SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton said that the Mercedes-Benz Superdome “sustained no major interior or exterior damage from Hurricane Isaac and is expected to be ready” for the Rutgers-Tulane football game Saturday, according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The roof suffered "no visible damage and there were no visible leaks in the building after a preliminary inspection Wednesday.” Stadium officials “still had not had time to conduct an exterior assessment because of dangerous weather conditions.” Thornton in an e-mail said that unlike during Hurricane Katrina in '05, the dome “never lost power or water pressure during the storm,” so there was no "food spoilage or plumbing problems." Duncan noted the hurricane's impact included minor wind damage to “sheet metal flashing around the exterior electronic video boards on the metal pylon along I-10” and minimal damage to the "advertising panels on the pylon.” There also was damage to "advertising panels and sheet metal flashing around the Poydras Street video board” (NOLA.com, 8/29).
NFL TO MONITOR SITUATION: The Saints are scheduled to open the season at home next Sunday against the Redskins, and ESPN's John Clayton reported while the NFL anticipates that Isaac will be “moving on from there," the league is likely "going to stay in touch with the Saints.” Clayton: “The NFL would like to be able to have the game going. They think there’s enough time to try to do some of the cleanup, but if not then they’ll make preparations to do something else” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 8/29).
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown yesterday announced the selection of the Sabres, team Owner Terry Pegula and HARBORcenter Development as the preferred developer of the Webster Block, a 1.7 acre city-owned site located directly across from First Niagara Center. The estimated $123M project includes two new ice rinks, a hotel, retail space, a restaurant and new parking structure (Sabres). In Buffalo, Jill Terreri notes the specifics of the plan include "a 965-space parking lot, a 200-room hotel, a sports bar and retail space." HARBORcenter is "in talks to include a New Era Cap Co. flagship store and a 'destination' Tim Hortons restaurant." Sabres President Ted Black said that the new development will "connect through an elevated walkway to First Niagara Center, making the three-rink complex the first of its kind in the National Hockey League." The venue is "planned to be a year-round destination for local and tournament skaters" and is "expected to draw 500,000 new visitors downtown annually." Black said, "We will not be an absentee landlord. We will do right by this city. We will do right by our fans." The Sabres will pay the city $2M for the parcel and "city residents will be sought for post-construction jobs." A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for March 1, and the rinks and parking ramps are "expected to be completed by September 2014, with the hotel opening in May 2015" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/30).
The Virginia Beach economic development authority has “quietly spent nearly $700,000 in the past 18 months laying plans behind closed doors to build a large arena and attract a major professional sports team,” according to Aaron Applegate of the Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT. The authority held “multiple discussions in closed session about work being done" by Dallas-based architecture firm HKS. Virginia Beach Economic Development Dir Warren Harris said that HKS' “four contracts with the authority were approved in closed session.” A city council member said that City Manager Jim Spore “discussed the arena proposal in a private meeting days before the City Council's Aug. 3 retreat.” The council member said that Spore referred to the city “or one of its consultants being in talks with [NBA] Kings representatives and that the arena project would need to be fast-tracked for a vote by council in October or November.” Some city council members “were surprised to learn Wednesday the authority was spending money on the arena project.” Council member Bill DeSteph said, "We spent $700,000? I did not know that. That's ridiculous. We should know about that." Others said that the city council “doesn't need to know everything the authority is doing.” Council member Jim Wood said, "It's the function of the development authority to look at things like this, and I have no problem with it.” Harris said that so far, “$678,400 has been spent.” Expenses included “public relations, marketing, coordination of negotiations with the NBA and NHL, formation of a local advocacy group, development of financing models, marketing studies for premium seating, naming rights and corporate sponsorships, public opinion research, and economic impact studies, including the one done by" Old Dominion Univ. economics professor James Koch (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 8/30).
THINKING BIG PICTURE: In Virginia, Tom Robinson writes, “No Maloof sightings in Virginia Beach on Wednesday. None to be confirmed, at least.” A rumored appearance by a member of the NBA Kings ownership “allegedly to announce to the City Council their intention to move the Kings here -- did not occur.” Robinson: “Could it still happen? Certainly. But it's hardly as easy as walking before the council to say the vans are on the way.” Council member Glenn Davis “allowed himself to think big” yesterday. Davis: “I would imagine if we get one (team) and it has the success that Comcast-Spectacor and Live Nation think it will, that the other (league) would follow within four or five years” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 8/30). Also in Virginia, David Teel wrote he would “love to see” the ACC basketball tournament in Virginia Beach. Harris said that city officials “met last winter with ACC representatives to discuss the arena project.” Teel noted if the city built an arena, “the soonest it could host an ACC tournament is 2022.” The adjacent Convention Center “would be ideal for the conference’s Fan Fest” (DAILYPRESS.com, 8/29).
DUE DILIGENCE: A Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT editorial states, “When someone offers to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in your backyard, you owe it to yourself and your neighbors to consider it carefully. … Before we get all starry-eyed -- or reflexively say no -- we need to know the details, which city leaders and the companies say have yet to be negotiated” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 8/30).
The New York State Liquor Authority yesterday issued a ruling allowing Barclays Center "to sell alcohol at its premium bars for an hour after events finish, or a cutoff of 1 a.m.," according to Aaron Edwards of the N.Y. TIMES. The venue "had been seeking permission to serve alcohol until as late as 2 a.m." During games, alcohol "will be cut off in the arena after the third quarter." The liquor board’s ruling "came amid strong opposition from residents, who argued that serving drinks after events would keep a steady flow of noisy and drunken fans emptying into the surrounding neighborhoods." Opponents of the project "have been complaining of an increase in the number of surrounding businesses seeking liquor licenses, which they fear will entice people leaving basketball games, concerts and other events at the arena to linger in bars and clubs in the area and continue to imbibe." Though Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner "accepted the earlier final cutoff time, the company said during the hearing that if the restriction caused problems for scheduling events, it might return to the Liquor Authority to try to extend the permit until 2 a.m." (N.Y. TIMES, 8/30).
GIMME SHELTER: The Rolling Stones reportedly will play four dates in November, "two at London's O2 Arena and two at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn." A source said the band will be paid $25M for the four shows (BILLBOARD.biz, 8/29).