Under new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway "appears poised to part
with long-held traditions -- including refusing to sell naming rights --
to achieve state-of-the-art status," according to sports business execs cited by Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that Miles is
"prepared to make other departures with tradition to pull the outdated
venue into the modern era." Schoettle notes IMS will "need far more money than it will get from a proposed tax subsidy if it hopes to be in the top tier of U.S. racing venues." That could mean "putting ads where none have existed before ... or a title or presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500." IMS President & CEO Jeff Belskus said, "We're certainly looking for ways to generate more revenue, but I have trouble envisioning a day we change the name of this facility." Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Kenley said that IMS "had no option but to seek state assistance." But sports marketers said that IMS is "sitting on tens of millions of dollars in advertising inventory." Indiana-based Just Marketing Int'l Founder & CEO Zak Brown said that a naming-rights deal "could fetch" $10-15M annually. Though Brown said that he would "be hesitant to sell the naming rights to" the Indy 500, he added that doing so "could generate" another $3M annually. Last year was the "first time the Speedway placed any ads on the walls encircling the 2-1/2 mile oval." IEG Senior VP/Editorial Dir Jim Andrews said that naming-rights deals "for prominent locations such as Victory Circle and pit lane could generate big money." He added that an "upgraded video board system would open another sponsorship avenue." Belskus said that there "have been no serious talks about such a deal" (INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/18 issue).
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED...: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller wrote it is "not fair that we lose good teachers every year while sports flourish with government assistance." Having "said that, IMS has driven more money for the Indianapolis' business community in 100 years than all of our sports teams combined." Miller: "Asking for help once a century (and paying back a portion of it annually) doesn't bother me." Had former IndyCar CEO Tony George "not spent millions and millions on the IRL, F1, airplanes, helicopters, marketing firms, Gene Simmons and Vision Racing, then IMS wouldn't need or ask for assistance" (SPEEDTV.com, 2/16).
This NFL offseason, crews will "be laying the groundwork" for the initial phase of a $130M face-lift of Ralph Wilson Stadium, according to James Fink of BUFFALO BUSINESS FIRST. The work likely will be the "last to take place at the 40-year-old stadium as the lease talks included a clause that sets the stage for a new Bills venue in the not-too-distant future." While the majority of the work -- such as "adding a pair of end-zone digital scoreboards -- won’t take place for another year, LPCiminelli crews will be at the Ralph this spring and summer for some behind-the-scenes, less-sexy projects." Bills Senior VP/Communications Scott Berchtold said that the "bulk of that work involves meeting new state and local codes, life safety improvements and deferred maintenance." He added that it will "start soon and should be completed before the start of" the '13 season. The renovation "price tag is being divided among the state, county and Bills." Erie County is allocating $40.7M, while the state of New York is "kicking in" $53.9M and the Bills paying $35.5M. Berchtold said that during the '13 season, construction will "get under way on the team store, commissary and operations building." The work "isn’t expected to interfere with game-day crowds" (BUFFALO BUSINESS FIRST, 2/15 issue).
The Browns have hired Cleveland-based architectural firm Westlake Reed Leskosky to design renovations to the team’s training and administrative complex in Berea, Ohio. The project, estimated to cost $4-5M, is tied to consolidating most of the team’s employees under one roof in Berea, according to Browns Exec VP & Chief Revenue Officer Brent Stehlik. The team's front office currently is split between Berea and FirstEnergy Stadium in downtown Cleveland. The upgrades will focus on a retrofit of the facility’s second floor, creating an open floor plan by knocking down walls and installing new windows to let natural light into the building. The goal is to develop a new culture of teamwork under new team Owner Jimmy Haslam III, Stehlik said. “It needs a refresh [and] right now we’re so fragmented,” he said. “This culture we’re creating in ticket sales, sponsorship sales and the service retention departments will hopefully (spread) to the rest of the organization.” Construction starts in March and will be completed in July. During the renovation, Browns staff members will temporarily move to the first floor of the Berea building and in trailers set up outside the facility. Others will work out of the stadium where sales and marketing is currently located, Stehlik said. The Berea facility opened in '91 and was renovated in '99 and '09. Westlake Reed Leskosky previously designed a major expansion and renovation of the Pro Football HOF that opened last August.
Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten yesterday shared details of the renovations at Dodger Stadium this offseason, and said the work on the team's clubhouse "might make it the largest in the major leagues," according to Bill Plunkett of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The clubhouse renovations are part of the team's $100M "makeover" at Dodger Stadium this winter. Kasten said that the work "will almost double the square-footage of the old clubhouse." He said additions will include a "quiet room." Kasten added that other renovations include "a full kitchen (staffed by a chef and nutritionist), an interview room and a much larger workout area." Plunkett notes Dodger Stadium's bottom bowl of the seating area "had to be removed in order to expand the clubhouse." That phase of the work "is done and the lower bowl has been rebuilt." Kasten said that he "remains confident that all of the main components of the makeover will be in place in time" for the Dodgers to host the Angels in an exhibition March 28. He said final work on some things -- expanded concession stands, a play area for young fans, towers aimed at improving cell phone and Wi-Fi coverage at the stadium -- might "leak" into the season (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/19). MLB.com's Ken Gurnick noted "excavating a second level" of Dodger Stadium was necessary in order to expand the team's clubhouse "because the original design of the stadium was set in a natural bowl against the hillside, making access from outside the stadium impossible." Meanwhile, two batting cages will be "under the new clubhouse and, for the first time in stadium history, the visiting team will have a separate batting cage" (MLB.com, 2/18).
Maybe it is "nothing more than lipstick on a pig, but New Jersey officials want to see a different face on the exterior of the long-stalled American Dream super mall project before next year’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium," according to Ted Sherman of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Developers conceded that the "sprawling, unfinished structure" once known as Xanadu "will not be completed before the big game next February." But the state said that with "construction slated to finally resume later this year ... it is looking for at least a change in the look of the garish and incomplete entertainment and retail complex before guests come to town." N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has "long been looking for better curb appeal before all eyes were focused on the Meadowlands for Super Bowl XLVIII." Developer Triple Five spokesperson Alan Marcus said that "even unfinished, the building will be made available to event organizers next year for the Super Bowl, depending on construction timetables." He said, "We do fully intend to be prepared and able to host and support Super Bowl-related events as needed to assist the host committee and others." Triple Five still "does not control the site, and until it settles its dispute with" the Giants and Jets it is "unlikely to proceed with financing" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/19).
In California, Ben Baeder noted Majestic Realty President & Chair Ed Roski and the state are “embroiled in a legal dispute over a proposed” NFL stadium on the east side of the City of Industry. City officials said that Roski's plans for a 592-acre development depend on $180M "in property tax money.” The money would “pay for infrastructure around the stadium.” The state on Dec. 18 “wrote a letter prohibiting the public money from going toward the development, saying some of the contractual obligations haven't taken place and therefore cannot be enforced.” Roski's lawyer “fired a letter back to the state earlier this month, calling the state's conclusions ‘demonstrably wrong’" (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 2/18).
BUILDING FOR TOMORROW:In South Carolina, Travis Sawchik reported Clemson Univ. is “conducting a feasibility study to determine whether it would be advantageous and economically viable to build a new arena.” The study is “expected to be completed in March.” Clemson AD Dan Radakovich said that the study, which is “receiving counsel from prominent architecture firms, is centered on the concept of an arena with a slightly smaller capacity than" Littlejohn Coliseum’s 10,000 seats. A new basketball home “could cost Clemson approximately" $65-85M, or "more than the Memorial Stadium West Zone project to date” (Charleston POST & COURIER, 2/16).
LONG OVERDUE:In N.Y., Kate Briquelet wrote a TriBeCa museum “dedicated to Jackie Robinson is three years overdue -- and may never open despite spending a fortune on rent.” The Jackie Robinson Foundation "has raised only a fraction" of the $42M "needed to honor the Brooklyn Dodger.” The museum was “first slated to open on the ground floor of One Hudson Square in lower Manhattan in 2010.” Instead, its founders are “paying $500,000 a year to rent a shell where the 11,000-square-foot exhibition is supposed to be” (N.Y. POST, 2/17).
A DIFFERENT KIND OF TURNTABLE:In N.Y., Rich Calder noted Barclays Center is “the buzz of the league because of its one-of-a-kind" $4M elevator and parking system "that transports team buses and players’ cars directly from the street to an area 2 1/2 stories underground.” The massive turntable outside the freight elevators that “holds up to 100,000 pounds, can rotate 360 degrees within four minutes.” Daniel Brooks, who drives visiting team buses to the arena, said that he “can’t count how many players’ jaws have dropped" after their parking experience (N.Y. POST, 2/18).