Final approval of key development agreements for the Vikings' new stadium "has been put on hold to allow the state to conduct a more extensive background investigation" into team Owner Zygi Wilf and his family in light of their recent legal issues in New Jersey, according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority yesterday said that it has "retained Peter Carter of the Dorsey & Whitney law firm to lead a 'due diligence' review" of Wilf and his family's real estate business. Carter has "tried cases involving racketeering and performed similar investigations for some of the nation’s largest firms." The review group, which also will "include FTC Consulting, an international forensic accounting firm, will scrutinize Wilf family litigation in New Jersey and perform 'extensive background checks' as well as review the NFL's investigations of owner applications." The Vikings and the MSFA had "hoped to sign off" on a stadium lease and development agreements at the authority's Aug. 23 meeting. But MSFA Chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen said that final action will "likely be at a special meeting at a later date." However, she said that the "turnaround time for the review will take 'weeks, not months,' and should not delay plans for an October groundbreaking on the stadium." The team hopes to open the stadium in time for the '16 season, but Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley "expressed concern about the project's tight timeline." He said that he "hoped the authority would continue to work on design and construction issues while the review work takes place" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/14). The Wilfs said the lawsuit would have "absolutely no impact on the stadium project." Kelm-Helgen said that the review group also will look into "other lawsuits involving the Wilfs" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/14).
IN HINDSIGHT: In Minneapolis, Lee Schafer writes under the header, "Wilfs May Rue How They Treated N.J. Partner." The Wilf family "defending that lawsuit in New Jersey to its hugely expensive and bitter conclusion probably cost them the opportunity to step into the developer's role with the Minneapolis stadium" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/14).
The Trail Blazers "looked at 317 companies, including some national and international businesses," before agreeing to a naming-rights deal with Moda Health for the Rose Garden, according to a front-page piece by Mike Tokito of the Portland OREGONIAN. Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan said that the team and California-based Premier Partnerships"had 'deep conversations' with 10 to 12 companies before whittling down the list to four 'active' prospects." Moda President William Johnson said that the Trail Blazers and Premier "first approached Moda in January, even though the company had never held -- or even considered -- a sports-related sponsorship before." But Johnson added that Moda officials "felt a 'synergy' with the Blazers' vision for the Rose Garden and for what a partnership could accomplish." The team said that the deal "will help Rip City Management make several improvements in and around the Rose Garden, including a redesign and restoration of the arena's trademark water fountain feature; adding food options to the commons and arena; better signage; better pedestrian traffic flow from public transit; and added entertainment and community-building efforts to the commons." Tokito notes the area that includes the Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum "will retain the name Rose Quarter." Moda Center becomes the "second major Oregon sports facility with a corporate name," along with Jeld-Wen Field (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/14). McGowan said that the deal is "broader than simply naming rights, and will encompass healthy kids and other healthy living initiatives, reinvesting in the Rose Quarter and making it a cultural hub." The "goal is to get the new signage up by the start of the NBA season" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/13).
TAKING FANS BY SURPRISE: KATU-ABC's Debora Knapp noted Portland residents knew the name change "was coming, but let's just say the announcement caught a lot of fans by surprise." KATU's Dan Cassuto noted many fans "expected a big, familiar sponsor to takeover the name of the Rose Garden." McGowan said the opportunity for Moda Health to gain name recognition is “one of the reasons why they're interested in doing this partnership.” Johnson said, "We have not actually advertised for the last four or five years, and we felt that this was a time that we would commit some resources." Trail Blazers announcer Mark Mason said he is “still getting used to it” and that Moda Center “sounds like a Russian car when you first hear it.” However, he added, “It’s proof that advertising works. It’s on the lips of two million Portlanders today, so already it’s a good buy” (KATU-ABC, 8/13). However, KGW-NBC’s Pat Dooris said of the arena's name, “Now that it’s changing, a lot of people do not like it. In fact there’s even a Facebook page and an online petition to try and change it back” (KGW-NBC, 8/13). KPTV-Fox's Ben Senger said, "Some people, no matter how long this goes on with the new name, will still be calling the building the Rose Garden" (KPTV-Fox, 8/13).
The Cowboys' new HQs and practice facility in Frisco is being partly funded by the city's Independent School District, and the team's move to "share facilities and promote youth sports could become a model for the rest of the country," according to Valerie Wigglesworth of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said that that factor "weighed heavily in the decision to move to Frisco." Jones said, "We’re using our visibility, using what we’re about, to encourage and create a positive atmosphere for youth sports that is of great interest to us." Wigglesworth notes the facility "will be built on 91 acres," and is being funded by the city of Frisco, the Frisco Independent School District, the Frisco Economic Development Corp. and the Frisco Community Development Corp. The city will "own the stadium and the associated parking structure in an arrangement similar to those with Dr Pepper Arena, Dr Pepper Ballpark and FC Dallas Stadium." The team's HQs will be "owned by the team." Jones said that while he has "drawn up some ideas for how the whole development will look, nothing has been formalized and no contractors have been hired yet." The Cowboys will have the "exclusive right to name the stadium and select sponsors for the facilities in it," and any sponsor naming-rights and revenue from parking fees "will be shared between the Cowboys and the city." The 25-year agreement also "calls for at least one week per year of official preseason football training camp to be held in Frisco" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/14).
GONE CAMPING: While the Cowboys' training camp deal with Oxnard, Calif., ends in '14, Jones said that the team is "already working on a contract extension with city officials." Jones: "We’ve been doing this for how many years now? 30-something, 35 years if you really count Thousand Oaks. This is what we ought to be doing. And we’re working right now on trying to extend it." In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill notes the Cowboys are "obligated to spend at least two weeks in Oxnard next year." But in addition to the team spending one week of camp at its new Frisco facility beginning in '16, San Antonio has "expressed interest in hosting camp next year and beyond." Jones is "open to having split camps but indicated he would need five preseason games to achieve it, like the Cowboys have this season because of the Hall of Fame game" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/14). Jones said, “I think the opportunities we’ve got to continue our West Coast presence, and potentially with our fan base in San Antonio, a dual participation in camp is good for the team. It’s a plus. ... Let’s take this year as an example. Our time in Oxnard is up Friday. We leave for Arizona to play our third preseason game then turn around and come back to Dallas, where we will have as much as 10 days that are the equivalent to training camp. We will soon be able to do that at our facility.” In San Antonio, Tom Orsborn noted the "earliest the Cowboys could hold at least a portion of camp in San Antonio" would be '15, and the city's Dir of Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Michael Sawaya "remains hopeful the team one day will return to San Antonio" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 8/13).
The Univ. of Cincinnati will "pay the same standard rental fee" it has paid in the past to play its '14 home football games at Paul Brown Stadium, but the Bengals will "return their share of the rent" to the school, according to Bill Koch of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Bengals Business Development Dir Bob Bedinghaus said, "We couldn't say you guys come in and play rent free because Hamilton County needs to make money when other events happen down there. What we came up with is we are going to reimburse to the University of Cincinnati all the money we would have received in rent for the full season. We will reimburse 100 percent." Koch notes the county owns the stadium, and its lease terms entitle the Bengals to 50% of the rent, with the rest "going to the county." Bedinghaus said, "We’re not going to make any money off the rent, but we cannot stand in the way of the county making money because it's not our money to give away." He added that he "expects the rental agreement will be finalized within a few weeks." UC AD Whit Babcock said, "The Bengals really stepped up and helped us out. We had nowhere to go. They could have not been easier to work with." Koch notes the school "must pay" 10% of the first $1M in ticket revenue for each game played there, 12.5% of the next $1M, and 15% of gross ticket revenue exceeding $2M. UC "must also pay a 25-cent surcharge to Hamilton County for each ticket sold and is responsible for all game expenses." The Bengals and the county will "split all money from parking and concessions on a 50-50 basis." But Bedinghaus said, "I suspect at the end of the day we will allow UC to sell their merchandise without anything coming back to us" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 8/14).
ISC Vice Chair & CEO Lesa France Kennedy yesterday discussed the company’s $400M Daytona Rising project, which includes the renovation of Daytona Int’l Speedway, and said there is a need to take the speedway complex “to a new level with modern amenities.” The mixed-use One Daytona development will include retail and dining spaces, and will be anchored by retailers including Bass Pro Shops. France Kennedy said, “It will give our fans more to do while they're in Daytona, it will extend their stay and it will also provide some year-round business and economic impact." CNBC’s Scott Wapner asked if ISC is “modeling this directly after Patriot Place,” the mixed-use development outside Gillette Stadium that also includes a Bass Pro Shops. France Kennedy said the Patriots "have done a terrific job" and it is an "example of the type of destination that we're planning on creating." She said in terms of how many events DIS can host during the year, "We're really busy more than 300 days a year and I think that's surprising to people. We have all kind of events, not just NASCAR." France Kennedy said competition from the NFL and other sports is "one reason that we're doing the Daytona Rising project, to just not only keep up, but to raise the bar in motorsports and all the motorsports facilities.” She added, “It will be a total different level of experience than you've seen in the past. It's going be exciting" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 8/13).
N.C. State AD Debbie Yow yesterday said that the school is "planning the stages of building" an indoor football practice facility near Carter-Finley Stadium. Yow said that she is hopeful the $14M facility "will be ready for spring practice" in '15. Yow said that the building will "be funded privately through the Wolfpack Club." In Raleigh, Joe Giglio notes former football coach Tom O’Brien "long lobbied for an indoor practice facility." Yow said that first-year coach Dave Doeren "asked about the facility before he was hired" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/14).
DUCK COMMANDER: CNBC's Jane Wells yesterday gave several live reports from the Univ. of Oregon on the school's new $68M football facility. UO football coach Mark Helfrich said the best part is the "functionality" of the facility. Helfrich: "We've never had a space like this from an educational standpoint to actually teach and coach our guys." UO QB Marcus Mariota said the building "just kind of takes your breath away" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 8/13). Wells later told UO AD Rob Mullens the facility was "over the top." Mullens: "We're so fortunate. We have some recruiting disadvantages in other areas and fortunately, the generosity of Phil Knight ... has allowed us to make up some of those in the facilities" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 8/13).
LET ME UPGRADE YA: In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes the Univ. of Miami's new Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence "replaces the 'ugh' factor of Miami’s cramped and outdated former football facilities, a drag on recruiting for decades." The center features an "expansive locker room and training center, complete with an entire floor devoted to computer labs and academic tutoring." UM "broke ground on this major improvement project" in '10 (PALM BEACH POST, 8/14).
BALLIN' OUT: In Indiana, Thomas St. Myer reported Ball State Univ. is "installing video screens in its football stadium and basketball arena." Scheumann Stadium will have a "jumbo high-definition video screen" that is 33 feet wide by 18 feet tall, and Worthen Arena will get a "high-definition LED screen, albeit on a slightly smaller scale." The school is "leasing the portable video boards for three years from Dodd Technologies Inc., and its sister company, ReelVideo Systems," for $1.1M. The screens "will cost $320,000 in the first year of the lease, $355,000 in year two and $390,000 in the third" (Muncie STAR PRESS, 8/11).