George Loukas, owner of three of the 16 rooftop clubs which are adjacent to the Cubs' Wrigley Field and have unimpeded views into the stadium, "threatened to sue the team if it erects billboards in the outfield that block rooftop views," according to Sachdev & Dardick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Loukas and other owners of the rooftop clubs, who formed a "loosely knit association" entitled the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association, "offered to let the Cubs place signs on their buildings and forego all the revenues the signs would generate." However, the Cubs "did not warmly receive the proposal." Cubs Owner the Ricketts family spokesperson Dennis Culloton said, "If the rooftop owners have a new plan, they would be well advised to discuss it with the team instead of holding press conferences, because a deadline is fast approaching for the team and the city of Chicago to move forward." The rooftop owners said that they "presented a general outline of their plan three months ago in a private meeting with Cubs' officials as well as at a meeting the local alderman held Wednesday night that team representatives attended." The owners of the clubs, who share a portion of their ticket sales with the team, contended that the new signs will "put them out of business." Cubs ownership wants to "install more and bigger signs but haven't provided details about where they would be placed." The most "obvious, and lucrative, position would be along the back of the bleachers, which could potentially block the bird's-eye views from the rooftops." Loukas said that, without those views, the rooftop businesses "don't have much to sell." They "proposed to let the Cubs sell advertising on their buildings that would been seen on several digital screens." They also "hired a marketing consultant who calculated that rooftop signs would generate $10 million to $20 million in annual revenue." But Culloton said that the team would "bring in more money from advertising atop the back wall of the bleachers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/26).
PLAN OF ACTION: ESPN CHICAGO's Jesse Rogers reported the Rooftop Association's plan "calls for both LED and static ads to be placed on the facades of the rooftop buildings outside the ballpark." The general size of the LEDs would be "20 feet by 7 feet and all ads would be sold and maintained by the Cubs" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 1/25). In Chicago, Fran Spielman reported the rooftop owners argued that any attempt by the Cubs to block their views would "violate the 2004 ordinance that landmarked historic elements of Wrigley Field as well as their 20-year agreement with the Cubs." Loukas said, "We have an agreement with a few more years left. We have a right to defend our position." Loukas noted that rooftop owners have "spent $50 million to bring their buildings up to the city's rigid safety standards." Murphy's Bleachers Owner Beth Murphy said that signs inside the ballpark "violate the 'spirit of the settlement' that resolved rooftop wars" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/26).
Vikings officials and members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority "are at odds over how to squeeze a baseball field into a stadium designed primarily for football," according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The impasse not only "threatens to delay a nearly-billion-dollar project already facing tight deadlines, but also appears to be an early test of just how accommodating the Vikings will prove in the development of a multipurpose 'people's stadium.'" The Vikings, "hoping to put ticket holders and stadium suites as close to the action as any team in the NFL, favor a preliminary design that places the first row of seats 44 feet from the football playing field." But that design "squeezes some baseball dimensions." The "most glaring" is a right-field foul line that "extends 285 feet from home plate and a right-field power alley 319 feet away." Both distances are "short by college and professional standards, and both are about 20 feet shorter than the design, already scaled back, favored by baseball coaches and the public stadium authority." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said the Vikings "fully support" the mission of delivering a multipurpose stadium that accommodates college and amateur baseball. But he added, "44 feet is very important to our organization. It's about balancing the team's interest with the public's interest. And the bottom line there is there is just not enough money in the budget to achieve everyone's goals." MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said, "We've kind of come to the point where we've given in on everything, and now it's a matter of whether baseball can play in the stadium or not." Meryhew noted under the stadium financing legislation approved last year, if the team and the authority "can't agree on minimum design standards, the issue could go to arbitration" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/27).
THE FUTURE OF THE NFL STADIUM: NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said that the next generation of NFL stadiums "could be markedly different than the ones we now know." He envisions "smaller and more intimate venues, possibly more like basketball arenas, with standing-room-only clubs at the corners." Grubman: "What if a new stadium we built wasn't 70,000, but it was 40,000 seats with 20,000 standing room? But the standing room was in a bar-type environment with three sides of screens, and one side where you see the field. Completely connected. And in those three sides of screens, you not only got every piece of NFL content, including replays, Red Zone (Channel), and analysis, but you got every other piece of news and sports content that you would like to have if you were at home." He added, "Now you have the game, the bar and social setting, and you have the content. What's that ticket worth? What's that environment feel like to a young person? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in that seat, or do you want to be in that pavilion?" (L.A. TIMES, 1/27).
The MLB Giants' plan to put the "long-awaited $1.6 billion Mission Rock development on the cold, desolate parking lot across the channel from AT&T Park is nearly complete, and the prospective landlords couldn't be happier," according to John Wildermuth of the S.F. CHRONICLE. While the term sheet laying out the financial details of the development agreement with the Giants "won't come before the Port Commission for approval until late next month, the commissioners sound ready to sign on the dotted line." The development, now scheduled to break ground in '15, would "put an entirely new neighborhood on the 16-acre waterfront site known as Seawall Lot 337, providing space for 2,000 residents, 7,000 workers and hordes of visitors to the area's planned parks, restaurants, shops and attractions." The Giants have been interested in developing the parking lot "almost since AT&T Park opened" in March '00. The new project is a chance not only to "guide development of its next-door neighbor, but also to inject some cash into the team's coffers." The "complex financial agreement in the term sheet, which spells out exactly who pays for what and when, is scheduled to go before the commission for approval at the Feb. 26 meeting." Giants Senior VP & General Counsel Jack Bair "hopes to have the Board of Supervisors approve the term sheet by April, which will allow the Giants to start the two-year process of preparing an environmental impact report on the project and collecting the many state, local and federal approvals needed for any waterfront project" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/27).
SILVER & BLACK: In Oakland, Paul Rosynsky reported the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority on Friday agreed to spend $1M "studying new stadium proposals" for the Raiders. The proposal, dubbed "Coliseum City," calls for construction of an "entertainment and sports district on the 1,000 acres of land where the O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena now stand." The project "models itself after the vibrant L.A. Live development." The Raiders have "agreed to work with city and county leaders in seeking studies to determine if Coliseum City is feasible." The team said that it will "help fund" part of the $1M approved for two studies (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 1/27).
The GLOBE & MAIL's Robert MacLeod reports calls for the Blue Jays to "install real grass at Rogers Centre have intensified." Team officials "say they are sensitive to the pent-up demands of the fans and have every intention of eventually laying down sod." But the team now is "saying it will likely be at least five years before grass will replace artificial turf." There are "several hurdles that first have to be cleared, including the relocation" of the CFL Toronto Argonauts, who have been tenants in the building since it opened in '89. Blue Jays President Paul Beeston said that until the Argos, which have "yet to sign a new lease at Rogers Centre," decide on a new home, the Blue Jays' "plans for a new natural field cannot move forward" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/28).
FISH OUT OF WATER? A South Florida SUN-SENTINEL editorial stated of the Dolphins' $400M proposal to upgrade Sun Life Stadium, "When you look at what they want, and who would pay it, and ownership's commitment to pay half the costs of stadium upgrades, the Dolphins' plan makes good economic sense for Miami-Dade, South Florida and the state." The private-public plan "deserves enthusiastic support because it will brighten a shining jewel that benefits us all in many ways." The proposal is a "fair and relatively painless request. We hope our region's legislative delegation gets behind this effort and ensures its passage in Tallahassee" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/27).
THIS AND THAT: In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted the Miller Park stadium district is "reporting that it received $25.8 million in sales-tax distributions in 2012, down slightly from the year before." The district in '11 "received a total of $25.9 million in sales-tax distributions" (JSONLINE.com, 1/26)....In Louisville, Gregory Hall reported in a "bit of corporate housekeeping" at Churchill Downs Inc. HQs this month, one of its corporate entities was "renamed Churchill Downs Racetrack LLC." Churchill Downs officials said that the change gives the race track "its own corporate entity, much like already exist for the company’s other tracks" (COURIER-JOURNAL.com, 1/27).