In Edmonton, Gordon Kent reports two days before a City Council meeting on the proposed Oilers arena, booster group Downtown Vibrancy Coalition last night “kicked off its arena counteroffensive” by “urging the city, the province and Oilers owner Daryl Katz to get the project built." Coalition spokesperson Simon O’Byrne said, “We want city council, the government of Alberta and the Katz Group to sit down now and get this done. This transformational megaproject is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. ... Allowing this to fail would be an utter travesty.” The council tomorrow will discuss “how to find" the final C$55M for the C$480M structure, "with several councillors saying the deal is on the verge of falling apart” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/7).
CHICAGO HOPE: In Chicago, Greg Hinz reported the Cubs “have hired two of the people key in re-electing President Barack Obama to help the team win its campaign to expand and modernize Wrigley Field.” The team hired consulting firm 270 Strategies, whose principals include former Obama for America National Field Dir Jeremy Bird and Battleground States Dir Mitch Stewart (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 5/6).
STATESIDE TOEHOLD: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Heather Haddon reports U.K. bookmaker William Hill on Friday “signed off” on a deal to “operate a so-called ‘free play’ facility at the Monmouth Park racetrack” in New Jersey. In free play, “no money changes hands, but clients who choose winning sports teams or players can get prizes and perks, such as concert tickets, electronics and meals.” The promotion would “allow William Hill to begin building a base of athletics fans in New Jersey that it could tap if sports betting is legalized in the state” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/7).
MORE AND BETTER: ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel writes of plans to expand Notre Dame Stadium, “What I like about the approach described by athletic director Jack Swarbrick is that this is not a seat grab.” For all of the plans “described by Swarbrick, capacity would increase by only about 4,000 seats.” The expansion is “about facilities and creature comforts” (ESPN.com, 5/7).