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Volume 24 No. 158


The city of Edmonton has "voted to develop a new design" for the Oilers' new downtown arena, "providing project planners can keep it under" C$450M, according to Angelique Rodrigues of the EDMONTON SUN. The current cost estimate for the proposed arena is C$35M -- or 8% -- "over budget, but admin have built in a contingency, identified around" C$17M cost-saving cuts, and "still have a plus or minus variance of 20%." The motion to allow planners "to develop a schematic design for the 775,000-sq-ft arena eventually passed 10-3." While Council member Kerry Diotte "supports a new arena, he remains skeptical of what trimming it’s budget could mean for the overall product." Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel "echoed Diotte’s concern that budget cuts could jeopardize the integrity of the design -- one that’s been called 'iconic' and 'first rate.'" Mandel said, "We’ve heard time and time from citizens, they don’t want us to build anything for crap. They want us to build a good building, so I think at some point in time council is going to have to decide if it is going to be over, what is the overage is going to look like." Mandel was "adamant that the city, administration and developers need to work together to provide a product Edmontonians can be proud of." The current cost estimate for the arena sits at C$485M, "not including additional developments like an LRT link and a winter garden." Edmonton City Manager Simon Farbrother told council that officials have "already identified a pathway to bring the design under budget" (EDMONTON SUN, 7/18). In Edmonton, John MacKinnon noted excavation is "slated to begin in January 2013 with a view to completion by the fall of 2015, so the Oilers can skate there to start the 2015-16 NHL season" (, 7/17).

 ICON Venue Group President Tim Romani, whose company is serving as project manager for the arena, said that ICON is "looking at a variety of changes that will save money as they continue to fine-tune the arena design, something he called a normal part of the process." In Edmonton, Gordon Kent notes the changes "include using a stainless steel exterior instead of zinc, reducing restaurant space, removing the Oilers team offices and team store, shrinking dressing rooms and chopping underground parking to 200 stalls from 400." Although city council members voted "to continue developing the design, there were concerns about the lack of stores and restaurants to create activity at street level." Council member Tony Caterina voted "against carrying on with a plan he has supported." He suspects that the city council will "allow the price to rise above the current maximum, which is covered by [C]$125 million from taxes on downtown growth and other city money," C$100M from Oilers Owner Daryl Katz and a C$125M ticket tax. The city "hopes the province will provide" the remaining C$100M (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 7/18).

Erie County (New York) Exec Mark Poloncarz yesterday said that the Bills and the county are "not likely to hammer out the main terms of a new lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium before training camp begins next week," according to Denise Jewell Gee of the BUFFALO NEWS. Poloncarz and the Bills' front office "started formal talks in April with the hopes of getting the framework of a deal set out in a 'memorandum of understanding' by the start of training camp July 26." Poloncarz said that the informal deadline "isn't likely to be met," but that the talks "are progressing." Neither Poloncarz nor the Bills "will say exactly what the team is seeking in public support." However, Poloncarz has "confirmed that the team has asked for renovations of the county-owned Ralph Wilson Stadium that would cost" $200-220M. Poloncarz has said that he "wants a lease that ties the Bills to the region 'for many years to come.'" The current lease "expires on July 31, 2013" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/18).

Democrats have “repeatedly touted their stand against taking corporate money for their convention in September, and so it was striking to see two emails from the DNC host committee" referring to Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium as "Panthers Stadium," according to Maggie Haberman of POLITICO. President Obama on Sept. 6 will officially accept the Democratic nomination at the NFL Panthers' home venue. Haberman wrote, "It's not like the stadium was ever called Panthers Stadium -- first opened in 1996, it was Carolinas Stadium, and later Ericsson Stadium.” A DNC host committee spokesperson said that the stadium is “referred to locally that way and that they've used Panthers and Bank of America interchangeably.” The spokesperson said that Bank of America was previously "used in an email" (, 7/17). In Charlotte, Peter St. Onge asked, “Could the snub of Bank of America stadium be intentional? We hope not, and we doubt it.” The DNC host committee's “executive director is a CEO -- Dan Murrey, on leave from OrthoCarolina -- and the co-chairs of the committee are Duke executive Jim Rogers and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.” All three “know better than to take a slap at a corporate neighbor.” St. Onge: “We'll write this one off as sloppiness” (, 7/17). Also in Charlotte, Erik Spanberg wrote, "The financial collapse in 2008 and a lingering mortgage mess caused by the nation’s major lenders led to immediate critiques from some analysts when the stadium was selected as the speech site” (, 7/17). 

As the Vikings negotiate to use the Univ. of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium during construction of a new Vikings home venue, "one of the sticking points is the university's 10-year agreement making Coca-Cola the exclusive soft drink on campus," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. UM has had Coke as its "exclusive soft drink" since '96. The Vikings have an agreement with Pepsi, and the NFL also "has an agreement with Gatorade -- which is owned by Pepsi -- to have 'Gatorade-logoed coolers, cups and towels' on the sidelines" during all games. UM General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said, "The beverage issue is very important to the NFL and to the Vikings. They say they have Pepsi, and we say we have Coke." The team and the school "are racing to reach a solution by fall." Coca-Cola VP/Public Affairs & Communications Kevin Morris said that the outcome "is clear -- Coke will be sold at Vikings games at TCF Bank Stadium." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "We've got some time to sort (it) out." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that there are "ways to resolve the problem." He said that the Falcons "have a business deal with Coke and yet Gatorade has been featured on the sidelines at Falcons home games for more than two decades." UM's Coke contract states that Gatorade "can be dispensed to athletes in 'nonpublic spaces' on campus as long as it is in 'nonbranded containers.'" But the contract also states the school "shall not grant advertising, marketing or promotional rights for Gatorade products" on campus. The university's Coke contract is worth "more than" $14M. In addition, the school gets a $4.9M sponsorship fee "so that Coke can have a major marketing presence at athletic events" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18).