Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has "set a Monday deadline to have a lease signed with a professional sports team -- widely reported to be the Sacramento Kings -- or he'll pull the plug on the city's arena efforts for this year," according to Tony Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Sessoms has been "pushing a plan" for a $300M-plus arena in Virginia Beach. He said that he has "informed the city's private partner, arena operator Comcast-Spectacor, he wants an agreement now." Sessoms: "We have a timeline that is right upon us to go to the state to ask for a substantial amount of money. We are not going to go up there and make a fool of ourselves. I need to know something by Monday." Virginia Beach officials said that two state General Assembly representatives are prepared to request $150M in state funds to "help to build the arena when the Assembly reconvenes Wednesday -- but only if Comcast reaches a deal with the team." The Kings have "repeatedly declined to comment on the speculation that they are the team in play." But attorney Eric Rose, who represents Kings Owner the Maloof family, has acknowledged that team representatives "have been in contact with several cities interested in luring the team." The Virginia General Assembly is in session "only from next week until the third week of February," and state funding requests "need to be made in the next two weeks." A second deadline "looms just after that," as the NBA "generally requires teams to request permission by March 1 to relocate to a new city that year." But the league in the past has "extended that deadline." Sessoms on Thursday said that he "believes Virginia Beach and the team will get a favorable hearing from the NBA board of governors if the team makes a relocation request next month" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/4).
DOWN IN SAC-TOWN: In Sacramento, Tom Couzens writes the Kings "have struggled attracting fans to Sleep Train Arena nearly as much as they have on the basketball court this season." The Kings through 17 home games "remain mired near the bottom in the league in home attendance," as their average of 13,274 tops only the Pistons' 13,258. While a "backlash against the Kings' owners and the uncertainly over the team's future have contributed to the fans' indifference, the low attendance isn't all the Kings' fault." Each of the Kings' Sunday home games in December "were on the same day as big 49ers games." When sports fans are "forced to choose between attending a Kings game this early in the season or watching the 49ers or the national college football championship on TV, it's really a no-brainer" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/4).
A major contract battle has "broken out over renewal of lucrative pacts to manage and provide food services" at Soldier Field, with "bragging rights -- and a lot of money -- on the table, the contenders reportedly are loading up with some heavy political clout,” according to Greg Hinz of CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS. A request for bids already has been issued “to manage not only Soldier Field but two other facilities also owned by the Chicago Park District: the McFetridge Sports Center on the North Side, and the baseball stadium at Devon and Kedzie [avenues] formerly known as Thillens Stadium.” The district is “seeking a minimum 10-year deal, with up to five one-year extensions, for a maximum term of 15 years.” Soldier Field “clearly is the biggest prize on the table, with the winner responsible not only for day-to-day operation and maintenance of the complex but negotiating sponsorships and preferred vendors and recommending capital changes.” Pennsylvania-based SMG currently holds the contract, and “challenging with its own bid" is a division of L.A.-based AEG. The district said that it “hopes to award a new contact in February or March.” About to go out is a “request for bidders for the food-service contract, also likely to be a minimum of 10 years.” That contract currently is “held by the Sportservice Corp.” But a source said that Philadelphia-based Aramark also is “expected to bid, with rumors of a possible third contender” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 1/2). Global Spectrum, operator of Sears Centre in the Chicago area, decided against submitting a bid to manage Soldier Field, according to company COO John Page. Global Spectrum competed for the Soldier Field deal five years ago, the last time the contract was up for renewal. Page said, “We bid it before, and based on the circumstances and conditions at that time, we didn’t feel it made sense to pursue" (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal).
LACE UP YOUR SKATES: Soldier Field next month "will host two days of public skating and other hockey events as part of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic Winter Festival." Soldier Field on Feb. 17 is hosting a college hockey doubleheader, featuring Notre Dame against Miami (OH) and Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, the "first outdoor hockey events held at the stadium" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/4).
London's Olympic Stadium is "set to be re-opened in July with a series of rock concerts," as concert promoters were "impressed by the live music at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics," according to Adrian Warner of the BBC. Final contracts "are yet to be signed but the plan is for some concerts traditionally held at Hyde Park to head east." London Legacy Development Corp. CEO Dennis Hone said "an anniversary weekend" July 27-28 was also planned. Warner wrote Olympic Stadium is "expected to become a major rival to London's other major concert venues -- Wembley and the 02 Arena." The area around the stadium in the south of the park with the Aquatic Centre and Orbit Tower "will not be opened fully to the public until spring 2014 but the north of the park, with the Handball Arena, waterways and parklands, will be made available to residents permanently this summer." The indoor Handball Arena, which has been renamed the Copper Box, will "be used for recreational sport such as five-a-side football and badminton as well as staging professional sports such as boxing and some indoor concerts" (BBC.co.uk, 1/2). The GUARDIAN's Mark Sweney reported entertainment company Live Nation is "in talks to host gigs at the Olympic Stadium in East London from this summer." It is not clear if Live Nation "is in exclusive talks to run events in the park." EPL club West Ham United last month was "given three months to improve the terms of its deal to move into the Olympic Stadium," and if it fails to do so, London Mayor Boris Johnson will "pursue alternate options." It is understood that Live Nation's music events "could continue in the Olympic park even if West Ham becomes the primary occupant of the stadium" (GUARDIAN, 1/3).
Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob said that he hopes to have the team's move from Oakland to S.F. “completed by 2017," according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY. Lacob in a Q&A said, “It just unfortunately takes a lot of time to get a project like this going -- particularly in Northern California, and particularly in the city of San Francisco. It's complicated, and we have to do a lot of listening, and a lot of responding to various concerns and various elements in order to get something like this done. I don't think we could be doing any better.” He added, “We’ve got a mayor who’s very positive. ... Eighty percent of the people in San Francisco want to see this happen, from all of our polling. Two-thirds of these fans even think it's a good idea.” Lacob: “It's probably going to take another year and a half to get all the approvals, and then of course we'll have a period of construction and hopefully have this thing done on our timeline -- which is to be done in the fall of '17. But it's going to be a race to get it done.” He added, “There are opponents. I would be naïve to say that there are not. And some of them have legitimate concerns that we have to listen to and deal with and to try and make the project work for as many people as possible. ... It's going to (change) the capabilities of our franchise in so many ways. It's the right thing to do for the Bay Area. It's the right thing to do for the city of San Francisco to have a facility like that that will be useful not only for basketball games but so many other events” (USATODAY.com, 1/3).
N.Y. Council member Peter Vallone Jr. on Thursday said the Mets are "very interested and fully capable" of bringing MLS to Citi Field, according to Clare Trapasso of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The move would "boost the baseball team’s coffers and eliminate potential competition from a $300 million MLS soccer stadium proposed for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park." Vallone said that this would "be a win-win for soccer fans and open space advocates opposed to another stadium going up in the park." Mets VP/Media Relations Jay Horwitz "confirmed the idea is on the table," but MLS spokesperson Risa Heller "dismissed the proposal." The league is "in talks with the city to build a 25,000-seat stadium on up to 13 acres in Flushing Meadows." Heller in a statement said, "An MLS team at Citi Field is a nonstarter for us. A soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a win for soccer fans, a win for the Queens community and a win for economic development" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/4). A NEWSDAY editorial states a 25,000-seat stadium at Flushing Meadows is "a compelling idea." It is "hard to imagine a more soccer-friendly venue anywhere in the country than next to the packed immigrant neighborhoods of northern Queens." If done right, a new stadium and team "could be a tremendous plus for local soccer fans and those throughout the region." But as "good as the stadium plan sounds, it needs an especially thorough vetting." Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is "the public's property -- the iconic great lawn of Queens -- and the public needs assurances it will benefit in a major way" from an MLS stadium. Perhaps a "flourishing new soccer team could invigorate Queens the way the Nets have energized Brooklyn." But residents first need "to see the fine print" (NEWSDAY, 1/4).
Creative Solutions President Steve Cushman on Tuesday "endorsed" the present 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site "as a potential 'real asset for the city' if it could be redeveloped with a stadium, housing and commercial buildings." In San Diego, Roger Showley notes Cushman spoke the day after he made "similar remarks on KPBS-TV, when he endorsed" San Diego Union-Tribune Publisher Douglas Manchester’s recent estimate that $200M "could be enough to fix the stadium’s many issues." Cushman said, "Maybe it isn’t feasible. Maybe it’ll take $400 million to do it, maybe $100 million." But he added, "Nothing should be off the table. ... I do not want to see us lose the Chargers" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/4).
BUCKING UP: In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes BMO Harris Bradley Center officials have been "rolling out a number of improvements over the past few months." The changes include "complete renovation of the arena's 44 suites; more theater boxes in areas that used to have suites; a new Backcourt Club hospitality area on the service level; and a South End food and beverage area on the 200 level." Arena President & CEO Steve Costello said that the renovations and upgrades "total about $3 million" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/4).
BETTING ON OIL? Alberta provincial political party Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said that the province could put $100M (all figures C)toward a new Edmonton arena "over the next five years if the government expands Alberta’s keno lottery program." In Edmonton, Karen Kleiss noted the "Official Opposition has proposed rebranding Alberta’s keno lottery with NHL logos and making the game available to fans in 1,000 bars and casinos across the province, up from the current 88." The game last year "raised slightly more" than $3.1M in Alberta. Smith said that the figure could climb to $196M "if the program is expanded" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/3).
MOTO IN THE OUTFIELD: In California, Kenny Connolly notes Angels Stadium for the next six weeks will "play host to Feld Motor Sports-produced Supercross and Monster Jam events." Saturday will mark the 22nd time in four decades that the Monster Energy Supercross season "has gotten under way at Angel Stadium." The venue will host "three of the first five races of the 2013 Supercross season." Angel Stadium originally was scheduled to host "only two, but the race scheduled at Dodger Stadium for Jan. 19 had to be moved because of renovations at that stadium for the upcoming baseball season" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/4).