Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said that he is “confident that an agreement will be reached to build a new Falcons stadium in the city, despite widespread public opposition to using hotel-motel taxes to subsidize part of the proposed facility’s roughly $1 billion cost,” according to Jeremiah McWilliams of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Reed said, “I think we’ll get a deal done on the stadium and that we’ll have a world-class stadium in the city of Atlanta.” The first-term mayor also said that he “believed a new stadium would help the city compete for a Major League Soccer team” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/11). Meanwhile, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Falcons said that it will “take them longer than expected to choose the finalists to design a proposed retractable-roof stadium.” In Atlanta, Tim Tucker in a front-page piece notes the GWCCA and the Falcons “originally planned to select three to five finalists Wednesday from the 10 architectural firms that applied last month for the design job.” But the two entities instead “jointly extended the deadline for the decision on finalists until Jan. 28.” The finalists “will interview with Falcons and GWCCA officials, including Falcons owner Arthur Blank.” The original plan “called for hiring a lead architect by March 15.” GWCCA Communications Dir Jennifer LeMaster said, “We can’t speculate on how this (delay) may affect our March 15 deadline” (ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION, 1/11).
PARKING THE PROPOSALS: In Atlanta, J. Scott Trubey reports four development teams have “pitched their visions for the area around the Braves’ stadium.” The city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, sent out “a request for ideas for how developers might transform 55 acres of land north of the ballpark into a mixed-use sports and entertainment district with year-round activity.” At the request of Invest Atlanta, each of the Turner Field proposals “contains expansion of the downtown streetcar or other transit links, parking decks with at least 10,000 spaces, and a design theme to honor Hank Aaron’s home run record and the history of the Braves.” Trubey outlines each of the four group’s proposals (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/11).
If the Kentucky General Assembly “approves $110 million in bonding for renovations of football facilities” at the Univ. of Kentucky, then fans and UK players by the start of the ‘15 football season “could be walking into a newly revamped Commonwealth Stadium,” according to a front-page piece by Jennifer Smith of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Improvements at Commonwealth Stadium would include “16-20 private suites, more than 2,000 new club seats, a team store, improved concessions, restrooms and security, a full-service kitchen and press facilities.” Also planned is a “spacious, multi-purpose recruiting room in the east end zone.” UK AD Mitch Barnhart said that the school for several years “has been in the discussion and feasibility phases of Commonwealth Stadium upgrades, but there is not a detailed design in place.” Barnhart said, "A lot of the renovations are going to take place to make the fan amenities better. We're competing with the 70-inch televisions at home, so we've got to make sure what we put together, [is] not only a good product on the field, but the experience when they come to the game is something people want to feel good about, and that's what this stadium will reflect." Part of that experience will include “more private suites and club-level seating.” UK President Eli Capilouto in an e-mail to Kentucky alumni and fans noted that there “is a waiting list for the new suites, which will help fund the renovations” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 1/11). In Louisville, Joseph Gerth notes the private suites, which “can be big money-makers for a stadium, would be in the middle of the field.” Commonwealth Stadium currently has “40 suites -- 10 in each corner -- that were built in a 1999 upgrade that enclosed the end zones and boosted capacity to 67,606.” No significant change in capacity “is expected as a result of the changes announced Thursday.” If the legislation is approved, as “is expected, construction would begin later this year” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 1/11).
ANTE UP: UNLV College of Hotel Administration Dean Don Snyder on Thursday said that the school will “ask the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and Las Vegas' biggest casinos for about $125 million to help pay for a new domed football stadium on campus.” In Las Vegas, Alan Snel notes Snyder is serving as UNLV's “pointman for the project.” Snyder said the request is appropriate because the casinos and tourism businesses will be the "biggest economic beneficiaries" of the 60,000-seat venue that UNLV is calling the "megaevent center." Snyder declined to name a price for the stadium project, but said that the total cost “can't be finalized until consultants determine how high the stadium can be in light of its proximity to McCarran International Airport.” Univ. of Michigan sports economist Mark Rosentraub, who “conducted the economic impact study, estimated the stadium project at $800 million to $900 million” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/11).
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett on Thursday announced that Indianapolis Motor Speedway has "agreed to a settlement that will require it to spend millions on renovating its facilities for disabled patrons," according to Jill Disis of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The settlement came after Hogsett’s department "revealed that the 104-year-old venue -- the largest stadium in the world -- had more than 360 violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a 1990 federal law requiring such venues to accommodate those with disabilities." The agreement calls for the "addition of hundreds of wheelchair-accessible seats, new pathways to the infield, more parking options and a new set of elevators and ramps for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility." The project has "no set financial cost yet." Hulman & Co. and IMS VP/Communications Douglas Boles said that "many of the renovations are in the planning stage." However, the Department of Justice said that "all of the changes must be in place within 30 months." Hogsett said that "some of the violations have already been addressed." But the latest changes "will take things further, including retraining staff members and conducting an overhaul of the infield mound." According to Department of Justice documents, the timeline on that project "is seven months." But IMS Engineering Dir Kevin Forbes said that he "wants it to be completed in time for this year’s Indy 500" on Memorial Day weekend in May. The Department of Justice also "requires additions to six other suites, grandstands and seating areas, including the Pagoda, the North and Northeast Vista grandstands and the Pit Road Terrace." The Northeast Vista grandstand will be "altered to include an additional 190 wheelchair spaces and 190 companion seats, along with accessible elevators" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/11).