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Volume 24 No. 159


City of Edmonton Manager of Corporate Properties Rick Daviss, who is overseeing construction of the Oilers' new downtown arena, said that the "much anticipated, updated cost estimate comes in at a whopping" C$485M, according to Angelique Rodrigues of the EDMONTON SUN. That is C$35M, or around 8%, over the city mandated C$450M budget. Officials are "already searching for cost savings, and have eliminated" around C$8.5M by "nixing certain items from the design proposal." They have "cut the Oilers Team store and eliminated several food and beverage facilities." They are also considering "changing the exterior finish of the building to stainless steel instead of zinc." City Council member Kerry Diotte said that she is "concerned all this cost-cutting could mean a sub-par overall product -- one that Edmontonians didn’t sign on for." However, Daviss said, "Generally, when you’re at schematic design, there’s still a plus or minus 20% when you’re dealing with cost estimates. So it is still a pretty preliminary number." Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel "made it clear Thursday he’s not overly concerned by this round of cost estimations" (EDMONTON SUN, 7/13). In Edmonton, Gordon Kent notes building the Winter Garden "pedestrian crossing over 104th Avenue is far more expensive than planned," coming in at an estimated C$80M rather than the C$50M budget. An additional C$22M "could be saved by reducing underground parking to 200 stalls from 400 stalls, and changing the exterior finish." However, Daviss admitted that some of these moves "mean less income once the arena is in business." The budget is still C$100M short, "which the city hopes will be funded in some way by the province" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 7/13).

Univ. of California-Berkley athletic department officials have promised that the $321M "renovation of Memorial Stadium will be complete enough for the facility to be up and running" for the football team's home opener on Sept. 1, according to Jeff Faraudo of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. Cal AD Sandy Barbour said of the opener against Nevada, "I have supreme confidence we'll play a football game on Sept. 1." During a tour of the stadium Thursday, Cal Assistant AD and Project Manager Bob Milano Jr. "echoed that all-systems-go optimism." Milano said that the "only elements that might not be complete by the opener will be decorative, such as signage or landscaping." Restrooms, concessions, seating and scoreboards "all will be ready." He said, "Our goal is to have fans arrive and not have them notice something isn't done. I think we're on target for that." New video screens "will be hung in early August." Matrix artificial turf "will be laid the first two weeks of August, and Milano said he anticipates the team will get the chance to practice on the new field several times before the Nevada game." About 90% of the aluminum benches and chair-back seats "are in place within the bowl." The stadium lights and sound system "are installed and await testing." Barbour expects a "surge in sales once fans are exposed to the new University Club-level seating along the top of the west press box." Those high-end seats "will be covered but outdoors and offer views of the bay from a deck on the backside" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 7/13).

The Twins want “player dormitories and the rights to rename Hammond Stadium" as part of a deal in which Lee County, Fla., could "shell out more than" $45M for upgrades to the team's Spring Training home, according to documents cited by Thomas Himes of the Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS. While the county reached “a tentative lease agreement with the team last month, the contract failed to specify the county’s financial obligations and other incentives.” Lee County Sports Authority Dir Jeff Mielke said that whether the county “will build facilities to house the team’s Gulf Coast League players remains a point of contention.” The team “currently puts the players up in a local hotel from mid-March through late August.” While the team “might not receive housing facilities,” Mielke said that the “county will ‘unfortunately’ have to let the team rename Hammond Stadium and keep the profits.” Under a similar agreement, the county allowed the Red Sox “to sell the naming rights to JetBlue Park.” Mielke said, “Because the Red Sox have the deal with their naming rights, it’s pretty hard to tell the Twins, ‘You can’t do it that way’” (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 7/12).