The Cobb County (Ga.) Board of Commissioners on Tuesday by a 4-1 vote "approved a memorandum of understanding" that will now finance $300M worth of construction on the Braves' new $672M, 41,500-seat ballpark, according to a front-page piece by Jon Gillooly of the MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL. Braves President John Schuerholz after the vote said, "This is a most significant and historic day for our franchise. This gold standard franchise has joined with a gold standard county as we plan our future together." Board of Commissioners member Lisa Cupid, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said that it "wasn’t that she opposed the Braves moving to Cobb County, but that she was being asked to make a decision much too quickly given the size and complexity of the deal." Commission Chair Tim Lee said that the next steps are to "meet in the first couple weeks of December to come up with an action plan, which includes putting into place the funding mechanisms to pay for the stadium, such as creating a special tax district in the Cumberland area." The Braves are "preparing to issue a request for proposals" to build their $400M mixed-use development that would accompany the ballpark. The Braves "will have to finalize the purchase of all 60 acres of the site they intend to build on from Bethesda, Md.-based B.F. Saul Co." (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/27).
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: In Atlanta, Leslie & Tucker in a front-page piece report, "Fans and foes of the deal began crowding into the meeting hall hours before the 7 p.m. hearing was to begin, many sporting 'Cobb: Home of the Braves' T-shirts." The meeting "began promptly and onlookers who weren’t allowed into the packed room watched from beyond glass doors." Meanwhile, the team "plans to move quickly in hiring an architect and proceeding with design work." Dallas-based HKS Architects has been "consulting with the team on the project" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/27).
Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to the City Council that would allow the Cubs to "sell beer and wine in their new outdoor plaza connected to Wrigley Field," which could increase team Owner the Ricketts family's "competition with neighboring bars," according to John Byrne of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The ordinance is "supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel" and would "allow alcohol to be sold in a plaza next to any Chicago sports stadium with capacity above 30,000, so it could apply to Soldier Field or U.S. Cellular Field as well." But the "focus is clearly on historic Wrigley Field and the Rickettses." The proposal states that alcohol "could be sold in a sports plaza directly adjacent to the stadium" from 11:00am CT until midnight on weekends and until 11:00pm on weeknights. Sales would "be allowed during nongame events like the concerts or ice skating programs the Cubs have talked about for the plaza to be built west of the park." The proposal also would "make it legal for fans to carry alcohol out of the ballpark and into the plaza, and into the park from the plaza." Emanuel has "largely supported the plan, citing the family's commitment to pay for the renovations." Emanuel's Dir of Communications Sarah Hamilton said that the mayor "backs the liquor license proposal"(CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/27).
UNHAPPY FANS: In Chicago, Fran Spielman writes the new outdoor plaza ordinance is the "latest in a string of City Hall concessions to the team that have prompted Wrigleyville residents to call Emanuel the 'Cubs’ most valuable player'" in '13. The Chicago Plan Commission last week "infuriated Wrigleyville residents by authorizing the Cubs to take an additional 10 feet of street and sidewalk to enlarge the stadium footprint to accommodate wider aisles, more concessions and a larger Budweiser deck" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/27).
The Newton (Iowa) City Council on Tuesday voted to "transfer existing agreements between the City of Newton and US Motorsports Corporation to still undisclosed new owners," which are "known as Iowa Speedway, LLC," according to Steve Woodhouse of the Knoxville JOURNAL-EXPRESS. Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said that he, council members and staff "know who is behind the new LLC." He added that "no one would entertain questions as to who the new owners are." Hansen said, "We want them to be in control of that announcement." Iowa Speedway Communications Dir Craig Armstrong said that an announcement "would be coming soon" (Knoxville JOURNAL-EXPRESS, 11/27). In Des Moines, Bryce Miller writes Hansen "tried to maintain footing on the tight rope as he expressed confidence to any worried fans or taxpayers." Hansen said, “I know enough about the new ownership people that I’m extremely confident that Iowa Speedway will be successful for many years to come.” Int'l Speedway Corporation (ISC) "often has been considered a contender to jump into the Iowa market," but ISC Senior Dir of PR Lenny Santiago said that his group is "not behind the sale." Santiago: “We’re not the ones involved in the deal." However, Miller notes removing ISC from the equation "does not necessarily remove the France family." But whoever steps in "will face some financial mop-up." Speedway officials confirmed in early September the track "faced financial challenges, including timely payments to vendors, and was seeking new financing and partners" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 11/27).
In a decision based on "equal parts income and logistics," the Univ. of California announced Tuesday that its '14 home football game against the Univ.of Oregon "will be played at the 49ers' new home in Santa Clara, Levi's Stadium, on Oct. 24," according to John Crumpacker of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The Friday night game "will be televised by either ESPN or Fox" and will be the "first college football game" at the $1.2B stadium. The game was booked by 49ers COO Paraag Marathe "on behalf of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority." When Cal hosted Washington in a Friday night game at Memorial Stadium in '12, Cal officials "learned that having tens of thousands of fans streaming onto campus in the afternoon while school is in session caused logistical problems, with parking prime among them." Cal AD Sandy Barbour said, "We have to figure a way to successfully host occasional weeknight games with minimal disruption to the normal schedule for the university and surrounding community." The change of venue also is seen by Barbour "as an opportunity to make more money than what is ordinarily generated by a home game." Cal will "still play six football games at Memorial Stadium" in '14 (SFGATE.com, 11/26). In California, Lauren Hepler noted season-ticket holders for Cal home games "will have to pay extra for the Levi's Stadium game, though students will get access to discounted tickets and free transportation to Santa Clara." Levi's Stadium PSL holders also will "have priority access to tickets for the game" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/26).
An enclosing of Jack Trice Stadium’s south end zone is "finally coming" for Iowa State Univ. thanks to a $25M "'lead gift' from Reiman Publications founders Roy and Bobbi Reiman," according to Rob Gray of the Cedar Rapids GAZETTE. ISU AD Jamie Pollard said that "bowling in the south end zone wouldn’t necessarily translate to increasing ... capacity beyond the current 56,800." He added that the project will "be submitted to the Regents in February." Gray noted it is hoped the south end zone could be enclosed "by the start of" the '15 football season and to "remain on that schedule, construction would have to begin after" the '14 season. Pollard also stressed that the completion of a lower bowl is "only part of a larger vision to enhance the attractiveness of an area that already includes the nearby Reiman Gardens" (Cedar Rapids GAZETTE, 11/26). In Des Moines, Randy Peterson wrote fundraising is "ongoing -- and will be that way until the still to be determined price tag is reached, and don’t bet against it happening." Peterson: "An educated guess would put the cost in the neighborhood of $50 million" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 11/26).