The NHL Panthers have "signed a long-term extension with BB&T for naming rights to their arena, a deal that could extend over 20 years," according to Don Muret of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark said that the initial term with North Carolina-based BB&T Bank "runs 10 years." The agreement also "includes two five-year options." The arena today "officially switches from BankAtlantic Center to BB&T Center." Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the team and arena, and BB&T officials "refused to disclose the value of the deal, but industry sources valued the agreement at $3.7 million a year." The extension "materialized over the past month after federal regulators approved BB&T's purchase of BankAtlantic at the end of July." Panthers officials said that BankAtlantic's deal, valued at $3.2M annually, "was torn up ... and the Panthers negotiated new terms with BB&T for the 19,250-seat facility." BB&T South Florida regional President Mike Oster said that the bank's sponsorship "reflects its strategy for developing greater brand awareness in the local market." The region of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties has "about 6 million residents" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/10 issue). This marks the fourth name for the 14-year-old arena -- it opened in '98 as the National Car Rental Center and subsequently had naming-rights deals with Office Depot and BankAtlantic (THE DAILY).
49ers fans already have bought $670M "worth of seats and luxury boxes in the new Silicon Valley stadium, as most longtime members of the Niner faithful decided to stick with their beloved team despite huge price increases," according to Mike Rosenberg of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. In releasing the results of the first wave of sales for the stadium, the 49ers said that 70% of current ticket holders "committed to spend thousands of dollars each to keep their spots when the new field opens in two years." In three months, the 49ers have sold 26,520 seats in the upper deck, end zones and corners -- 52% of those sections -- "amounting to more than the entire capacity of HP Pavilion or Oracle Arena." Most of the "seats remaining are the cheaper 'nosebleeds.'" On the "pricier side," the 49ers since January have sold 70% of their club seats, "which cost as much as a new car, and since 2011 have sold nearly three-fourths of their luxury suites, which can cost as much as a new house." Still, fans "facing higher prices are buying fewer seats than at Candlestick, and thousands of others have chosen to give up tickets because they can't afford them." Their loss "allows 10,000 fans on a waiting list the chance to buy about 27,000 newly available tickets" starting today. In all, fans have committed to $310M in seats and $360M to purchase suites. Legends Hospitality VP/Sales & Marketing Al Guido, who is leading the team's sales campaign, said that despite the "early success, of the 15,000 season-ticket holders that combine to fill Candlestick at about four seats apiece, more than 4,000 have not purchased seats for Santa Clara, mostly because of price." The only sections that are “not sold out are the ones that cost $250,000 to $350,000" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/10).
Cook County (Ill.) officials said that they “plan to fight a judge’s ruling that let the Chicago Bears off the hook for millions of dollars in taxes the county argues it’s owed,” according to Erin Meyer of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Ann Brennan last month ruled that the Bears "are not obligated to pay" about $4M, after years of “debate and legal squabbling about whether Chicago sports teams owe back taxes and interest on amenities purchased by patrons in premium seats." The county “levies amusement taxes on all kinds of entertainment events, ranging from sports exhibitions to concerts.” The debate “focuses on the taxation of game-day drinks, food and parking, items that are often included in the bill for luxury suites and club seating.” The Bears “successfully argued in a lawsuit filed against the county in 2011 that the team shouldn’t have to pay the amusement tax on those amenities.” The Cubs also have “disputed the amusement tax on premium seating, while the White Sox entered into a settlement on the issue in 2008” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/10). In Chicago, Lisa Donovan noted the Bears organization has “found itself on the defense since 2009, when revenue officials sent a bill stating the Bears owed millions in amusement taxes and interest from 2002 to 2007.” County officials argue that the Bears “should be collecting the 3 percent amusement tax not just on ticket prices but also on amenities -- such as food, beverages and parking -- that are tied to the premium-seat tickets.” But the team has argued that the amusement tax ordinance "says the taxes apply only to the cost of entering the stadium and watching the game -- not the added benefits tied to those premium tickets” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/9).
An L.A. TIMES editorial regarding AEG's proposed Farmers Field states, "This is a sound project with clear public benefits, and it should go forward. The city agencies, meanwhile, should use these final talks to ensure that the public interest is maximally protected." The project "will benefit the entire city" and "create jobs during construction and afterward." However, it will "impose burdens on those who live and work nearby." The editorial: "A stadium necessarily brings some inconveniences. Ask those who live near the Rose Bowl or the Los Angeles Coliseum. That's not a reason to say no. It is, however, an opportunity to think creatively about what those inconveniences might look like and how the city might address them" (L.A. TIMES, 9/10).
SECRET RECIPE: In Louisville, Marcus Green wrote, "The cash-strapped agency that oversees the KFC Yum! Center may have a windfall of millions of dollars that could help forestall the need to dig further into city funds to make debt payments." Louisville Arena Authority officials said that they "are considering selling a package of securities that financial statements show increased in value by $5 million last year." The authority’s guaranteed investment contracts provide it a fixed rate of return of 4.7% annually -- "more than $740,000." KFC Yum! Center financial statements indicate that the securities were worth $22.6M at the end of last year, up from $17.6M the year before (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/9).
FROG IS A PRINCE: In Ft. Worth, Brent Shirley wrote of the unveiling of TCU's renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday, "The primary reactions were awe and pride." The "wide concourses with open views of the field from multiple angles are a big hit with the fans." Shirley: "Larger, nicer bathrooms are another upgrade over the old stadium as well as last year's long lines at portable toilets." Most of the TCU fans "showed up early enough to tailgate and avoid heavy traffic." Some fans "experienced minor delays, but nothing worse than past years" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/9).
REMEMBER THE ALAMO: In San Antonio, John Whisler noted Saturday's crowd of 33,006 for the Univ. of Texas-San Antonio's home game against Texas Tech "was a Bobcat Stadium record." The facility recently underwent a $33M expansion "in which about 13,000 seats were added." Also, 3,000 bleacher seats "in the south end zone were added only for the Texas Tech game." The old attendance mark "was 16,600 against Texas A&M-Kingsville on Nov. 21, 1981, the year Bobcat Stadium opened" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 9/8).