The L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission yesterday learned that it is “expected to lose millions of dollars this fiscal year, driving the taxpayer-owned stadium into a much deeper financial ditch as it reels from a costly corruption scandal,” according to Lin II & Pringle of the L.A. TIMES. The dire forecast “came on the same day” that the L.A. Times and local nonprofit Californians Aware “sued the Coliseum Commission, accusing it of violating state laws by deliberating a lease in secret with USC and failing to release numerous public records.” The suit seeks to “nullify the Coliseum Commission's approval in May of the 42-year lease that gives USC near-total control of the historic stadium.” The commission sought the new lease after “running out of money to pay for stadium upgrades it promised USC under the current agreement.” The panel learned yesterday that “losses for the year ending next June 30 would probably total about $5 million -- roughly a third of the Coliseum's total operating budget.” A budget report showed that in May, the Coliseum Commission's losses “jumped to $435,000 -- nearly seven times the projected amount.” Coliseum officials said that among the property's “mounting expenses are legal fees and insurance premiums, which have increased largely because of the scandal.” Commissioners “defended the administration of interim General Manager John Sandbrook, who took the helm in March 2011, after the resignation of Patrick Lynch” (L.A. TIMES, 7/19).
The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District Board yesterday “approved a resolution to expand the Wi-Fi network for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Arena and Champions Square,” according to Albert Burford of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The resolution, which “will allocate $343,200 to fund the expansion, was unanimously approved by the Board.” SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton, whose firm manages the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the New Orleans Arena, said that the plan “would allow the Superdome to join Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium as the only venues in the NFL to offer complete Wi-Fi coverage to patrons.” Lucas Oil Stadium has Wi-Fi technology “in part because it was an initiative for Super Bowl XLVI.” Thornton said that hosting Super Bowl XLVII is "a motivating factor" to improve the Superdome's Wi-Fi system. The Superdome after Hurricane Katrina put $8M "toward a wireless system that focused on hot-spots necessary for ticket scanning, vending and other stadium uses.” With that upgrade, there "were 600 access points installed.” The new expansion plan will “increase that number to around 1,000 access points, providing more coverage” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 7/18).
St. Paul officials yesterday "endorsed details of a financing proposal for a new regional ballpark" in the city, according to Rochelle Olson of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The St. Paul City Council "voted unanimously to support a plan to finance half" of the $54M project that would be home to the independent league St. Paul Saints baseball team. The city now "must wait to see whether the state provides" a $27M development grant "for the rest of the project." That decision is "expected in the next couple of months" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/19). In St. Paul, Josie Clarey cites the financing plan as indicating that the city "will put $17 million toward the project, while the Saints will contribute $10 million, adding up to half of the ballpark's $54 million cost." The city applied for $27M "from the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development to cover the other half of the total cost." Half of the city's $17M contribution "will come from bonds to be paid in $625,000 yearly payments for 25 years." City officials said that the other $8.5M "will come from a variety of sources, including reallocation of funds from other projects and Sales Tax and Revitalization program grants." The Saints will contribute $8.5M in bonds "to be paid in yearly rent of $625,000 a year for 25 years." The rest of the team's $10M contribution "will be paid in cash" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/19).