The Rams and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission "soon will enter less predictable territory: putting renovations of the Edward Jones Dome in the hands of three arbitrators," according to a front-page piece by Matthew Hathaway of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The CVC, which runs the Dome, voted Thursday "to begin the arbitration process." The CVC and Rams had until Friday "to reach a deal on renovating the Dome or head into binding arbitration." The arbitrators will "evaluate competing Dome-renovation proposals from the CVC and the Rams and either endorse one of the plans or create a new one of their own." If the CVC "doesn't agree to renovations that the arbitrators say are required, the Rams would be free to terminate the lease after the 2014 season -- 10 years before the lease otherwise would expire." If the Rams "terminate the lease, the team can continue at the Dome on a year-to-year basis, or just move out." The lease states that the CVC and the Rams "must make 'reasonable efforts' to finish arbitration by Dec. 31." Hathaway notes no other NFL team and city "have found themselves in this situation before -- negotiating over how to renovate a relatively young stadium and with a mandate to make it 'first tier.'" After the arbitrators "agree on a 'first-tier' plan, the CVC will have 60 days to decide its next move." It can "agree to move forward with the plan backed by arbitrators, or do nothing and allow the Rams to terminate the lease." The lease states that the cost of arbitration "must be paid by the prevailing party." It is "not clear who pays if arbitrators endorse a plan that's a mix of the CVC and Rams proposals" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/15).
The three Stanley Cup Final games at Staples Center smashed records for merchandise sales at the 13-year-old arena, according to venue Senior VP & GM Lee Zeidman. AEG Merchandising, the facility’s retail concessionaire, sold more than $1.5M in Kings apparel and novelties at the Team L.A. Store, auxiliary stands and at a temporary Stanley Cup Plaza walk-in store set up across the street at L.A. Live. Retail per caps were $26.40 for Game Three, $24.95 for Game Four and just under $30 for the series-clinching Game Six. Those numbers beat the previous arena record of a $22.28 retail per cap set by the Lakers during Game Seven of the '10 NBA Finals. They also blew away the previous record for a Kings retail per cap of $11.39 set at Game Three of this year’s Western Conference Final against the Coyotes. For the regular season, a typical Kings merchandise per cap is $3 to $5, Zeidman said. The L.A. Live location opened at noon on game days, five hours before the puck dropped, and its three cash registers accounted for 10% of total merchandise sales, said AEG VP/Merchandising Sean Ryan. The vendor rolled out Stanley Cup championship hats ($35) and T-shirts ($25) as soon as the Kings won Game Six, driving sales even higher than their previous two Final home games. About 3,200 of those hats and 2,500 T-shirts were sold after the game, Ryan said. Meanwhile, Levy Restaurants, the food provider at Staples Center, generated close to $1.7M in gross sales for the three Stanley Cup Final games ranging from $27.40 to $31.35. Those numbers cover both general concessions and premium dining.
COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUES: During the offseason, AEG Merchandising will develop high-end souvenirs by cutting the dasher board plexiglass at ice level into several hundred pieces that will be etched with the Stanley Cup logo and results of the Kings’ four playoff series wins. Those pieces will be displayed in plaques to be made available for season-ticket holders. The price for those plaques has not been set, but will most likely be $249, Ryan said.
U.S. Open tennis officials will “let a $500-million expansion plan be their umbrella for the foreseeable future, unveiling a strategic vision that includes a new Grandstand, enlarged No. 2 court and more open space at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center,” according to John Jeansonne of NEWSDAY. But the “six-to-eight-year project, with construction targeted to begin in the fall of 2013, does not contain what many observers long have believed to be the must-have amenity for any modern-day sports facility.” USTA Exec Dir & COO Gordon Smith on Thursday said, "The obvious question that will come is, 'What about a roof?' We simply do not have a roof design that works at this time." Smith said that the “search for a solution will go on.” The USTA will “go ahead with ‘pretty much a complete overhaul’ of the grounds that Smith said would alleviate spectator congestion and allow for bringing in an additional 10,000 fans a day for the two-week tournament, which has been drawing more than 700,000 in recent years” (NEWSDAY, 6/15). The AP’s Ralph Russo noted the “construction will be done in phases with the final phase involving the rebuilding of Armstrong Stadium.” The USTA “expects that to begin after the 2016 or 2017 tournament and be ready for use the following year.” Smith declined to “put a price tag on the renovations, but said the organization is looking at spending hundreds of millions.” USTA Managing Dir of National Tennis Center Facility Operations Danny Zausner said that it will “take about a year to get approval from New York City because it involves acquiring three-quarters of an acre of land owned by the city.” N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg “supports the plan.” The renovation calls for:
- The 6,000-seat Grandstand adjacent to Louis Armstrong Stadium to be relocated
- Seven tournament courts moved to create more room for spectators to get about the grounds
- Armstrong Stadium rebuilt and expanded from 10,000 seats to 15,000
- New practice courts with viewing areas for fans
- Expanded parking garages (AP, 6/14).
RAISE THE ROOF: In N.Y., Naila-Jean Meyers wrote the reaction to the announcement of a renovation “focused on what the project does not include: a roof.” The N.Y. Times’ Christopher Clarey yesterday on Twitter wrote, “Ultimately, US Open's big mistake was building Ashe without roof in 1997 when Aus Open already had roofed stadium. Lack of vision #tennis." N.Y. Times blogger Craig O'Shannessy wrote: "the first and last dollar should/must be spent on an indoor arena. That's as obvious as the nose in the middle of your face..." (NYTIMES.com, 6/14). TENNIS.com’s Pete Bodo wrote, “This roof thing has taken on a life of its own, and for that reason you really have to feel for the USTA. The greater the fever, the more Ashe stadium is bound to be regarded somewhat contemptuously as a white elephant, a too-big-to-fail edifice that has a solid quarter-century of use left, but cannot be kitted out with a roof under any plan known to the USTA. Or any plan that makes sense at all levels.” It is “not just a matter of keeping up with the joneses; in fact, you can argue that biting the bullet on the outcry for a roof demonstrates that the USTA isn't just following the trend.” The USTA also has “resisted becoming Ashe-centric, which is not just a good thing for fans in general, but also for the tournament as a whole” (TENNIS.com, 6/14).
After Hosting Autistic Children At Citi Field, Mets Consider Designating "Quiet Zone" At The Ballpark
Mets Exec VP/Business Operations Dave Howard said Thursday that club officials "began thinking about designating a quiet section after hosting autistic children and their families at Citi Field on May 6, the Mets’ 10th annual Autism Awareness Day," according to Michael O'Keefee of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. A report that "mocked the Mets" for considering designating a quiet section "was sparked by a questionnaire sent this week to about a thousand Mets fans about music, the scoreboard and other parts of the Citi Field experience." The questionnaire asked, “The Mets are considering adding a designated ‘quiet’ seating section with lower-volume PA announcements and no music or cheerleading. How likely would you be to purchase tickets in that section?” Howard said that the team figured if "families with autistic children were interested in the quiet section, others who are turned off by loud music and announcements, including senior citizens and people who require hearing aids, might be, too" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/15).
GETTING A FACELIFT: On Long Island, Anthony DeStefano notes an ambitious $3B project "would transform Willets Point -- a sprawling warren of auto body shops, dilapidated buildings, rutted roads and the occasional junkyard dog -- into a modern retail and entertainment complex around Citi Field." N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday announced that the project, which will "involve the owners of the New York Mets, is expected to provide 12,000 construction jobs and 7,100 permanent jobs, plus hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue in an area where the ground is believed to be permeated with oils and other toxic wastes." The first "redevelopment phase, an area east of Citi Field, calls for construction of retail, hotel and commercial space" (NEWSDAY, 6/15). In N.Y., Irving DeJohn notes Sterling Equities and Related Cos. are working together on the $3B project and will be "responsible for 5 million square feet of new development" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/15). Also in N.Y., David Seifman notes cleaning the "contaminated land probably couldn't start before 2014," which would mean "construction on the project would begin sometime" in '15. The Mets' parking area on the west side of Citi Field "would be moved temporarily to prepare for construction" (N.Y. POST, 6/15).
Nets minority Owner Jay-Z is "bringing his swank 40/40 Club to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center," according to Rich Calder of the N.Y. POST. Jay-Z announced Thursday that he is "expanding his sports bar and restaurant mini-chain by opening a new 9,000-square-foot, 350-seat hotspot" at the Nets arena. The 40/40 Club will be "located on the suite level." Club spokesperson Lauren Menache said that the venue, set to "open with the rest of the arena Sept. 28, would be accessible only to ticket holders for NBA games, concerts and other arena events." It will "only be open when the arena is hosting events," and alcohol will be served "up until an hour after arena events end -- but no later" than 2:00am ET. Nets season-ticket holders "have first crack at reservations for the new 40/40 Club, but the venue isn’t limited to patrons splurging big bucks for luxury suites -- unlike other VIP lounges at the arena that also plan to provide the same extended hours for serving booze" (N.Y. POST, 6/15).