Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum was "chosen Thursday to guide the XL Center in downtown Hartford and Rentschler Field in East Hartford through the next decade," according to Kenneth Gosselin of the HARTFORD COURANT. Global Spectrum Senior VP/Business Development & Client Relations Frank Russo said that "an agreement keeping" the AHL Connecticut Whale in Hartford "could come within days." Although the Capitol Region Development Authority "considered bids from companies interested in managing the two properties, two of the bidders were in talks with the hockey team owned by the New York Rangers trying to negotiate a new contract to replace one that expires in August." The CRDA on Thursday "voted unanimously" to give the contract to Global. Global will "replace the current manager of the XL Center, AEG Management CT." It won the contract "over AEG and a group led by Bushnell Management Services, an arm of Hartford's Bushnell, which now manages Rentschler Field." In addition, the Univ. of Connecticut had "expressed an interest in managing just Rentschler." The CRDA cited Global Spectrum's "out-of-pocket" capital investment proposal of $2.75M for capital improvements that would "be bolstered by another $1 million a year." The CRDA said that the "level of private investment would justify $20 million or more in state bonding." The XL Center "needs at least" $16M in improvements over the next decade "just to sustain its operating systems." The contract is "contingent on the group's securing an AHL affiliate for the XL Center, a central issue for those vying to manage the venue." Russo said that his group plans on improvements such as "premium seating in lower sections of the arena, expansion of the concourse into vacant mall areas and upgrades to food concessions" (HARTFORD COURANT, 2/8).
The Mets on Thursday announced that they have "resumed their partnership with Tradition Florida for the naming rights to their spring training home in Port St. Lucie," according to Laurel Pfahler of TCPALM.com. Pending approval by the St. Lucie County Commissioners in a special meeting Friday, the ballpark will "once again be called Tradition Field, its name" from '04-10. Core Communities, which "previously oversaw the Tradition development, took over naming rights in February 2004." But Core Communities in March '10 "terminated its contract -- three years early -- after failing to make a $95,000 payment that had been due to the county at the end of 2009." Digital Domain Media Group "won the naming rights in 2010, but ended its contract with the Mets during a bankruptcy filing in September." The stadium has been called Mets Stadium "in the interim, while St. Lucie County and the Mets worked to find another partner." The five-year deal is worth $75,000 for '13, but that figure "could change from year to year." The Mets and the county "split the revenue from the naming rights" (TCPALM.com, 2/8).
TAKING A GAMBLE? In N.Y., Calder & Campanile noted opponents of the Willets Point casino project near Citi Field said that the city "should have revealed that the Mets’ owners proposed building a casino next to the stadium." Others said that they "fear that the casino plan -- which the city axed from a 2011 proposal by team owner Fred Wilpon’s Sterling Equities development operation -- could be added back." New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is "receptive to a casino near the stadium, the state Legislature is considering an amendment to allow Vegas-style gaming in New York," and N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be out of office next year (N.Y. POST, 2/6).
StubHub was profiled on ABC's "Nightline" on Wednesday, with the net's Neal Karlinsky noting the company has "become the ultimate middle man, revolutionizing the way people get tickets." Host Terry Moran said the company is "connecting those who want tickets with those who have them without the middle men and when buyers and sellers set their own prices for the hottest events, well, it's free market capitalism at its most entertaining." StubHub President Chris Tsakalakis said StubHub is "a marketplace where buyers and sellers can interact and sell and buy tickets." Karlinsky said Tsakalakis' "unyielding belief is that the world of ticket sales is horribly broken, backwards, even fixed." Karlinsky noted eBay-owned StubHub "isn't just a random place for second-hand ticket sales," now having official partnerships with 28 MLB teams. Karlinsky: "On the other end of the spectrum, supply and demand is tested in a very big way." StubHub CMO Ray Elias said, "There's a lot of irrational stuff that happens on StubHub." Karlinsky noted StubHub "makes its money taking a cut of the action -- a big cut -- 15 percent of the price from sellers, 10 percent from buyers." Karlinsky: "What they offer in return is security, security from that shady guy selling a ticket on the sidewalk. Security from fraud because they ensure that the tickets you are buying from that online stranger are real and really will show up on time" ("Nightline," ABC, 2/6).
In Minneapolis, Richard Meryhew reports Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction is "one of two finalists still in the running to oversee construction of the nearly billion-dollar" stadium for the Vikings. The company "survived the first cut this week, along with Hunt Construction, of Scottsdale, Ariz." Hunt is "teaming with another Minneapolis construction firm, Kraus-Anderson, in bidding for the work." Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said that a third firm that submitted an initial bid, Swedish-based Skanska AB is no longer being "considered for the job" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/8).
BIGGER THE BETTER: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette citing the Jaguars' plan to install video boards measuring nearly 350 feet wide, wrote if the city was to "install the world's largest video board to enhance the game-day experience, that's a different ballgame." That would be a "legitimate attraction for potential season-ticket holders." Frenette: "Financially, outside of a perennial playoff team, putting in state-of-the-art video boards is the most logical game-changer." Because Mayor Alvin Brown has "made sports entertainment a key component of his administration, it's not outlandish to think the city could oblige the Jaguars' goal of having the video boards in place by the 2014 season, maybe sooner" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 2/7).
BLACK & YELLOW GOING GREEN: In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko reported Heinz Field has become the latest facility in the city to be "included in a campaign to cut energy, water and transportation consumption by 50 percent by the year 2030" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/5).