The Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority this week issued a document that outlines “preliminary specifications” for a new stadium “to solicit applications from architects interested in designing" the proposed retractable-roof venue, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The document said a new stadium should seat 80,000 people “for marquee events such as Super Bowls,” but should “feel right-sized” for smaller events, such as MLS games. It should have “fewer suites, more club seats and about 200,000 more square feet of space than the Georgia Dome.” The GWCCA and Falcons in the document said the downtown stadium should be “a distinctly iconic landmark for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia.” GWCCA Project Procurement Dir Richard Sawyer said that the “goal is to hire an architectural firm within about 90 days.” The new stadium is “envisioned to have about 1.8 million square feet of space,” compared to the Georgia Dome’s 1.6 million on all levels.” The Georgia Dome has a capacity of 71,250, but the new venue should have “permanent seating for 66,000 to 72,000 spectators at NFL games but should be designed so that capacity can expand to 80,000 for mega-events.” The new facility is “envisioned to have about 10,000 club seats, up from the Dome’s current 5,174, and about 120 suites, down from the Dome’s 173.” The Georgia Dome’s inventory of suites “does not sell out annually, and a smaller number could drive demand and pricing power.” Some of the club seats and suites “might move from their traditional location in the middle bowl.” The document also said that field level suites "should be considered." The stadium project “moved forward Monday when the GWCCA board approved a nonbinding ‘term sheet,’” but “major hurdles” remain (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 12/13).
The city of Edmonton yesterday "restarted downtown arena negotiations with contrite Katz Group executives," but while they "withdrew some key demands, councillors are leery of new proposals the company put forward," according to Gordon Kent of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Talks were "cut off in October after Oilers owner Daryl Katz asked for a [C]$6-million annual subsidy and other changes to a 2011 agreement, then refused to attend city council and explain why he needed the extra money." But seven weeks later, "virtually every senior company executive was in council chambers, asking to resume talks, jettisoning the subsidy idea and eating a little crow." Katz Group Exec VP & General Counsel John Karvellas said, "What we're trying to do is be as open as possible with our projections so you understand we're not trying to put anything over on you; we're not trying to be sneaky." Karvellas said that although the Katz Group last year agreed to "keep all revenues from the facility and cover all the operating and maintenance costs, further analysis showed that isn't economically viable." He "proposed that part of the taxes on the company's developments in the sports and entertainment district that exceed city projections be put in an arena fund, although what the money will cover hasn't been determined." Karvellas said that in another move, the Katz Group is "willing to pay a 'reasonable share' of cost overruns on the project." Arena construction, originally slated to cost up to C$450M, now is pegged at C$478M, "while the price of the Winter Garden pedestrian bridge over 104th Avenue" is now C$60M, C$10M "more than the budget." Karvellas said that Katz Group also is "dropping its push for the arena deal to include the city renting space in the office tower" (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 12/13).
FINDING THE FRAMEWORK: In Edmonton, John MacKinnon writes the two sides "will keep on talking, using the framework of agreement worked out in New York City in October 2011 as the basis for discussion." Councillors also "agreed with the Katz Group suggestion to include an independent mediator and a financial analyst to facilitate agreement, or so they hope." However, once the "talking is done, support for a reserve fund may well hinge on whether both sides can agree on the numbers, on what it costs to operate the proposed new facility versus how healthy the revenue streams are." Unlike the Oilers' current deal with Rexall Place, a move to a larger, more modern downtown arena would give the club "access to the revenue from all events staged there." However, the Oilers "calculate things much differently" so there is a "major disconnect on the financial projections in the new arena" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 12/13).
In Houston, John McClain reported the Texans are "one step closer to new digital scoreboards at Reliant Stadium." Sources said that the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation BOD next Wednesday "is expected to vote on a plan for new digital scoreboards that would have state-of-the-art technology and cost $16 million." The HD scoreboards "would be installed in time for the Texans’ 2013 season and be part of improvements at the stadium that would enhance Houston’s chances of getting Super Bowl LI" (CHRON.com, 12/12).
CAUSE FOR ALARM: In Green Bay, Amante & Schneider note a "small section of the Lambeau Field structure burned for about 45 minutes on Wednesday afternoon after sparks from a worker’s torch set some insulation on fire." Damage was "estimated at $5,000," and one firefighter "sustained a minor injury." Team Public Affairs Dir Aaron Popkey said that the fire "did not affect Packers business operations inside the stadium, nor did it influence activities at the Packers Pro Shop or Curly’s Pub." He said that the "damage was 'limited,' and likely won’t affect the timeline for the ongoing Lambeau Field renovations" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 12/13).
CITY OF CHARM: In Baltimore, Chris Korman notes 1st Mariner Arena will "host the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball tournament for three years, starting in 2014." CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said that Baltimore now "offers a centralized location for the conference ... and more amenities than long-time host Richmond." The conference said that the four-day tournament has "drawn more than 42,000 attendees in each of the past five years" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 12/13).