MLB would help the A's "move across the bay and play at rival Giants' AT&T Park" for two years starting next season if O.co Coliseum officials "don't come to terms on a new short-term lease for the team," according to sources cited by Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Sharing the stadium "would probably be the first step toward moving the team out of the Bay Area." MLB is "demanding that the Coliseum give the A's just a two-year lease extension -- not the five- to eight-year deal the authority has been pushing." The short-term lease "would give the A's more flexibility should the team's owners swing a deal to move to San Jose -- or beyond." The "sticking point in the Coliseum negotiations hasn't been the length of the lease so much as the money from food and beverage concessions." The Giants and A's have home games on the same date nine times next season, and MLB's "threat to the Coliseum" could be "a game changer in the lease talks -- with the A's the likely winners." A Coliseum official said, "We don't have any choice. Major League Baseball is driving it." The A's did not return calls seeking comment, while Giants President & CEO Larry Baer and MLB both declined comment (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/4). In San Jose, Mark Purdy notes negotiations on a lease extension at O.co Coliseum "have been ongoing for more than six months" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/4).
KICKING THE CAN? CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote of MLB's proposed deal to help move the A's, "The Coliseum, of course, will cave, so we don’t really need to sweat that too much." This is "mostly a holding action by 28 owners who want to do nothing at least for the next year and change," so that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "can go into retirement bequeathing this little bucket of phlegm to his successor" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 11/3). YAHOO SPORTS' David Brown writes of the A's possibly moving out of the Coliseum, "This rumor has been floated in order to scare A's fans, officials, politicians, whomever, into 'doing something.'" The A's "actually getting a new stadium in the Bay Area sounds more politically feasible than sharing a park with the Giants" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/4).
Trail Blazers officials on Saturday acknowledged that Moda Center's new Wi-Fi capabilities had an "uneven opening performance" during the team's game versus the Spurs, and "vowed it would be better" for tomorrow's game against the Rockets, according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. While the new system installed over the summer "had undergone a soft opening" for a recent WHL Portland Winterhawks game, it "had not experienced the broadband crunch of thousands packed into the arena." Blazers VP/Engineering & Technology Mike Janes called the Wi-Fi "sporadic." Brettman noted some fans also were "not aware they needed, at least on some smartphones, to enter the device's settings to accept the free Toyota-sponsored WiFi connection." Meanwhile, the team's "altered ticket-selling approach -- essentially resisting past practice of allowing cut-priced tickets to reach the secondary market -- had an obvious impact: empty seats in the arena." Nevertheless, the team's postgame notes "described the 19,980-seat arena as having 20,028 people in attendance and a 'sellout.'" It seemed "odd that some seats appeared to be empty," and in the second half, a Blazers staff member "walked a concourse with a stack of 'white-out' Rip City T-shirts that had been removed from unused seats." The game also "marked the Blazers' debut for four local food suppliers," including Bunk Sandwiches. Bunk co-Owner Nick Brown at one point "sprinted from the arena to a company van to drive to a nearby brick-and-mortar Bunk to retrieve more food for the remainder of the game" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/3).
THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE? Blazers officials including President Chris McGowan for months have said that they "want to upgrade the fan experience this season, from pregame hoopla to in-game amenities." Brettman wrote, "They know the ultimate marketing strategy remains the same: Win, rinse, repeat." But in "lieu of that or, ideally, in addition to that, they want to present a product that at least has the bells and whistles offered at other major pro sports arenas as they battle to increase revenue and keep up with competing markets." For example, fans before Saturday's game had the "chance to get up close and personal" with the team's '77 NBA Championship trophy, which was a "rare public display of fan appreciation using the franchise's ultimate bauble" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/2).
Increased smartphone usage at pro sports venues has "created endless possibilities for fan engagement and marketing opportunities," but also is "creating headaches as teams scramble to supply enough bandwidth to support the exploding need for Internet connectivity," according to Michael Sanserino of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZZETTE. A team can spend as much as $10M to "install the technology needed to support cellular and Wi-Fi networks in a stadium, with the virtual certainty that the technology will be obsolete within a couple of years only to need another investment in still newer networking systems that are more effective." The NFL has "instructed the league's 32 teams to install Wi-Fi in all parts of their stadiums" by '15. MLB teams are "finishing the first year of a two-year partnership" between Qualcomm and MLBAM "to survey, plan and install wireless and mobile phone networks at every ballpark." In contrast, the NHL "has not directed its teams to improve mobile connectivity." The mobile world is "shifting as smartphone users change their habits." Fans today are using bandwidth to "upload photos and videos, using much more bandwidth than three years ago when stadium data use was dominated by fans downloading scores and statistics." Despite the "expense and hassle of supporting the technology, teams have found there is a marketing advantage to having so many fans connected to the Internet." They can get "instantaneous feedback for issues that arise on and off the field," and "engage fans, asking them to upload photos that may appear on the scoreboard and Tweet updates with team-generated hashtags." Van Wagner Sports Group Senior VP Robert Jordan said, "All of the leagues have understood that having a wireless component at your stadium is no longer nice to have -- it's a requirement. It's what fans expect" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZZETTE, 11/3).
A sale and auction of memorabilia from the Astrodome on Saturday "drew thousands of people, some of whom waited in line for hours," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Fans "started lining up around 5 a.m., three hours before the
sale was set to begin at the adjacent Reliant Center." Local memorabilia dealer Ted Nelkin said that
he was told organizers "ran out of Astroturf pieces at 11 a.m. and
ran out of physical seats that had been removed from the Dome by 2 p.m." He added of how the sale was conducted, "I've got nothing good to say about it. They could have cared less that we were there." Reliant Park GM Mark Miller said that sale organizers "expected about 1,500 people to show up but that the actual crowd was six to eight times that size." He added that Reliant Park "consulted with the group that handled the sale of seats and other items from Yankee Stadium and were told that 'there was some initial demand but that it tapered off very quickly.'" Miller: "We were going to feel good if we had sold 500 pairs of seats." Instead, organizers "sold 900 pairs and accepted orders for another 1,500 pairs." Miller said that Reliant Park will "conduct an online auction starting at noon Nov. 15 for customers who were unable to get to the Saturday morning sale" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/3). MLBAM Exec VP/Content Dinn Mann said, "People who aren't from Houston don't understand -- probably can't understand -- that to us, this is more than just a stadium. This is our Golden Gate Bridge, our Empire State Building" (N.Y. POST, 11/3). The AP's Juan Lozano noted the sale and auction came "just days before voters will decide whether to approve a referendum that would authorize" up to $217M in bonds to turn the Astrodome "into a giant convention center and exhibition space" (AP, 11/2).
In S.F., Matier & Ross wrote the Warriors are set to "ramp up their campaign" to move to S.F. in '17, with the first play being a "rechristening of the building they want to build along the waterfront near the Bay Bridge." The team's handlers "have determined that the word 'arena' evokes too harsh an image among voters," so they are "going to start calling it the 'pavilion' -- which they think better describes the billion-dollar-plus building they envision for Piers 30-32" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/3).
PORT OF CALL: In Miami, Hannah Sampson noted Carnival Cruise Line has "taken some of its bars from ship to shore," as three bars "based on venues aboard the cruise line's ships are now open at AmericanAirlines Arena." RedFrog Bar is "brand new this season" at the arena, while RedFrog Rum Bar and Bluelaguna Tequila Bar both "opened late last season." Heat Owner Micky Arison also serves as Carnival Corp. Chair (MIAMI HERALD, 11/2).
DINING WITH THE DEVILS: In New Jersey, Kara Yorio wrote Prudential Center concessionaire Aramark is "trying to satisfy those people who crave the traditional, but also long for a little more sophisticated or healthy options." Prudential Center exec chef Niko Marinos said that while Aramark "makes the food decisions, the Devils' new ownership had been involved." The arena is "able to switch things up between events and offer specific items depending on the clientele" (Bergen RECORD, 11/3).