The yellow “Livestrong” signage on the former Livestrong Sporting Park “already had been taken down” by yesterday morning after MLS club Sporting KC “severed ties Tuesday night with the cancer-fighting charity,” according to Tod Palmer of the K.C. STAR. Sporting KC “wasn’t thrilled with the PR grenades lobbed its way by Livestrong." Closing the Livestrong “chapter also brings a sense of relief” to the club. Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman said, “We wanted to do things in Kansas City that could impact the cancer community, and we wanted to build a stadium with activities and events inside it that were really great for Kansas Citians. That’s what we always wanted the attention on. We didn’t want the attention on the media circus surrounding some of those other things, but the good thing is now we can move on from those.” Heineman “didn’t rule out the possibility of partnering with another charity for Sporting Park’s naming rights,” though the club “might revert to a more traditional route.” The club’s “push forward won’t include abandoning the principle tenet of the Livestrong mission -- the fight against cancer.” Heineman: “One of the coolest parts of the stadium, quite frankly, is the yellow seat that we built in the Victory Suite and the people that have sat in that. That’s a program that we’ll absolutely continue. That’s one of those things that creates some really special moments inside of the stadium. We won’t walk away from that.” Palmer notes there “might be some tweaks, though, including ditching the iconic yellow -- a direct link to Livestrong, whose fundraising bands are bright yellow” (K.C. STAR, 1/17).
The NASL N.Y. Cosmos hope to “build a stadium near Belmont Park Race Track in Nassau County, just over the border with New York City,” and the facility would “be part of a new shopping and entertainment district,” according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. The $400M “privately financed project, which was lauded by local politicians eager to attract jobs and tax revenue, would include a 25,000-seat soccer stadium (that could be expanded), 9 restaurants, shops, a 175-room hotel and a 4.3-acre park.” The stadium would be “designed by Populous.” The proposal was “submitted last week to the Empire State Development Corporation, which is expected to take several months to pick a winning bid.” If the Cosmos are chosen, they “could end up competing with Major League Soccer, which has been pushing for the construction of a similarly sized stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park just 10 miles away.” MLS has been “trying to sell the rights to a 20th team that would be located in New York City,” and the Cosmos have “long been viewed as a natural fit.” But the league is “still seeking a buyer willing to pay the substantial franchise fee to enter the league.” N.Y. Cosmos Chair Seamus O’Brien has said that the team wants to “play soccer at the highest level, wherever that may be, but first the team must be re-established in New York” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/17). The AP’s Frank Eltman noted a new soccer stadium “could be an economic boon for struggling Nassau County following last year's announcement” that the Islanders were relocating to Brooklyn in ‘15. O'Brien called Belmont ''an ideal location and a win-win for everyone involved” (AP, 1/16).
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: In N.Y., Filip Bondy noted the Cosmos came to believe that the Flushing Meadows location was “rife with too many political and geographic obstacles, and that Belmont Park could be more easily transformed into an entertainment complex.” If MLS is “unable to build a stadium in Queens, and if the Cosmos draw large crowds for their own NASL games and for international matches at Belmont, the franchise likely would become an attractive expansion option for MLS commissioner Don Garber” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/16). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Laura Kusisto writes the Cosmos’ proposal “could complicate” MLS’ plan to build a stadium in Queens. Sources said that the team will “compete with at least one other proposal made by Related Cos. to build a shopping center and recreational space.” But the Cosmos' proposal “seems to be gaining early political momentum.” Still, MLS is “seeking as much as $100 million in expansion fees,” Cosmos investors have “never publicly stated a willingness to foot the bill for both a nine-figure expansion fee and for construction of a stadium.” O'Brien said, "This city is big enough to deal with three soccer teams. In London, they've got seven or eight. I say bring it on" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/17).
WEIGHING IN: GOAL.com’s Alex Labidou wonders if it is “a bit overambitious to invest that much into a club that isn't guaranteed entry into MLS?” While O'Brien “hints that the Cosmos would like to play in MLS, he believes that the club and its top-class facilities will attract fans regardless of which league it plays in.” He also added that the NASL “has ambitious owners, which will likely see the league improve” (GOAL.com, 1/17). O’Brien said, "I made it clear from the start: We'll look to build our own home. We'd evaluated a number of sites within greater New York City. ... It's a state tender, so we're responding to an RFP, not trying to stick the stadium somewhere else. It's in a neighborhood that's effectively zoned as a sports facility with great transportation linkage, road and rail straight in, and a huge car parking (area)." SI.com’s Grant Wahl wrote the Cosmos are “increasingly looking like a competitor and not a prospective member of MLS.” But O’Brien said, "I'm not going to comment on what MLS want to do. All I know is (a stadium plan) would make us a more compliant owner than we may or may not be now. We have a soccer-specific stadium. So surely they'd have to be delighted, wouldn't they?" O’Brien said that the Cosmos' proposed stadium would be “entirely privately funded.” O’Brien: "From the ownership. We've got the resources to fund this stuff. That's the first bridge we had to cross. That wasn't an issue. We've called a fantastic team of architects, engineers and master planners in a short period of time." He added, "The idea would be playing there in the 2016 season" (SI.com, 1/16).
The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District unanimously "approved a resolution at its monthly meeting Wednesday that reduces the interest rate on bonds used for capital improvements in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a move that will save the state of Louisiana significant money and increase the building's operating capital," according to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The LSED and "consequently the state, had been saddled with burdensome interest payments following the collapse of the bond market in 2008 because of the way in which a bond purchase was structured following Hurricane Katrina when about $336 million in improvements and repairs were needed" for the Superdome. SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton said that the LSED's bond package will "now include a fixed interest rate." Thornton said that the state will still "hold $50 million of the debt." The new fixed interest rate will be "somewhere below 3.5 percent." Compared to the LSED's "current debt service, the group will save upwards of $1.5 million annually in interest payments." Thornton also "pointed to the building's renovation, long-term leases with" the Saints and Hornets to "restructure the teams' business model with the LSED, as well as the creation of Champions Square as primary factors in the group's economic stability." The LSED committee yesterday was told that New Orleans' hotel-motel tax, which "provides funding to operate the Superdome and New Orleans Arena, was headed toward an all-time high, further strengthening the complex's financial footing going forward" (NOLA.com, 1/16).
BORN ON THE BAYOU: In New Orleans, Mark Waller reported Super Bowl XLVII organizers gave a "final briefing on the massive event for New Orleans media Wednesday, covering highlights such as the $13.5 million the local hosting group raised to accommodate the production, the free riverfront festival that will include 49 bands, food from 17 restaurants and 12 parades and the array of public and private improvements and renovations timed to the extravaganza that total" an estimated $1.2B. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu "touted the road work, new streetcar line construction, Louis Armstrong International Airport improvements and private renovations by hotels, restaurants and other businesses." Officials said that of the money the committee raised, $6M "came from Louisiana state government and $7.5 million came from 27 corporate sponsors." Waller noted the Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard festival in the four days leading up to the game will "include dozens of Louisiana musical acts, dozens of dishes from local restaurants, a massive video gaming installation, the opportunity for fans to watch live television broadcasts from a set on the festival grounds and a feature that has grown popular in recent years at Super Bowls, the display of a towering Roman numeral monument for the game’s number, this time XLVII, with video images projected onto it and music playing." Festival Producer Quint Davis said that NFL officials "added a twist to the 101-foot-wide numeral display." They will display the numerals "on a barge in the river and their arrival will be heralded with fireworks." Super Bowl Host Committee co-Chairs James Carville and Mary Matalin yesterday tried to "enlist local news media in selling New Orleans to out-of-town colleagues." About 5,000 media reps are "expected in the city for the game" (NOLA.com, 1/16).
In Akron, Betty Lin-Fisher reports FirstEnergy Corp.’s stadium naming-rights deal with the Browns will "last 17 years at an undisclosed amount." FirstEnergy President Chuck Jones said that the contract "extends for the remainder of the lease the Browns have with the city of Cleveland, which owns the stadium." He said that the "deal is being made in payments." It also includes "exclusive rights for FirstEnergy to be the only electric energy provider to have any signage in and around the stadium" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/17).
FEELING BLUE? In Columbus, Jeff Bell reported starting with Monday's Red Wings-Blue Jackets game, Delaware North Sportservice will open a "new Front Street Market" in Nationwide Arena. The store will sell "food, beer, soft drinks, snacks, candy and 'sundries' such as Advil, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol and Tums." The grab-and-go market "is modeled after ones that Sportservice operates at a number of Major League Baseball stadiums," including Great American Ballpark and Progressive Field. Nationwide Arena Sportservice GM Tom Booth said that the market is the company’s "first at a National Hockey League venue" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/16).
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: In Boston, Casey Ross reports TD Garden Owner Delaware North is "resurrecting plans for a high-rise development in front of the arena that will include a pair of 400-foot towers containing offices, hundreds of residences, a hotel, and stores." The project, which would "create a modern, retail-filled gateway to the North Station area, has gained new momentum in recent months." Delaware North recently "teamed up with Boston Properties Inc. to craft a new plan that includes more than 1.3 million square feet of new space." The towers would "rise on the old site of the Boston Garden, which has been used for parking" since TD Garden opened in '95. The project "still needs approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, but the developers hope to begin construction later this year" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/17).
NEW LOOK: In Memphis, Phil Stukenborg noted players at the U.S. National Indoor, a combined ATP/WTA event in Memphis in February, will notice missing “wooden bleachers behind the north and south sidelines, seating that existed for more than 30 years” at The Racquet Club. The bleachers have been “removed and will be replaced by chair-back seats that have been used in the sections behind the east and west baselines.” In addition, new club seating, with “standing-room options, will be sold in the upper section behind the west baseline.” The six club boxes “will include food and beverage options.” Tournament Dir Peter Lebedevs said that the new seating “won't affect capacity of the Stadium Court, which will remain 5,000” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/16).