The Braves yesterday unveiled plans for the $400M "entertainment district that would spring up" beside their new $672M Cobb County ballpark that is set to open in '17, according to Bluestein & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The district, which is "still in early planning phases, would feature a street lined with retail, restaurants and bars leading up" to the ballpark. A ring of trees and greenspace would "surround the stadium and entertainment district, and a small amphitheater would be at the center of the development." The $400M would be "entirely funded by the Braves and a potential development partner, which has not yet been selected." Braves Exec VP/Business Operations Mike Plant said that the team "may also choose to develop the land on its own." The first phase of the project would "largely consist of retail, restaurants and a possible hotel, totaling between 700,000 and one million square feet." The second phase "would include more residential options." Meanwhile, about 2,000 parking spaces "would be built under the stadium, along with roughly 4,000 other spaces on the 60-acre site" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/21). Braves President John Schuerholz today said of next Tuesday's Cobb County Commission vote to approve the team's MOU with the county, "We have no Plan B. We think very positively that the vote will go in our favor. We've had a lot of great, positive feedback about the feelings of many, many people in Cobb County and the leadership of Cobb County" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/21).
IRONY HERE? ESPN.com's Jim Caple wrote of the Braves' leaving Turner Field, "Just playing in a great ballpark apparently isn't enough for owners these days. The team must also benefit financially from surrounding entertainment, drinking and shopping centers." That the franchise wants to "move to an area where it believes it can create a neighboring entertainment and shopping district is ironic, given that Turner Field has generated no such businesses in 17 years." The exceptions are the "facilities that actually do generate significant surrounding business." Most facilities "have not done so, and that includes Turner Field." This is why new stadiums "should not be viewed as economic drivers or as guaranteed ways for teams to become 'competitive.'" Ballparks "are not financial game-changers for a city" (ESPN.com, 11/20).
Atlanta residents who have "spent months participating in talks" with city officials over how to divide $30M for communities impacted by the Falcons' new $1.2B stadium were "stunned Wednesday to learn the plan they were working to formulate has already been submitted to the city council for approval," according to Katie Leslie of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. In what was "undeniably the most explosive meeting to date over the community benefits package, residents railed against city officials after learning Councilman Michael Julian Bond introduced legislation this week that could be voted on in early December." The community benefits package "must be affirmed by the council and approved by Mayor Kasim Reed" so that the city can issue $200M in bonds backed by hotel-motel taxes for stadium construction. City of Atlanta Deputy Chief of Staff Katrina Taylor Parks in responding to the outcry countered that committee members were "told in last week's meeting that the draft proposal would be taken to the council." She added that the legislation is "meant as a 'placeholder' only ... and was only submitted because the Atlanta City Council has just one more full council meeting this year." Taylor Parks "reminded the committee members and residents in the audience, who have spent months participating in talks over the funds, that their votes weren't needed to move the plan onto the council for consideration." She said, "If anyone else has read the legislation it's clear this body does not even have a vote. You can read. We have said this all along." The "contentious meeting resulted in two outcomes -- a special called community benefits meeting scheduled for this Monday, and a recommendation to the city committee now vetting the plan/agreement: Hold the paper" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/21).
The Univ. of Louisville is “looking into another expansion to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium,” according to a front-page piece by Jonathan Lintner of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. UL on Monday “submitted a request for proposal commissioning a feasibility study to examine potential additions to the stadium’s north end zone.” The study "should include market analysis, peer review and economic outlook, according to the RFP, regarding what could be added." That means "number of seats, pricing and amenities, as well as suggested financing methods for the university." The stadium expanded to 55,000 seats prior to the '10 season, and Monday's request "represents the first official motion to consider" further expansion. UL sold in excess of 45,000 season tickets this year, and the stadium was "designed with the ability to expand to an 80,000-seat capacity" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/21). UL AD Tom Jurich yesterday told a group of boosters, "I don't have any numbers in mind, and to be honest with you, I don't know yet if we’re going to do it. All we're doing is a feasibility study. I'm not going to move forward on anything I don't feel comfortable with. I want to make sure that it’s right and it looks great" (UOFLCARDGAME.com, 11/20). In Louisville, John Karman III noted responses to the RFP "are due by" Dec. 1. Papa John's Stadium was completed in '98 at a cost of $135M and "at that time, it had 42,000 seats." The '10 expansion cost $72M. The stadium "includes more than 70 luxury suites and 2,000 loge seats" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/20).
The AP's Rob Harris reported a naming-rights deal for London's Olympic Stadium is "expected to be sealed within a year." EPL club West Ham United will become the venue's main tenant in '16 after it is "overhauled to make it suitable for soccer." West Ham Vice Chair Karren Brady yesterday said that there has "been 'overwhelming worldwide interest' from potential sponsors, and ruled out a naming rights deal with contentious companies, including money lending businesses" (AP, 11/20).
QUEEN'S RANSOM? In Cincinnati, Sharon Coolidge reports the Hamilton County (Ohio) Board of Commissioners yesterday approved a measure that will see county homeowners "pay more property taxes than promised" for the construction of Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. Commissioner Todd Portune "was the lone 'no' vote." He "wanted to raise the county sales tax to balance the fund that pays for the construction and maintenance of the stadiums, which would have allowed the full rebate to be paid" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/21).
TEXAS TWO-STEP: Top Rank Chair Bob Arum said of talks with Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones to hold an event at AT&T Stadium, "We're very, very close with Jerry. I like him, and we're talking about maybe doing an event there, and they're going to set it up like a basketball arena, 25,000 seats. We would do not a Manny Pacquiao fight, but right under that level. Like at the level of a (Timothy) Bradley-(Juan Manuel) Marquez fight. We want that to happen next year, talking to them about sometime in the spring" (LASVEGASSUN.com, 11/21).
COAST TO COAST: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie reports Tiger Woods' World Challenge tournament is "looking for a new home" for next year, and is "likely to land" in Florida. The World Challenge has been held at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for 13 of the past 14 years (GOLFWEEK, 11/22 issue).