St. Louis-based regional leaders have "officially closed the door" on a $700M upgrade to the Edward Jones Dome, "ushering in a new stage of negotiations" with the Rams, according to David Hunn of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission President Kathleen Ratcliffe wrote in a letter to the Rams that the agency is "not in a position" to pay for the renovation. Regional Convention & Sports Complex Authority Chair James Shrewsbury in a separate letter said that it "would not be 'prudent' to make the improvements recommended by arbitrators earlier this year." Shrewsbury on Friday said, "Basically, what we’re saying is we’re not going to be bound by that arbitration. It is not going to force us to upgrade the stadium. We simply don’t have the money to do it." The end of arbitration "opens the door for a new round of negotiations." Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had "asked to take the lead on this round -- one nearly certain to include talk of a new stadium, rather than trying to upgrade the Dome." The lease with the CVC "binds the Rams to stay at the Dome for two more football seasons." But last week’s letters mean that, "if nothing changes, the team could leave St. Louis after the 2014 season, or go on a year-to-year lease." Shrewsbury said that he "wasn’t sure if Nixon had started talks with Rams owner Stan Kroenke." He added, "If anything’s going on, it’s between Stan Kroenke and the governor. This thing is still fluid" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/6).
LITTLE LEVERAGE FOR RAMS: In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz wrote of renovation negotations, "The Rams have little or no real leverage." There is "no credible, NFL-approved stadium plan in Los Angeles." Kroenke will "have to make a deal here." Miklasz: "I believe that will happen." There "needs to be a long-term stadium plan for St. Louis." Kroenke, Nixon and the NFL will "eventually hammer out an agreement," but "nothing substantive will occur until Kroenke conveys a sincere desire to participate in the project" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/7). The CVC in February said that it was "unlikely to implement the Rams' plan." The AP noted the CVC's decision came "after arbitrators ruled in favor of the Rams' plan over a much more modest CVC proposal" (AP, 7/5). Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said, "Everybody’s on the same page. It was a no-brainer. There was nobody in St. Louis who thought that the Rams proposal was a good idea, other than the Rams." In Denver, Mike Klis asked what will Kroenke "do now?" Klis wrote when the St. Louis stadium upgrade process "began in earnest two years ago," he "thought [for] sure Kroenke was covertly planning to move the franchise back to Los Angeles." Are Kroenke and AEG Chair Philip Anschutz "talking?" (DENVERPOST.com, 7/5).
The Kraft Group has "secured approval for an expansion at Patriot Place that would add a 122-room hotel, quick-service restaurant and CVS to the Foxboro shopping center next to Gillette Stadium," according to Donna Goodison of the BOSTON HERALD. There is "no word on a construction timeline or cost of the project endorsed by the Foxboro Planning Board last week." Foxboro Town Planner Sharon Wason said that the "85,000-square-foot hotel will be a Marriott brand -- likely a suites hotel -- and more affordable than the existing 154-room Renaissance Hotel & Spa at Patriot Place" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/3). In Massachusetts, Frank Mortimer noted the expansion will result in "the loss of about 688 major event-day parking spaces" (Attleboro SUN CHRONICLE, 7/3).
INSURANCE POLICY: In Boston, Michele Morgan Bolton noted Saturday's MLS Revolution game at Gillette Stadium went forward "without a license, the latest in a clash between" The Kraft Group and Foxboro. Lawyers were "unable to iron out a liability insurance disagreement before a Friday deadline, after months of negotiations." Foxboro officials "held back the license for the New England Revolution game as well as those for upcoming concerts by Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift in a bid to force the company to help pay new, high deductibles on potential litigation from stadium events." The town’s insurance carrier recently "hiked the per-person deductible on the municipal policy from $7,500 to $50,000 per potential claimant, effective July 1" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/6). Kraft Group General Counsel James Cobery said that "notifying all [Revolution] ticket holders that the event might be cancelled would invite, 'chaos,' and that cancellation of the soccer match could weaken the stadium's ability to attract events" (FOXBORO REPORTER, 7/5).
Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood III on Saturday said that with the track's $400M renovation, "events such as football games -- potentially even professional football games -- soccer and music could all be hosted at DIS," according to Brian Linder of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Chitwood said, "I think if we are going to make this kind of investment in this property, we should be looking at what other unique sporting events we can host here. I think there is no set plan, but it gives us a chance to start looking at soccer friendlies, football, music … who knows" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7). Chitwood regarding the renovation said that he "expects construction fencing to go up first and the Speedway's tram tours will begin a new route to accommodate construction" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/8). In Jacksonville, Don Coble noted drivers Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne
"won a competition involving giant front-end loaders Friday to win the
right to break ground" on the renovation at DIS that will "result
in the loss of 46,000 seats." Biffle and Bayne "maneuvered around an
obstacle course, beating the team consisting" of drivers Jeff Burton and
Ryan Newman and the team of broadcasters Darrell Waltrip and Larry
McReynolds (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/6).
LACKING APPEAL: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi noted while ticket sales were up slightly for Saturday's Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400, but the "fact is that the crowd at this NASCAR race and most others is not even close to what they once were." Bianchi: "Chitwood and other track executives are doing everything in their power to lure fans to their venues." At Saturday's race, adult tickets could "be bought for $45 and the kids could get in" for $10. The price of that ticket "included a Sheryl Crow concert before the race, a massive fireworks display after the race, and" former NBAer Shaquille O'Neal and actors Adam Sandler and Kevin James serving as grand marshals during the race. In today's world of "skyrocketing ticket prices, that's a pretty good deal." NASCAR has the "unique challenge of its two most popular drivers rarely winning races." Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won "just once in the last five seasons," while Danica Patrick has been a "non-factor" since winning the pole at the season-opening Daytona 500 (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/7). In Daytona Beach, Steve Master wrote one explanation for light crowds at DIS this weekend "might be" that July 4 "fell on a Thursday, and many had to return to work on Friday, precluding a long weekend." Another "might be NASCAR's attendance slump -- something not often admitted but noticeable enough, especially of late." Master: "Few can remember a NASCAR crowd thinner than the one at Friday night's Nationwide race" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7). Also in Daytona Beach, Ken Willis noted the crowd for Saturday's race was "estimated at 90,000." It was a "day and evening that went off without a noticeable hitch." Given the "variety of issues that have plagued events at Daytona over the past few years, that was welcome news." Saturday's pre-race hours "weren't lacking for interest and/or entertainment" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7).