NFL franchises are “in talks with London Mayor Boris Johnson’s office over becoming the anchor tenant of the Olympic Stadium,” according to Matt Scott of the London TELEGRAPH. Johnson’s negotiations “could cast a significant shadow over the prospects" of EPL club West Ham United or League One club Leyton Orient "taking over the venue.” A spokesperson for Johnson said, “Given the ever-growing popularity of gridiron this side of the Atlantic the mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities for NFL in London. The talks were exploratory and we are at an early stage but the signs are encouraging.” Scott notes the news comes after a report showed "the Treasury’s refusal to hand over cash from the [US$543M] Olympic-contingency underspend to contribute to the installation of retractable seating under the stadium’s athletics track.” West Ham is “cool on making such payment,” which could cost "up to" US$322M. West Ham "have been favourites to take over the stadium since a shortlist, which had no NFL presence, was drawn up in July.” An NFL anchor for the stadium would “require the facility for a maximum of 10 occasions each year," which could permit F1, already on the London Legacy Development Corp.’s "shortlist of possible tenants, also to use the stadium for an annual race” (London TELEGRAPH, 10/31).
The MLB Rangers yesterday announced plans for a series of upgrades to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The work will include a third row of Home Plate Seats, extensive upgrades to the private club and concessions areas behind home plate, a new retail store and concession stands on the Main Concourse, and deeper dugouts and field camera bays (Rangers). ESPN DALLAS’ Richard Durrett noted as part of the $35M renovations over a “three-year period,” the dugouts will be “moving closer to the field." The stadium’s private club will be renamed the Capital One Club, “after the Rangers announced a partnership with Capital One Bank.” There will be a “total of 52 seats added as a third row behind home plate.” Those rows have “extra leg room as well and each holder can receive complimentary buffet in the renovated Capital One Club before every game.” The Capital One Club will be “expanded and renovated” to include a “new cooking area, bars and dining room space in the center and the number of permanent seats goes up from 76 to 104.” The climate-controlled space “goes from 8,100 square feet to 9,100" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/30). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson notes the redesign of the main concourse will allow fans entering the stadium through the home-plate gates to "see the playing field as the entrance to the now-Capital One Club will be moved and the concession stands will be renovated.” The result will be “more air flow and a view of the field.” The increased air flow “could temper the jet stream to right field, which allegedly adds home runs" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/31).
Watkins Glen Int'l President Michael Printup said that the race track “suffered more than an estimated $50,000 worth of damage” from Hurricane Sandy, according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. Part of victory lane was “ripped apart, eight billboards were blown down, grandstand signage destroyed and building trim was damaged.” Trees were “blown down by winds estimated at 60 miles an hour.” Elsewhere, Pocono Raceway President & CEO Brandon Igdalsky yesterday morning wrote on his Twitter feed that the racetrack was “without power ... but only lost one of the two steeples that tower above its grandstands.” Dover Int’l Speedway Communications Dir Gary Camp said that the track “did not sustain any significant damage” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/30). Meanwhile, the storm “caused some flooding, uprooted trees and knocked out power at Oak Hill Country Club,” which in August will host the PGA Championship. Tournament Dir Ryan Cannon said that he was “not certain when the course would be cleared” (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 10/31).
ASSESSING THE DAMAGE: The MLS Red Bulls are "evaluating options" for Saturday's playoff game against DC United "because of a power outage" at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 10/30). DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne said that Red Bull Arena "did not suffer any severe damage” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/30). Meanwhile, MetLife Stadium "got through Hurricane Sandy unscathed and the NFL is preparing to go through with Sunday’s Giants-Steelers showdown." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail wrote, "The stadium apparently is fine. We are going to prepare to play and will stay in close touch with public authorities" (NYPOST.com, 10/30). The AP reported the Ravens “were running a generator" at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Elsewhere, the Giants, Bills, Browns, Patriots and Eagles “reported no damage at their practice facilities" (AP, 10/30).
RINK AT RISK: In Toronto, Lance Hornby notes the AHL and ECHL “closed some offices to ride out the storm, but that was it.” AHL President Dave Andrews said, “We were lucky it was a light couple of days on the schedule. We don't have any postponements, though our main concern is the rink in Atlantic City. ... We know there was damage in Atlantic City and that the rink is just above the Boardwalk.” Hornby notes Boardwalk Hall “is to host some games starting in late November for New Jersey's farm team in Albany" (TORONTO SUN, 10/31).
WORKING BY CANDLELIGHT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Dana Mattioli writes Foot Locker Chair, President & CEO Ken Hicks “disregarded the shutdown of his New York headquarters on Monday and worked at his office until 3 p.m.” He then “picked up the work again six blocks away at his home in Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood.” When the power went out, he “lit a lantern and did paperwork for another 2 ½ hours.” Hicks yesterday morning “headed to the office again," despite the continued power outage. He “couldn't afford to wait for conditions to improve,” as Foot Locker has a “major launch for a new basketball shoe this Saturday -- a new set of Nike Inc.'s Jordan Retro 9 -- and hurricane-related disruptions have left his stores with four fewer days to sort out inventory.” Hicks and his team “decided to delay a major shipment of the shoes that was due Monday, and they are rerouting other parts of the supply chain” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/31).
The CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new Investors Group Field "has seats with obstructed views, and season-ticket holders are getting discounts or moved to new seats because of it," according to Kirk Penton of the WINNIPEG SUN. The Bombers on Sunday said that there are "approximately 150 affected seats and that they knew this was going to be an issue well in advance." Blue Bombers Dir of Communications Darren Cameron in an e-mail wrote, "We began calling identified fans and inviting them down to the new stadium to offer them solutions to their obstructed seats. ... We are offering a number of solutions, including seat discounts if a fan chooses to stay in their same seat or the opportunity to change seats in the same price category. Our goal is to ensure we address all fan concerns." The "problem with some of the upper-deck seats is the sideline closest to them is not visible due to railings." It is also "difficult to see the corners of the end zones, which are extremely close to the concrete wall that surrounds the field" (WINNIPEG SUN, 10/29).
BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: In Winnipeg, Paul Friesen wrote at the new stadium "the view, generally, is spectacular. And it’s not exclusive to one segment of society." The C$20 upper corner seats for "the penny pinchers might be the best deal in pro football, while the high rollers will love to be seen in the four-seat 'loges,' complete with swivel chairs and table service" (WINNIPEG SUN, 10/30). Also in Winnipeg, Kevin Hirschfield reports Blue Bombers fans will "get a chance to own their piece" of the 59-year-old Canad Inns Stadium when the team moves into Investors Group Field next year. The team yesterday announced plans "for an asset sale, where seats, lockers, and even the infamous urinal trough ... will be available for sale to the public." Season-ticket holders will "get first dibs on the items, as the sale is exclusive to them from Nov. 29-Dec.1." Everybody else will "then get their crack at the sale from Dec. 2-16, or until inventory is gone" (WINNIPEG SUN, 10/31).