The Steelers said that a project aimed at adding 3,000 seats to Heinz Field next year "could be in jeopardy if a plan to pay for the construction isn't finalized by the end of the month," according to a front-page piece by Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Steelers Dir of Strategic Planning & Development Mark Hart yesterday said that the project "could be delayed until 2014 or killed entirely if the city-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority isn't able to complete the deal in short order." Hart said that despite months of negotiations, the SEA still has not "been able to finalize the details of the plan to finance construction," estimated at $38-39M, or resolve bond underwriting issues. Belko notes last month, the team and local political leaders "negotiated the framework of a deal to help pay for the construction that involved a $1 increase in an existing surcharge on Steelers tickets and a new parking surcharge of $2 to $3 at lots around Heinz Field during home games." Alco Parking Corp. President Merrill Stabile, whose company manages most of the lots around the stadium, is "complicating the completion of the deal" by "objecting to the parking surcharge." Hart said that even if details are finalized by October, the team "probably won't be able to have the new seats, to be built in the south end zone, in place until mid- to late September." Hart added that that would mean "missing the preseason and perhaps some regular season games." Hart also said that a delay beyond '13 could "kill the project altogether, given the economic uncertainties and the potential for increased cost." Under the team's lease at Heinz Field, the SEA is "required to pay two-thirds of the cost for a 'designated expansion' involving no more than 10,000 seats in the south end zone." The team is "responsible for the other third" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/11).
The Charlotte City Council has "directed city staff to meet with the Carolina Panthers and ask the team how much financial assistance it might want for a stadium renovation, even before the NFL team has made a formal request," according to a front-page piece by Steve Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. During a "closed meeting" Sept. 27, council members "voted 6-4 for city staff members to meet with the team." The Panthers are "working on a long-term plan to improve Bank of America Stadium." The team has "declined to say how much the renovations might cost, and have given only a few details as to what the rehab would entail." Panthers President Danny Morrison has said that Owner Jerry Richardson "wants escalators to make it easy for fans to reach the upper bowl." Morrison also said that the team "would likely want larger, better video boards." But Harrison writes the "willingness of some elected officials to offer financial help to the team before being formally asked has reportedly rankled some other council members." The Panthers have partnered with K.C.-based architectural firm Populous on their plan, "which will likely be finished at the end of the year." City Council member Claire Fallon "supports meeting with the team." She said it is important to “find out what they are thinking, where they are going.” She added that "one concern among council members is the future of the team." Harrison notes Richardson is 76 and "received a heart transplant three years ago." Fallon: "What’s he going to do with the team? We need to know about the succession plan. I think it’s smart business for the council to look ahead” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/11).
The Ottawa City Council yesterday approved plans to “build a stadium, plus a residential and retail complex, on the site of Frank Clair Stadium,” according to Matthew Scianitti of the NATIONAL POST. The vote passed 21-3 and was “the final hurdle for the league and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) to bring a CFL franchise back to Ottawa for the first time since 2006.” CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon in March ‘08 announced that an ownership group “had been tentatively awarded a CFL franchise.” Cohon in a statement said, “We have pursued expansion to Ottawa in a prudent and businesslike manner, determined to ensure we had the right owners and the proper conditions in place for success in the nation’s capital, which will ultimately make all of our teams stronger. I am confident that, with today’s news, we are achieving our goals” (NATIONAL POST, 10/11). In Ottawa, Jon Willing reports the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park “includes a renovation of Frank Clair Stadium and the Civic Centre, plus new condos, townhouses, retail stores and an urban park.” The city and OSEG will be “pushing hard to meet that 2014 deadline to have Frank Clair Stadium "renovated for the CFL season” (OTTAWA SUN, 10/11). Also in Ottawa, Tim Baines notes Cohon was “all smiles, shaking hands and accepting congratulations.” Cohon: “It’s a go. The CFL is coming back to the nation’s capital. To say this is a happy day would be an understatement.” He added, “It’s been 100 years for the Grey Cup ... and there’s no better way to bring in the next 100 years.” Baines writes the announcement "is not just good news for the football community; it's a huge step in the right direction for the fabric of this community" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/11).
The future of London's Olympic Stadium "may not be resolved by the original deadline of the end of the month," according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. EPL club West Ham United owners are "keen to become the main tenants of the stadium" in time to begin the '14-15 season but are "embroiled in tense negotiations" with the London Legacy Development Corp. The two parties continue to discuss "modifications to be made to the stadium at a cost of up to [US$256M] and who will pay for them." The LLDC BOD "remains split on whether the solution should include West Ham or not." LLDC interim CEO Dennis Hone said that talks were "entering the 'end game' ahead of a crucial board meeting next week, but there was no 'knockout' bid." He said that the arguments “for and against football and the changes demanded by West Ham remained finely balanced.” Hone: "If we can't come to a conclusion, in the scheme of things if it slips another month or two I'd rather get the right solution.” Gibson noted some at City Hall believe with the stadium having “proved its worth as a concert and sporting venue during the Olympics, the LLDC should press on without football." Others believe that West Ham still offers "the most sustainable long-term solution while wanting to ensure that the deal is beneficial to taxpayers." A decision on the stadium could be “pushed back as far as December if no agreement is reached at this month's board meeting.” If the timetable “slips much further, there are fears” West Ham would “struggle to make the move in time for the start of the 2014-15 season” (GUARDIAN, 10/10).