The NFL yesterday questioned a plan from the Greater Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Complex LLC for a new outer harbor stadium in Buffalo, as the proposal "landed with a thud in front of several key lawmakers, the Buffalo Bills and the county executive," according to a front-page piece by Terreri & Sommer of the BUFFALO NEWS. The developers -- who "want to build a 72,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium that would double as a convention center -- assert that getting an option on waterfront property from the city and working with Dallas-based HKS, the foremost football stadium builder, would gain the NFL’s endorsement and ensure that the Bills stay in Buffalo, even without the team’s participation in the project." But NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that it "doesn’t work that way." He said, “We haven’t considered a proposal without club support." Terreri & Sommer note the Bills have "shown no interest in the proposed stadium, nor have they been approached." A Bills spokesperson said that the team is "focused on continuing talks with county and state officials to renovate Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park and extend its lease." GBSEC partners Nicholas Stracick and George Hasiotis said that the "mixed-use project will cost a total of $1.4 billion." They said that a "public-private partnership would be necessary, with the state kicking in about $400 million" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/24).
OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE THAN FOOTBALL: In Rochester, Meaghan McDermott notes the developers said that the proposed stadium project "could create as many as 10,000 construction jobs, invigorate the western New York economy and almost guarantee a Super Bowl game within two or three years after the project’s completion." Among the "planned amenities that would make the site a year-round attraction is a North American Museum of Sports and Culture." Hasiotis said, “It is not fair to characterize this only as a football stadium. It would not only be used 8 or 10 times a year. It would be used daily, day in and day out” (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 10/24).
BORDER CROSSING: In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger notes Buffalo developer Rocco Termini has the idea that a "permanent NFL facility for the Bills could one day sprout up" in Hamilton, Ontario. Termini "claimed the Buffalo area will lose the Bills within 10 years because western New York does not have enough corporate headquarters to afford buying all the private suites and luxury boxes that has become a staple revenue source of the NFL." By specifically identifying Hamilton "as a viable alternative for a new venue, Termini feels such a location would elicit corporate financial support from the thriving business community in the Greater Toronto Area." There "do not appear to be any blue prints from Termini," nor does there "seem to be anything on paper." Instead, he said that he "was just 'floating' the idea" (TORONTO SUN, 10/24).
Texans Owner Robert McNair said that the team and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are “working with Harris County on improvements at Reliant Stadium, including a new digital scoreboard,” according to John McClain of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. McNair said, “The county’s obligated to keep the stadium in first-class shape.” The new scoreboard, which would “offer higher-definition images, will cost anywhere from $10 million to $30 million and could be part of improvements at Reliant Stadium that enhance Houston’s chances of landing Super Bowl LI.” McNair introduced NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the Greater Houston Partnership luncheon yesterday and presented to him “a Texans jersey with No. 51 -- symbolic of Houston’s attempt to get a third Super Bowl.” SMG-Reliant Park GM Mark Miller “explained what has to happen for Reliant Stadium to get a new digital scoreboard in time for the 2013 season.” Miller said, “It would be physically possible to be in by next season, but it would be an issue of whether the funding would work out. Right now, we’re working with the Texans, the rodeo and the county to see what we can do to get a new scoreboard.” He added, “We’ve got a number of issues with it, but the one (scoreboard) we have now is an older format that really causes problems with the resolution” (CHRON.com, 10/23).
With "final approval for a September race meet in hand, Churchill Downs officials are making plans for the 12 days of racing to join the country’s top tracks in offering shorter meetings with bigger purses to attract the best horses and more fans," according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. The new September meet, which the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved yesterday, will "take days that used to belong to Turfway Park and offer more than double the purse money the Florence, Ky., track could." Churchill's third meet of the year "will immediately follow the premier summer boutique meets" at Saratoga Race Course and Del Mar Turf Club. With "about $240,000 in average daily purses, it won’t be at the level of Saratoga’s $930,000 a day," but it will be "markedly better than the $97,000 a day Turfway averaged last month." CDI Senior VP and Track President Kevin Flanery said, "We certainly hope that it’s in the upper echelon of meets." In September, Churchill will "race Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays each week after Labor Day." The "boutique strategy aims to maximize racing quality and crowds by running in a limited timeframe." Flanery said that Churchill’s 12-day September "affair will be branded as its own entity and separate from the track’s two other meets" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/24).
In Louisiana, Tim Buckley reported the Univ. of Louisiana at Lafayette’s facilities master plan “calls for multiple-phase Cajun Field expansion and the creation of an open-air, green-space quad behind the southern end zone.” First-phase plans call for “the addition of 1,200 club seats and 40 private boxes for Cajun Field, with other seating capacity gains coming in stages.” Other planned changes include “the tearing down of the current Cox Communications Athletic Center that houses athletic administration and football staff offices, and the construction of a new athletic administration facility on the west, press box-side face of Cajun Field that will allow for the creation of stadium luxury seats and boxes” (Lafayette DAILY ADVERTISER, 10/23).
BACK-UP PLAN:In Orlando, Richard Bilbao reports the Univ. of Central Florida’s Bright House Networks Stadium is “being eyed as a possible temporary venue" for the Capital One and Russell Athletics Bowls in '14 while the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium gets a $189M overhaul. Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said, “This is just as a precaution if something like this was ever needed.” Bilbao notes a timeline for the Citrus Bowl upgrade has “yet to be determined, but it’s slated to get under way in 2014 with the goal of improving the seating and adding new club seats” (ORLANDO BUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/19 issue).
BROOKLYN BOXING:Golden Boy Promotions Managing Partner Bernard Hopkins said that he “sees no reason why Brooklyn ... cannot be built into a home for top-caliber African-American fighters” with the opening of the Barclays Center. In Philadelphia, John Smallwood notes fighters of Mexican heritage are “big draws in California and Texas,” while N.Y. "has traditionally had big crowds at Madison Square Garden for fighters of Puerto Rican heritage" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/24).
JACKPOT: In N.Y., Charles Bagli notes the Resorts World Casino New York City that “opened a year ago at the fading Aqueduct horse racing track in Queens has emerged as the country’s highest-grossing slot parlor, helping to reshape the gambling landscape in the Northeast.” The casino generated “nearly $630 million in revenue over the last 12 months from electronic slot machines, more than the slots at any of the 12 casinos in Atlantic City or at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun in Connecticut” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/24).