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Volume 24 No. 177


Following a "sudden $30 million loss of tax funds," the 49ers and Santa Clara leaders yesterday said that they "would not slow stadium construction even as they scrambled to figure out how the cut could affect the rest of the money needed" to build the team's new stadium, according to Mike Rosenberg of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. While the money is "a tiny fraction of what's needed for the $1.2 billion stadium, it served as the initial building block to fund the rest of the project." The tax funds were "used to secure up to $950 million in bank loans, which capped the team's decade-long saga to finance a new home field." If the loans "disappear or shrink, it could delay the project -- or worse -- just months after a festive groundbreaking" in April. The 49ers and lead lender Goldman Sachs "declined to say Monday how the tax loss could affect the rest of the money earmarked for the stadium." The NFL said that it was "too soon to know whether the move would impact the league's $200 million financial commitment." 49ers CFO Larry MacNeil said, "This is not going to stop the stadium project. It's going to get built" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/26).

READY TO RUMBLE: CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco said, “(The 49ers) haven’t responded officially, but they’re expecting that money, so they and the city of Santa Clara are on the same side of this one. If the county of Santa Clara doesn’t back down, then expect a legal fight.” The 49ers “are on the hook for any cost overruns,” so the team “would have to absorb” that $30M. CSN Bay Area’s Barry Tompkins added, “I do think this thing is going to end up in a court of law.” The Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s Lowell Cohn said, “If the 49ers sue and bring this to a court of law, it’s a bad look. They shouldn’t do it. ... It’s less than three percent of the money for the stadium. They should let it go and not sue” (“Chronicle Live,” CSN Bay Area, 6/25).

The Browns and Aramark yesterday announced a new partnership, branded Cleveland Browns Hospitality Group, to provide premium dining service at Cleveland Browns Stadium on game days and for non-game day special events. Local chefs Michael Symon and Rocco Whalen will open outposts of their restaurants, B Spot and Rosie & Rocco's, on the stadium's club level. Chef Jonathon Sawyer also will debut Sawyer's Street Frites, which will feature the signature item from his restaurant Greenhouse Tavern. Suite menus also will feature items from these restaurants (Browns). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret notes the Cleveland Hospitality Group "will serve the stadium's suite and club levels, as well as cater special events and corporate functions at the 73,200-seat building." Browns Senior VP/Business Development Jim Ross "would not disclose the length of the contract other than to say it runs more than three years." Delaware North Sportservice "manages the stadium's general concessions." Ross said that the team over time "will consider having one firm operate both concessions and premium." Aramark replaces Levy Restaurants, which "had been the Browns' premium food provider for the past several years after assuming the contract from Restaurant Associates." Aramark is making an "undisclosed investment to revamp the stadium's high-end food offerings by bringing in three well-known local chefs" in Symon, Whalen and Sawyer. Under the multiyear deal with the Browns, Aramark also will take over "food service at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/25 issue).

FOOD CRITIC: In Oakland, Angela Woodall wrote under the header, " Coliseum Food Eatable, Not Delectable." Woodall: "Is the food elsewhere any better or just more expensive? It's an interesting question considering how much business Oakland Coliseum concessionaire Aramark does at sports facilities around the country. I didn't think I could answer my own question until I remembered that concessions at Oracle Arena, operated by a different company, are in fact better" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 6/23).

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs signed “a preliminary agreement” for a “$175 million renovation of Orlando's aging Citrus Bowl,” according to Schlueb & Damron of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The mayors said that the arrangement “will make the 76-year-old stadium more competitive when it comes to bidding for events.” Florida Citrus Sports is “about to begin negotiating to keep the Capital One Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando after the current agreement runs out next year.” Orlando's climate, hotel capacity and theme parks “make it an attractive destination, but with the stadium's poor condition and renovation plans stalled for the past three years, sports boosters had predicted it would be a tough sell.” FCS President Steve Hogan said that the “city-county deal changes that.” Construction “won't begin until early 2014, but just knowing there's a firm plan in place gives the Citrus Bowl a stronger bargaining position.” The stadium has “not been on the list of top sites for events for years and likely would not have been in the running when it comes to bidding for top bowl games.” Schlueb & Damron note plans call for “a new lower bowl with 8,000 club seats; additional restrooms and concessions; a wider, more modern concourse; new locker rooms and media rooms; banquet space and a ballroom; and possibly more suites.” A five-year-old blueprint "put the cost at $175 million," but officials said that the “final bill could be higher.” Changes to the original plan approved in ‘07 will allow the city “to issue bonds to finance the upgrades.” Those bonds will “likely use a mix of city revenue -- primarily sales, utility and communications taxes -- as a credit source, but the debt would be repaid with tourist taxes.” No property taxes will be used in the deal; “to do so would require a referendum” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/26). Dyer said that even with the renovations, the Citrus Bowl “is a B-minus or A-minus stadium" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/26).