The Islanders on Thursday announced a capacity of 15,813 for the team's Sept. 21 preseason game at Barclays Center, a figure that "would keep the Isles' new building from being the smallest in the league" when the team moves to Brooklyn for the '15-16 season, according to Arthur Staple of NEWSDAY. The new figure is up from an original projection of "around 15,000." Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark have "configured the seating to accommodate closer to 16,000 seats, and that is without 416 seats at the obstructed end that will not be sold because of the view." Some of those 15,813 are obstructed-view seats, but Yormark said that the arena "plans to add roughly 75 to 100 premium, ice-level seats, which could move the capacity even higher." Staple notes MTS Centre in Winnipeg "has the smallest capacity of any NHL arena at 15,004" (NEWSDAY, 9/13). In N.Y., Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders Owner Charles Wang on Thursday "was not ruling anything out" a move to Brooklyn earlier than '15-16. However, Wang said there have been "no discussions" about an earlier move. Cyrgalis writes, "With some minor construction, it seems hockey could be ready to move to Brooklyn as early as next season. If it’s not ready to happen full-time for an assortment of reasons, then a part-time plan of a handful of games is a distinct possibility, given the NHL allows for dual citizenship" (N.Y. POST, 9/13).
The Steelers and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority "will try a different game plan in a bid to resolve a dispute over who will pay how much to add 3,000 seats to Heinz Field," according to a front-page piece by Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Steelers Dir of Strategic Planning & Development Mark Hart said the two sides will "engage in discussions" over the next few weeks. Belko reports the club filed suit against the SEA last fall after a deal to fund the $30M expansion "through surcharges on tickets and game day parking around Heinz Field collapsed." The team in the lawsuit "maintains that the SEA is responsible for funding two-thirds of the cost under a section of the Heinz Field lease that involves designated expansions of no more than 10,000 seats." But the SEA, which owns Heinz Field, "has countered that the Steelers first must show that similar modifications have been made to at least half of all other NFL stadiums with at least 25 percent of the cost covered by federal, state or local governments to be considered a capital improvement that qualifies for funding under the lease." Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James in a preliminary ruling in June said that the Steelers "failed to show that the proposed expansion met the requirements to qualify as a capital improvement." Hart, after a Thursday meeting with the judge, "would not say whether the team would back off its demand that the SEA fund two-thirds of the expansion" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/13). Hart said, "If we can reach something agreeable, we might have a shot at getting something done for 2014." In Pittsburgh, Adam Brandolph notes the flap is "part of a larger disagreement about upgrades at the 12-year-old stadium." The Steelers "want to add a scoreboard to the north end zone and be repaid for refurbishing the stadium's audio-visual control room." The total cost of the upgrades "has been estimated" at about $40M (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 9/13).
The MLS Earthquakes' new $60M stadium "won't open until the 2015 season," a year later than scheduled, "because of another construction delay," according to a source cited by Elliott Almond of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Team officials "plan to make an announcement regarding the stadium Monday." Santa Clara Univ. AD Dan Coonan on Thursday said "it's a possibility" the Earthquakes would play the entire '14 season at the school's Buck Shaw Stadium. Team officials "originally hoped to play in the new 18,000-seat building for the start of next season," but they announced in late June that they would not open the stadium until the middle of the '14 season "because of problems with the excavation of the site of the former Food Machinery Factory." Team officials now will "have to address what to do with the season tickets already sold for the new facility" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/13).
The California Legislature on Thursday night "approved a bill to streamline development of a downtown arena" for the NBA Kings, according to Laurel Rosenhall of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The California Senate voted 32-5 in favor as the bill "seeks to speed the judicial process for handling environmental lawsuits, limit the courts' ability to stop construction and change the way traffic impacts are measured in environmental reviews." California state Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg said, "The NBA has said... if we don't meet this timeline, if we don't get this project started in 2014, we're at risk of losing it. The opponents are still out there." Steinberg and state Sen. Ted Gaines "showed team pride by wearing purple ties for the occasion." Kings President Chris Granger and other members of the new ownership "gazed down on the Senate from the viewing gallery above" during the session (SACBEE.com, 9/12).
PUZZLE PIECES: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive "is piecing together an impressive basketball operations department." The addition of former Warriors Exec VP/Basketball Operations Chris Mullin as Advisor to the Chair "completes a front office" that also includes Assistant GM Mike Bratz and Shareef Abdur-Raheem as GM for the NBA D-League Reno Bighorns. Mullin is "a gentleman," GM Pete D'Alessandro is "a scholar, and in today's NBA, their skill sets are complementary." D'Alessandro is "an attorney, a well-regarded front-office executive and a former player agent," while Mullin is a "basketball legend who can gain access to any gym in the world and has been itching for another front-office position" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/12).