A crowd of 44,439 attended Saturday's Broncos scrimmage at Sports Authority Field at Mile High "hoping to see improvements on the field, but they also got a look at the improvements to the stadium's concourse, video boards and sound system," according to Caitlin Swieca of the DENVER POST. The Broncos this offseason spent more than $32M on stadium improvements, "including a new video board that is three times larger than the original one." At 8,800 square feet, the "mammoth high-definition screen in the south end zone will be the third-largest in the NFL." The Broncos also "upgraded the two video boards on the north side and the LED ribbon circling the stadium." Additionally, the stadium's concourses "received upgrades in lighting," while old speakers from the seating bowl were "moved to the concourses, and concessions signs have been replaced by digital menu boards." Broncos Senior VP/Business Development Mac Freeman said that all advertising "from now on will be digital, but that the amount of advertisements will be about the same." Swieca noted the extra space will be "used to display scores from around the league and fantasy football statistics." The Broncos also "installed a new sound system," while Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T have "added new systems to improve the strength of cellphone service within the stadium" (DENVER POST, 8/4). The Broncos "brought in Sony to revamp the control room" at the stadium, which "now has the latest high-definition technology and has capabilities to analyze four times the number of camera angles for instant replays" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 8/4).
The Bears are "close to extending an agreement" with Olivet Nazarene Univ. that will keep team's training camp at the Bourbonnais, Ill., school "for several years," according to Brad Biggs of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. This year marks the Bears' 12th camp at Olivet, and it is "expected they will enter into an agreement that could keep them here and end speculation about a potential move" to Lewis Univ. in Romeoville. While 19 NFL teams are holding training camps at team HQs this year, the Bears have "stated consistently they want to keep camp open to the public, something that would be difficult at their Halas Hall headquarters in Lake Forest." The setup at Olivet is "considered among the league's finest and the school has completed major expansion and renovations" since the team arrived in '02 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/4).
SOLDIER ON: The Bears on Friday announced the addition of the Miller Lite Loft at Soldier Field, which adds three rows of seating, totaling 148 new fixed outdoor seats, and 90 standing-room-only positions. The new loft area, located in the stadium's south end zone, includes a private bar and concession stand, a windscreen, as well as ceiling-mounted heaters and televisions. The space will also be used for non-Bears events. The loft is scheduled for completion during the '13 season and will replace the Miller Lite Party Deck on the north side of the stadium (Bears).
RFK Stadium operator Events DC said that it "plans to study options for replacing the stadium and redeveloping its 190-acre site" in light of MLS DC United's plans to open a new facility in '16, according to Mike DeBonis of the WASHINGTON POST. United's departure from RFK would "leave the authority without its main source of stadium revenue." Events DC President & CEO Gregory O'Dell said that the authority will "hire a firm in the coming months to evaluate options, with and without a stadium." O'Dell: "We’ll look at the as-is condition and what’s viable and financially feasible." DeBonis noted the RFK campus in FY '13 generated $4.1M in revenue for the authority, but $5.3M in expenses, and it "is not clear how much of that revenue comes from DC United’s rent." United's move would bring "significant questions" about RFK Stadium's future. The venue's fate also is "tied to the desire of several high-ranking city officials," including Mayor Vincent Gray, to "lure the Redskins back to the city as soon as the team’s lease on FedEx Field in Landover expires in 2026 -- if not sooner." Gray said of the RFK site, "I frankly think it would be a great site for a new football stadium. And not just for college games." Gray has "made a push for nearly two years to have the Redskins consider relocating their team headquarters and practice facility to a government-owned parcel south of the RFK campus." DC City Council member Jack Evans said of the RFK site, "It’s the number one site in my view to put a brand-new Redskins stadium. There’s nothing else you can do there" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/3).
THE PPL PARK PARADIGM: In DC, Julie Zauzmer wrote the MLS Union's PPL Park in Chester, Pa., can "serve as a model for what an intimate, waterfront stadium in a neglected part of town might do" for professional soccer in DC. Many fans and Chester residents "herald PPL Park as a gem among soccer-specific stadiums." PPL Park's "most obvious highlights" include an "expansive view of the Delaware River, real grass turf, seats close to the action, and clean, new facilities." But for all that Union fans "love about their team and its stadium, many are less enamored with its setting -- Chester, a city 15 miles south of Philadelphia with one of the worst poverty rates in the state." The stadium has "done little, they say, to improve the surrounding area." PPL Park Guest Services Supervisor Rob Strauss said, "In terms of bringing in new business, I don’t think it’s done much. Everyone’s just reluctant to go to Chester. No one’s going to say, ‘Let’s go to Chester for the night.'" But Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said that "more than half of the team’s 650-person game-day workforce and 100-person permanent staff live in Chester." Sakiewicz: "We haven’t given up on the vision of creating mixed-use development around the stadium. That vision and dream still exist. Those plans are still there" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/4).
The Univ. of Oregon's new Football Performance Center is "a testament to college football’s arms race, to the billions of dollars at stake and to the lengths that universities will go to field elite football programs," according to Greg Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. The center, "paid for through a donation" from Nike co-Founder & Chair Phil Knight, is "luxurious enough to make NFL teams jealous." UO officials insisted that they "did not know the total cost" of the facility, but early design estimates were $68M. Nike and its relationship with the school "are obvious early and throughout" the facility. UO Senior Associate AD/Football Administration & Operations Jeff Hawkins said, "We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits." Bishop wrote the center serves as an "answer to how the Ducks turned a mediocre program into an unlikely powerhouse in a city of just more than 150,000 people." Bishop: "Welcome to college football, circa 2013, where the best programs build Ritz-Carltons as much as Olympic training facilities and call them football centers." UO AD Rob Mullens said, "People will complain, but this is not excessive. This is probably the most complete space in college sports." The facility was designed by Portland-based ZGF Architects, Firm 151 and Hoffman Construction. ZGF Partner Eugene Sandoval and Firm 151 Principal Interior Designer Randy Stegmeier called the center "sleek, bombastic, cutting-edge" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/3).
Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner this morning discussed his plans to renovate Nassau Coliseum, saying the revamped building is "going to be beautiful like the Barclays Center." Appearing on CNBC’s "Squawk Box," Ratner said the arena is “going to have a huge number of events” if his group wins the contract. Ratner: “The whole deal today is content, content, content. …That's been the strength of our Barclays Center, a combination of booking, good customer service and beautiful." Ratner was asked if he had concerns over encountering lack of "content" with the numerous venues in the New York area, including Barclays Center, MSG, the Meadowlands and Nassau Coliseum. But he noted only 5-10% of customers at Barclays Center “actually come from Long Island." Ratner noted there are "completely different demographics” on Long Island, and the “same kind of content we have at Barclays will be at Nassau, yet it's really a different audience." The renovation project is "all privately financed" and Ratner's group will be "giving the municipality money." Ratner: "It's ready to be done" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 8/5).
1st Mariner Arena is "officially dropping the reference to 1st Mariner Bank from its name and changing back to Baltimore Arena," according to Chris Kaltenbach of the Baltimore SUN. Arena GM Frank Remesch said of 1st Mariner, "They are a great partner of ours, but it's really not fair to give them something for nothing. It's time to take the name off the building." The facility was renamed 1st Mariner Arena in '03, "when former 1st Mariner CEO Ed Hale agreed to pay the city $75,000 a year for the naming rights." That agreement "expired Jan. 1, and officials on both sides were unable to come to terms on continuing it." Remesch said that officials with N.Y.-based Legends Sales & Marketing, which is managing the sale of the naming rights, "would be meeting with 1st Mariner officials to determine when the name would actually come off the building." As of Friday afternoon, the logo on e-mails from the corporate offices had "reverted to the old 'Baltimore Arena' logo, with the city's skyline and a sailboat to the left of a stylized letter 'B.'" Remesch said that 1st Mariner "will remain the 'official bank' of the arena." Remesch added that negotiations were "underway with several companies about purchasing the naming rights." The arena is managed by SMG Holdings (Baltimore SUN, 8/3).
In Atlanta, Tucker & Stafford reported negotiations to build a new Falcons stadium on the team's preferred site just south of the Georgia Dome "have ended -- at least for now." The Georgia World Congress Center Authority and Mount Vernon Baptist Church are more than $14M "apart on the fair price" of the site. The GWCCA's “best and final” offer of $6.2M was "not in the ballpark of Mount Vernon Baptist Church’s asking price" of $20.4M (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/4).
KICKING & SCREAMING: In L.A., Nick Green reported "stratospheric ticket prices" for Saturday's Guinness Int'l Champions Cup soccer tournament double-header at Dodger Stadium "put a damper on attendance." With many seats "costing more than $100," the prices left "entire seating sections virtually empty." A "disappointing crowd of 35,000 to 40,000 was expected at the 56,000-capacity stadium" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/4).
OF KINGS...: A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial stated the city's planned downtown arena "will not only be an entertainment venue and new home for the Kings," but also a "rare opportunity to fix past mistakes and reinvigorate downtown with a piece of architecture that reflects Sacramento's values." With $258M in public funds involved, the community "needs to be a full partner in vetting possible designs." Before a final arena design is approved in October, the public is expected to have "significant opportunities to have its say" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/4).
AND THE QUEEN CITY...: In Cincinnati, Sharon Coolidge reported half of the $5M renovation costs for Great American Ball Park "will go toward painting, waterproofing and concrete replacement" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 8/4).