A proposed deal for a Virginia Beach arena "is dead for now," after months of talks between an NBA team and Comcast-Spectacor "failed to yield an agreement that city officials could have taken to the General Assembly to make a pitch for state funds,"according to a front-page piece by Aaron Applegate of the Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said, "The city doesn't see a clear opportunity at this point and, as such, it's not something we're aggressively going after." Sessoms said that Comcast-Spectacor will "continue to negotiate with the team," largely believed to be the Kings, regarding the 18,500-seat arena. The "deal structure" was for the city to put in $241M, the state $150M and Comcast-Spectacor $35M. That money included $80M "to be paid to the team for relocation costs." City Council member Glenn Davis said, "It's not that we're walking away from the opportunity. It's that we're in a holding pattern until a deal structure is given to us by Comcast" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 1/9). Sessoms said, "This just ain't gonna work at this point in time. The city will not be chasing this deal." He said that he "wasn't sure what the sticking points were." In Sacramento, Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis note all "parties agree the team needs to replace antiquated Sleep Train Arena," the home of the Kings. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday said that he is willing to talk to team Owner the Maloof family as "long as they'll accept the deal that was on the table last spring." With the door "closing in Virginia, one possible alternative is a move to Seattle, where hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, backed by Nordstrom and Microsoft money, has a tentative deal to build a $400 million arena." A potential "sticking point: Hansen wants to buy a team." A source said that the Maloofs "won't sell the Kings" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/9).
TRUTH OF THE MATTER: NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper wrote it was "questionable whether the Kings would have jumped coasts even under the best of circumstances -- Virginia Beach would have been a small market with no recent history of major-league sports, no local ownership, and looking to energize a fan base long-term with a team that has been rowing in circles for years." Under these "circumstances, though, it was the equivalent of trying to buy a house without any idea of how much the bank was willing to lend." In truth, the Maloof family was "never emotionally invested in Virginia Beach as much as listening to offers in the never-ending search for a solution to the stalemate in Sacramento" (NBA.com, 1/8). In Norfolk, Tom Robinson wrote there is "really nothing that says this whole dance won’t be repeated in the next 12 months -- because word on the NBA street is the Maloofs would like to move their team without selling it" (PILOTONLINE.com, 1/8).
Dodgers Senior VP/Planning & Development Janet Marie Smith along with President Stan Kasten yesterday "unveiled the scope" of approximately $100M worth of renovations to Dodger Stadium they "hope will be finished in the next 80 days," according to J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. The move is "less of an extreme makeover and more of an expensive modernization with the goal of preserving Dodger Stadium's character." The new features include "two new hexagonal video boards above the left- and right-field bleachers." Kasten said that it is "the first 1080 HD scoreboard to be installed at an outdoor major-league stadium." All existing message boards "will be upgraded to the same definition." There also will be "a new sound system which the team said will minimize echoes and sound migration outside the stadium." Sound now will "be piped into the concourses and bathrooms." Additionally, there will be a new WiFi network and cellular antenna system to "support cell phone and internet connectivity from mobile devices," as the new network will "feature 1,500 data points inside the stadium." Also in the plans are wider concourses and additional locations "for wheelchair-bound fans and their companions on all levels." There will be "expanded and renovated restrooms with 'substantially' more fixtures." New field level entry plazas and bullpen overlooks will "create standing-room areas with a view of the game." Moreover, both clubhouses have been "demolished and will be bigger than their predecessors." Both teams will "have their own batting cages and workout facilities." None of the renovations will "affect the outfield dimensions, although Kasten said there will be about six feet of extra foul territory in front of the dugouts." The center-field hitter's backdrop will "be less cluttered than before and might be painted blue instead of the current black" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/9).
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: In L.A., Bill Shaikin reports the Dodgers will "expand concourses by removing the last two to four rows of seats on each level." The Dodgers under a city permit are "limited to 56,000 seats, although that capacity was exceeded" when former Owner Frank McCourt "installed baseline box seats." The renovations are "limited not by what the new owners can afford but by what construction crews can accomplish in one winter." Kasten said, "We also left out about another 100 things." Smith said that the Dodgers "have enough space to accommodate whatever modern money-makers the owners might want to add -- for example, the shops, restaurants and team museum McCourt had proposed beyond center field" (L.A. TIMES, 1/9). MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reported the Dodgers will "go green by installing new water valves, low-flush fixtures, waterless urinals, hand driers, automatic faucets and new power and lighting energy efficient systems." Playground areas will be "created for children in the pavilion and Reserve Level that will include life-size bobbleheads." Smith said that the franchise's history will be "celebrated by displaying retired uniform numbers at the Top of the Park, giant World Series rings representing the six World Series championships and a display of Gold Glove, MVP and Cy Young Awards at the Dugout Club as 'an inspiration to fans and players'" (MLB.com, 1/8). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck notes Smith "previously worked" at Fenway Park, Turner Field and Camden Yards. She said that the difference in her charge this time was the others were "concerned with revenue-generating features, while this renovation was focused on improving the stadium for fans." Kasten said that he "was hopeful after the renovations have been completed, Dodger Stadium will be considered to host an All-Star game, something it hasn’t done since 1980." However, Kasten did "ask for some patience from fans during the first homestand or two" (L.A. TIMES, 1/9).
The Packers yesterday said that they will "remove ground between Robert E. Harlan Plaza and Lombardi Avenue, uncovering what is now the basement of the atrium, and move the Pro Shop to the new ground level" as part of renovations to Lambeau Field, according to Richard Ryman of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. The Packers HOF will "move to the second floor of the atrium, where Curly’s Pub is currently located." Curly’s will "move to the main floor of the atrium, where the Pro Shop is now." The $140.5M project, "paid for by the Packers without public money, will begin in March and be completed in June 2015." The Packers are referring to it as "Phase 2." The organization "considers the first phase" to be the addition of 7,000 seats in the stadium and other improvements costing $146M, "also privately funded." The Pro Shop will be "visible from Lombardi Avenue along the length of, but under, Harlan Plaza and the Miller Lite Gate, and along a portion of the northeast side of the building." It will be "double its current size." Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy said, "It will be easier to separate atrium businesses from other events. Fifty or 60 times a year, the atrium floor has to be shut down. We will end up with a much improved stadium." Ryman notes Curly’s Pub will be "accessible from Harlan Plaza, and the Hall of Fame will have more room for exhibits, which will be modernized." The Oneida Nation gate will get "an expanded plaza extending into the east parking lot." A new entrance will be "added at parking lot level on the east side, with an escalator providing access to the main floor of the atrium." Curly’s Pub and the Packers HOF will "close temporarily during some part of the project, probably in 2014, but the Pro Shop will remain open throughout" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 1/9).
Converse President & CEO Jim Calhoun yesterday “officially acknowledged what has been reported for weeks: His company will move its world headquarters” to Lovejoy Wharf in Boston from North Andover, Mass., in ’15, according to Casey Ross of the BOSTON GLOBE. The $230M redevelopment of Lovejoy Wharf “will include a 187,000-square-foot office building for Converse, as well as an adjacent building with 100 residences.” Boston will “grant up to” $10M in tax breaks to the project. Boston Redevelopment Agency Exec Dir Peter Meade said that the full $10M “will only be granted” if Converse, the project’s main tenant, “retains the 400 employees it is bringing to the city for the project” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/9). In Boston, Greg Turner reports Converse “recently signed a lease” for the office space “in a nine-story building” at Lovejoy Wharf. The company “also expects to open a retail store” (BOSTON HERALD, 1/9). In Portland, Allan Brettman cites a news release as saying that Converse’s move to downtown Boston “follows an extensive search for a new company headquarters in the greater Boston metropolitan area.” Converse VP/Global PR & Communications Terri Hines said that the company in its two-year search process “did not consider a move to Oregon, where its parent Nike is based” (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/9).
DC LEGAL: POLITICO’s Palmer & Tau report word has been “going around ... about K Streeters going in to pitch" Nike. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld “appears to be the first to clinch the deal.” Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld Policy Analyst Roger Murray, former legislative assistant to former U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), “registered to work on the miscellaneous tariffs bill” (POLITICO.com, 1/7).
In Pasadena, Brenda Gazzar reported the city council has “approved taking on another $30 million in bond debt while restructuring existing bonds to pay for the Rose Bowl renovation’s rising cost.” Since the original renovation plan was approved in October ’10, the cost has “ballooned from $152 million to up to $195 million, largely due to unanticipated costs.” The approved plan “involves issuing up to $35 million in tax-exempt bonds and $20 million in taxable bonds to be paid over 30 years.” Officials said that the new bond debt is “slated to be paid for by the Rose Bowl Operating Co. and revenues generated from the renovated stadium, such as premium seating and concessions” (PASADENA STAR-NEWS, 1/8).
MY NEW KENTUCKY HOME: In Kentucky, Jennifer Smith reported the Univ. of Kentucky athletic department has “launched a new fundraising website that outlines the school’s plans for its various facilities, most notably Commonwealth Stadium.” Renovation plans for the stadium described on the site “include a recruiting room, 10-15 suites, 2,000 to 2,500 club seats, new press facilities, a team store and a full-service kitchen.” The improvements mentioned “do not represent an expansion of the 67,942-seat stadium.” The “estimated cost of renovations” will be $125M. Other facilities upgrades or changes discussed on the site include a new baseball stadium that “likely will cost” $32M (KENTUCKY.com, 1/8).
PLANNING STAGES: Memphis AD Tom Bowen said that the university is “moving forward with plans to build a new practice facility for its men’s and women’s basketball teams.” In Memphis, Kyle Veazey noted Bowen “first floated the idea in October, when it was included in a master facilities plan that was a component of his strategic plan for the department he inherited in June.” The building “likely would be located ... just north of FedExPark.” Bowen said, “We’ll continue to push forward with the necessary steps to create some initial renderings, initial design talk. … We’ve started looking at facilities across the country that are new and cutting edge” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/6).