Edmonton City Council members yesterday “shut down arena talks" with Oilers Owner Daryl Katz, and are "considering options that include building the project alone,” according to Gordon Kent of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Mayor Stephen Mandel said that there has been "nothing to justify Katz’s demand for a $6-million[all figures C] annual subsidy to offset operating costs at a downtown arena, which city staff identified as the major stumbling block to completing a deal." Mandel: "The deal we offer to Mr. Katz was incredibly profitable. I know the numbers and I can tell you he wasn't going to lose money." Mandel supported a unanimous motion to "immediately cease negotiations over jointly building what is now a $475-million facility and look at other ideas, including refurbishing Rexall Place or having the city put up a new arena by itself." But Mandel "cautioned that even if the city constructed an arena, it would still have to negotiate a lease with the Oilers." The final straw "for many councillors was Katz’s refusal to attend the meeting to lay out his justification for extra money." Without a deal, Mandel "couldn't say whether the Oilers will stay in Edmonton," where their lease at Rexall Place expires in '14. Edmonton City Manager Simon Farbrother said that there are "still 15 outstanding issues to resolve before a final deal can be reached." Farbrother said that while 12 can "probably be resolved, the operating subsidy, a proposal to have the city become the anchor tenant in a new Katz office tower, and how to divide $50 million in extra costs are critical issues." Farbrother was not "optimistic that intervention by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who helped the two sides reach the tentative agreement at his New York office last fall, would be effective this time" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/18).
NOT GIVING UP: In Edmonton, Angelique Rodrigues reports City Council member Amarjeet Sohi supported the motion to end negotiations with Katz, but Sohi "hopes it doesn’t send a message to Edmontonians that council has given up on the arena deal." Sohi: "My concern is it will send the message that council is breaking off negotiations because that isn’t the case. Negotiations were stopped by The Katz Group" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/18). Also in Edmonton, Paula Simons notes all 13 council members voted to "direct city administration to 'explore potential avenues' and to report back on 'the status of the City’s current, transferable investments in a potential downtown arena project.'" Simons: "Translation? Bureaucrats have been told to investigate the possibility of cutting the Katz Group out of the deal altogether, and letting the city finance, build and operate the arena on its own." City Council members yesterday "showed true political leadership." They "refused to be blackmailed," or to be "held hostage." Council members also "refused to cave into Katz's latest vague and secret demands" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/18). An EDMONTON SUN survey asked, "Who should be held most accountable for the downtown arena debacle?" Katz received 46% of the vote, "equal blame for all" received 34% and Mandel received a 5% tally. The survey also asked if the city should "build its own downtown arena," with 82% voting yes and 18% voting no (EDMONTONSUN.com, 10/17).
Daytona Int’l Speedway yesterday cleared a major hurdle in its effort to renovate and reinvent the racetrack. The Daytona Beach City Commission unanimously approved a rezoning request that could make it possible to begin a major renovation project in '13 or '14. ISC, which owns the 53-year-old track, submitted a request last June that asked the city to rezone the speedway from a major sports district to a “plan master development zone,” which would allow it to develop anything from retail space to dining facilities to a museum. The seven-member City Commission yesterday approved that request. Now, track officials will work with ISC’s internal design team and outside architecture advisers Rossetti to finalize their redevelopment plans before going to the ISC BOD for funding approval. Current plans call for an overhaul of the speedway’s grandstand, adding new suites and creating a modern exterior and redesigned midway (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey last night said, "It's the largest project ever proposed and approved for the city of Daytona Beach. It's a historical event. It will pay great dividends to the city and Speedway." City leaders said that the new development “will happen over the next few decades, and will likely be driven by developer interest and the economy as it recovers.” In Daytona Beach, Eileen Zaffiro-Kean notes improvements to the 53-year-old facilities and grandstands at DIS “will probably happen first, and could be completed within two years.” Those improvements could include “new metal panel screening on the exterior of the Speedway, five new colorful metal entranceways, escalators and a doubling of seating.” The new development also could include “up to 2 million square feet of retail space, 1,785 hotel rooms, 1,500 multifamily residential units, movie theaters with 5,000 seats total and 950,000 square feet of industrial uses” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 10/18).
One month before the inaugural F1 race at the Circuit of the Americas, there is “still plenty of work to be done before the F1 circus arrives for the Nov. 18 race that could attract as many as 120,000 fans,” according to John Maher of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. COTA Project Manager Braedon Box yesterday said, “Everything track-related is done. We could have a race right now. Everything else isn’t done.” The 3.4-mile track "had its final coat of asphalt applied last month." Maher notes one of the “biggest projects still unfinished is a three-lane extension of Kellam Road, which is still not paved.” Box said that the “pit area and the medical and maintenance buildings are essentially completed.” The team garages “will be finished by the individual teams, which will paint and partition them.” The main grandstand and media center “are scheduled to be completed” by Monday. Concession stands are “likely to be completed in a few days.” One “big change in the next few weeks” will be landscaping for the track (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 10/18). The $400M track was the subject of a feature in the current issue of SportsBusiness Journal.
The NFL Giants and Jets announced that technology firms SAP and EMC will partner on the fourth cornerstone sponsorship at MetLife Stadium. SAP will be the featured partner in permanent branding applications throughout the southeast corner of the stadium, including naming the entrance the SAP Gate as well as in-bowl signage above the corner video board. SAP branding will replace that of MetLife in that corner. EMC and SAP will share venue marketing rights, digital signage, media assets and on-site client hospitality on game days. SportsBusiness Journal in June reported EMC was working on a deal for the cornerstone partnership (THE DAILY). MetLife Stadium President & CEO Brad Mayne said that "rapidly changing technology made it a challenge last year to provide enough bandwidth for fans to watch streaming videos" inside the stadium. He noted that partnering with the two tech companies "will help stadium officals stay ahead of the latest trends." Mayne: "We'll have the firepower to be able to understand what's in the pipeline, so we'll be able to do our business better" (Bergen RECORD, 10/18).
SMG is asking the federal government to “launch an anti-trust investigation of how Comcast is using its cable television operation to sweeten its bids for contracts managing sports and entertainment venues in Jacksonville and other cities,” according to David Bauerlein of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. SMG and Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast, are “vying for a contract to manage EverBank Field, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, Prime Osborn Convention Center and the Ritz Theatre and Museum.” Global Spectrum and SMG “submitted their proposals in May, but Mayor Alvin Brown has not made his choice on the rival bids.” SMG in letters dated Oct. 10 “points to provisions in Global Spectrum’s bids that highlight the company’s ability to provide free cable television advertising to promote Jacksonville’s facilities and their events.” The proposal cited in the letters indicate that the offer is “worth at least $225,000 per month.” The letters also "cite Global Spectrum’s offer of discounted advertising and marketing opportunities in markets where Comcast manages venues and provides cable television service” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/18).
In Portland, Joe Freeman provided a video tour of the Trail Blazers remodeled locker room, which is a “complete overhaul of what it was last season.” Freeman said, “It’s all space aged-out.” The video room, which was “once a cubby hole that had a couple of minor televisions,” now has a “wall of six televisions.” The wall is a “pretty big transformation and I would imagine it’s one of the most state-of-the-art in the NBA.” Freeman said the “biggest financial contributions” of the Blazers remodel went toward the expansion of the hot and cold tubs for the players. Freeman: “Everything they do is catered towards the player and there’s no doubt that these upgrades, which are a significant remodel, will only help bolster the Blazers' recruitment of top talent going forward” (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/17).
NEW DIGS: In N.Y., Howard Beck wrote the Nets locker room at the new Barclays Center “appears to be at least twice the size of their old locker room at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, and much larger than the one they occupied the last two years at Newark’s Prudential Center.” The locker room by NBA standards is “probably about average.” There are “no special touches -- no televisions in the locker stalls, or customized bath robes and plush leather chairs -- but each stall does have extra electrical outlets to charge mobile devices” (NYTIMES.com, 10/16).
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE...:Knicks officials said that "with the second stage of MSG’s transformation nearly complete, the Garden capacity will fall about 1,000 lower than the usual 19,763 sell-out crowd.” In N.Y., Marc Berman noted the second stage of the renovation “featured a complete overhaul of the upper bowl.” The final stage next summer will “restore the seating capacity to normal levels when the much-hyped glass bridge is built across the upper tier from one side of the Garden to the other.” The bridge will also “contain seats.” The Knicks said that the third stage will “contain a resurfacing of the Garden’s famed pinwheeled ceiling.” Knicks PR Manager Stacey Escudero said that the ceiling “will be resurfaced in order to better the already impressive acoustics” (NYPOST.com, 10/17).
CRYSTAL BALL:CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Steinmetz said of the Warriors’ proposed downtown waterfront arena, “I don’t think that building will get built on that site by 2017. I think it’s possible that building could get built on that site after 2017” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 10/16).