Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney last week added new demands to the Cubs' $300M Wrigley Field renovation plan, but before that, he "seemed to already have been bought" on the undertaking, according to Matt Spiegel of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. Tunney months ago had "signed his name to the Wrigley restoration 'framework agreement.'" So "why the violent turnaround" last week? Tunney is "trying to appear loyal to his residents." He has to "ensure his next decade of favorable treatment by non-Cubs entities." There are "campaign contributions still to collect." The "duplicity continued" at last week's Landmark Association hearing, when Tunney "opposed something he'd already supported in writing: expanding Wrigley's footprint." Tunney and his constituents "need to understand why their property has so much value, and stop complaining about the airplane noises when they choose to live by the airport" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 6/30).
PATIENCE GROWING THIN: In Chicago, Fran Spielman writes city Mayor Rahm Emanuel has "been patient" with Tunney when it "comes to the marathon debate over renovating Wrigley." But there comes a time when debate on a $500M private investment "needs to end and the jackhammers begin." That will "likely require Emanuel to do what he has, so far, refused to do: play the heavy by riding herd over a local alderman." A source said, "The goal is not to burn a bridge with an alderman. You need a good relationship with the City Council. I don’t care how powerful you are. The mayor has tried to put it off as long as possible. But this is too close to potentially happening to let it get away. The problem with Tunney is he can’t stick with a deal" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/30). Also in Chicago, Rick Telander writes, "It seems every ounce of Cubs energy goes into the Wrigley Field rebuilding mess." You wonder if the Ricketts family "had any idea what it was buying when it got this franchise" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/1).
DePaul Univ. has selected Legends Sales & Marketing to sell naming rights for its proposed 10,000-seat arena in Chicago. Sources said that the school’s community relations office is expected to confirm the deal this week after a contract is signed. In May, DePaul -- a private school and a member of the new Big East -- and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to build a $173M arena across the street from McCormick Place in the city’s South Loop neighborhood. The city and the university plan to share construction costs for a facility that would serve as the new home for DePaul men’s and women’s basketball. The arena also is a key piece of Emanuel’s $1B plan to upgrade the city’s tourism industry. Project officials expect to break ground in '14 and the arena would open in time for the '16-17 college basketball season. Legends previously brokered the naming-rights deal for the Univ. of Nebraska's recently opened Pinnacle Bank Arena. The company also has outsourcing deals with several schools to sell season tickets for basketball and football.
The latest proposals to redevelop Nassau Coliseum "haven't yet met any significant political opposition," unlike previous efforts, according to Paul LaRocco of NEWSDAY. All of the projects "would be privately financed," unlike a failed '11 county referendum to authorize up to $400M in borrowing for a new arena. With the Islanders set to move to Barclays Center in '15 and the "local economy still struggling, there's a new urgency among public officials who want to avoid having 77 empty acres in the heart of Nassau County." Officials said that the new proposals also "lack the density and impact on traffic and schools that could have resulted" from Islanders Owner Charles Wang's $3.8B, 8.8-million-square-foot Lighthouse plan. Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said, "First and foremost, the Lighthouse project was too big. It didn't fit with roadway infrastructure, and other systems wouldn't have been able to support it." Murray added that the new proposals "fit zoning for the area that the town created after the Lighthouse failed." RXR Realty Chair & CEO Scott Rechler, now a co-developer with MSG on its proposal, said that the loss of the Islanders has "removed the need for dense development to fund an arena with a pro team" (NEWSDAY, 6/30).
Nearly the entire east side of the Toyota Center service level "has been gutted," the first step in a $4M project to "rebuild the team’s training center," according to Jonathan Feigen of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Rockets CEO Tad Brown said that the timing was "influenced by free agency, with the organization determined to begin the project in time to present as part of the pitch in free agency and to be completed by the start of next season’s camp." Brown said, "It’s making sure we’re creating the best basketball facility we possibly can for the players and the people who are working on the basketball operations and team staffs. ... We wanted to create a basketball operations complex where everybody is together and it’s very free-flowing. ... It’s one location. It’s all on one side of the building." Feigen noted recruiting "might not have been the motivation, but players have been known to talk about the top training facilities around the NBA." Rockets Senior VP/Basketball Operations & Head Athletic Trainer Keith Jones said, "I think it helps a lot. Some guys are into the wow factor. And NBA guys talk and tell you how good they have it or how their teams take care of them. I think it’s an advantage to have a state-of-the-art facility. I think it’s a great recruiting tool and it’s really important. Everything evolves. Sports medicine has evolved. Strength training and performance has evolved. We’re able to catch up and move ahead" (CHRON.com, 6/28).
YEAR TWO DRAW: In N.Y., Harvey Araton wrote the Nets "needed more star power" in order to build on Barclays Center's "first-year drawing power." With the acquisition of Fs Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the "deconstructing Celtics, the Nets became the talk, if not the toast, of Planet NBA." Along with "stealing the Knicks' thunder," the Nets "corralled two mainstays of the Knicks' most compelling rival" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/29).