Anaheim officials said that city-owned Angel Stadium needs upgrades costing up to $150M "over the next decade or so, an issue that might become part of lease negotiations with the baseball team," according to Sarah Tully of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. City and Angels officials are "determining the long-term needs of the 47-year-old stadium." A draft report shows that renovations would cost between $120-150M for fixes, ranging from a "new electrical system to seats." Anaheim Convention Center, Sports & Entertainment Exec Director Tom Morton said that the report is "expected to be completed in several months or perhaps a year." The city and the Angels are "splitting the $135,000 cost of the report." There are "no safety concerns." Anaheim and Angels officials have "yet to determine who would pay for any work on the stadium," which is leased and managed by the team. The Angels are "expected to stay in town," but the proposed renovations will "likely be part of negotiations on the Angel Stadium lease." The team can "terminate the current one, which expires in 2029, as early as" '16. The city and the Angels have "shared the tab for renovations before." As part of the current lease approved in '96, then-Angels-Owner Disney "picked up" $97M of the cost while the city put in $20M (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/3).
Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said the WiFi installation throughout Dodger Stadium has been the "thorniest of all our renovations," as a projected June completion has been pushed back into "later in the summer," according to J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Kasten said that the process of wiring the 51-year-old ballpark has "been a test of his staff's mechanical and legal know-how." He added, "Drilling, wiring, permits to place towers, but that (getting the permits) hasn't been an issue. We've had outstanding cooperation from the city of Los Angeles." Hoornstra notes the Dodgers were "supposed to be enjoying" strong All-Star Game voting results in part due to the WiFi access. However, in addition to that being delayed, several players "underperformed and got injured, and the all-star voting predictably tanked." Meanwhile, the Giants "had at least one player among the top four at every infield position" in All-Star voting as of Tuesday. That follows three Giants being voted to start the All-Star Game in '12, which "not coincidentally ... was the first year full wi-fi capabilities were unleashed at AT&T Park." Fans were "exhorted to pull out their phones and iPads and vote for the Giants' All-Star candidates at every opportunity." PA announcements "between innings, reminders from ushers, and videos and voting updates on the outfield screen all encourage fans at AT&T Park [to] get out their phones, then get out the vote." The "success of the plan is, in part, a testament to the newfound connectivity of the 13-year-old stadium." Giants Senior VP & CIO Bill Schlough said, "Prior to 2012, honestly, we didn't feel comfortable pointing to fans and saying, `Pull out your devices and vote right now.'" Hoornstra notes eight years of "trial and error were instrumental to the Giants' effort, and Schlough does not envy the Dodgers' position." Schlough: "If out of the chute you had to ramp it up and never had it before? Incredibly challenging. But every stadium has to do it. To us, it's the cost of doing business today" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/3).
PUIG'S ALL-STAR GAME PROSPECTS: MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said of Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig’s All-Star Game credentials, "What Puig has done to this club and this city and this team is he’s brought an energy. ... This team, remember, was just spinning in the mud. They were doing nothing but now you're seeing a guy that’s brought a presence a lot like the Mike Trout scene of last year" ("Intentional Talk," MLB Network, 7/1). In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore writes, "Puig is the rarest of sports gifts -- a phenom that seemingly came out of nowhere to capture everyone's attention." When "presented with a gift as rich and remarkable as Puig, you don't hide it," you "show it off" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/3). The AP's Tim Dahlberg wrote, "Fans make sure they’re back from the beer lines in time to watch him hit, and even a Puig strikeout has a certain air of excitement to it." For all Puig is "doing on the field for the Dodgers, his impact on the franchise might be greater than his ability to hit or run the bases." Before he was "called up the Dodgers were struggling mightily, and Dodger Stadium was littered with empty seats." Now, fans "notorious for leaving early to beat the traffic are staying to the end of games just to get another chance to see Puig hit" (AP, 7/2).
As the City of Orlando “prepares to put the finishing touches on the redesign" for the Florida Citrus Bowl, stadium boosters said that budget "of about $190 million isn't enough,” according to a front-page piece by Schlueb & Damron of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Execs are “quietly lobbying for another $18 million to $27 million.” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, "We're trying to make sure that we leave ourselves with maximum flexibility and get a first-rate stadium when we're finished." Schlueb & Damron report plans call for “demolishing much of the stadium, including the entire lower bowl, and then rebuilding.” When the work is “finished in early 2015, about 80 percent of the facility will be new.” Florida Citrus Sports, the nonprofit group that hosts events at the stadium, said that it “may need more money to add features to the redesign that would make the stadium competitive when it comes to bidding for big events -- including a future BCS National Championship Game.” Dyer said that there are "‘eight to 10’ potential additions under consideration, including more permanent end-zone seating and an extension of the superstructure in the south end zone to create a concourse that could later be converted into extra suites and club seats.” The additional funds “would largely come from the tourist-development tax collected on hotel rooms -- a tax that is controlled by Orange County.” The county “already has committed about $155 million to the renovations, including extra money to cover cost increases caused by delays.” Of the $18M, $12M “would come from the tourist tax.” Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said that the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation would “raise the other $6 million through private contributions” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/3).
ESPN's Michael Wilbon called the idea of a team airing the RedZone Channel continuously on its scoreboard during a game "pathetic," but ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said it could be a "smart" way to draw more fans. The Jaguars will have the capacity to air the channel throughout games when their new scoreboards are installed for the '14 season, and Wilbon said, "You've got a team, the product is so smelly, it's so stinky that now you have life following art. ... What does this say to the league, that your product is now perhaps secondary in terms of what is on the field? The thing that you're staging is not as interesting as what you're showing?" Kornheiser said it is a "life-changing event to watch the RedZone Channel," and if the Jaguars "cannot draw and they have to tarp over a bunch of seats -- and they've done that -- and they want to bring fans back into the stadium and the thing that separates them from those fans is the RedZone Channel, then you market to those people." Kornheiser: "You give them the RedZone Channel, you make the experience in-stadium as good or better as at home." Wilbon asked, "What happens to the rest of the league? Every place where you have just smelly products you just throw on the satellite dish and let's watch another game?" He added, "You better improve your product so someone wants to pay and come watch it." Kornheiser agreed and said, "That would be the better solution. But if they do it this way and they can get 10,000 more fans in, it's smart" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/2).
IDEA MAKES SENSE: Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "It makes a lot of sense because the greatest invention since the remote control is the RedZone. So people have another experience at the game and they can take those tarps down." ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan said, "You should only do it at halftime. You should not do it during the game where you have a team you're trying to build a fan base of your own." L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: "You cannot show another game while your game is going on. ... You do it by the concession stands, you do it in the concourses. People want to go back and watch their teams, that's fine" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/2).
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt said the Jaguars may get some "pushback" for their decision, but he added, "I don’t know how much, and as soon as one team does it, then everyone's going to do it." Van Pelt wondered if the RedZone Channel is "too good for its own good and if the popularity of that will ultimately hurt the league." He asked if RedZone was "available on a screen at your seat, would you watch?" Van Pelt: "Probably, and that's where we're going, that's the trend of things. I would just be happy at stadiums if they could figure out a way with more cell towers so your phone would work" ("SVP & Russillo," ESPN Radio, 7/2).
In Chicago, Gregory Pratt reports Tinley Park (Ill.) Mayor Ed Zabrocki sent a formal letter to Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts last week "with a simple message: If it doesn't work out in Chicago, move to the south suburbs.” The proposal “invites Ricketts to consider moving the Cubs to the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center, just off Interstate 80.” Attached to the letter is “an aerial map of the property's 280 acres.” Rosemont and DuPage County officials previously “have made comments about trying to lure the Cubs as well, should the team leave its Wrigleyville home” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/3).
NEW GEAR: Wichita State's athletic department on Tuesday announced that Koch Arena “will have a new center-court scoreboard and digital displays over the exits to the concourse.” WSU said that the installation, which “includes a new sound system, will be complete by the start of the school year in August" and costs $1.8M (WICHITA EAGLE, 7/3).
SUPERMARKET SWEEP: In Sacramento, Kasler & Bizjak reported a “petition drive to force a public vote on a new downtown Sacramento Kings arena has run into a legal wall from Safeway Inc., which has banned solicitors from gathering signatures in front of its stores.” Safeway last week “filed a lawsuit to keep solicitors from gathering signatures in front of the 19th Street store in midtown and other Safeway outlets” (SACBEE.com, 7/2).