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Volume 24 No. 113


The Dolphins would “receive about $7.5 million a year in hotel taxes to renovate Sun Life Stadium under a deal endorsed by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez” late last night, according to a front-page piece by Mazzei & Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. County commissioners are expected to convene tomorrow “to endorse the deal and send it on to the countywide vote on May 14, a week before NFL owners meet to award Super Bowls 50 and 51.” The Dolphins have “agreed to forgo county money if one of the games is not awarded" to the stadium. Among the terms of the deal are that Miami-Dade would “increase its mainland hotel tax to 7 percent from 6 percent, and give the Dolphins 75 percent of the new revenue up to $7.5 million ... in Year One.” That dollar cap each year “would increase" by 3% and the payout would “expire in 26 years.” The Dolphins at the end of 30 years would “refund between $110 and $120 million to the county -- Miami-Dade’s estimated share of a renovation project that would cost at least $350 million.” The Dolphins also would “pay up to $120 million in penalties if they fell short of bringing a roster of large sporting events to Sun Life during the next 30 years, including four Super Bowls and four national college football championships.” Team Owner Stephen Ross “reportedly would pay significant penalties if he sold the team during the next five years, and the Dolphins will sign a 30-year agreement not to leave Miami-Dade.” Two public polls have “shown overwhelming opposition to sending tax dollars to Sun Life, but the Dolphins’ campaign team says they can win enough support at the polls to get the measure passed.” Gimenez said that he “supported the Dolphins deal, and would ‘happily’ vote for it.” But he “stopped short of saying he would campaign for it” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/9).

NOT SO FAST: The South Florida SUN-SENTINEL notes the Dolphins are “still a long way from gaining public funding for the stadium project.” Bills are under consideration in “both branches of the Florida Legislature to provide the revenue, pending approval in the public referendum.” But if legislators “don’t pass the bills, the referendum will be moot.” And although the bills “cleared two key committees last week, there is opposition in Tallahassee, including from members of the Miami-Dade delegation” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/9).

Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts yesterday said the organization is "100 percent committed" to seeing the $500M Wrigley Field renovation project through and winning a World Series at the iconic ballpark, according to ESPN CHICAGO. He said, "It's a process and we're 100 percent committed to it and we want to see it get through." The Cubs want to "put up a JumboTron in left field and at least one more sign in right field which has upset some rooftop owners." The club and rooftop owners "signed a 20-year contract in 2004 that protects their view of the field in exchange for 17 percent of their revenue going to the Cubs." Ricketts said, "It's a fairly involved and kind of a nutty contract. But ultimately as we look at what we want to do in the outfield we're going to be sensitive to a lot of those issues and as we get forward and can start talking about how those plans are going to look, I think people will realize that." With an April 1 deadline already passed, Ricketts said that there is "still time to begin the five-year renovation plan this fall if a deal is reached soon." Ricketts: "We're not trying to throw ultimatums around" (, 4/8). Ricketts was asked if he was disappointed or surprised a deal has yet to be reached. He said, "I don't look at it that way. The fact is that everybody is working hard, it’s been very productive discussions, things are moving forward. We’re just looking forward to keeping the ball rolling” ("Sports Talk Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 4/8). 

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer writes a "significant and potentially costly tension appears to be rising within" the Cubs organization. It is a "business-vs.-baseball issue that threatens to prolong a rebuilding process already testing the patience of many fans," with ownership yesterday admitting that its "baseball-spending timeline hasn’t been its focus during efforts to secure an agreement for Wrigley renovations." How fast can Epstein and Exec VP & GM Jed Hoyer expect to "have their baseball budgets ramped back up to big-market levels once the five-year project is under way?" Ricketts said, "Well, a lot of the stuff we’re doing with the park is non-revenue-generating. I’m not sure when all of it comes online. We’d have to think about sequencing, and, frankly, I haven’t been focusing on that lately." Wittenmyer: "Not focusing on when a baseball department that has had budgets siphoned for much of the last four years will get its promised injection of new revenues? Isn’t that what this was supposed to be about?" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/9).

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: In Illinois, Barry Rozner writes of Ricketts, "Why he never considered moving is beyond me. Why he never even threatened is baffling. Why he still refuses to use that leverage is a travesty." The truth is the ballpark "could use more than the $300 million worth of work the Cubs intend to spend to bring it into the new millennium." Ricketts would be "better served spending twice that much and building himself a Wrigley replica in the suburbs, replete with all the surrounding taverns and restaurants -- all owned by Ricketts" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 4/9). In Chicago, Mark Potash writes the rooftop owners "don't seem to be getting the benefit of being the 'little guy' in this dispute." They might be "heavy-handed in their attempt to maximize an investment -- just as the Cubs are doing." But "let the record show they are not 'poaching.'" They were "there first." The contract the rooftop owners signed with the Cubs to share revenue "implicitly allows them access to the views of Wrigley Field from their buildings" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/9).

THE NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes the Cubs currently are "capped at 30 night games, and speculation is they would like 41 to 50." Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said that more night games "would 'be nice,' but mostly because it would add to TV revenues, not for the players' body-clock adjustments." The Cubs have an "opt-out clause in their WGN-TV contract after 2014." Epstein said, "It really would help from a revenue standpoint with a (new) TV deal" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/9).

The Florida Senate yesterday “began moving a bill that would give” ISC nearly $100M “worth of tax breaks over the next 30 years,” according to Jason Garcia of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. ISC execs said that the “incentives in the bill would help persuade the company to spend" $250M or more on improvements at Daytona Int'l Speedway, which would "include both improvements to the grandstand itself plus a new commercial development next door.” The Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee “unanimously approved the legislation.” The legislation would “give ISC three tax breaks: A refund of all sales tax paid during the construction, which analysts estimate will save the company $10 million; a sales-tax subsidy similar to one given to other professional sports teams in Florida, worth $60 million over 30 years; and a second, ongoing subsidy based on [how] much sales-tax collections rise following the Daytona expansion.” Analysts “haven't determined how much the second subsidy would cost the state in tax revenue.” ISC would have to “spend at least $250 million on construction over a four-year period before it could receive any of the tax breaks.” Garcia notes a “similar bill is advancing through the Florida House of Representatives” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/9).

The Marion County (Ind.) Capital Improvement Board yesterday "signed off on an agreement" with the Colts that calls for the city "to spend up to" $2M to add suites at Lucas Oil Stadium, according to Jon Murray of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The money will "pay to build two more luxury suites and two small kitchens." The Colts are "chipping in for improvements, too, by adding two more illuminated ribbon message boards in the Downtown stadium’s upper corners." Those will "complement two similar boards that cost the team about $700,000" in '11. The stadium currently has 141 luxury suites, but CIB President Ann Lathrop said that it was "built with space to construct up to six more." The Colts "requested the addition of two new suites and the conversion of two food pantries into small cooking kitchens, which CIB officials say together are estimated to cost about" $2M. Under the agreement approved yesterday, the Colts "would be responsible for any amount above that." Lathrop said that the $2M would "come out of money budgeted this year for capital outlays at CIB facilities." Work on the suite expansion will "get under way in coming months but isn’t expected to be finished until November." Officials said that crews will "work around Colts games and other events." The two new suites will be "built on the upper level, near the large Quarterback Suite" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/9).

UNLV officials on Friday said that they are “moving to get funding approved to bring” the Thomas & Mack Center “up to code,” according to Yesenia Amaro of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. UNLV Senior VP/Finance & Business Gerry Bomotti cited a report which revealed that the facility “needs several renovations" that are estimated at $59.2M. That would include “improvements to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, adding restrooms, replacing seats and the locker room as well as mechanical, plumbing and electrical updates.” Bomotti said that the restrooms improvement is “significant.” UNLV President Neal Smatresk said that certain improvements during a renovation are “required to bring a facility up to code.” Bomotti said that officials have “submitted materials about the planned renovations to Chancellor Dan Klaich.” It is not certain “whether the renovation will be an action item for the Board of Regents before it’s presented” to the Nevada Legislature. Bomotti said that university officials “hope to ask for slot tax revenue to finance the project.” He said that the Nevada System of Higher Education gets about $15M "every year from the tax, and about half goes toward major renovations.” Smatresk said that if the project ultimately is approved by the Legislature, the university “would then seek bids on the work” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/8).

S.F.-based StubHub has grown to 260 people at its East Granby, Conn., operations center "without becoming widely known as a significant local employer," according to Dan Haar of the HARTFORD COURANT. StubHub has "recruited at job fairs, it co-sponsored the new ESPN Fan Zone hall of fame at the sports giant's Bristol campus last September and it won first place in the Courant/Fox CT Top Workplaces award for 2012." Still, perhaps because it "hasn't been part of any high-profile state incentive deals, StubHub is not a household name as a local employer." The company is "nearly doubling its space in an expansion that starts this week, and by the end of the year expects to have 335 Connecticut employees -- up from about 150 at the start of 2012." StubHub occupies the first floor of a two-story building off Route 20, but now is "taking most of the second floor, another 18,000 square feet, with another 135 desks, plus more training space." And it will "have options for the rest of the floor" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/7).

TOUGH TICKETS: In Sacramento, Melody Gutierrez notes StubHub and Ticketmaster have "brought an industry turf war" to the city, with both sides "claiming to represent fans' rights as they compete over billions in proceeds from concerts and sporting events." Ticketmaster has "added restrictions on the reselling of tickets to curb scalping." But StubHub said that the "non-transferable tickets that Ticketmaster uses unfairly penalize buyers." A bill proposing to "prevent most restrictions on California's resale market will be heard in Sacramento next week" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/9).

In Charlotte, Steve Harrison notes the city is “committed to giving the Carolina Panthers financial help to renovate Bank of America Stadium." However, City Council member James Mitchell yesterday said that Charlotte will “likely be short of its original $144 million pledge to the team.” Mitchell said that the city will “use $110 million of debt capacity from the Convention Center fund to help the Panthers.” But he added that the team will “have to share some of that money with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.” In addition, he “ruled out using other tax dollars to help the team” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/9).

THE REAL DEAL: In K.C., Joyce Smith notes the new Royals Authentics store that opened yesterday in Kauffman Stadium sells MLB-authenticated items, including “bases, baseballs, batting gloves and helmets, jerseys, and more.” It also has “collectibles autographed by current and past" Royals players that "are authenticated by" MLB. A website will be “launched later this season for online ordering.” The shop will “donate about 20 percent of the proceeds to the Royals Charities, which supports children, education, youth baseball and military efforts in and around” the K.C. area (K.C. STAR, 4/9).

AT LIBERTY TO RENOVATE: In Memphis, Thomas Bailey Jr. reports the city late last week “got a building permit to bring the 48-year-old Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to make other improvements.” The document filed Friday stated that the construction “will cost $9,120,307.” The plan approved by the City Council in January “will eliminate 1,700 seats to create space for 282 wheelchair spots and 282 companion seats, most along Row 25.” Seating capacity will “drop from the current 61,008 to 59,308” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/9).