Newark officials on Thursday said that the city, the Devils and the Newark Housing Authority "signed off on a lease agreement" for Prudential Center, potentially "ending years of acrimony between the parties," according to David Giambusso of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. One of the "last stumbling blocks in the deal" was roughly $4M in legal fees owed to the housing authority from the city, "after the city unsuccessfully fought the revenue sharing deal in court." Officials said that the Newark City Council "approved that money last week." However, one "caveat remains." The Newark Housing Authority has to "negotiate with the city to relieve itself of its responsibilities and allow the city's parking authority to take over as the arena landlord -- a role held by the housing authority" since the arena began constriction in '05. As part of the deal, Newark will build a "parking deck next to the municipal courthouse on Green Street and the Devils will rent a significant number of spaces, guaranteeing income for the city." Newark also will pay the Devils $2.7M per year "in parking revenue for other lots surrounding the arena, as mandated by arbitrators last year." Meanwhile, the city will impose a 1.37% tax "on all tickets" to Devils, WNBA Liberty and Seton Hall Univ. basketball games. For other events, "like concerts and conventions, the city and the Devils will share a $1.25 facility fee per ticket that will increase after five years" (NJ.com, 6/13). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Heather Haddon cites data from Pollstar as showing that Prudential Center did $23.7M in "ticket sales last year." The fees are "expected to generate" an estimated $2M a year for the city, "even with the loss" of the Nets (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/14).
Attorneys for the Steelers and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority "disagreed Thursday over which entity is responsible for paying for 3,000 additional seats at Heinz Field," according to Adam Brandolph of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Their arguments hinged on two paragraphs in the team's lease of Heinz Field from the SEA that talk about capital improvements." Steelers attorney Arthur Stroyd Jr. said that the seating upgrade to the south end of the stadium "should be considered a capital improvement, and the SEA should be forced to pay two-thirds of the cost," or roughly $20M. SEA attorney Walter DeForest contended that the upgrade is "a 'modification' of the stadium and does not meet the lease's definition of a capital improvement." The SEA wants the Steelers "to foot the entire cost of the upgrades." The seating issue is "part of a larger disagreement over upgrades at the 12-year-old stadium." The Steelers also want to "add a scoreboard to the north end zone and be repaid for refurbishing its audio-visual control room." The total cost of the upgrades "has been estimated at about" $40M (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/14). In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko notes the Steelers "took the dispute to court after a deal to finance the stadium fell apart." The proposed agreement would have "funded the extra seats through a $1 increase in an existing surcharge on Steelers tickets and a new parking surcharge of $2 to $3 at lost around Heinz Field during home games." Team officials hoped to have the new south endzone seats "in place before the start of next season, but they have since given up on that idea because of the dispute over the financing" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/14).
The CFL has told the Blue Bombers that they "cannot host a Grey Cup until they enclose" the press box at the recently opened Investors Group Field, according to Gary Lawless of the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS. The CFL is "working with the club to have that done sooner rather than later," and is "sending a delegation to Winnipeg to have a closer look at the press box and to try and come up with solutions." The league "won’t prevent the Bombers from hosting a playoff game this season," but will be "pressuring the club to come to a quick fix." Meanwhile, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league would "simply absorb the cost of creating its own indoor press box if Winnipeg was granted an outdoor game and the situation had not been rectified" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 6/14). In Winnipeg, David Larkins notes Blue Bombers execs on Thursday "vowed to make immediate improvements to the game-day operations around Investors Group Field." Team President & CEO Garth Buchko "thanked fans for their patience and acknowledged Winnipeggers did everything that was asked of them in the lead-up to the new stadium’s pre-season football debut on Wednesday." But his efforts were "in vain for many who got stuck in traffic or found Winnipeg Transit buses full and unable to accommodate them." Buchko said, "I wouldn’t say it was a disaster but it was certainly disappointing. When we don’t satisfy our customers, it’s disappointing." Buchko added that "one option would be to open parking lots on campus earlier than 90 minutes before kickoff" (WINNIPEG SUN, 6/14).
Everett, Mass.-based attorney and restaurateur Joseph Marchese Jr. has "offered to outbid the Red Sox for a license to sell food and drink along Yawkey Way on game days at Fenway Park, throwing a curveball at the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s exclusive negotiations with the ball club," according to Callum Borchers of the BOSTON GLOBE. Marchese in a letter said that he would "pay $3 million for a 10-year contract." His offer is "roughly double the annual rate paid by the Sox since the franchise began leasing the public street" during the '03 season. Marchese said that he is "considering suing the agency on the grounds that he is being denied 'the opportunity to be competitive and make a living,'" and that he would "sublet space on Yawkey Way to private food vendors approved by the BRA and might reserve a couple of food stations for himself." Former Massachusetts Inspector General Gregory Sullivan in a December letter wrote that the BRA's claim to rightfully control the street is "dubious because it is based on a determination that the thriving area around Fenway Park is a slum in need of redevelopment." Sullivan added that if the city "grants another license after the Red Sox contract expires at the end of this season, it should conduct open bidding." The BRA to sign another no-bid contract with the Red Sox would "have to exercise its eminent domain power again, maintaining that the strip of Yawkey Way is a blighted area" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/14).