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Volume 24 No. 115


NFL Panthers President Danny Morrison said that the team “plans to begin renovations" on its stadium after the '13 NFL season and "estimates the project could take two years to complete,” according to Steve Reed of the AP. Morrison said that the master plan for Bank of America Stadium “calls for between" $261-297M in upgrades. He added that the goal of Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson “has been to improve the experience for all 74,000 fans.” Morrison said, "He gave us directions that the majority of plans need to be for 74,000 fans, not just premium seating.” The primary objectives “include installing three escalators to reach the upper level, new video and ribbon boards and an improved sound system, as well as upgrading technology and stadium infrastructure and improving access to the stadium through enhanced entry gates.” Some of the “other potential upgrades down the road include adding a roof terrace, a team history area, field club and an indoor practice facility” (AP, 2/12). In Charlotte, Joseph Person reports there is a “line item for an indoor facility” in the plans. Morrison said, “As you try to stay competitive, that is something that a lot of NFL teams are doing.” He added that the Panthers “would like to build the facility in ‘close proximity’ to the stadium, although they don’t own any of the adjacent land.” The Panthers have “$30 million earmarked for an indoor practice facility and other ‘team areas,’ including the locker room, meeting rooms and coaches' offices.” Morrison estimated that the Panthers “would use the facility for 10 percent of their practices,” and the team would “like to find other partners to share the facility.” Meanwhile, Morrison said that the team’s ticket prices “will remain unchanged for a third consecutive season” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/13). Person wrote an indoor facility is “fairly far down the priority list on the team's nearly $300 million renovation plan, but it's on there” (, 2/12).

WHEN IT MATTERED MOST: Morrison said that Richardson “got involved in the negotiations with the city only once.” In Charlotte, Peter St. Onge writes Richardson's involvement happened “after City Council members urged that the Panthers agree to be tethered to Charlotte for 15 years, not the 10 that city staff and team officials had tentatively agreed to.” Morrison said that it was then that Richardson “stepped in and agreed to 15” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/13). 

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: In Charlotte, Steve Lyttle reports SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith yesterday said that he would be “willing to buy” the Panthers from Richardson. Smith said, “If the price is right, I’d be interested.” He added, “I would commit to the city -- and I would not ask for money” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/13). Also in Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes the “showmanship and improvisation that characterize Bruton’s race tracks could work at Bank of America Stadium” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/13).

The Tigers' Spring Training home in Lakeland, Fla., is “about to get a massive makeover" that could approach $50M by the time it is completed in '16, according to Lynn Henning of the DETROIT NEWS. Joker Marchant Stadium will “undergo a 360-degree expansion of its seating areas, including preservation of the 16-foot grass berm that has become a beach-blanket fixture at Grapefruit League games.” Seats will be “extended along base lines and will wrap around the outfield perimeter, all connected by way of a free-flowing walkway.” Third-base bleachers “will be demolished and replaced with lower-altitude seats facing the infield as a ballpark that now offers 15-percent shaded areas moves toward at least 50-percent shaded seating.” The venue's capacity of 9,200 “will not expand” because high-rise bleacher seats “will be reduced and will be part of a circular extension.” The concourse area “will be expanded and integrated to allow fans a continuous game experience even when they leave their seats.” A reconstructed press box “with 10 extra work stations and an additional radio booth is planned.” A new, segmented clubhouse “accommodating big-league and minor-league players will be built.” In addition, at least “one of the five practice fields at Tigertown will be converted from natural grass to synthetic turf.” Also being planned is a “‘Pepsi Porch’-style party area in right field.” The left-field berm's “back side will be home to tiered seating and to an expansive bar/restaurant facility, which could be operated by a third party.” The project will involve “local and state money, as well as funding from the Tigers.” Designs and permits are “expected to be completed" by early '14. A new clubhouse “will be built during the construction's first phase,” while all other work is “to be completed" by early '16 (DETROIT NEWS, 2/13).

The Palace of Auburn Hills' new Club 300 on the arena's suite level is "set up like a club lounge and can accommodate up to 330 people," and is part of "an effort to boost attendance at the Palace," according to Frank Witsil of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. While it is not "exclusive," it "certainly has that air about it." To make Club 300, the Palace "gutted 16 top-level suites in the fall and began promoting it this year." Ticket holders "take an elevator up to the 300 level (thus the name), and wear a wristband to get in." There are "two bars, a food buffet, places to hang coats, comfortable seating for group conversations -- and large-screen TVs." Tickets, which "include food and drinks, are available to groups and individuals, and depending on the event, can range from $35 to hundreds of dollars." Palace Sports & Entertainment VP/Business Development & Premium Seating Chris Quinn said that the area is "targeted at adults 24-36 years old." He added that Palace execs are "still developing the space -- and are eager to see how well it will attract fans and increase attendance from last season's ranking of 28th of 30 teams in the NBA." Quinn also hopes that the Palace "eventually will be able to find a sponsor and sell naming rights" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/12). Quinn indicated that a "minimum of 50 tickets must be sold before the club is activated and the Pistons accept walk-up buyers." Palace Sports has "opened the club for about a dozen Pistons games" so far this season (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/11 issue).