A $63M EverBank Field upgrade Thursday "moved closer to the end zone" after Jacksonville City Council members "cleared the way for a final vote next week," according to David Bauerlein of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan, who "appeared at a special City Council meeting to make a pitch for the improvements," would pay $20M. The city would "shoulder the remaining" $43M by "issuing debt and repaying it with hotel bed tax money already going each year for stadium work." Council members before the 13-1 vote "raised questions about whether the Jaguars are committed long-term to the city, what the 'water features' will be in the proposed new fan zone, and who would get revenue from the advertisements flashed across the gigantic video boards slated for the stadium." Khan "spoke briefly to the council." He said his goal is a "sustainable franchise locally and also a world-class attraction that would draw economic power to Jacksonville." Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that improving EverBank Field is "critical to generating local revenue that's essential to the team's long-term financial successes." Lamping said that the team "ranked No. 2 in the NFL for local revenue" upon inception in '95. He said it now ranks "29th or 30th." Bauerlein writes to create a "fan zone at the north end zone side of the stadium, the construction would remove a big chunk of seats." The city then would "have to install about 7,600 seats" for the Florida-Georgia college football game to "fulfill requirements with the universities for at least 82,000 seats." The Jaguars originally said the new fan zone would have “pools.” But Jaguars attorney Paul Harden said that the “'water features' would not be swimming pools." He said that the zone instead "would have fountains" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/8).
CARPE DIEM: In Jacksonville, Ron Littlepage writes under the header, "Shad Khan Is Investing In His New Hometown." The $63M renovation is an "opportunity to be seized." The money for improvements "will come from bed tax money that can only be used" at EverBank Field. The improvements "will help bring other events and football games to Jacksonville" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/8).
The Thomas & Mack Center is "poised to deal with the competition" it will face from "a new 20,000-seat arena set to open" on the Las Vegas strip in '16, according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Thomas & Mack Center Exec Dir Mike Newcomb said, "If we’re going to worry what everyone else is doing, we wouldn’t get anything done." AEG and MGM Resorts Int'l are "teaming up to build the $350 million venue on 12 acres between New York-New York and Frank Sinatra Drive." AEG and MGM "aim to break ground in April or May, then open the venue" in spring '16. AEG President & CEO Dan Beckerman said that he "envisioned more than 100 events a year at the arena on the Strip," potentially including musical acts, boxing and the PBR World Finals. The five-day PBR event is "held at Thomas & Mack and just finished last month." Newcomb said that the PBR finals are "under contract" for '14 at the Thomas & Mack Center, and that he expects PBR to "sign a three-year deal before next year’s finals event that would keep the high-profile event at the UNLV arena" through '17. AEG VP/Communications Michael Roth said that the company's goal is "not to 'cannibalize' the Las Vegas market but to expand the variety of offerings that come to Las Vegas so that everyone benefits" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 11/8).
In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis noted NBA Kings fans "have taken to social media to complain about long lines and slow service" at Sleep Train Arena's revamped concession stands. Those stations are "offering food from local farms and ranches, along with some local beer and wine." Fans have "generally had good things to say about the quality of the food -- but they complain it isn't getting to them fast enough." Kings President Chris Granger in an e-mail wrote, "It’s going to be a constant work in progress until we get it to where we want it to be" (SACBEE.com, 11/7).
WAR ZONING: CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto said of the Warriors' waterfront arena project, "The fact that the Warriors are adamant about putting it there means that they are going to have to overcome a freshly emboldened series of neighborhoods and common-interest groups who want to keep the Embarcadero from having the view of the Bay obscured." He added it is "really clear" that Warriors Ownership is "still in full-sale mode. They want to sell this thing, and they want people to buy into it." Ratto said of the team's owners, "They want an arena that they can control and they want the one that will be a monument to them" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 11/6).
NORTH, STAY WEST: In Buffalo, Jill Terreri notes local politicians and business leaders on Thursday “began speaking out in favor of granting a package of tax breaks” to keep Delaware North Cos. HQs in the city. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) “wrote a joint letter” to the chair of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency “urging him to approve tax incentives related to Delaware North’s relocation.”Rich Products Corp. CEO William Gisel Jr. said, “To lose a corporate citizen like Delaware North would be just unforgivable for us” (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/8).
TAKING A DIVE: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted the IUPUI Natatorium is "vying for" the June '16 Olympic Diving Trials. However, if Indianapolis is "going to beat out Atlanta, USA Diving will have to be convinced that Indiana University -- which owns and controls the IUPUI Natatorium -- is serious about making" the $17M-$20M in upgrades "needed at the facility." IU VP/Capital Planning & Facilities Tom Morrison said that he would "like to have a plan in place by the end of this year." USA Diving is set to announce the host of the event on Dec. 10 (IBJ.com, 11/6).