Fans at the Pelicans' preseason home opener tomorrow will get their first glimpse of "a newly renovated interior of the New Orleans Arena that gives the 14-year-old facility a completely different look," according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. There are 16 new loge boxes in the lower bowl that include "swivel seating and LED monitors" and are "already sold out for the upcoming season." There also is a new "party perch in the upper bowl," where the Pelicans are "considering adding live entertainment that could include a band playing during games." All of the arena's concession stands have "been upgraded with more food options." A new "spacious 12,000 square foot Chairman's Club has been built with glass windows overlooking the hallway across from the Pelicans' locker room" that will accommodate 150 front-row season-ticket holders. The arena's Capital One club has been "expanded and will include a new wine room and an existing bar will expand to the club's outdoor patio and include a fire fountain." The renovations are part of a $50M upgrade that is "scheduled to be done in two phases." Interior work "started May 1 and completely shut down the Arena for the entire summer," while exterior renovations are "expected to start in the spring." Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha said, "Some things we put in may not have a gigantic revenue return, but we knew we had to do it for fan experience." SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton said, "The architects wanted to achieve what they call an urban loft look, where you see a lot of exposed concrete, very modern sleek furnishes and clean lines in the building as opposed to what we had before which was designed back in the mid-90s. It makes it a little more fresh and modern than in the past" (NOLA.com, 10/21).
FEATHER IN THEIR CAP:In Baton Rouge, Darrell Williams writes the arena's upgrades are "eye-opening, like going from black-and-white to color." Lauscha said, "Before these renovations took place, I’d say the old New Orleans Arena was about in the bottom third of the (NBA). Now, it’s probably in the top part of all the league’s arenas." Williams notes the second phase of renovations will involve "up to 25,000 feet of expansion, and a new foyer area will be the centerpiece" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 10/22). In New Orleans, Jimmy Smith noted the arena was "built for the modest sum" of $114M in '99 and that the first phase of this year's renovations was a $30M project. The improvements were "funded by the State of Louisiana" and will allow Owner Tom Benson "the earning power necessary within the building to alleviate the need for state subsidies that the team received" prior to his purchase in '12 (NOLA.com, 10/21).
SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP:The Pelicans and adidas yesterday announced a new retail partnership, which includes an exclusive team store at New Orleans Arena. adidas will operate the 3,000-square-foot shop, the brand's first store in New Orleans. The shop will be located on the main concourse level and will be open Tuesday-Saturday when the arena is not holding an event. Six additional adidas Pelicans merchandise stands will be located throughout the arena (Pelicans).
The Int'l Swimming HOF in Ft. Lauderdale "plans to close its headquarters and museum when its lease with the city expires" in Feb. '15, according to Linda Robertson of the MIAMI HERALD. ISHOF CEO Bruce Wigo said that its BOD was "dissatisfied with Fort Lauderdale’s renovation plan for the aging Aquatic Complex," and that it "decided by an 11-0 vote to move to a city where a modernized attraction can be constructed." Robertson notes the HOF "used to be a popular winter training spot for college teams and the site of major meets," but it "loses about" $1.2M per year. Museum attendance has "dwindled from 100,000 in its heyday to 25,000, and its budget has been cut to $600,000." Ft. Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman said that the city "could not provide the $50,000 annual subsidy Wigo sought in addition to the $1 annual lease for a 10,000-square-foot building." Robertson reports the HOF also "wanted control over events held there." Wigo said that the HOF's "collection of aquatic artifacts will be relocated, but the future address is undetermined." He added that he is "in discussions with a few other cities, including Santa Clara, Calif." (MIAMI HERALD, 10/22). Wigo said that the HOF "wasn't scrambling for an alternative since it had planned to be in storage for two years" while the city builds a new $32.4M aquatic center (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/22).
Nike in July began construction on its "multi-million dollar World Headquarters expansion but stopped in mid-August without indication of when the project will restart or what design and construction partners will work with the footwear and sneaker giant," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike Global Corporate Communications Dir Mary Remuzzi said, "We are now working on an enhanced campus design incorporating our recent real estate acquisitions." She added that Nike recently hired Matt Swaim as VP/Construction Services to "help lead the project." Brettman noted Swaim previously "worked as a project manager at Hoffman Construction in Portland." Nike also brought on longtime associate Howard Slusher "as a project consultant." Nike in April announced it would "build two office buildings, expand parking and make road and other campus improvements at its headquarters complex near Beaverton." But the company in an Oct. 14 statement said, "Our plans have become more ambitious and we have more opportunities to leverage (and) we have decided to enhance our overall campus design plan to support Nike's future growth and to create an even better workplace for our employees." It is not clear when building will resume, and Remuzzi "declined to share a construction timeline" (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/19).
In S.F., Chip Johnson writes Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has "bet her political future on this ambitious plan to transform 850 acres of land in and around the existing Coliseum complex." It is "no coincidence or harmonic convergence that the city's deadline for presenting a fully developed plan" for Coliseum City is set for next summer, as the mayoral election comes next November. The latest voter survey "shows Quan in deep trouble," as a poll commissioned by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce showed her "favorability rating" at 24% (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/22).
VIKING CLASH: In Minneapolis, Janet Moore reports the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and Minneapolis Venture LLC, which owns the Downtown East plaza adjacent to the Metrodome, are "feuding over a 2003 agreement that permits Vikings gameday events on the public plaza -- until Oct. 31." If an extension agreement "is not reached by then, the plaza won’t be available for the team’s four home games in November and December or any playoff games, although that appears unlikely at this point." A Hennepin County District Court judge on Monday "took the matter under advisement but urged all parties to continue discussing the matter" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/22).
SAFETY FIRST: In N.Y., Hagen & Li report Barclays Center officials a year after "removing metal detectors when fans freaked out over the hyper-security ... have quietly re-installed the controversial screeners." Even fans who "just want to visit the Downtown Brooklyn arena’s box office have to go through the large, box-shaped contraptions." The metal detectors "were re-installed just before" the Heat-Nets preseason game last week (N.Y. POST, 10/22).