Water inside the Scotiabank Saddledome by yesterday evening "was down a couple of feet," and that is a "significant development, but it is still a long way from allowing Flames officials to determine the extent of the damage," according to Scott Cruickshank of the CALGARY HERALD. The Flames’ recovery team "regroups" today. Flames President & CEO Ken King on Saturday said, "We’re going to be ready for the opening of the season" (CALGARY HERALD, 6/24). In Calgary, Eric Francis reported King "would not venture a guess as to how many millions of dollars in damages there were, nor would he speculate on when the building could start to be cleared or eventually be open for business again." King "gave a frank assessment of what he saw" in the Saddledome "shortly before providing disturbing pictures and video of the carnage." King said, "It's a mess. The tales of it being up to row eight or nine are absolutely true. ... It is a total loss on the event level. To the extent it is greater than that we do not know." Francis reported the "Zambonis, the video control room, archived footage of the team, most memorabilia, the dressing rooms, kitchens and the media lounge are all destroyed." King and Saddledome VP/Operations Libby Raines "debunked reports the Jumbotron itself was sitting on the arena floor when the water started pouring in Friday morning." Francis: "A frustrating lockout and a recovering economy previously helped delay the Flames plans to launch arena plans." However, the door is "now ajar for open discussion on a [C]$500 or $600 million project that will include requests for government to chip in." King: "We need to put the building back in service. In the event we started construction of a new building today that’s probably a two-and-a-half to three-year process and you couldn’t partially put this building back together waiting for that new building. It’s germane to that discussion" (CALGARY SUN, 6/23).
COMMON PROBLEM: King said that he has "spoken to" Predators GM David Poile, whose team "faced fallout from a flood during the spring" of '10. King said that he also "has been in touch" with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and added that the "topic of contingency scheduling was never discussed." King said of the Saddledome, "It’s a total loss. There was nothing saved. All the mechanical equipment -- including the equipment which drives our JumboTron equipment -- is, at this moment, under about 15 feet of water and not salvageable, I assume" (CALGARYHERALD.com, 6/22). The CP's Donna Spencer noted the facility has been "a part of the lifeblood of the city since it was built" in '83 for the arrival of the Flames and the '88 Winter Olympics. In addition to "serving as the home arena" of the Flames, WHL Hitmen and NLL Roughnecks, it is a "concert venue as well as exhibition space for the Calgary Stampede, which opens July 5." King "couldn’t begin to put a dollar figure on the loss." But he said, "We believe our insurance is full and intact and will cover us for this eventuality" (CP, 6/22). The CALGARY SUN's Francis noted the facility is "owned by the city but operated by the Flames as part of a lease agreement that ends" in '14 (CALGARYSUN.com, 6/21).
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg last week said the notion of the team relocating to another city is "very unrealistic," according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSPORTS.com. He added, "There’s certainly been a lot of discussion, from others within baseball, that we should get the hell out of there. It’s not in my makeup to do that. I am committed to doing whatever I can, until I can no longer do it, to make it work there." He said of a possible new stadium, "You’ve got to figure out the proper location, whether it’s 10 yards from where we’re playing or 30 miles. Then you have to figure out if it’s feasible. Then you have to go through the approvals and everything else. Even if you have a location, just to get that OK’d takes years. Then it takes years to actually build the thing. At some point in the next few years, we’ve got to have it figured out." He added, "I think there’s been a capitulation around the area that there’s no way in heck it’s going to work where we are. Let’s figure out the reason and go from there. We need to get at it in earnest and try to come up with answers. We don’t want to go forward with something and have it not work."
A CHANGE IN TONE: Sternberg said of his discussions with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster regarding the team exploring its options with other municipalities, "We’ve talked. He recognizes it’s not our marketing efforts. I believe he’s recognized we are really, really doing everything we can -- and that we’re sort of all out of ideas at this point. That doesn’t mean it’s going to change the situation. But I feel better. At least it promotes a different kind of dialogue." He added of other MLB owners wanting the team to relocate if a new stadium can not be built, "I think ours is the only franchise -- maybe I’m mistaken -- that has been to the World Series (recently) and we still had to take a lot of money in revenue sharing. The fact that all the other owners are consistently writing checks to us and see no way to get out of it, some of this will be their desires" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/22).
While the NFL is the only league that will keep fans from "bringing most purses and almost all other types of bags" into games this year, other sports leagues and venues "are watching closely," according to a front-page piece by Jeff Mosier of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. National Center for Spectator Sports Safety And Security Dir Lou Marciani said that he "wouldn’t be surprised if other sports adopt a version of the rules when their new seasons start this fall and next spring." MLB is "reaching out to the NFL to find out more about this decision." The differences among the sports "could be as much a factor as how well the rules work for the NFL." MLB PR Senior Dir Mike Teevan said that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office has "asked the league’s security to consult with teams about the best practices for handling fans’ bags at games." Teevan said that any new policy would be "implemented at all 30 stadiums although there is no deadline." MLB will be "watching how the rules work at NFL stadiums." Teevan in an e-mail wrote, "We want to understand what moved them to take this step and consider whether it is necessary in our game, where fan characteristics and their expectations might be different from those of the NFL." Meanwhile, the NBA will "mandate that teams have a separate security line for those carrying no bags." NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said the league will make other "adjustments and improvements as we see fit." NHL officials are "tight-lipped about the possibility of any changes." Marciani said that the "next major advances in stadium security will probably be technological, such as remote sensors for detecting explosives or gunpowder." For now, the leagues "might be running out of new ways to enhance searches at stadium and arena gates" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/24).
In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville agreeing to share the costs for $63M worth of scoreboard enhancements at EverBank Field "might seem outlandish, but it's also a vast improvement on many fronts.” It is “obvious there's a better relationship between the parties" since Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan and President Mark Lamping came aboard. But the “most important change is the mind-set of city leaders and team executives to be more proactive in generating revenue.” Jacksonville often “took the wait-and-see approach on facilities.” But that strategy “doesn't work in an NFL age where teams are more proactive in spending money to generate revenue” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 6/22).
SAFETY FIRST:In Daytona Beach, Dinah Voyles-Pulver reported a “project to reinforce crossover gates” in Daytona Int'l Speedway’s track safety fencing that “failed to stop crash debris from injuring fans in a February race" started last week. DIS Media Relations Senior Manager Andrew Booth on Friday said that the work “will be completed prior to the Coke Zero 400 weekend July 5-6.” The reinforcements were “prompted by a last lap crash in the DRIVE4COPD Nationwide Series race on Feb. 23 that destroyed a car driven by rookie Kyle Larson” and injured 28 fans (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/22).
HERE TO STAY:In DC, Dan Steinberg noted Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder’s private equity firm “sold Johnny Rockets earlier this month,” but the chain “absolutely” will continue to be represented inside FedExField. Johnny Rockets President & CEO John Fuller said that the chain “continues to have a contract with Centerplate,” which handles FedExField concessions. Fuller added Snyder and his business partners “are still huge fans of the brand, so that is not going to change at all despite them selling the company for business reasons” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/21).
LET'S HAVE A CHAT:In Raleigh, Chip Alexander reported Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford and N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson “met Friday to discuss scheduling issues at PNC Arena.” Rutherford said, "It was a good meeting and we'll continue to communicate and work on it." He added that a “second meeting would be held within the next month” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/22).