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Volume 24 No. 156


Five architects have been shortlisted to design a new $1B stadium for the Falcons, according to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, owner of the proposed facility. The finalists -- HKS, Populous, 360 Architecture, Ewing Cole and a group consisting of TVS Design, Heery and Gensler -- will now prepare design proposals and presentations. Interviews will be scheduled in the next 30 days. Other architects submitting qualifications were AECOM, Eisenman Architects, Rossetti, the consortium of Rosser, Crawford Architects and GMP Architects and Woods Bagot. Financing has not been approved for the project (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker reports all five finalists have “experience on high-profile sports and entertainment projects.” The GWCCA said that the finalists “will be asked to prepare proposals that include the first conceptual designs of the stadium” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/29).

FLYING THE COOP? Atlanta's WAGA-Fox reports Mayor Kasim Reed is “warning city council members about business interests in Los Angeles who want to move the Falcons to the west coast.” Falcons Owner Arthur Blank “shared that information with top city and state officials in their discussions about financing a new stadium in downtown Atlanta” (, 1/29).

The Buccaneers have signed Aramark to a long-term deal to operate their food and merchandise at Raymond James Stadium, as well as run the team’s online retail. Aramark returns to the stadium eight years after the vendor was replaced by Levy Restaurants and Centerplate, respectively, to manage food and retail. Fine Host was the stadium’s original food provider when the building opened in ‘98 and Aramark assumed the contract after buying Fine Host for $100M in ‘02. Fanatics most recently ran the Bucs’ online operation. The Bucs requested a five-year deal with two five-year options in the proposal issued to vendors. The contracts are tied to a major stadium renovation that could include construction of a 13,000-square-foot team store and a tailgate village outside the facility. Bucs VP/Business Administration Brian Ford said Aramark’s contract, a six-year deal tied to a series of contract extensions, starts March 1. Ford refused to disclose Aramark’s investment, but sources familiar with the Bucs’ initial capital requests said that it is believed to be about $8M for upgrades both inside and outside the stadium (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal). In Tampa, Alexis Muellner noted the Bucs now have one company "handling not only food and beverage, but all retail and merchandising -- a chunk of business that has been handled by three different vendors for the last five to eight years." Aramark won the business over a field of "seven other companies after a process that began when the team made public a request for proposals designed to conceptualize a massive facelift of the game day experience from a fan’s perspective, including food and beverage and retail." Ford said Aramark won because it did “a phenomenal job of redesigning the outlets and the menus.” It also "wowed the Bucs brass with its vision for a plan well into the future, its willingness to be a partner in the planning for the physical renovation, its robust on-site management staffing and training commitments, and its ideas on using technology" (, 1/28).

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, taxpayers “still are paying millions of dollars a year” for Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena “because of cost overruns and team leases that have failed to generate as much money as originally promised,” according to Laura Johnston of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The bill to the county this year amounts to $6.25M, and with $70M “still owed, taxpayers will remain on the hook until 2023 -- nearly 30 years after the opening of the downtown sports venues.” Former Gateway Economic Corp. Exec Dir Tom Chema, whose nonprofit oversaw the construction of the venues and serves as landlord, last week said that “those involved in the planning of the complex had envisioned taxpayers picking up a ‘modest amount,’ about $1 million a year.” A sin tax approved in ’90 for a 15-year tax on cigarettes, beer and wine to cover half the cost raised about $200M through '05, "when collections were diverted with voter approval to pay off the cost of Cleveland Browns Stadium.” Johnston notes the “generous team leases left Gateway to cover small repairs, even light bulbs, and rent never added up the way officials had projected.” Cavaliers ticket sales at times “have slumped, cutting into the admission taxes used to pay off county bonds.” County taxpayers “may be called on to rescue Gateway again in future years, if the Cavs and Indians demand upgrades to their aging facilities.” The county could “tap as much as $15 million left over from the sin tax when it expires in 2015” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/29).

An agreement between Tulane Univ. and New Orleans officials governing operation of Tulane's proposed on-campus football stadium is “drawing no cheers from many nearby residents, who continue to fear how events at the 30,000-capacity facility will affect their lives,” according to Bruce Eggler of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The leaders of eight surrounding neighborhood associations “blasted the proposed standards for the number of events to be allowed, hours of use, traffic and parking plans, lighting, litter pickup and several other aspects of the proposal.” The leaders called parts of the agreement "grossly insufficient," saying that the proposed operating rules “threaten their ‘quality of life.’” The draft agreement “does not set a maximum number of ‘major events’ -- football games and other attractions expected to generate at least 2,500 vehicles -- to be allowed at the stadium, though it says there can be no more than 10 'non-football major events' a year.” An earlier draft “would have allowed 12 such events.” The neighborhood associations “figure there would be at least 20 major events a year.” Their letter Friday to Deputy Mayor Emily Arata said that “having that many major events, plus an unlimited number of minor events, would ‘greatly exceed the ability of surrounding neighborhoods to maintain any quality of life.’” Eggler noted the agreement “bans certain types of events, including rock and similar concerts, rodeos and ‘monster truck’ shows” (, 1/26).

: UNLV officials yesterday said that “additional funding sources under discussion” for the school’s proposed 60,000-seat stadium “include a new fee on rental of each hotel room across the Las Vegas Valley.” In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reports UNLV and its private-industry partner "until now" had said that an on-campus tax district, which "would capture taxes on the sale of food, beverages and retail items at a proposed shopping area to be built as part of the UNLVNow stadium project, would pay much of the construction bill.” Both a campus taxing district and a new hotel room fee “would have to be approved by the state Legislature, which starts its biennial session next week” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/29).

In Detroit, Bill Shea in a front-page piece reports Red Wings Owner the Ilitch family “has privately floated the idea that the state of Michigan own a new downtown hockey arena." Michigan Economic Development Corp. emails show that the suggestion to “possibly use the Michigan Strategic Fund as the venue's owner was discussed in a November meeting between state economic development executives and representatives of the Ilitch family" (CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS, 1/28 issue).

LET'S ALL SHARE: In Charlotte, Morrill & Harrison report NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson met with N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and state House Speaker Thom Tillis yesterday “in pursuit of as much as $62 million in state money to help renovate Bank of America Stadium.” The team has also “asked the city" for $125M. The Panthers have said that the club “could split" the other $125M with the state for a total renovation cost of $250M (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/29).

THAT'S THE PRICE YOU PAY: In Indianapolis, Jon Murray reported the City-County Council yesterday “approved tax increases that will cost car rental customers and event-goers at Downtown sports venues and the convention center.” The council voted 16-12 to "increase the admissions tax" to 10% from 6%. The increases will “create a new stream of revenue to compensate Indianapolis public safety agencies for providing police and fire coverage at the Capital Improvement Board’s facilities, including Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/29).

PENALTY KICK: In Edmonton, Angelique Rodrigues note it will be “at least a year before local soccer fans can expect a decision on a proposed 15,000-seat stadium from city council.” Council members yesterday "concluded they did not have enough information and asked administrators to take the next year and determine the demand for a new facility, and whether or not renovating an existing facility could do the trick” (EDMONTON SUN, 1/29).