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Volume 24 No. 115


Cobb County (Ga.) Commission Chair Tim Lee on Thursday said that he believes all commissioners on Nov. 26 "will vote in favor" of a 30-year agreement for the Braves to play in a new $672M ballpark there, according to Jon Gillooly of the MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL. Lee said, "I am confident it will pass with a unanimous vote." The Braves intend to "buy a 60-acre wooded parcel off Interstates 75 and 285," and the new ballpark and its parking spaces would "sit on 15 of those acres." Upon purchasing the land, the Braves would "immediately deed the 15-acre footprint for the stadium to the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority." The Braves are paying 55% of the ballpark cost and a draft of the proposal shows the team's "upfront commitment" as $280M, or a minimum of $230M. The $372M paid over the 30-year life of the deal consists of $280M paid by opening day '17 and $92M "financed over the 30 years and paid by the Braves' guaranteed revenues" of $6.1M in non-ticket revenue per year. That figure is broken down by rent payments to the county ($3M), venue naming rights ($1.5M) and parking revenue ($1.5M). The plan is to issue $368M in "30-year revenue bonds through the Exhibit Hall Authority," and the Braves' annual commitment will cover $92M of the bond issuance. Annual payments on the remaining $276M debt "will be paid from a variety of sources including hotel/motel tax, a new 3-mill property tax on commercial property owners and apartment building owners in the Cumberland CID area and an extension of the current parks bond tax that expires" in '17. The draft contract shows that the county and the Braves would "share, on a 50-50 basis, in the costs of maintenance." Costs associated with "upgrades to the stadium, however, would be borne by the Braves" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/15).

PAY DAY: In Atlanta, Klepal & Tucker note property owners will "pay almost half" of Cobb County’s $17.9M annual contribution to financing for the new ballpark. Property tax rates "won’t rise, but the county plans to shift" $8.6M now being used to "pay off parkland bonds toward stadium debt." The parkland bonds, issued years ago, will "be paid off in three years -- just as the new stadium nears completion." The "rest of the cash to pay the county’s share will come from new taxes and fees on certain businesses or consumers" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/15). Lee said that the Braves' "willingness to pay for more than half of the project will be an important selling point" to the county commissioners. He added another "plus is that the county would raise its share without increasing property taxes" (, 11/14).

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: In Atlanta, Leslie & Trubey cite documents as showing that the Braves "wanted to earn" at least $200M through "redeveloping the area around Turner Field -- with new apartments, restaurants and hotels -- in exchange for staying in their current home another 20 years." The documents show a "wish list of pricey upgrades, including transit improvements and unspecified changes to vehicular access to Turner Field." They also give "insight into what the team might want to build in Cobb County." The Braves in the documents "proposed the development of 500 apartments, 375 hotel rooms, and 50 condos and townhomes, along with space for retail, restaurants and offices in parking lots around the ballpark." But city and team officials "were at odds over how big of a role the Braves should play in the redevelopment of the area." The Braves "would be guaranteed the greater" of $10M annually or 25% of all revenue from the district for 20 years. That would "provide at least" a guaranteed $200M revenue stream to the team "over the life of the proposed 20-year lease." City of Atlanta Deputy COO Hans Utz said that the city "agreed with the majority of the items in the proposal, but was still vetting it" when the Braves announced their decision to relocate to Cobb County. Mayor Kasim Reed's administration "believed it had until early November to figure out a way" to meet the team's requirements (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/15). Also in Atlanta, Katie Leslie writes the documents revealed "more about the team’s development goals, its desire to break free from the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority ... and infrastructure improvement needs." They also "serve as a strong hint for what the Braves might look to do in Cobb County" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/15). Meanwhile, the AJC's Tim Tucker compares the Braves' and Falcons' new venue deals.

The Rays' planned upgrades to Tropicana Field, which will include "360-degree 'interior stadium fan access' with the creation of walkways behind the outfield seating areas and opening up what was the dark, glass-fronted Batter's Eye restaurant into an open-air meeting spot with concessions," will have a "$1.3 million price tag," according to city records cited by Waveney Ann Moore of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The bulk of the money for the "overhaul is coming from a special stadium capital projects escrow account the city controls." The account, which has a balance of $2.1M, is "funded with naming rights revenues and ticket fees as part of the city's contract with the Rays." The team "can't spend money from the account without city approval." The team will ask the City Council to approve the project at its Nov. 25 meeting. St. Petersburg Managing Dir of Development Administration Joe Zeoli said that the team "will be responsible for costs associated with the build-out of concessions in the former Batter's Eye restaurant area." Moore reports though the glass walls "are coming down, there still has to be a dark area in centerfield that provides the hitting background." In the new configuration, that may be "a screen or a mesh banner, and it will be smaller than the fronting of the restaurant, though it will meet league requirements" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/15).

STAYING OUT OF IT: In Tampa, Stephen Nohlgren notes Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday both said that the league "has no immediate plans to intervene in stadium negotiations between St. Petersburg" and the Rays. Nohlgren notes Selig "expressed impatience in August that the city and the team could not forge an agreement to allow the Rays to explore new stadium sites in Tampa." However, Selig on Thursday at the MLB owners meetings in Orlando "eased off that." He said that "any negotiations right now are 'a club matter'" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/15).

The N.Y./N.J. Super Bowl Host Committee and New Jersey’s Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) have "taken every precaution to make sure the lights don’t go out" at MetLife Stadium during Super Bowl XLVIII, according to Gary Myers of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. There was a 34-minute lighting delay during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in February, and it would be a "nightmare for the NFL" if MetLife Stadium goes dark. NFL Senior VP/Events Frank Supovitz: "I don’t believe it will happen again. There are so many experts focused on making sure that it doesn’t. It seems to me the safest place to be if you are looking for power." Myers reports on Super Bowl Sunday, there will be 30-40% "more power required than for a regular-season Giants or Jets game based on media requirements and events being held at the Izod Center and the Meadowlands Racetrack." Two power sources "feed into the stadium, and for the Super Bowl, a third dedicated line is being installed." PSE&G President & COO Ralph LaRossa said that there will be "enough power brought into the complex to handle the equivalent of taking care of 12,000 homes." He added that "any of the three lines can supply enough power by itself." The NFL also "brings in generators." Myers noted a test was "run a few weeks ago at the Meadowlands with the same power requirements that will be utilized on game night, and there were just a couple of minor, fixable glitches." LaRossa: “We put a lot of toasters in the kitchen and made sure the (ground fault interrupter) didn’t trip" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/15). He added, "I would never guarantee anything. When you’re dealing with pieces of equipment, you never say 100 percent. We have taken every precaution that we could" (Bergen RECORD, 11/15).

AT&T recently gave Sports Authority Field at Mile High a $10M network upgrade that will be fully launched at this Sunday's game versus the Chiefs, as the carrier "added the equivalent of 11 cell towers, all dedicated to serving subscribers at Broncos stadium and its surrounding parking lots," according to Andy Vuong of the DENVER POST. The Broncos estimate that 40% of the nearly 80,000 fans that "attend each home game are AT&T subscribers." The club added that this is the "first season where fans are uploading more than they are downloading while at the stadium, by a 60 to 40 margin." AT&T "outfitted the stands, concessions and major entrances with a distributed antenna system," and the carrier "installed 325 directional antennas." Verizon performed a similar upgrade in late '11. The Broncos' Wi-Fi system is "currently only available for Verizon subscribers, though the team hopes to open it up to AT&T and Sprint by next year." AT&T also "assisted the Broncos with a video upgrade featuring the installation of more than 1,100 IPTV screens throughout the stadium" (DENVER POST, 11/15).

ALL IN AT ALLSTATE ARENA: In Chicago, Danny Ecker reported the city of Rosemont, Ill., on Wednesday was expected to approve a new contract with L.A.-based wireless network provider Boingo Wireless to "install a free Wi-Fi network and distributed antenna system" at Allstate Arena. The deal will "mark the debut of public Wi-Fi at the 33-year-old facility and greatly expand its capacity for smartphone usage, such as posting photos on social media." Wi-Fi service at the arena, which hosts DePaul's men's basketball team, the AHL Wolves and the WNBA Sky, "will be supported by advertising revenue" (, 11/13).

The city of Sacramento’s sports scene "took a major step forward Thursday" with the announcement of a $3M, 8,000-seat soccer stadium to house USL Pro Club Sacramento Republic FC, according to a front-page piece by Sam Stanton of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The stadium will be built by Ovations Food Services and is expected open at Cal Expo by March. Plans call for the stadium to be "erected on a vacant, 4.5-acre parcel of the fairgrounds" in time for the club to begin league play in April. Sacramento Republic FC is still being formed, and team President & Founder Warren Smith said that his "ultimate goal" is bringing an MLS franchise to the city, "something that would eventually require construction" of a $100M soccer facility seating at least 18,000 people. Ovations has run concessions at Cal Expo and the California state fair for two decades. Ovations VP/Business Development Nick Nicora said that the company would "pay a cut of the profits to Cal Expo, which is owned by the state of California." Nicora: "We hope to have an opening day of March 15 ... and we’re looking at a possible exhibition game in the first week of April." Smith "made it clear that his intent is to use the Republic team as a springboard to MLS, and he said he is considering eight sites -- including downtown and Cal Expo -- as possible homes for an MLS franchise if he acquires one" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/15).

The College Baseball Foundation on Thursday announced that the College Baseball HOF will be named after President George H.W. Bush and that construction of the museum will begin by the end of '14, according to George Watson of the LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL. HOF Exec Dir Mike Gustafson said, "We know there have been some detractors or doubters, not that the project wasn’t a good project but that ... it’s a far-reaching goal. But in the end, we’re close." Gustafson said that a ceremonial groundbreaking "will be held sometime around" the Foundation’s annual Night of Champions event, scheduled for June 28, and that actual construction "should be underway by this time next season." He said that the group currently has about $7.5M "in hand for construction costs and needs to reach" $9M to "begin construction, which he expects to raise in the very near future." He added that in addition, roughly $5M "in the form of an endowment will be raised to operate the facility." Bush played baseball at Yale from '47-48 and "led the Bulldogs to the first two College World Series tournaments" (LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL, 11/15). The HOF was "founded as a non-profit organization" in '04, and it "heralded its first class of inductees" in '06 (, 11/14).

In Cleveland, Jeff Darcy writes of the Browns' recently announced upgrades for FirstEnergy Stadium, "The best stadium upgrade would be a new, better looking and functioning stadium in a different location." But since that is "not happening anytime soon, the next best option is the remodeling job" team Owner Jimmy Haslam III and CEO Joe Banner "have presented to the public." The proposed changes, "done in two phases, do make the stadium look and function better, for a fraction of what a new stadium would cost" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/15).

LAND GRAB: In Atlanta, Leon Stafford reported the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which will own the Falcons' new $1.2B stadium, will spend more than $1M to "buy a few remaining parcels needed for the project and acquire another through eminent-domain proceedings." The body on Tuesday agreed to "pay $800,000 and $434,000 for land owned by Callaway Foundation Inc., and Earl M. Leiffer respectively." Each "owns land of less than one-half acre on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at or near Mangum Street." The authority also "will pay $60,000 for a billboard on the Callaway property" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/14).

A TAXING SITUATION: ESPN's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday named the Jacksonville City Council as the "Worst Person in the Sports World," as it voted 14-2 to "authorize taxpayer-funded improvements" at EverBank Field. Olbermann said, "The city will now tax its hotel guests 2%. So it will pay for $43 million of the new $63 million scoreboard insisted upon by Owner Shahid Khan, instead of using -- you know -- $43 million on the city! Worse yet, the new scoreboard, expected to be the largest in the world, will show replays of Jaguars games" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 11/13).

In Richmond, Graham Moomaw in a front-page piece cites officials as saying that if the city's Economic Development Authority were to "sell naming rights to the proposed Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium," it would cut the Double-A Eastern League Richmond Flying Squirrels’ annual lease payment "by $600,000, or almost a third." The anticipated proceeds from a naming-rights deal would essentially be built in to the Squirrels’ $1.7M annual lease payment, "but would be removed if the EDA can strike a sponsorship deal itself for more money." Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall said that city officials "believe the naming rights would sell for more than $600,000, but after factoring in other obligations to a sponsor such as signage, advertising and suites, that would be the net value" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 11/15).

PIPE DREAM? The S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion said of whether the Warriors will get their new waterfront arena in S.F., "That waterfront arena is never going to get built, it just isn't. The people of San Francisco made that perfectly clear in the last election." S.F.-based KGMZ-FM show host Dan Dibley said, "The Warriors will never build an arena on that spot." Dibley: "You're not going to retrofit a pier and throw an arena down there. If you live down there, you don't want this thing" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 11/13).

PUT AWAY THE SKATES:'s Leonor Vivanco noted an ice rink at Wrigley Field "won't open this winter to skaters after a four-year stint," as the Cubs "decided not to do it again due to plans to overhaul the ballpark property." Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green in an e-mail wrote, "We planned for construction to start this offseason so we had to make a decision on this a few months ago. Unfortunately, we've yet to start to construction and resources have been diverted" (, 11/13).