Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Exec Dow Constantine and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen today are expected to announce that they are “sending legislation to the city and county councils to finance" a new $490M arena in the city's Sodo neighborhood, according to Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. McGinn and Constantine also are "expected to propose an agreement" over what percentage of $200M in public construction bonds the county and city each would finance. City and county officials met late yesterday in McGinn's City Hall office to finalize what Sung Yang, Constantine's Chief of Staff, "characterized as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would be sent to the councils.” An MOU would be “less binding than an ordinance and potentially less of a guarantee of taxpayer financial commitment.” City Hall sources said that “over the past month, Hansen had asked that the legislation be in the form of an ordinance that would be more binding so that, if approved, he would be in a stronger position to lobby” the NBA for a team. Thompson notes the city and county's outlay of public money “would be capped at" $200M, which would be “repaid through rent and taxes generated by the arena.” Hansen said that he “hoped the respective councils would approve the memorandum by June, so he could take it to the NBA Board of Governors.” Thompson writes that timeline is “unlikely with the councils only now receiving the detailed legislation and with in-depth financial analysis of Hansen's proposal yet to be made” (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/16). Hansen said his effort to build an arena for a Seattle NBA team is going “great.” Hansen: "I think we went into it knowing there would be some concerns, some constituencies that would be against it, that negotiations with the city and county wouldn't be easy. But I think there's very broad-based support, given the thoughtfulness and fairness of the transaction relative to the prior proposals in Seattle and other stadium transactions and arena transactions." He added, "Hopefully people just trust -- really -- I'm trying to do what's right by the city" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 5/14).
The Columbus Graphics Commission has given the MLS Crew the “go-ahead to erect a 100-foot-tall sign along I-71 that will feature two large LED screens,” according to Mark Ferenchik of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Crew President & GM Mark McCullers said that the commission approved the sign yesterday with “several conditions, including no scrolling across or flashing on the screens to distract drivers.” The $2M cylindrical sign outside Crew Stadium “would promote coming events.” However, the team “doesn’t plan to erect it until it sells the naming rights to the stadium, because the top of the sign would feature that sponsor’s name.” Ferenchik noted the Crew want $15M over 10 years for the stadium naming rights. The sign “still needs the approval of the Ohio Expositions Commission," which manages the Crew Stadium property for the state. The OEC is set to hear the proposal tomorrow (DISPATCH.com, 5/15).
Marlins President David Samson said that the team "has no plans to move in the fences" at Marlins Park following the '12 season, according to Tom D'Angelo of the PALM BEACH POST. The park "has gained a reputation as being pitcher friendly" and ranks as the "fifth-most difficult in the NL to hit a home run," with 20 in the first 15 games, or 1.33 per game, entering yesterday. Of the Marlins' 32 home runs this year, only 13 have come at Marlins Park. Samson said, "We have no reason to think about doing anything with the fences. The park is playing fair." The Marlins are also "satisfied with the attendance of 30,180 per game and surprised how the Clevelander bar has become such a hot spot" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 5/15). Samson said that crowds "have been even better than it might appear when looking at the stands, because of the wide, inviting concourses." Samson: "There are more people milling than we even expected -- thousands of people at any time." The AP's Steven Wine noted Marlins' attendance this season ranks 15th in MLB. The team "averaged 19,007 per game last year, and ranked last in the NL in game attendance in each of the past seven seasons" (AP, 5/15).
KEEPING COOL: Samson said that finding the "most comfortable temperature throughout Marlins Park has been the No. 1 challenge so far" with the new venue. Samson: "We’ve been working on the air-conditioning system every single day. It’s a constant thing, and it’s difficult." Meanwhile, Samson said, "Parking is not an issue at all. We’ve had zero delays in, zero delays out” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/16).
After a number of improvements to resolve traffic and parking issues during last year's inaugural Cup race at Kentucky Speedway, track GM Mark Simendinger “might be looking forward to the June 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 more than anyone else in the state," according to Eric Crawford of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Simendinger said, "We’ve spent a lot of money and time and preparation. We’ve done all this computer simulation modeling, so I know it works, but all you can do is open up the doors and let everyone see for themselves.” Due to the issues in '11, "a traffic and parking nightmare quickly came to be synonymous with the venue." Crawford writes track officials “know that until they get the race crowd in and out, the shadow still will be there.” NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth said, “These days, with Twitter and the Internet, it’s pretty easy to hear all that (traffic) stuff real fast” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/16). Simendinger said that there is “no excuse for last year's traffic blunders." He said, “I want to say one more time how sorry I am that that whole thing occurred. ... We just weren't as ready as we thought we were." The AP’s Colin Fly wrote Simendinger has since "shouldered the blame at every step along the way.” Simendinger: "When something like that happens, you do one of two things -- you either back up or you stack up. We stacked it all up and we have really worked hard to make sure that wasn't going to happen again. We are ready to go.” The improvements included a $4 million highway contract from the state that "widened an exit ramp coming off southbound Interstate 71 and a stretch of Kentucky 35 [that] runs past the track.” Also, a “new pedestrian tunnel has been built.” Simendinger said, "Fans are going to be very, very impressed” (AP, 5/15).
A pair of ordinances under consideration in Chester, Pa., “would slap a 10 percent tax on tickets at PPL Park and another 20 percent on parking,” according to Timothy Logue of the DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES. MLS Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said, “These taxes would effectively put us out of business over time. We gross about $20 million a year and these taxes would amount to about $2 million on top of what we pay right now.” Chester Mayor John Linder said, “People are paying these taxes everywhere else you go. It is not uncommon and people understand that it’s part of the cost of doing business.” Sakiewicz said that the team “was never consulted about the ordinances, which are currently in draft form.” Sakiewicz: “We were very shocked to hear about them and very much caught off guard. We found out about it through the rumor mill.” He added that the proposed ordinances “prompted the Union to immediately put the brakes on plans to build a 25,000-square-foot office building and new practice facility adjacent to PPL Park.” Sakiewicz said, “It’s a $10 million project and I can tell you it’s on hold right now.” Linder said that the city "incurs a number of direct and indirect costs associated with the crowds that flock to the riverfront venues.” Linder: “When our officers go down and cover the stadium, they are paid a set fee by the stadium. But that does not begin to cover all of the city’s liabilities.” Logue noted the parking ordinance “applies only to ‘nonresidential’ lots and requires the operator to pay $100 for an annual license and $1 per parking space." The ordinance states the parking fees "may be adjusted from time to time by resolution adopted by the council." The Union control “about 4,000 parking spaces” outside PPL Park (DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES, 5/14).
Construction crews at Lambeau Field this week “began installing video panels on the north end zone board and have about three weeks of work remaining,” according to Richard Ryman of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. Work on the south end zone board will follow, and both “are scheduled to be operational” for the Packers shareholders’ meeting on July 24. The new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision scoreboards “will be high definition.” Each main screen is “48 feet high and 108 feet wide” and made up of “104 modules of 4,378 individual lighting units.” Each board will have “two 31 feet high and 18 feet wide auxiliary screens on their sides made up of 15 modules and 540 individual units.” The Packers “purchased eight high-definition cameras to feed Lambeau video to the boards -- they had four non-high-def cameras last year -- plus they have access to feeds from four networks.” The number of replay angles available within the stadium “increases from eight to 12.” Ryman notes the new scoreboards will “provide income for the Packers.” The team previously had fixed advertisements on the sides of the scoreboards, but the new digital format "will allow more advertisers” to be featured. Packers VP/Sales & Marketing Tim Connolly said, “Ads won’t be static. There’ll be all sorts of messaging on the sideboards” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 5/16).
Warriors co-Owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob met with S.F. Mayor Ed Lee yesterday "to further discuss moving the basketball team to San Francisco to play in an arena at Piers 30-32," according to Knight & Cabanatuan of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Unlike the S.F. City Hall's "rejection" by the 49ers, this time "the wooing seems to be mutual." The Warriors have hired Strada Investment Group, led by Jesse Blout, former deputy chief of staff under Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Michael Cohen, previous Dir of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The team has also hired P.J. Johnston, former press secretary for Mayor Willie Brown, and Nathan Ballard, former press secretary for Newsom, "to serve as spokesmen." Knight & Cabanatuan write, "In other words, the team has hired a group that knows City Hall inside out and has close ties to Lee and other officials" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/16). In Oakland, Matthew Artz notes city officials have "reiterated their belief that the team would be better served building a new arena adjacent to its current home, which has prime freeway and BART access." Oakland recently launched a $3.5M study on a "plan to transform the Coliseum complex into a sports and entertainment center with restaurants, hotels, shops and new, privately financed facilities for the A's, Raiders and Warriors." The Coliseum City proposal, which would be the nation's "largest privately financed sports complex, has not yet won public support from Oakland's three teams or private investors" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/16).