Four developers on Thursday submitted proposals to "transform the 40-year-old Nassau Coliseum into an arena capable of attracting top concert acts and sporting events while generating millions of dollars in new revenue for Nassau County," according to Robert Brodsky of NEWSDAY. Nassau County Exec Edward Mangano is "expected to make a decision by July 15." The county legislature would "have to approve the contract with the winning bidder." The proposals made public Thursday include "entertainment venues, convention center space, restaurants, sports bars, retail, bowling and an outdoor amphitheater." Each of the bidders said that they would "finance the work without using public funds, with costs ranging from" $60-$250M. Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO and Nets investor Bruce Ratner proposed a $229M project that included a "13,000-seat arena that could be downsized to 4,000 seats for smaller family shows." Ratner's project calls for "309 events per year at the Coliseum, including six Islanders regular-season games, one Brooklyn Nets preseason game and 83 outdoor events." Ratner said that Jay-Z's Roc Nation is "associated with the project and will help attract acts." Meanwhile, New York Sports & Entertainment CEO Bernard Shereck would spend $60-$90M to "refurbish the Coliseum's interior." Shereck would "downsize the arena to 8,000-10,000 seats and reduce parking to 3,600 spots, from the current 6,800." Blumenfeld Development Group Founder & President Edward Blumenfeld would spend $180M to "tear down the Coliseum and build a new 9,000-12,000 seat arena." Blumenfeld, partnering with SMG, also would "build a 100,000-square-foot convention center at the site of the existing exhibition center below the arena." MSG's proposal would spend $250M for a "renovated 14,500-seat arena" and "mixed-use entertainment complex." MSG said that "at least one of its sports franchises" -- the WNBA Liberty; the AHL Whale; or the NBA D-League Erie Bayhawks -- would "play at the Coliseum" (NEWSDAY, 5/3).
Notre Dame officials on Thursday announced that the school will "undertake a feasibility study to determine whether additions" should be added to Notre Dame Stadium to "make it a hub for other facilities, such as a student center, a media center, and/or a classroom and conference center," according to a front-page piece by Margaret Fosmoe of the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. The proposal could "add about 3,000 more seats to the stadium, most in indoor premium seating areas that would be built atop the stadium additions." The stadium opened in '30 and was "expanded to its current size" in '97. An architectural rendering of what an expanded Notre Dame Stadium could look like "shows exterior additions on all four sides." The press box would "move from its current west-side location to the stadium's east side." The rendering "shows the field and bowl of the stadium looking essentially unchanged." Any additions to the stadium "wouldn't affect the view of the large mural that people call 'Touchdown Jesus' on the south face of Hesburgh Library." The feasibility study is "expected to take six to nine months to complete," and estimated costs and other details "won't be known until specific construction plans, if any, are approved" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 5/3). In South Bend, Eric Hansen notes if the university "moves forward after the study concludes, the project could be completed five to six years from now." The most "noticeable football change would be the addition of premium seating that would push the capacity of the stadium from its current 80,795 to an estimated 84,000" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 5/3).
Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney on Thursday said Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts “made a mistake” born of “frustration” when he threatened to move his team out of Wrigley Field and Chicago if he does not get the outfield signs he needs to bankroll a $300M stadium renovation, according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Tunney said that he “doesn’t believe Ricketts is serious, nor will the ultimatum force him or his constituents to give the Cubs carte blanche.” He said, “It’s all about compromise. We all have to compromise. The idea of saying, `All or nothing’ -- that just isn’t good negotiating.” Tunney “scoffed at the notion that Ricketts would actually entertain the notion of leaving 99-year-old Wrigley.” Ricketts has “insisted on a 6,000-square-foot Jumbotron that would be triple the size of the iconic centerfield scoreboard.” But Tunney said of the rooftop business concerned of an impeded view, “We’re gonna try … to assist the rooftops in every which way we can in terms of the placement and the ultimate size” of the jumbotron. He added, “I’m not ready to sign on to any numbers until I get more feedback from our community. They’ve got to gather support like every other developer” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/3).
NOT GOING ANYWHERE: The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said Ricketts “is not going to the ‘burbs, he’s staying where he is." But he has "every right to do what he wants with his ballpark and he has no obligation to the people either on Waveland or Sheffield Avenue.” Columnist Kevin Blackistone noted the threat to leave Wrigley is “just a negotiating ploy.” Blackistone: "This is the most profitable team in baseball, fourth-most valuable according to Forbes. He’s going to get what he wants because the economics have changed" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/2). White Sox analyst Steve Stone, who played and was an announcer for the Cubs, said, “There’s a deal to be (done) there. It doesn’t involve the Cubs moving anyplace. It would be a gigantic mistake to move them and I think in his heart of hearts, Tom Ricketts loves Wrigley Field." Stone added, "As a businessman, I feel you need all the revenues you can possibly get. ... I guess it comes down to how many rooftops are you going to interfere with and the fact that you did sign a 20-year deal, which apparently is just binding on the rooftop owners” ("Sports Talk Live," CSN Chicago, 5/2).
PROGRESS MADE WITH ROOFTOPS? In Chicago, Paul Sullivan wonders is there a “thaw in the feud between the Cubs and the rooftop owners.” Rooftop owner Beth Murphy said, “I no longer believe the Cubs want to block us. I wasn’t sure before, but I no longer believe that. I truly am optimistic they want to work this out.” Murphy said that the owners “had a meeting” with Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney on Wednesday. She said, “The meeting with Crane was just surprising. It was great.” Murphy said that the two sides are “closer after the meeting” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/3).
Richmond Int'l Raceway’s two annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends illustrate the track’s "challenges in attracting visitors in recent years,” according to Randy Hallman of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. The track “had a streak of 33 straight sold-out races.” But the streak ended in September ’08 with the race “postponed a day as a tropical storm passed.” RIR since then has had “10 consecutive non-sellouts.” With demand for tickets “down and fans asking for a little more comfort, track officials decided to widen the grandstand seats, reducing capacity to 94,063 by 2011.” Still, seats “go unsold.” NASCAR’s crowd estimates “dipped as low as 88,000 last year, down more than 21 percent from the peak.” There were “thousands of empty seats" for last Saturday's Toyota Owners 400, "but there was no official attendance estimate.” RIR President Dennis Bickmeier said that the track is “working hard to fill up spaces again.” He said of ticket sales, “Our job right now is to sort through the data. We want to see how we did right here in our backyard, how we did in D.C. and Northern Virginia, how we did in Hampton Roads, how we did outside Virginia.” Bickmeier said the racing community now is “unified to move the sport ahead.” A Shamin Hotels spokesperson said the company’s 26 hotels in the region “performed well” around the race. But the spokesperson “did not disclose an occupancy percentage” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/3).