Miami-Dade County commissioners today will decide whether to include on the Nov. 6 ballot "a $50-million makeover" to county-owned Crandon Park, which hosts the ATP/WTA Sony Open, according to a front-page piece by Patricia Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. The proposed renovations would include "new permanent grandstands, shaded pavilions, a grassy lawn and multi-story stadium additions." Two-thirds of voters would have to approve the upgrades, "which would be financed by tournament revenues." In return, the tournament "wants its lease extended to a total of 30 years with two optional, 10-year extensions." Tournament organizers said the tennis center “can no longer compete with other cities." When the Sony Open’s lease runs out in nine years, the tournament "could leave Miami.” The organizers propose “building seats for three courts, for up to 6,000, 4,000 and 3,000 spectators, respectively, with restrooms, locker rooms, broadcasting booths and concession areas.” They also want to “erect an open pavilion -- a roof with columns but no walls -- that would provide shade year-round and that they could outfit with canvas ‘walls’ during the tournament.” And they plan to “grow the main stadium to include a restaurant, player’s lounge and other amenities.” The height of the stadium and number of seats “would remain unchanged; up to 49,000 square feet would be added to the octagonal stadium, organizers say, by building one- to three-story additions to house a slew of amenities: a sports bar, a pro shop, a player dining area, offices, terraces.” Other plans include “reducing the number of tennis courts from 26 to 22 and building a lakeside cottage to broadcast interviews during the tournament and to launch kayaks and canoes the rest of the time.” Additionally, they want “grassy lawns, including one from which fans could watch tennis on a big screen, similar to the so-called Henman Hill at Wimbledon in London” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/23).
The Univ. of California's renovated Memorial Stadium “has passed its first test and now the Golden Bears are ready to see it filled up on game day,” according to Josh Dubow of the AP. The players “practiced running onto the field for pregame introductions Tuesday night, there were test runs for the lighting, the PA system, clocks and concession stands, and even the band was on hand.” Cal football coach Jeff Tedford yesterday said that the “only glitch were some problems with the play clock but nothing that should stop the $321 million seismic retrofit and renovation from being ready for the opener against Nevada on Sept. 1.” It will be the “first game on campus since 2010.” Cal played last season at AT&T Park, “across San Francisco Bay” (AP, 8/22). Tedford after Tuesday night’s mock game said that it took the team “two minutes to travel from its locker room in the Simpson Center to the north tunnel of Memorial Stadium, where it enters the field” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/23).
FACELIFT: In Louisiana, Nicholas Persac reports LSU officials have given the “aging” Tiger Stadium a “major facelift, complete with purple and gold lights around the stadium’s exterior.” Officials finished the first renovations to the facility during the ‘11 football season and since then, workers “have also added a new coating on the stadium’s outer façade.” LSU Associate Vice Chancellor/University Relations & Senior Associate AD/External Affairs Herb Vincent in a release said the renovations also include a new lighting system that “turns the upper archways of the north end of the stadium purple and gold and lights the iconic ‘LSU’ on the stadium’s north scoreboard.” In addition, officials are “working to complete other portions of the renovations in time for the Tiger’s season opener in Baton Rouge on Saturday, September 1 against North Texas.” One of the upgrades includes “adding 10-foot-tall illuminated letters spelling ‘Tiger Stadium’ below the west upper deck, which faces Nicholson Drive” (Lafayette DAILY ADVERTISER, 8/23).
Rock Ohio Caesars yesterday said that it will "spend $88 million to update and transform the existing" Thistledown race track in North Randall "into a racino," according to Rick Armon of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Rock Ohio Caesars said that the construction "is under way and the new gaming facility should open in the spring." The company is "turning the main grandstand floor at the horse track into a 57,000-square-foot gaming area with 1,150 slots-like video lottery terminals." Ohio tracks are "permitted to operate 2,500 machines." In addition to the video slots, the area "will feature a 60-seat restaurant, two food courts and a lounge." Rock Ohio Caesars also announced it will "upgrade Thistledown for racing fans by installing new simulcast viewing equipment, creating a premium seating area and updating betting windows." Another "lounge and a 500-seat restaurant will be updated." Live horse racing "will continue during construction" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/23). Ohio Caesars spokesperson Jennifer Kulczycki said that enhancements to the racetrack "will be noticeable by the second quarter of 2013." She also said that the "track's 2,300 space parking lot will be renovated" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/23). In Cleveland, D'Arcy Egan writes, "Faced with sparse crowds, dwindling wagering and an antiquated plant, Thistledown horsemen hope racino-supported horse racing will succeed" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/23).
In Detroit, Bill Shea reported Detroit-Wayne County Stadium Authority, which owns Comerica Park, “plans to refinance the $61.2 million remaining in public debt on the construction of the $300 million stadium.” The group on Tuesday issued “a preliminary official statement explaining the tax-exempt bonds' financials, history and other background, as part of the refinancing.” Wayne County Assistant Corporation Counsel and Special Counsel to the Authority Steven Collins said that the interest rate on the bonds is "now about 5.75 percent, and the goal is to refinance at roughly 3 percent.” He said that at the original interest rate estimate, the “total public debt paid was predicted to be about $120 million by 2027” (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 8/22).
TEMPORARY CHANGES: In Charlotte, Helms & Morrill report Democratic National Convention organizers “are spending $7 million to prepare” Time Warner Cable Arena, “which will have 15,000 seats.” In addition, DNC COO Theo LeCompte said that the construction budget “for turning Bank of America Stadium into a site for Obama’s acceptance speech is $5 million.” The money will come “from the nearly $37 million the Charlotte host committee is obligated to raise for the convention.” Crews have been “at the arena for more than a month, with much of the work focused on laying the phone and Internet connections needed for a wired event drawing worldwide attention” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/23).
APPROVED: The Santa Clara Oversight Board yesterday voted to approve a settlement agreement regarding the disposition of disputed California redevelopment funds. The Oversight Board in June claimed that the $30M of the committed RDA funds could be redirected for use among a number of entities including the school district. However, the board yesterday approved an agreement with the 49ers, which resolved the dispute and provided immediate funding to the schools. The tentative agreement was announced last week; details of the settlement were reviewed at the meeting yesterday. The 49ers will defer payments and reduce the interest rate on amounts owed by over 30% in order to assist the school district in meeting its anticipated needs (49ers).
TAKING FROM THE BUCS: In Tampa, Bill Varian reports the board that oversees Raymond James Stadium yesterday agreed that nearly $12M in tax money set aside years ago for a Buccaneers practice center “can go to local governments.” The unanimous decision comes “nearly two months after Hillsborough County commissioners voted to ask for some of the money to help pay for park expansions and other projects delayed by five years because of falling tax receipts.” The rationale was the team “hasn't claimed the money after 16 years, and local government can use it to meet pressing needs now” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/23).