The NBA Kings yesterday unveiled an "'indoor-outdoor' concept they’re planning for the team’s new downtown arena," according to Kasler, Lillis & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. At a press conference "dominated by" new partner Shaquille O’Neal, Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive "dropped tantalizing hints about the design" of the $448M arena. He said that fans would "be able to see certain events from outside the building." Later yesterday, the Sacramento City Council "agreed to let the Kings accelerate repayment" of their $62M debt to the city by imposing a 5% surcharge "on tickets at Sleep Train Arena." The council also "OK’d a deal that would let the team reimburse the city for certain pre-development costs at the new building." Ranadive said the new facility “will be the first basketball arena that has this indoor-outdoor feature to it." He added, "For concerts and other events, you could actually completely open it up and have 18,000 people inside and another 10,000 people outside.” Kings investor Mark Mastrov said that the arena's bowl could be "partially viewable from outdoors via sliding glass walls." Attendees also would be able to "stand in an outdoor plaza and view events directly and on giant TV screens." Meanwhile, Ranadive said that the team "plans to televise its Oct. 30 season opener live in India." Ranadive: "There’s a billion people in India -- there’s going to be a lot of people watching. We want it to be ... the biggest opening night in the history of the NBA" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/25). O'Neal said, "We're going to be the first cashless arena. Come in with your phone, you know where your seats are, you know where the bathrooms are, the best concessions ... We're going to have the best arena in the world" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 9/24).
DIESEL FUEL: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes O'Neal's arrival "typified the unrelenting momentum behind the new Kings ownership to remake a franchise almost killed by its previous owners." Breton: "Just consider how all the Kings horses and all the Kings men (and women) are now on the same team as Shaq." Business, labor, and politicos from "both sides of the aisle are united." The California Legislature "couldn’t get a big overhaul of California environmental laws passed, but the regulations were tweaked to prevent pesky lawsuits from derailing the Sacramento arena that Shaq now wants." Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg "pulled the strings like a master on that one." Breton: "Think the governor won’t sign on?" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/25). ESPN L.A.'s J.A. Adande wrote, "Shaq gets it. He always did get it, at least when it came to business." He understood that a "career in sneakers, even a lucrative, Hall of Fame-worthy career, wasn't enough." He always "pursued outside interests, sought to broaden his profile and expand his business portfolio." Buying into an NBA franchise is "both a financial and symbolic victory." Teams might have "outrageous labor costs and lose money on an annual basis, but the long-term payoffs are outstanding" (ESPNLA.com, 9/24).
DOUBLE DUTY: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes O'Neal "will continue to work" as an analyst on TNT's "Inside The NBA" studio show. O'Neal said that he had the "time for both jobs and saw no potential conflicts of interest." But a studio analyst who "owns a small part of a team raises the appearance of conflicts if, for example, he does not divulge what he knows about a player because he is an insider." O'Neal: “I’m not going to hold nothing back because I’m a part owner." TNT has "permitted such arrangements before." Magic Johnson as a part owner of the Lakers "was a studio analyst for TNT before he moved to ESPN, where he plays a similar role." Steve Kerr also "stayed a TNT game analyst when he became a part owner" of the Suns (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25).
The Bucks last night at the Milwaukee Art Museum unveiled the design for their new "art-inspired floor," and it includes a "giant M flanking each side of the midcourt line," according to Mary Louise Schumacher of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The floor is "inspired by Pop artist Robert Indiana's much-beloved 1977 MECCA floor." Bucks Senior VP & Chief Revenue Officer Theodore Loehrke said the new floor is about the team being "more about Milwaukee and as much Milwaukee's team as possible." Instead of the "candy-apple red and glowing yellow of Indiana's jazzy original, the big M's will be created in a deeper shade of hand-stained northern Wisconsin maple for a subtler effect this time around." Other elements of the floor's design are "pared down to allow the M's to pop, most notably the logo at center court." It is "stripped to the stark essentials, the eight-point, whitetail buck in hunter green and white detailing." Each baseline is "emblazoned with a simple 'Milwaukee,' as was the case with the `77 floor." The color on the new floor is "almost exclusively green." One panel of the floor "will periodically be turned over to an artist." The first piece "will be unveiled with the floor itself at an open, free practice on Oct. 5." The Bucks also plan to "place the names of all MVP season-ticket holders (as of Oct. 18) on the physical surface of the court for the season opener on Nov. 2." The "thousands of names will be placed along the center line," and after the game, the MVPs will be "invited to find their names and take photos on the court." Additionally, the floor has "much improved shock absorption than earlier floors, with the potential to reduce injuries and fatigue for the players" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/25). Bucks C Larry Sanders said, "It looks really fierce. It has a sharp edge to it. Also it looks kind of simple, like we're here to do our job. We're here for business. And it's green; it's not too colorful. It's not too distracting" (JSONLINE.com, 9/24).
PARK IT: In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes a provision in Mayor Tom Barrett's '14 proposed budget "includes a $175,000 allocation in city parking revenue per year for five years to the BMO Harris Bradley Center." Bradley Center BOD Chair Marc Marotta and arena President & CEO Steve Costello "cited city parking data that said the parking ramp generates $500,000-$700,000 in annual parking revenue the city receives from various Bradley Center events." While potential city aid to the Bradley Center "is new, the state has already provided" $10M in grants in the "past few years to help in maintenance, upkeep and planned improvements." In addition, Bradley Center officials "have a partnership with several large Milwaukee companies that resulted in about" $19M in new sponsorship revenues (JSONLINE.com, 9/24).
UCLA yesterday announced a campaign to raise private funds for a football training facility to be located on the west side of Spaulding Field, the practice field for the school's football team. The planned facility is intended to house a locker room, athletic training area, strength and conditioning facility, coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, equipment rooms and video rooms. The project, estimated to cost $50M, will be funded by private donations. A feasibility study analyzed the site conditions, and UCLA has elected to move the project forward with a request for proposal to select an architect (UCLA). In California, Ryan Kartje noted the projected cost is $15M "more than the initial request had estimated." There is "no real timetable for completing" the proposed facility. Football coach Jim Mora said that he "never felt like UCLA's facilities were 'poor,' having worked in much worse conditions as an NFL assistant coach," but he acknowledged that college football "is a different animal entirely." A new facility "will certainly help make his job easier." Mora: "It's huge in recruiting. If you don't have facilities, it's hard to attract top talent" (OCREGISTER.com, 9/24). In L.A., Jack Wang writes college football has seen "a sort of arms race ensue, in which the most extravagant facilities now hold everything from waterfalls to barbershops." To most 17-year-olds, the "glitz is hard to resist." UCLA currently uses Bud Knapp Football Center, which is "located on the first floor" of the Acosta Athletic Complex. The 15,000-square-foot weight room in the complex "is shared by all sports teams." Other Pac-12 teams, including Oregon, Washington and Cal, have "upgraded their training areas in recent years." The $50M price tag "may be a conservative estimate, but UCLA is also restricted by a small campus" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/25).
FABRIC OF FOOTBALL: In Dallas, Liz Farmer notes maintenance crews yesterday "were putting the finishing touches on the newly renovated Cotton Bowl." Fans will notice "several improvements since last year, including shiny new floors decorated with the Cotton Bowl logo in the entrances to the stadium." New banners inside "highlight the 21 Heisman Trophy winners who have played at the Cotton Bowl." The stadium "added 336 club-level seats with larger aisles, cup holders and stadium seating, as opposed to the bleachers that most fans populate." The conversion "cost the stadium about 300 seats, which brings the total occupancy down to 92,200" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/25).
MSG tops the list of the "nation's coolest arenas and stadiums," according to Steve Knopper of ROLLING STONE. The list was determined by 26 "insiders and musicians" as part of the magazine's five-part series on great music venues. Music agent Dennis Arfa said, "There aren't many venues that make a difference, but the Garden does. ... The public pays to go there. I tell my artists: 'MSG may be more expensive, but in return you get back more tickets at a higher price." Knopper noted Wrigley Field, which "finally allowed rock shows in 2005," ranks second, while Fenway Park ranks third despite a 30-year ban on concerts from '73-'03. Barclays Center comes in at fourth, and the year-old building has "quickly become a major draw" (ROLLINGSTONE.com, 9/23).
CLEVELANDBROWNS.com's Matt Florjancic noted the audio system and scoreboard at FirstEnergy Stadium "are two of the focal points in the renovations expected to take place over the next two seasons." The Browns during the next two offseasons also are looking to "improve lines of sight to the field and beautifying the stadium on a cosmetic level." Browns CEO Joe Banner said, "We think there's some way to increase the capacity of the lower bowl, maybe at the expense of seats in the upper bowl, which will give more people a better perspective on the game and sit in a better seat. The concourses aren't as wide as you'd like. Some of the concession stands could be updated, cleaned up and have better signage" (CLEVELANDBROWNS.com, 9/24).
A LITTLE LOVE LOST: In Philadelphia, Matt Gelb noted the Veterans Stadium "Theme Tower" is being lowered, as many fans consider it an "eyesore at an otherwise beautiful ballpark." The Phillies used the electronic board "as another way to generate revenue while advertising ballpark promotions." But there was "one problem," as it "blocked some views of Center City from the stands at Citizens Bank Park." A team spokesperson said that the tower will "remain in a different form." It will be "lowered in height ... and become a two-sided message board." Construction began this week (PHILLY.com, 9/24).
CLOSED CAPTIONING: In DC, Alex Prewitt noted the National Association of the Deaf has "filed a lawsuit" against the Univ. of Maryland “over the university’s long-standing and continuing failure to provide captioning of announcements and commentary made over the public address systems during athletic events at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/24).