MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday called O.co Coliseum a "pit" following its most recent sewage problem and noted the uncertain future of the A's long-term home is something league execs "have to solve." Appearing on CBS Sports Radio's "The John Feinstein Show," Selig said of the ballpark, "It reminds me of old County Stadium and Shea Stadium. We need to deal with that." He noted the league's Blue Ribbon Panel has been working on finding a solution for the A's for several years, but noted it is "far more complex" than simply finding land for a new facility. With the A's and Giants sharing the Bay Area market, Selig acknowledged the league has "one team that wants to move and the other team doesn't want them to move." He added he is "satisfied we'll work out something" before he leaves office at the end of '14. However, Selig did not speculate as to when the A's would be playing in a new ballpark. He admitted he is "not happy" about playing postseason games at O.co Coliseum, calling it an "unfortunate mess." Selig: "I wish there was an easy solution but in truth, there is not an easy solution" ("The John Feinstein Show," CBS Sports Radio, 9/25).
A'S WANT UPGRADES TO STAY? A's Owner Lew Wolff said the team is "willing to sign a five-year lease with three one-year (club) options at a much higher rate than we're paying now" to stay at O.co Coliseum, but the rent increases should be used to "buy a new scoreboard and fix up the facility." Wolff: "We're willing to offer that money up front. It's a negotiation that's hopefully coming to a close soon. The delay on a decision about moving has even limited those options." He added, "I don't get quoted fairly all the time. The sewage thing has been made much bigger than it really is. And when there is a problem, the Coliseum people and our people get together and work it out. We're not the angry tenant." The city of San Jose has sued MLB regarding an A's relocation, but Wolff said, "Right now, my focus is on having a totally successful season. Although if it ended today, I'd consider it to be very successful. I think things are coalescing along well, but I'm really not going to think about that issue until after the season" (MLB.com, 9/25). He added, "My feeling is the Coliseum is in shape to welcome us for the playoffs, and I’m excited that it is. My focus is on the playoffs and not the Coliseum. The more (playoff) games we can play there, the happier I’ll be" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 9/25).
MLS Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson said he is planning to expand the 22,000-seat Jeld-Wen Field by several thousand seats by "putting terracing in at the supporters' section." Paulson, appearing on ESPN Radio 103.3 Dallas' "Soccer Today," said, "Terracing ends up adding capacity for the supporters, and that’s a benefit there.” There has been talk about the Timbers switching their current artificial turf surface to natural grass, and Paulson said, “We’ve got an unusual setup with this stadium where it’s both a sunken bowl and with limited light. If we add artificial lights and we had a lot less events here -- and maybe in a world where we didn’t have to host college football -- could we put in natural grass? ... It’s probably 50-50 at best and I don’t want to get people too excited yet." He acknowledged there is a "huge stigma still with artificial (turf) and the technology is getting so much better." Paulson: "We’ve embraced that and done some unique things that has in fact made our surface better. I would like grass, I won’t lie about that and we’ve got the best grass training field in the whole state that our players practice and train on every day” (“Soccer Today,” ESPN Radio 103.3 Dallas, 9/22). NBCSPORTS.com's Steve Davis noted considering the Timbers' "brand of faux field is the best in MLS, and even understanding that chances of real grass bliss beneath the feet are no better than 50-50, that's still something to sit up and take notice of" (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/25).
PARTY IN THE PARK: In Portland, Andrew Theen reported the City Council approved an ordinance yesterday to split the project of upgrading four soccer fields at Delta Park into "both a sole source and competitively bid deal." The city previously awarded a "sole-source contract for the entire project to Peregrine Sports LLC," which is affiliated with Paulson. However, the new deal will allow a "new locker room building" to be built under a sole-source contract, while a competitive bid process will be held "for laying down turf." The Timbers and the NWSL Portland Thorns are contributing "at least" $1.1M to the project (OREGONLIVE.com, 9/25).
The Angels have selected Legends Hospitality to run all aspects of foodservice at Angel Stadium, according to industry sources. The agreement, running more than three years, covers general concessions and premium dining but does not include merchandise, sources said. The deal also covers Tempe's Diablo Stadium, where the Angels hold Spring Training annually. AEG VP/Communications Michael Roth confirmed AEG Merchandising will continue running the ballpark’s retail operation, a deal that runs through '16. Legends replaces Aramark as the team’s food provider and will start making the transition after the regular season ends next week. Angel Stadium, built in '66 and renovated in '96, has 45,050 seats, 78 suites and 5,075 club seats. The city of Anaheim recently extended the Angels' escape clause at Angel Stadium as discussions continue on a ballpark lease extension.
Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage earlier this week announced plans to build the largest video board in the U.S., and he "gave credit" to Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones for the video board at AT&T Stadium, according to Carlos Mendez of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Gossage said, "They made this a big-screen market. You look around this area, and even high schools have big screens that are bigger than the screens that we’ve been using.” Mendez reports Gossage is "not in competition with the Cowboys," but his screen "had to be bigger because TMS is a bigger venue than AT&T Stadium." Gossage: "It will be a novelty, if you will, for some people to come out and see it. And if they come out and see it, they’re going to love the racing. If they’ve never been to a race before, it’s going to expose them to racing, and then we’ll reel them in and make them a regular" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/26). Gossage said, "Our fans are so jacked-up that we're going to have that screen." Meanwhile, he reiterated the April '14 Sprint Cup race at TMS is moving from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon because the NCAA Men's Final Four will take place at AT&T Stadium. Gossage: "I'm sure some basketball fans are going to want to come to the race, some race fans are going to want to the Final Four. ... This way everybody's accommodated. We've also heard from some corporate clients that want to do both as well" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 9/26).
DRILL, BABY, DRILL: In Ft. Worth, Jim Fuquay reported the first natural gas well on the north side of TMS "was being drilled Tuesday." Ft. Worth-based Quicksilver Resources "plans five wells at the current drill site on the edge of the racetrack’s sprawling parking lot, plus two additional drill sites on the west side with similar numbers of wells planned." Quicksilver Senior Dir of Community & Government Affairs Steve Lindsey said that the company also will "drill under the speedway from the east side of Interstate 35, something it did when it drilled at Alliance Airport." But race fans "won’t see any rigs at the speedway" Nov. 2 and 3 during NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races. Lindsey said that drilling "will cease and the rig will be moved for the race weekend." Under an agreement reached in '08, the Ft. Worth Sports Authority and TMS "will share royalties from production on the property, with much of the money going toward improvements at the facility" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/25).