Sacramento City Manager John Shirey yesterday said that he "expects a detailed plan" for a new downtown sports arena to house the NBA Kings to be "released in time for a public forum at City Hall the evening of March 21," according Lillis, Bizjak & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. However, Shirey did describe the timeline as "compacted." That timing would "give the public and the City Council five days to explore the proposal before the council votes on the plan March 26." Shirey said that the city has "already undergone several days of intense negotiations" with Penguins co-Owner and Kings bidder Ron Burkle on the financing of a new arena at the Downtown Plaza. Those talks have "taken place over hours of conference calls involving Dan Barrett, the city's top arena finance consultant; an assistant city manager, and one of Burkle's top lieutenants from his private equity firm, Yucaipa." Shirey said, "We have a very short period of time to do a lot of things." He described the talks with Burkle "as smooth." Shirey said that Burkle's team "had not settled on an exact location within Downtown Plaza for an arena as of Monday night." The city also had "not been told how much the facility was expected to cost." But a source said that the sports and entertainment center "would cost roughly" $400M (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/13). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes under the header, "Sacramento Arena Plan Is A Rush Job." The public is "left on the sidelines, asked to root for a deal devoid of facts and yet facing an up or down vote from the NBA in mere weeks." Shirey has been "tasked with crafting a massive public financing deal in a matter of days -- the kind of plan other cities have taken years to devise" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/13).
Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano “wants to turn Nassau Coliseum into a scaled-down arena with 8,000 to 12,000 seats for family shows, concerts and minor league sports,” according to Brodsky & Marshall of NEWSDAY. Mangano yesterday released the plan “in a request for proposals to firms to redevelop and operate the Coliseum and is expected to unveil it formally during his State of the County address” tonight. The current arena has “more than 16,000 seats.” Mangano released the RFP “after consulting with” Barclays Center developer and Nets investor Bruce Ratner. Mangano said there is "no deal on the table" for the Islanders to leave earlier than ’15. But the RFP “allows for the possibility of a ‘sooner termination’ of the team's lease.” Deputy County Exec Rob Walker said that “many acts decline to play at the Coliseum because they cannot attract crowds to fill the arena” (NEWSDAY, 3/13). In N.Y., Kosman & Calder report Ratner is “set to bid on renovating and operating” the Coliseum. Nassau in recent months “hired Ratner to determine if the Coliseum could be profitable after the Islanders leave.” A source said that Live Nation, AEG and others are “also expected to make proposals” (N.Y. POST, 3/13).
Astros Owner Jim Crane yesterday said that he is "considering moving the Astros’ spring training operations to sites on Florida’s east coast, including Palm Beach County," according to Joe Capozzi of the PALM BEACH POST. Crane said that possible sites "range from Port St. Lucie, where the New York Mets train, to as far south as Fort Lauderdale." The Astros train in Kissimmee "under a lease that expires in 2016." Crane would "love to move his team closer to Palm City in southern Martin County, which is home to his Florida Golf and Yacht Club." Crane said, "We’ve been looking in this area, primarily because you have the Mets and you have the Marlins and the Cardinals. You get two more teams in this area and (if) the Mets can get someone else, it would really solidify baseball on the east coast and make the travel schedules easier." He added, "The consensus is (with) the density in this area, in particular around the West Palm Beach airport and in Jupiter and to Stuart, I think you could draw from all over. When you look at what the Cardinals and Marlins have been able to do here, it does draw a lot of people into the area and they spend a lot of money" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/13). MLB.com's Christina De Nicola noted Crane "envisions a Spring Training home where his organization shares the facility with another team, limiting travel and building a fan base in a densely populated area." While he "doesn't yet have a city in mind, Crane likes the Interstate 95 corridor as far south as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and as far north as Stuart, Fla." Crane said, "We still have a contract with Kissimmee for a couple more years, and they're treating us great and it's a nice location" (MLB.com, 3/12).
AIMING FOR THE STARS: Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said, "There's a lot of frustration among our fan base and as the new group in charge we recognize that frustration and the best thing we can do to make the Astros great again is build our own system, build our own players." He added the Astros are in the "position where we can deploy close" to $20M "worth of resources into signing international free agents and amateur players through the draft." Luhnow said the new CBA "will have the effect it was intended to have, which is the teams that are finishing last in baseball are going to have an opportunity to close the gap talent-wise with those teams that finish ahead and that's what it was intended to do" ("Behind The Dish With Keith Law," ESPN.com, 3/12).
Roger Dean Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Cardinals and Marlins, this year features a new concession-ordering system, "called GeeBo, at all 7,000 seats," according to Bill DiPaolo of the PALM BEACH POST. Fans can go to a website, type in their order and "an attendant delivers the goods in about 10 minutes." Or it can be "picked up at a special concession stand on the first-base side." Fans download an app and "scan a QR code ... into their smartphone." Jupiter-based JCS Enterprises is "providing the equipment and software." DiPaolo notes during the "first few games, about 50 people ordered food and drinks at each game." JCS VP/Sales & Marketing Stephen Johnson said that the total "has increased to about 200 and is expected to grow as more people learn about it" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/13).