Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said the team has committed to privately finance the majority of a proposed $400M renovation of Sun Life Stadium if state and local leaders approve changes in tax laws to fund the balance of the project. The Dolphins were scheduled to announce details of upgrades to the 25-year-old stadium the club owns and operates and a funding plan during today’s news conference at the facility. Team and local officials plan to submit a bid for the 50th Super Bowl, to be played in ‘16, and they have a 90-day window to come up with financing before initial proposals for the game are due in April, Dee said. Final bids are due in May. Dee said that Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross will finance more than 50% of renovation costs, contingent on legislative approval of two sources of public funding. Dee said that the first source would activate a local sales tax rebate on goods and services for the Dolphins that could raise $3M a year for 30 years to help pay for the upgrades. The second source is a one-cent proposed increase in the state’s hotel bed tax from $.06 to $.07. Dee noted that under state law, the Dolphins are eligible for those two sources of tax revenue because they have committed to paying for the majority of a project with a minimum cost of $250M, the floor required by state government for tapping into public money. Dee: “We’re not claiming to have all the good ideas. We need to roll up our sleeves and talk to legislative leaders. It’s one of those modernizations where you can’t do just a part of it. It can’t be done a la carte. This is a crossroads for the facility.” He added that the renovation calls for a major overhaul of the stadium’s seating bowl and a roof canopy to make the facility more fan friendly for NFL and college football and int'l soccer. 360 Architecture is designing the upgrades in conjunction with developer Jay Cross, who works for Ross’ Related Cos. in N.Y.
Top Georgia state leaders said that the Falcons organization "needs a better game plan if it expects to win crucial legislative support this winter” for a new retractable-roof stadium, according to Bluestein & Stafford of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. A statewide poll showed that 72% of respondents “either opposed or strongly opposed using hotel/motel tax collections in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County to help finance construction.” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said, “It’s hard to get lawmakers to vote for something that’s polling 70-to-30 no.” The Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority signed “a non-binding term sheet in December after months of quiet negotiations.” Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said that the team “has been more forthcoming in the media since then.” He wrote in an e-mail, “We do plan to take a more direct and aggressive stance with Georgia residents and their legislators in the coming weeks.” McKay said that the current plan would keep the city of Atlanta "competitive for events like the World Cup and the Super Bowl.” Bluestein & Stafford wrote delaying a vote until next year could give the Falcons and the GWCCA "time to sell the public on the stadium’s benefits.” But they “might also lose the urgency that compels the often slow-moving Legislature to take action, as well as any momentum from the Falcons strong season.” GWCCA Exec Dir Frank Poe said that the deal “would die without the public funding portion.” Team Owner Arthur Blank “could build a less expensive open-air stadium on his own somewhere else in the metro area, leaving the state-run Georgia Dome with a flashy new suburban competitor" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/13). In Atlanta, Dave Williams writes the Georgia General Assembly "looms as a potential obstacle" to a new stadium (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 1/14 issue).
OVER-ARCHING ISSUES: In St, Louis, David Hunn in a front-page piece noted the Rams and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission have been at a “stalemate for months over renovations required by the team’s 30-year lease.” Three arbitrators today will “begin to hammer out answers.” They will “choose between three alternatives: the CVC’s renovation proposal, valued at least at $124 million; the Rams’ much pricier option; or a plan the arbitrators create themselves.” If CVC leaders “find the end result too expensive, they could let the Rams’ lease go year-to-year beginning in 2015.” If the Rams “find the renovations too minimal, they could buy their way out,” which “opens the doors for new ideas, new places -- and a new stadium.” A top Rams exec indicated that, while the team “wants to stay in the region, it isn’t set on the Dome.” Hunn noted Rams execs “won’t talk about their intentions,” but a few things “are clear.” Rams Owner Stan Kroenke “generally likes owning his teams’ stadiums.” Additionally, the renovations he is requesting for the Dome “approach the cost of a new stadium.” The renovations also “wouldn’t solve one of the team’s thorniest problems: the Rams don’t own any of the surrounding parking lots” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/13).
UNLV officials and school partner Majestic Realty on Friday “presented an update to Nevada's higher education leaders” that revealed “more design details and information on the ‘mega events’ stadium -- dubbed UNLV Now -- and what it is expected to bring to Las Vegas,” according to Paul Takahashi of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Developers said that the 60,000-seat stadium proposal “will feature a 100-yard-long video screen, making it the ‘world's largest multimedia immersive experience.’” UNLV Now will be “fully enclosed, and feature two clubs, six 300-seat VIP suites, and more than 50 conventional suites seating 10 to 24 guests.” Developers still have not “put a price on the center -- widely reported to be in the neighborhood" of $800M. But UNLV College of Hotel Administration Dean and project head Don Snyder “confirmed UNLV would be seeking more private funding beyond what Majestic provides.” Snyder said that he is “confident the hospitality industry will help fund UNLV Now” as a new stadium would help put more "heads in beds.” New events the stadium could attract “might include a Mountain West Conference football championship game, a new college football bowl game, a NFL exhibition game, the UFC International Fight Week, a championship boxing match, a soccer expo, a smaller Electric Daisy Carnival music festival, the American Country Music awards and touring concerts.” The centerpiece of the UNLV stadium will be its “monstrous video screen," which Majestic Realty's UNLV Now rep Craig Cavileer said "would be viewable from 80 percent of the seats in the venue.” The main screen would be “a full 40 yards longer than the one in Cowboys Stadium.” Plans also “call for smaller video screens in each of the stadium's four corners” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 1/12).
MULTI-PURPOSE VENUE: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reported UNLV Now “would be part of an overall campus redevelopment project," which would also include "2,000 to 3,000 student housing units and 300,000 to 400,000 square-feet of retail space.” Cavileer said, "This is not a stadium. It's an events center. We don't need a resident team.” Architecture firm Woods Bagot Sport Global Dir Dan Meis “designed the venue for Majestic.” Cavileer said that the VIP suites would “easily go for seven figures a year.” He “envisioned major casinos or corporations buying the super suites.” Snel noted the UNLV Board of Regents is “expected to vote on the events center proposal at its Feb. 28 meeting” (LVRJ.com, 1/11). YAHOO SPORTS’ Kevin Iole reported one way “for certain the stadium would generate money is by hosting boxing and mixed martial arts matches.” Major fights “would help it pay down its debt service.” Top Rank and Golden Boy would “likely be interested in putting on a few shows a year in such a facility.” The stadium “not only could help the UNLV football team resurrect itself from virtual obscurity” but also would “put thousands of fight fans a year into it with big events” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/11).
In Tampa, Varian & Cox reported Rays reps “will meet with government leaders in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties later this month to discuss their stadium hopes.” Hillsborough County Commission Chair Ken Hagan confirmed that the Rays “will talk to his board at its next regular meeting on Jan. 24.” Rays officials less than a week later “will meet with Pinellas County commissioners for a discussion that was previously announced for Jan. 29.” St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster stressed that any discussion “about moving the Rays to Hillsborough would breach the team's agreement with the city.” The Rays are “contractually obligated to remain at taxpayer-financed Tropicana Field through 2027.” St. Petersburg officials have previously said that “any meddling by other regional governments could result in lawsuits” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/13).
SPRING CLEANING? In Florida, Dave Berman notes Brevard County has been the Spring Training home for an MLB team since '93, but that streak “could be broken" as early as '14. Officials in the Fort Myers area have been "courting the Nationals ... to move to the west coast of Florida.” The $7.1M in construction bonds on Space Coast Stadium "will be paid off in April,” and that milestone “frees up the Nationals to end their contract to hold spring training at Space Coast Stadium after 2013 without significant financial penalty.” Brevard County Commission Chair Andy Anderson “plans to travel to Washington on Jan. 25 to meet with Nationals executives, as a first step to try to persuade them to make a commitment to stay in Viera” (FLORIDA TODAY, 1/14).
L.A. STORY: In L.A., Rong-Gong Lin II noted the “financially strapped Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission has failed to pay $500,000 in rent to the state of California.” California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph, whose board owns the land where the Coliseum sits, on Friday said that the organization “has asked the state attorney general's office to assess its legal options.” The Coliseum is “in deep financial difficulty.” Officials last week said that they “may not have enough money to pay employees by the end of March.” The delinquent six-month rent payment “was due Dec. 31” (L.A. TIMES, 1/12).
GET MET, IT PAYS: Developer Triple Five estimates that a completion of the American Dream project for a shopping and entertainment complex near MetLife Stadium “would yield more than 9,000 on-site construction jobs and another 10,000 jobs via suppliers and other off-site partners” (Bergen RECORD, 1/13).