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Volume 24 No. 159


Daytona Int’l Speedway has been given the green light for a major facelift. The ISC BOD on Friday approved a $375-400M renovation of the track, and ISC officially announced the project this morning with the tagline “Daytona Rising, Reimagining an American Icon.” Construction starts July 8. Completion is targeted for Jan. 1, 2016, and the facility will remain open during the two-and-a-half year project, DIS officials said. The upgrades will greatly expand the track’s grandstand along the front stretch with longer, wider concourses, more concessions and dozens of escalators. ISC will fund the overhaul with cash from its ongoing operations. The track sought close to $75M in tax breaks from the state of Florida, but legislators rejected the request last month. As a result, ISC committed to financing the entire project and modified the scope of the renovation. Officials eliminated the midway piece, a long stretch with green space leading to the track’s entrances designed for year-round activities outside the facility. The midway will be part of future improvements, said DIS President Joie Chitwood III. Track officials will continue to pursue public financing from the state of Florida, he said. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for July 5. The track released interior images of the facility in February that showed plans for reducing the number of entrances at DIS from 17 to five. The renovated track will divide the existing, single grandstand into three concourse levels, which will reduce the number of stairs fans have to descend to reach concessions. The new concourses will include 11 “neighborhoods,” each the size of a football field, to serve as fan destinations outside the seating bowl. There also will be new suites and premium seating options. Sports architect Rossetti is designing the renovation. Construction firm Barton Malow, currently working on the $195M Rose Bowl renovation, is the general contractor (Mickle & Muret, Staff Writers).

SEATING TO BE REDUCED: In Daytona Beach, Eileen Zaffiro-Kean reports DIS after the renovations “will have about 101,000 permanent seats with the potential to increase permanent seating to 125,000.” That will be down from the 146,000 seats currently at the track. However, DIS officials said that there will be “no capacity changes” for next year’s Daytona 500. The decrease in capacity “could occur in stages” after next year’s 500 and will “include the complete removal of the backstretch grandstand by the start of the 2016 motorsports season.” The renovations “will impact some ancillary events" at the Speedway through '14, but “major races will be held as scheduled.” DIS officials indicated that they will have “additional information on events beyond 2014 after they complete their full construction schedule” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/18).

The Senators today announced Canadian Tire has signed a long-term deal for the naming rights to the team's home arena. The deal, which will see the arena renamed Canadian Tire Centre, goes into effect on July 1 and all signage is slated to be in place before the start of the '13-14 NHL season. Canadian Tire will get digital, scoreboard and in-ice signage in addition to the building itself. The company will be the title sponsor of all Senators broadcasts on Sportsnet. On-site branding opportunities will be available for many brands under the Canadian Tire umbrella (Senators). In Ottawa, Ken Warren notes the arena has been known as Scotiabank Place since a 15-year, C$20M deal was signed in October '06. While the Scotiabank name "will come off the building, the bank will continue its association" with the team. Meanwhile, the deal with Canadian Tire marks a "continuation of an aggressive recent campaign by the company to align itself with sports organizations throughout the country -- both at the professional and amateur levels." It has "steadily increased its association with the NHL in recent years." Canadian Tire since August '10 "has been the official sporting goods retailer of the NHL in Canada and has a separate sponsorship agreement" with Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 6/18). Also in Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch cites a source as saying that the Scotiabank deal is "no longer in place because the bank doesn't serve as a financial backer" and Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk "had the right to find a new partner." This will be "the third time since the 20,500-seat building opened it will undergo a name change." It was called The Palladium in January '96 "until Corel Corp. bought the rights and renamed it Corel Centre" (OTTAWA SUN, 6/18). Scotiabank still retains naming rights to the Flames' Scotiabank Saddledome after signing a deal in October '10 (THE DAILY).

The Falcons and a stadium committee of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority gave 360 Architecture the "go ahead to focus its efforts on a concept dubbed 'Pantheon'” for the team's new downtown stadium, according to a front-page piece by Leon Stafford of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. In addition to the "angular profile and retractable roof, it includes a wall of glass that looks toward the downtown skyline and a video board that encircles the roof opening." The concept selection is the "latest step in bringing the new field, slated to open in 2017, to life." The new building, at 1.8 million square feet, will be "larger than the 1.6 million-square-foot Georgia Dome." Seating will be "about the same at 70,000-plus." The Falcons last week selected Holder Construction Group as the project's general contractor. The concept, "called 'Pantheon' -- the name of a Roman temple with an opening in its domed roof -- was one of two considered." The other, called “Solarium,” included a "larger roof opening and more glass but lacked upper-level end-zone seats" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/18). 360 Senior Principal Bill Johnson said that he "wanted the stadium placed" on the south site adjacent to the Georgia Dome to "create a 'window on the world' with a view of Atlanta for people inside the stadium so everyone could see the skyline." In Atlanta, Saporta & Wenk noted the roof will "still open with sections along tracks, even though the sections might now be bigger to accommodate a larger opening." But Johnson said that the building will "have the flexibility to be as open or closed as desired." The area around the stadium will be "designed like a promenade." Once the Georgia Dome is demolished, that space will be "turned into an outdoor lawn of grass that will be used for tailgating during game days but as a common space for outdoor events on other days" (, 6/17).

APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY: WSB-ABC's Dave Huddleston reported the stadium design concept was "approved unanimously without discussion by the six-person Stadium Development Committee." In addition to the retractable roof, the stadium would include 180 luxury boxes and 7,500 club-level seats, more of both than at the Georgia Dome. All of the designs were from the southside location, but Georgia World Congress Center Chair Frank Poe said the design could be altered if the location changed. Poe: "It's a design that can work really in either location, so we're very excited about the design that we've seen." Poe added that the "petition drive to force the city to have voters' input" on spending $200M of public money on the project "hasn't slowed down their progress so far and doesn't anticipate that it will" (WSB-ABC, 6/18).

The Jazz yesterday "unveiled plans for an upgraded audio and video system at EnergySolutions Arena, including upgraded high-definition screens above center court, LED rings around the top of the lower bowl and auxiliary screens in the corners of the arena," according to Bill Oram of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The screens over center court are "10 times larger on the sides than the current scoreboard," which was installed in '01. The audio and video upgrades are the "most visible component" of $15M in renovations at the venue. The Jazz, who partnered with Utah-based Yesco on the project, said that the changes "will significantly enhance the fan experience" at the arena. The upgrades "represent some of the most significant since the arena opened in 1991 as the Delta Center." The screens above center court will "measure 42 feet long and 24 feet high on the sides, and 26-by-17 on the ends facing each baseline," while screens "on the soon-to-be former scoreboard were 10-by-10." All of the video components are "expected to be installed before the start of the NBA exhibition season in mid-October." Miller Sports Properties President Steve Miller, whose company owns/operates the arena, said that "any other upgrades to the NBA’s seventh-oldest arena are five to 15 years down the road" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/18). In Utah, Jody Genessy notes the new scoreboard above center court will be "built in a way that will allow for future additions." Its screens will "refresh 200 times faster than most household TVs." Miller said that the video and audio improvements were a "game-changer when it comes to overall game experiences' for fans and spectators of other events" (DESERET NEWS, 6/18).

A's Owner Lew Wolff yesterday said that he has "no plans to talk" to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig about Coliseum and the "urgency of the club's stadium situation in the wake of a plumbing issue that flooded the Coliseum's baseball clubhouses with sewage Sunday," according to Carl Steward of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Wolff added that he "wouldn't use this short-term problem in his long-range push for a new stadium in San Jose." He "downplayed the notion that this might give him extra ammunition to force the hand of Major League Baseball to act on the A's stadium situation, which has been stalled for several years under a panel appointed by Selig to assess the team's options." Wolff said that Sunday's sewage problem was "just the latest issue of many the A's have encountered with the Coliseum's aging plumbing." He added, "It's not a rare occasion for us, maybe not this extensively, but it's happened several times." Wolff said that the club was working with AEG, which manages the ballpark for the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, to "resolve the issue before the A's return home June 25 after a six-game trip and that he did not foresee any hang-ups." He added that there are "no plans to play in another venue if the Coliseum isn't ready." Repairs already are "under way to replace carpet and find the blockage that caused the flood on the stadium's lower level." Wolff said that it was the "second Coliseum sewage issue he had encountered in the past week" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/18). Wolff: "Everyone agrees we need a new venue somewhere. It was more of an accident caused by being a very old facility that's hard to maintain. It's no slur on Oakland or the JPA. They're trying their best" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/18). 

NOTHING NEW: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes it would be "humorous if this was the first time this occurred, but it happens with such regularity, Wolff and A's general manager Billy Beane say, they've almost become immune to having that can of Lysol close by." D'Backs P Brad Ziegler, who played four years with the A's, said, "It was just a matter of time. When I played there, four or five times a year you smelled sewage. You never saw it dripping, but when it smelled that way you knew it had to be leaking somewhere." Nightengale writes the Coliseum is an "eyesore nobody wants to fix," and the A's "continue to endure the elements while the franchise and the Giants merely stare each other down across the backyard fence" (USA TODAY, 6/18). CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce said, “You want people to come to the games, you want to sell out. They finally get a sell-out crowd ... not at the end of the season but pretty early in the season, and you can’t even hold it.” CBSSN's Doug Gottlieb: “There’s some great history in that stadium but that’s what it is, it’s history. You have to get them a new building” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/17). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said of the ballpark, "That's the biggest dump in American sports, worse than Candlestick even" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/17).

SELIG DESERVES BLAME? In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes, "No one deserves more blame than Bud Selig." Instead of "boldly carving a path for such a sensible move, Selig has chosen to be intimidated" by the Giants' claim of territorial rights. A commissioner who has been "bold in so many other areas ... has decided in this one particular area to be so namby-pamby." It is now "clear that the commissioner wants nothing to do with untangling the A's situation during the rest of his term" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/18).

The 49ers yesterday announced a sponsorship deal that makes Yahoo the sports content, social networking, and photo/video sharing partner for both the team and Levi's Stadium. The 10-year agreement runs through the '23 season. Yahoo's sponsorship assets will include entitlement and branding of the Fantasy Football lounge and its two adjacent viewing platforms in the suite tower. Yahoo also receives integration within the stadium as well as via broadcast and digital media (49ers). In S.F., Katie Dowd writes, "Yahoo's fantasy football empire is the most obvious and natural tie-in for the 49ers." The team also plans to "integrate fantasy football into the game-day experience throughout the stadium." Flickr will "provide the photo sharing component of the deal." Flickr booths will be "set up around the stadium concourse" where fans can upload their photos, and "some will be shown on the big screens" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/18). Yahoo Senior VP/Brand Creative Bob Stohrer said that the company "wanted to be part of a stadium he said would 'set a new standard' for technologically advanced NFL home fields." Stohrer "conceded fans could still upload photos to non-Yahoo social media sites such as Instagram or Facebook but hopes the possibility of seeing their shots on the 190-foot-wide scoreboard during the second half of 49ers games would be enough incentive for fans to use Flickr" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/18).'s Greg Barto wrote partnerships like the 49ers-Yahoo deal are "becoming more commonplace in the sports world," as tech companies "have been no stranger" to stadium naming-rights deals. While financial terms were not disclosed, "one can assume that such a high-profile stadium set to host the Super Bowl in three years can charge quite a premium" (, 6/17).

AEG and MGM Resorts Int’l have selected Populous to design a new arena in Las Vegas, according to Tim Romani, president and CEO of Icon Venue Group, the owners' representative for the project. AEG and MGM announced last month they had formed a joint venture to build the privately financed facility. The total project cost is $350M, of which $225-250M is hard construction costs. The 20,000-seat arena is scheduled to break ground in the summer of ‘14 and open in the spring of ‘16. The site, between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts, just off the Vegas Strip, is the centerpiece of a redevelopment by MGM, owner of those two properties. There is no proposed major league tenant for the arena, but it will be designed to NBA and NHL standards, similar to Sprint Center in K.C., Romani said. Driving the project for MGM is the need for a larger facility to book events tied to its resorts, company officials said. Populous Senior Principal Chris Carver is the architect’s principal-in-charge. Project designers include Kurt Amundsen. Design firms AECOM and Gensler also competed for the project. Next week, Icon Venue Group will start the process for selecting a construction manager, Romani said. For AEG, the development comes six years after the L.A. firm formed a joint venture with Harrah’s to build an NHL arena in Vegas. Populous was the architect for that project, which fell apart during the recession.

With IMG Worldwide up for sale, it "remains to be seen" how the IMG Academy will be impacted, according to Charles Schelle of the BRADENTON HERALD. IMG Performance Managing Dir Sam Zussman said that he "held a meeting recently with IMG Academy staff to discuss the sale." He told his staff that it is "business as usual" at the Bradenton, Fla., facility. Speculation about the sale comes as IMG Academy is "in the midst" of a $36M, 100-plus-acre expansion, "including a 5,000-seat multisport stadium, a new residence hall for students, new track and field area and a 40,000-square-foot field house to open in two phases this year." The project received $2.3M from the state this year to "help attract more events." Zussman said that working at IMG beneath an equity firm ownership "hasn't hindered the academy's efforts, which has added 300 employees over the years, acquired 110 acres for expansion" and invested $50M in existing facilities. The academy's multi-sport stadium set to open in August can "host worldwide broadcasts thanks to its TV-ready lights and a broadcast-style press box." The second phase, set to open in December, will "feature a 40,000-square-foot fieldhouse with locker rooms, meeting spaces and offices." The third phase in '14 will "include an expanded research and development lab for sports performance companies such as Gatorade, Under Armor, Airweave, Prince tennis and motion-capture software company Motus Global, providing a powerful sports technology hub for the new owner." A sale could "even provide a broader mix of available sports events or talent that could use IMG Academy." Zussman said that each potential buyer will have their "own vision for how these units fit together, but the Academy has strategic plans to ensure stability ... both in three-year plans and longer-term visioning" (BRADENTON HERALD, 6/15).