A group of "high-profile architects" advising L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on AEG's Farmers Field Project "are recommending a redesign of the Los Angeles Convention Center hall that is part of the project," according to Dakota Smith of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Several members of the Vision Team assembled by Villaraigosa to consult on the project "believe the plan has major flaws, including having visitors enter the new hall through a dark, unsafe space created by stretching the building over Pico Boulevard." The recommendations, "compiled in a formal report released this month, comes as the City Council is set to vote Friday on the project's environmental impact report." Burbank-based Woodbury Univ. School of Architecture President Norman Millar, a member of the Vision Team, said, "This is not good city design. Plain and simple. It's a no-no." L.A. City Council member Ed Reyes "sits on the council committee that reviewed the stadium proposal," and said that he "was never made aware of the Vision Team's report." Told of the recommendations yesterday, Reyes replied, "Wow." He added, "It would have been to everyone's advantage to see how we can provide the best-case scenario." Vision Team member Joseph Coriaty said that "more time and money -- at least $50 million -- is needed to redesign the convention center hall." Smith writes, "Seen as unrealistic because of budget constraints and the project's fast timeline, city planning officials never presented the recommendations to move or redesign the hall to the full Planning Commission, which signed off on the project at its meeting two weeks ago." Villaraigosa spokesperson Peter Sanders said that the mayor "was aware of the Vision Team's concerns" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/27).
Churchill Downs Inc. is "asking a federal judge in Texas to keep account wagering services such as Churchill’s TwinSpires.com open, arguing that a new state effort to block online gambling is unconstitutional," according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. In the federal lawsuit, filed Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court in Austin, CDI also "seeks a preliminary injunction allowing it to continue operations in Texas." CDI was given a Sept. 25 deadline to "file suit challenging the law, stop taking bets from Texans or comply with a subpoena seeking information about bets by Texans." A CDI spokesperson said that the company "does not discuss pending litigation," but that the company is "continuing to operate TwinSpires.com in Texas." CDI argues that Texas regulators for years did not "enforce the 'in person' requirements, which Churchill said are a violation of the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause." The complaint states Texas' rules are "tantamount to forcing Pepsi to sell its soda only through Coke vending machines, only if Coke consents." The original law, passed in '86, was written "before the rise of Internet wagering and also restricted wagering from the standpoint of the person placing the bet rather than the entity taking the bet." Texas Racing Commission Communication Specialist Bill Childs said an '11 revision of the law "cleared up any ambiguity" that existed under the old law (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/26).
In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted the amount of sales-tax money the Miller Park Stadium District received this month from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue is “one of the lowest September sales-tax distributions since the 0.1% sales tax was imposed in 1996.” The district received a “total of $2,017,213,” representing sales-tax collections from July. That distribution is “12.7% below last year's distribution.” District Exec Dir Mike Duckett wrote in an e-mail, “As we have stated previously, the declining sales tax receipts will not force the district to collect any additional sales tax revenues, it is simply taking us a little longer to collect the same amount of money required to pay off the original Miller Park construction debt” (JSONLINE.com, 9/26).
ANOTHER DIMENSION: In N.Y., Mike Puma notes the Mets will “conclude their home schedule today without much doubt -- if any -- general manager Sandy Alderson made the right call last offseason when he decided to shorten the dimensions at the previously cavernous ballpark.” Puma notes there have been “46 homers hit at Citi Field this season that wouldn’t have cleared the fences last year.” Citi Field had “yielded an average of 1.91 homers per game this season entering last night, making it the ninth toughest ballpark in the National League in which to hit a homer” (N.Y. POST, 9/27).
SPRING IN THEIR STEP: Lee County (Fla.) Commission candidate Charlie Whitehead, in discussing Spring Training in the area, said, “Do we need a baseball team at City of Palms Park? Yes we do.” Whitehead’s opponent, Larry Kiker added, “Absolutely. The Nationals are a strong candidate, I understand." In Florida, Bob Rathgeber notes both candidates “slammed the current commissioners for using tourist development dollars to fund the new Boston Red Sox stadium at the expense of other tourist-related projects.” The Twins are also “seeking as much as” $40M in improvements to Hammond Stadium. Kiker suggested that “maybe all three teams ought to get together in one room and come up with a deal” (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 9/27).
In Edmonton, David Staples noted city council member Bryan Anderson said that he is "willing to consider measures that will assist the Katz Group over the 35-year lease on a new downtown arena, but only if the Katz Group opens up its books and proves such assistance is necessary." The Oilers' ownership "needs to demonstrate its financial need to the city's negotiators," which includes City Manager Simon Farbrother and CFO Lorna Rosen. Anderson said that if "there really is a need, council might then respond" (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 9/26).
MORE MONEY ON THE LINE: In Ottawa, David Reevely noted the city said that the "naming rights for Frank Clair Stadium are worth several times what the city thought because previous estimates didn't count on all the events the stadium's expected to host or all the people who'll see it from the neighbouring shopping area." The estimated value of the naming rights has gone from the C$15.8M "councillors were told last February" to C$50.2M. The difference is "a remarkably convenient number, cancelling out almost exactly a decline in the money expected from leases to retailers moving into new storefronts at Landsdowne after the park is renovated" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/26).
TOGETHER WE CAN: The Univ. of Arkansas has selected Populous to design its new basketball practice facility. The preliminary estimated cost of the 70,000-85,000-square-foot building is between $20-25M. Populous, with partner MAHG Architecture, plan to break ground in '13 and will work with Fayetteville-based CDI Constructors, which will serve as the general contractor for the project (Populous).
CHICAGO HOPE: In Illinois, Jessica Cilella noted sponsorship and management agreements for the Sears Centre Arena "were extended by the Hoffman Estates village board." The board "approved a two-year extension to the existing sponsorship agreement with Front Row Marketing and a three-year extension to the existing arena management agreement with Global Spectrum, both with slightly revised terms." Based on the "extension approved Monday, if Front Row does not reach 50 percent of the forecast amount of cumulative sales by August 31, 2013, the village has the power to end the agreement early" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 9/26).