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Volume 24 No. 116


The 49ers today announced that they have signed a naming-rights deal with Levi Strauss for their new $1.2B stadium under construction in Santa Clara. Levi Strauss will pay $220M over 20 years, and the venue will be called Levi's Stadium. The deal requires approval by the Santa Clara City Council, which is expected to vote on it tomorrow night. Two months ago, reports surfaced out of the Bay Area that Levi Strauss had registered several stadium domain names in preparation for signing a naming-rights deal. At that time, the 49ers refused to comment on the rumors of a deal with the company. Levi’s officials in a statement confirmed they had registered those names for “future opportunities.” The company generated $4.6B in net revenue for '12, a decrease of 3% compared with the previous year, according to its annual report. The decline in revenue resulted in the formation of a new leadership team and organizational structure at Levi Strauss as the company strives to “make LS & Co. great again,” as Levi's President & CEO Chip Bergh said in the report. A stadium naming-rights deal tied to the NFL would obviously fall in line with the company’s renewed strategy to grow revenue. The 68,500-seat stadium, scheduled to open in August '14, is considered the front-runner to host Super Bowl L in '16. The NFL will announce sites for the '16 and '17 games on May 21. The naming-rights deal with Levi's would follow six founding-partner deals the 49ers signed with Anheuser-Busch, Brocade, NRG Energy, SAP, Sony and Violin Memory. Each of those deals are valued in the seven figures annually.

The Marlins, with attendance ranking last in the NL this season, "have decided to close the upper bowl at Marlins Park for at least some weeknight games,” according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The upper bowl, which holds about 10,000 of the stadium's 37,442 seats, “will be closed for six dates during the team’s nine-game homestand that begins next Tuesday.” But it will “remain open" for the May 17-19 games against the D’Backs. Marlins Senior VP/Communications & Broadcasting P.J. Loyello said that the team “has not decided whether to close the upper bowl for all Monday-through-Thursday home games, and decisions will be made before each homestand.” Jackson notes fewer than 500 fans “own season tickets in the upper bowl, and those fans are being moved -- with no additional charge -- to seats in the lower bowl for all Monday-through-Thursday games.” Upper bowl tickets to weeknight games “will continue be sold on," and buyers “will be moved to the lower bowl if the Marlins decide to close the upper bowl on those particular nights.” The Marlins “began this approach during their homestand that was completed last week.” The team did not close the upper deck “for any home games last season," their first in the new stadium (MIAMI HERALD, 5/8).

THIS SPACE FOR LEASE: In Miami, Charles Rabin reports when Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria “cut payroll costs by dismantling the ballclub at the end of last season, it wiped out any immediate hope the city of Miami had of luring retailers to the ballpark.” Two national restaurant chains that had “signed letters of intent to open in the parking garages surrounding the facility backed out of their deals, expressing reservations to the city about dwindling crowds and foot traffic.” Not a single business currently is “operating in the 8,500 square feet of retail space available in three of the four garages fronting the ballpark” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/8).

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee yesterday said that the Dolphins "are 'absolutely not' closing the door on pursuing tax dollars again" for renovations to Sun Life Stadium after their bid for public funding died in the Florida House on Friday, according to Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Dee said, "We’re still going to explore ways to do this. ... This issue is not going to go away” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/8). However Dee noted on WFTL-AM's "The Andy Slater Show" the renovation plans at the moment are done, saying, "We don't have a Plan B." He said it would be “at least two years” before the Dolphins would attempt another referendum, as Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford “is chair for another year." Dee: "I think his position on this matter is now in stone.” He continued, "At the end of the day it really didn’t matter what was done to provide the voters of Miami-Dade County with the choice that they deserved. At the end of the day one guy decided that they didn’t have that choice. He gave us his word that the bill would be heard and unfortunately he didn’t deliver on that word." Dee said the question of why doesn’t Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross use his own money for the renovations “has been asked ad nauseam, and it just doesn’t make sense to do it at this time” (“The Andy Slater Show,” WMEN-AM, 5/7).

: In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes Weatherford yesterday "fired back" at recent criticisms from Dee and Ross, "denying assertions ... that he had promised to bring the bill to a vote and expressing significant doubt that the House would have passed it." Weatherford in a statement said, "At no point during the process were any promises made to hear the Dolphins Stadium bill on the House floor. It’s no coincidence that we haven’t heard about this so-called commitment until after the bill died.” Dee had said that Weatherford "put political motives ahead of the people’s right to vote." But Weatherford said of the bill, "Like 700 of the 1100 bills filed this session, it did not have the necessary support for passage." Volin writes Weatherford "wasn’t sympathetic to the team’s displeasure about paying for the referendum." Weatherford: "Some would call that putting the cart before the horse" (PALM BEACH POST, 5/8). Paul Pabst, the Exec Producer for "The Dan Patrick Show," said, "What’s going to happen here is, the Dolphins are going to pay the price that the Miami Marlins did. It's too bad because the Dolphins are not asking for a brand new stadium. They're asking for a lot of money, but for upgrades so they can have a Super Bowl which they will get if they upgrade the stadium” ("The Crossover," NBC Sports Network, 5/7). CBS' Allie LaForce noted the Dolphins were asking for $3M a year for 30 years. LaForce: "It’s a significant amount of money, but this is a place that has hosted 10 Super Bowls and they want to host a Super Bowl in the near future. It’s a long-term investment.” CBS' Doug Gottlieb said, “There’s stadium envy going on in Miami. See, the Marlins got a beautiful stadium right at the site of the old Orange Bowl in Little Havana and it was publicly funded. And so now the Dolphins are like, ‘Wait a second, we’ve drawn better, we get Super Bowls, we bring people to the city of Miami, to Ft. Lauderdale and all the other cities around, we deserve a new stadium with public funds just like the Marlins’" ("Lead Off," CBS Sports Network, 5/7).

A recently launched campaign in support of the Oilers' proposed downtown Edmonton arena is "raising the heat in a high-stakes fight by sending some councillors more emails than they’ve received on any other issue," according to Gordon Kent of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. As the Edmonton City Council "prepares for the latest arena showdown" tonight, council member Jane Batty said that she has "received almost 800 messages from people who want the city, the province and Oilers owner Daryl Katz to get a deal done." Batty: “It encompasses every kind of business and industry in Edmonton you can think of." Kent notes the council will "debate an administration recommendation Wednesday to give final approval to a master agreement with Katz that doesn’t specify the source of the arena money" or the C$14M to complete the "adjoining community rink" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8). Edmonton council member Karen Leibovici said of tonight's vote, "It’s anyone’s guess" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/8). In Edmonton, David Staples writes Edmonton taxpayers have "already done plenty to push ahead" with the proposed C$480M arena. It is "time for those who will benefit most from the new arena -- especially out-of-town Oilers fans and concert goers, and Oilers owner Daryl Katz -- to find the missing" C$55M to finalize the deal. There are "last minute talks between the Katz Group and city officials to that end, but the deal is on life-support." But to "secure NHL hockey here in the long term, we need a new building." Rexall Place is "cramped and uncomfortable" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8).

IN NEED OF A POWER PLAY: The EDMONTON JOURNAL's Paula Simons wrote the idea of getting Katz, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Alberta Premier Alison Redford together "to hammer out a deal isn’t realistic." It is an "exercise in wishful thinking." About the "only power" the Downtown Vibrancy Coalition has is to "pressure wavering city councillors ... to support the deal." If Edmonton's "corporate elites are really so crazy about this arena idea, why haven’t they brought any real support to the table?" It would be a "genuine show of good faith if Edmonton’s corporate sector suggested something to break the impasse" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/7).

The Chicago Park District BOD's agenda for today's meeting implies that Aramark is “in line to win a new 10-year contract as the exclusive concessions provider at Soldier Field," according to Danny Ecker of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. The contract, which is contingent on the BOD’s approval, will “end a 10-year run” by Delaware North Cos.’ Sportservice. Aramark "beat out three other proposals" (, 5/7). Aramark ran the food at Soldier Field for several years prior to the stadium’s reconstruction that was completed in '03, at which point Sportservice took over the account. The Bears’ deal marks the third NFL win for Aramark in 11 months. Last season, the concessionaire took over premium dining for the Browns at First Energy Stadium. In January, the Buccaneers selected Aramark to operate all food service and retail at Raymond James Stadium (Don Muret, Staff Writer).

I AM LEGENDS: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Muret reports Legends Hospitality has “signed a multiyear deal with the Washington Redskins to cater the 280 suites at FedExField, its biggest food account beyond Cowboys Stadium and Yankee Stadium.” Redskins and Legends officials would not disclose contract terms, but Legends Senior VP/Hospitality Mike Phillips said that the company “will invest a ‘substantial’ amount of capital to upgrade the premium side of the business.” Muret writes the “high-profile NFL account is a big victory for Legends,” whose growth has “lagged behind that of sister division Legends Sales and Marketing, which has expanded through deals to sell premium seats for the 49ers, Jaguars and Jets, among others.” Legends “replaces R&R Catering, a small local company that fed suite patrons the past four NFL seasons.” The Redskins chose Legends “after having discussions with R&R, in addition to Aramark, Centerplate and Levy Restaurants.” Sportservice officials said that the company “did not speak with the Redskins.” Phillips said that Legends “plans to develop a program with local chefs serving their signature recipes at FedExField.” Legends “officially took over the premium food operation last week,” and most of the upgrades “should be in place" by the Redskins' preseason opener on Aug. 19 (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/6 issue).

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando City Soccer Club Owner & President Phil Rawlins are "frantically searching for a Plan B” in their efforts to build a $110M soccer stadium after the Florida Legislature last week failed to vote on a measure to provide state funding for stadium construction, according to Schlueb & Damron of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs has said that she “wants to look at reducing the cost” of the proposed stadium, aimed at securing an MLS team in Orlando. Dyer said that it “might be possible to pare down the stadium's price tag.” But Schlueb & Damron note if there is “too much cost-cutting, the facility could lose suites, video advertising boards and other features that would generate money needed to operate the venue.” Jacobs also has “raised the possibility" of using an estimated $10-20M in projected revenue from naming rights to help pay for construction. But Rawlins “insisted that future naming-rights revenues should go to the team and not be part of the capital-financing plan.” Dyer, responding to the notion that Orlando could follow a model similar to the MLS Earthquakes' privately-financed $60M stadium currently under construction, said that he is “not willing to sacrifice quality.” He added, “We want to do a decent-quality stadium, not a cut-rate stadium. We started building quality buildings here, with the Amway Center and the performing-arts center. San Jose is kind of like a high-school stadium." Dyer said that he and Rawlins have “discussed the possibility" of the team increasing its $30M contribution (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/8).

In Phoenix, Kent Somers notes construction is under way at the NFL Cardinals’ Tempe HQs on a 78,000-square feet indoor practice facility, and "completion is targeted for late this summer.” The Cardinals are paying the entire $4.2M "cost of building the facility.” The team is “not returning to Flagstaff, where it’s held summer training camp every year but one since coming to Arizona" in '88. They have yet to settle on a site for this summer, but Glendale is "believed to be the leading option” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/8).

PARKS & REC: The USTA yesterday said that it has "reached an agreement with New York City over a contentious plan to acquire a strip of parkland in Queens as part of an overhaul of facilities" for the U.S. Open. In N.Y., Michael Schwirtz notes the USTA as part of the deal “agreed to give the city 1.56 acres of parkland that it already controlled in exchange for the 0.68-acre plot, which consists mostly of a paved pathway.” The plot will be “incorporated into renovation plans for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8).
HOOP GAME: In Hartford, Paul Doyle notes the XL Center is “under consideration” to host both the men's and women's American Athletic Conference basketball tournaments. Reps for incoming building manager Global Spectrum “have been in discussions with conference officials, and the company is responding to a request for proposal.” The conference is “considering several sites, including the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.” Mohegan Sun officials are “bidding for both tournaments, and the building is considered a strong candidate for the women's tournament" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/8).

IN THE LOOP: Cicso announced that it is installing its Connected Stadium Wi-Fi at EPL club Manchester City’s 47,000-seat Etihad Stadium in the coming weeks. The network will be delivered by mobile company O2. The EPL club also will soon add Cisco's StadiumVision Mobile (Cisco).