Work to convert the London Olympic Stadium "for its post-Games future is unlikely to begin for about another year despite [EPL club] West Ham United being named the 'first-ranked bidder'" yesterday, according to Robin Scott-Elliot of the London INDEPENDENT. It means the stadium "will not be ready to host matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup -- it is on the shortlist -- although the snail's pace at which the project is advancing could mean it hosts athletics meetings next summer before construction work begins." If the deal is done for West Ham to move in, it is "likely to be 2016 before they physically can do so." London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) Chair & London Mayor Boris Johnson "remains wary of delivering a stadium built and converted with public funding to a Premier League football club without significant accompanying caveats." Johnson "supports the idea of top-flight football being placed at the core of the stadium's future but insists West Ham will have to offer further commercial guarantees before any deal can be completed." Both parties said that there is "no deadline set, although the LLDC hope that it will be settled by March next year." That would signal an "autumn start for conversion works on the roof and the installation of retractable seating no more than 16.9 metres from the pitch on all sides." Conversion costs are "estimated" at $241.6M (all figures U.S.) (London INDEPENDENT, 12/5). In London, Ashling O'Connor notes Johnson "must decide if spending nearly" $322.2M up front to "ensure the stadium makes a small profit is better value than spending less than" $64.4M on a multisport stadium and "subsidising it to the tune of" $3.2M a year for the rest of its life. An "incentivised operator may even work hard enough to ensure that a business selling a mixture of athletics, concerts and conferencing breaks even" (LONDON TIMES, 12/6).
Though a formal announcement “likely won’t be made until January at the earliest, expect a lengthy contract keeping" the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas "for several years" beginning in ’14, according to John Katsilometes of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Those who have “negotiated the deal are not specifying the terms just yet, but concerns that the rodeo might bug out of Las Vegas after 2014 can be allayed.” This year’s NFR “begins tonight and runs through Dec. 15.” The current 10-year contract that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the rodeo’s sanctioning body, holds with Las Vegas Events “times out after the 2014 event.” PRCA and Las Vegas officials have “never allowed a contract to expire.” PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman last week said, “We have a great relationship with Las Vegas. To look at the NFR and to see how successful it has been out there, you ask, ‘Would it be foolish to end it?’ It would absolutely be silly.” Talks about renewing the contract “began in earnest last fall, when Stressman and PRCA chairman Keith Martin traveled to Las Vegas to begin discussions with” NFR Committee member and South Point Hotel Casino & Spa Owner Michael Gaughan and Las Vegas Events reps. The '10 opening of Cowboys Stadium “brought what was perceived to be daunting competition for the NFR.” But while Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has “entertained Professional Bull Riders events at Cowboys Stadium, and there have been exploratory discussions about how the NFR might play out at Cowboys Stadium," Jones "would never book a rodeo during the NFL season” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 12/6).
MLS on Tuesday night hosted a town hall meeting at Queens Theater in Flushing Meadows Corona Park that “gave the league an opportunity to present its plan to build the stadium at the eastern end” of the site, according to David Picker of the N.Y. TIMES. The league during the two-hour meeting “answered questions from the audience and highlighted the support it had mustered from the community, business leaders and local politicians.” Practically everyone in attendance “seemed to favor the proposed stadium.” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, “Our goal is to be one of the top soccer leagues in the entire world by 2022. This stadium will help us achieve that” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/6). Meanwhile, in DC, Jonathan O’Connell reported District officials have “entered preliminary discussions with Pepco over the feasibility of building a soccer stadium for D.C. United where the utility’s generation and substation facilities are located on Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.” Pepco’s property “constitutes a major portion of the footprint for a new stadium based on the plans that D.C. United officials began vetting with District officials in 2010” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/30).
NASCAR team Owner Michael Waltrip Tuesday announced that he and his team "will be investors in the Sports Pavilion & Automotive Research Complex, or SPARC, being developed” on the site of Cooper Stadium in Columbus, according to Steve Wartenberg of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Waltrip said of discussions with Arshot Investment Corp. principal and SPARC developer Bill Schottenstein, “He had me from racetrack. Having my hands on designing and helping to build a racetrack is very exciting.” Waltrip and Schottenstein “both declined to say how much the team invested.” The SPARC complex “will include a half-mile racetrack with 8,500 seats, a 50,000-square-foot office building for the research center, 1,900 parking spaces, a hotel and meeting center, and four or five sites for restaurants or stores along Mound Street.” Waltrip said that it is “unlikely, but possible an actual NASCAR race could take place at SPARC,” adding that the “limited number of seats at SPARC would make it difficult” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 12/5).
In St. Paul, Megan Boldt reports tax receipts “from new electronic gambling -- approved to help pay for a new Minnesota Vikings' stadium -- are coming in at about half the anticipated pace.” A new Minnesota state budget forecast released yesterday reports projected revenue “from electronic pull-tabs and bingo for this fiscal year has been reduced from $34 million to $16 million.” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers “assumed most of the state's $348 million portion would be funded by the new gaming” as part of the deal reached on the $975M stadium this year (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/6).
FINDING THE BOND: Univ. of Michigan sports management professor Mark Rosentraub, who is consulting on Tigers and Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch’s proposed $637M arena project, said that if Ilitch “can secure a stream of $13 million grants from Detroit's downtown development arm, [he] will finance the rest of the project himself.” Rosentraub yesterday said that bonds “backed by several years of grants from the Detroit Downtown Development Authority would be instrumental to the project.” In Detroit, Brian O’Connor notes raising additional public money for the project “seems unlikely.” A Detroit authority spokesperson said that if the legislation “eventually is signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, Ilitch would need to lay out a detailed plan and could get the money in a multi-year commitment.” The commitment could “then be used to back bonds to build the new arena.” Rosentraub said, "If that's there, you basically know that after that it's the Ilitch family. It's going to be a heavy lift, but if you look at facilities elsewhere, it can be done and it has been done, and when you have somebody like the Ilitch family, then it will be done" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/6).
GETTING AN UPGRADE: A NEWSDAY editorial states the “economics of major league sports demand ultramodern arenas laden with luxury suites and other high-end amenities.” That is what corporate customers “crave, and it's corporate customers that pay the big-league freight.” Now Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano has “created a group to seek the best vision for refurbishing” the Nassau Coliseum in “a reasonable manner” after the Islanders leave for the Barclays Center in '14. But if such a project “can be done,” developer Bruce Ratner and the others are “likely the ones who can figure out how, although they've been tasked only with creating the plan, not executing it.” And if “there's a time when the stars could align to get it done, it's likely now” (NEWSDAY, 11/30).