday "pegged the planned" downtown Kings arena's public price at $255.53M, according to a front-page piece by Bizjak, Kasler & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Documents released by the city show that figure represents 65% of the cost, compared with a 35% share from the private sector, including the Kings. The public contribution would "come mostly from a plan to wring upfront cash from the city's parking garages." The $391M arena cost is a "bump up from the previous" $387M estimate, due to "new calculations of construction-related costs." City officials today are "expected to unveil more details of the financing plan" in a 15-20 page "term sheet." The term sheet will "go to the City Council on Tuesday for approval." Although the council vote is "nonbinding, City Hall officials say it represents the critical yes-or-no council call on the deal." Other key elements of the deal to be released today include that the Kings would "sign a lease obligating the team and any potential future owners to remain" in Sacramento for 30 years; the city would "allow the Kings to refinance the team's existing" $67M city loan; a 5% surcharge would "apply to all tickets sold at the arena, for sports and non-sports events," and that money would go to the city; and the city would "receive a percentage of net profits earned by the arena operator." Associates of Mayor Kevin Johnson said that the deal is "solid for the city, and pointed to several recent arenas where teams put in less money than the Kings." The city also "expects to sell" 100 acres it owns next to the current Power Balance Pavilion in North Natomas and "possibly several smaller lots in downtown to contribute to the city share." The Kings, as lead tenant, would pay a 19% "upfront share." Some of that money is "expected to come from the sale of the Power Balance Pavilion site" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/1).

From being able to order food from the concession stands on a smartphone to a large Bobblehead collection featuring at least 600 figurines from all major-league teams past and present, Marlins Park "has a few interesting features most other major-league parks don’t have," according to Manny Navarro of the MIAMI HERALD. Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria said yesterday during a tour of the park, "I can confirm we’ll have an air conditioner blowing air to make sure the Bobbleheads actually bobble." He added, "We also plan to put (home run distance) markers beyond the outfield in the stands, so if a ball is hit beyond the fence you’ll have a good sense if it went 330 (feet), or 372 (feet), or 700 feet to the parking lot.” In addition to having a Wi-Fi connection available "all over the stadium (including restrooms), fans who order food from the concession stands on their phone will receive a notification to pick it up when it’s ready." Loria said, "You won’t have to wait in long lines anymore." Loria: "(This park is) about glass, field, concrete, paint and all of it fitting into the landscape. It’s mostly about form and function meeting each other and working together. I did not want to see us build a building that was a concrete mass. It had to be something that would fit into Miami’s plans, a beautiful building going forward, great contemporary architecture. The net result is what you see right here, and it worked beautifully." Meanwhile, the Marlins announced yesterday that producer Emilio Estefan "will anchor a 45-minute show before the season opener that will culminate with the debut of Marlins Tonight, a theme song written for the team by Estefan" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/1). 

ANTE UP: SI's Ben Reiter notes the Marlins are "not the first moribund team to attempt to use a new stadium to change its fortunes," but given their "history of fan indifference and the sums involved, the scope of their wager is unprecedented." Team President David Samson does "not like to view what the Marlins are doing as a gamble, but he can't help resorting to poker terminology to describe their strategy." Samson: "We are all in." Reiter writes one "encouraging sign: By spring training Miami had already sold around 15,000 season tickets, surpassing the team's record of 10,000 in 2004, and only four of the park's 40 luxury suites were still available" (SI, 3/5 issue).  

In Vancouver, Bruce Constantineau reports NDP Public Health & Sport's Guy Gentner said that a C$17.5M provincial government grant for a new MLS Whitecaps training center “must be reviewed thoroughly in light of B.C.'s deteriorating financial situation.” The commitment was made “during a provincial election campaign in May 2009, when the Caps announced plans to build a new” C$31.5M training facility in Delta. The training center plans “fell through but the Whitecaps say the province is still committed to providing the funding as the club negotiates for a new location, likely in Burnaby or at the University of B.C.” (VANCOUVER SUN, 3/1).

DELAY OF GAME: In Orlando, Damron & Schlueb wrote a “raft of political and economic obstacles stands in the way of revitalizing the 76-year-old” Citrus Bowl. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that any plan “to accelerate the renovation would likely have to come from Orange County.” The renovation plan, “which has been delayed three years, calls for new lower-bowl seating; 4,000 club seats; 10 new suites; banquet space; a ballroom; and new restrooms, locker rooms and concession stands.” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said that he needs “clearer timelines on when they could begin before he starts negotiations for new long-term bowl contracts this fall” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/28).

HUNTING LICENSE: In Seattle, Keith Ervin noted Bellevue, Wash., City Manager Steve Sarkozy said at a Downtown Association forum Tuesday that the City Council has given him “’a license to hunt’ each year for investors or property owners who want bring an NBA and NHL arena to the city.” Sarkzoy said, “We continue to work with several private interest groups and, frankly, several locations in the city.” He added that Bellevue is “in the game” and that the idea of an Eastside arena is “very real, very much a possibility.” Sarkozy “declined to identify any of the sites or people with whom he has spoken” (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/29).

PARTY'S OVER: In Indianapolis, Phillip Wilson notes DirecTV “subsidized the cost of replacing 80,000 feet of sod that was covered by a tent for about seven weeks in conjunction with a Super Bowl XLVI beach party” at Victory Field (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/1).