The MLB Cardinals and Ballpark Village developer Cordish Cos. said that a 20,000-square-foot entertainment area outside Busch Stadium "will be known as Fox Sports Midwest LIVE! as a result of a multiyear naming rights agreement," according to Tim Bryant of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Cardinals officials "declined to disclose the dollar value of the naming rights deal." FS Midwest telecasts beginning next season will "originate at a new studio at Ballpark Village, across Clark Avenue from Busch Stadium." FS Midwest "expects to produce more than 300 Cardinals and Blues shows a year at the new studio, which will be situated between the Cardinals Nation restaurant and Budweiser Brew House." Officials said that the studio, on the second floor of Ballpark Village's first building, will "provide viewers a shot of the stadium's interior behind the anchor desk." FS Midwest Dir of Media Relations Geoff Goldman said that in addition to pre- and postgame telecasts for Cardinals games, the new studio "will be used for pre- and postgame shows for Blues road games." Bryant notes during hockey season, a Blues-themed backdrop "will be installed behind the 1,215-square-foot studio's anchor desk." Blues pre- and postgame shows, plus between-period programs for home games "will continue to originate at Scottrade Center." Goldman said that the Ballpark Village studio will be the FS Midwest's "first permanent studio presence" since the net launched in St. Louis in '96. Bryant notes a stage, a 40-foot LED screen, a 200-seat restaurant and LED ribbon message boards "will be features of the two-level Fox Sports Midwest LIVE! space." A retractable glass roof "will cover the area" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/13).
The Dolphins plan to test beacon technology during Sunday’s game against the Patriots at Sun Life Stadium to stay better connected with their fans using mobile devices and ultimately improve their gameday experience. About 150-200 Dolphins season-ticket holders with iPhones and iPads are scheduled to test a system that sends targeted messages to their devices through the team’s mobile app as they walk around the stadium’s plazas and concourses. Beacons are essentially small radios programmed with location-based technology to pick up signals from mobile devices and send back customized messages for informational and commercial purposes, providing a tool for teams to collect more data on fans’ interests and tastes and make highly targeted suggestions. The Dolphins, in conjunction with tech partners Qualcomm and eMbience, the team's application developer, have installed about 50 beacons inside the stadium walls on most levels of the facility. As they move about the stadium -- depending on the space they enter -- test participants will receive full-screen, branded messages providing discounts on concessions and merchandise, videos detailing the history behind Dolphins icons Joe Robbie, Don Shula and Dan Marino, and “line busting” alerts informing them of shorter wait times at other concession stands. On the club level, test patrons were to receive alerts with the words “Waiting in Line?” and “You’ll find shorter wait times at the concessions near Section 228,” redirecting them from high-traffic concession stands to shorter lines elsewhere offering the same food and drink on the stadium’s east and west sides. The beacon system uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology, and for Sunday’s test, it will be restricted to users of Apple products using iOS 6 operating systems and above, said Dolphins Senior VP & Chief Technology Officer Tery Howard. The intelligence tied to beacons will not repeat a message if a fan walks by an area more than once, Howard said.
INFO WILL BE USED NEXT SEASON: The Dolphins will use the feedback they receive from those testing the beacons to improve the technology and expand it for next season to include integration with concessionaire Centerplate’s 800 points of sale at the stadium. “It has to be easy to use and it has to be relevant to enhance the fan experience,” Howard said. “Everybody has a device with them now and it’s about what we can do to maximize all this content we have.”
The Boston Licensing Board on Thursday approved the Red Sox' request to "expand sales of liquor to three more stations" in Fenway Park and to "allow sales of all alcohol until the end of the seventh inning," according to Brian MacQuarrie of the BOSTON GLOBE. The cutoff for alcohol sales in '13 was 2 1/2 hours "from the first pitch or the end of the seventh inning, whichever came first." However, with more games "lasting more than three hours," the elimination of a time limit "could result in an increase of alcohol sales." A "wide range of mixed drinks" will now be sold at eight locations in the ballpark. The plan was endorsed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's office, which prior to the '11 season raised concerns "when the team initially broached selling mixed drinks" at Fenway. Meanwhile, approval also was given Thursday for the team to sell beer in "light aluminum and plastic wide-mouth bottles, in addition to the plastic cups that have been a staple for years." Red Sox execs indicated that a reason for the change is to "curb the long lines that often form at concessions stands." Licensing Board Chair Nicole Murati Ferrer said that the panel "did not consider bottles to be a safety issue." Team officials said that the move to allow bottles "is following an industry trend and that wide-mouth openings will lessen their danger as a potential missile" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/13).
The BMO Harris Bradley Center, reported a 64.3% increase in operating revenue for FY '13 as the facility "saw an inflow of state grant money, the Champions of the Community sponsorship initiative" and more Bucks games than during the NBA lockout in '11-12, according to Rich Kirchen of the MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Bradley Center Sports & Entertainment Corp. last week said that its operating revenue was $20.7M for the FY ending June 30, compared with $12.6M "for the fiscal year that ended in June 2012." But arena President & CEO Steve Costello said that the "financial picture is not as positive as the revenue figures might indicate." He added that a "better indicator of the facility's economic position" is a $5.2M net decrease in cash experienced in FY '13, "which primarily was driven" by $4.9M in capital spending to maintain and care for the building. Kirchen noted maintenance and improvements during FY '13 included "exterior concrete repairs, building infrastructure, signage updates, refurbishing public and fan spaces, and food and beverage service improvements." Among the revenue increases were sponsorships of $2.4M "compared with zero the previous year and an increase in state grant revenue" to $3.9M from $581,274 in FY '12 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/12).
REPAIRS NEEDED: In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted a tour of the BMH Harris Bradley Center this week showed "wear and tear in key mechanical areas." Costello said that over the next five to 10 years, $25-40M in "major capital repairs will be needed." He added that those figures are on top of $1M "needed in routine annual maintenance." Costello termed the higher operating revenue a "one-time occurrence, especially given a 'soft' year for concerts at the facility." Issues at the arena include rust "working its way through metal exit doors, some of the key mechanical systems are as old as the building itself, the seats are wearing out and parts of the glassy atrium roof leak." Costello noted much of the building's original mechanical equipment "is still in place." Two 500-gallon water heaters that provide hot water to the 550,000-square-foot facility have "extensive rust near the bottom," and in the chiller room, the staff is "using the same equipment that came with the building in 1988." Asked about the atrium glass that greets visitors, Costello said that it is "beautiful to behold, but in some places it leaks and needs to be constantly maintained" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/12).
While MLB last week reportedly told the A's they could not build a new ballpark in San Jose, the league "simply rejected the last plan submitted" by the city, according to sources cited by Mark Purdy of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. There were "concerns about seating capacity and the stadium footprint at the proposed downtown site," but the letter from MLB "did not rule out potential MLB approval of a revised plan." The letter was sent to the A's and team Owner Lew Wolff "one day before San Jose filed its lawsuit against MLB," in a "legal tactic of some sort." All of the "key South Bay players remain publicly behind an A's ballpark vision for the designated property near the SAP Center." However, nothing can happen "until the MLB suit is resolved -- and until baseball finds an internal solution that will satisfy the Giants' territorial rights claim." Purdy: "For now, no one among the San Jose ballpark supporters seems too concerned that the East Bay will come up with a better proposal" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/11). Legal analyst Steve Moskowitz said, "The city of San Jose, in my opinion, is going to lose because the bottom line is -- this is a legal term -- so what? A business made a decision. ... Any business has the right to be where they want to. The city of San Jose is doing two things: One thing they're trying, which they already lost on, is the anti-trust. The other thing they're saying, 'You interfered with our business.' But the bottom line is Major League Baseball has the right to be where they want to be." Moskowitz: "Whatever the judge does, there's still appeals left and this is going to drag on for awhile" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 12/12).
In the "ongoing battle for wireless network supremacy" in the NFL, the Cowboys say that they "are on top, with a big boost" from AT&T, according to Gary Jacobson of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The Cowboys and AT&T "showed off their wireless capabilities at AT&T Stadium during a media tour Thursday." Cowboys Chief Information Officer John Winborn said that "nearly 19,000 fans at one time were connected to the stadium's Wi-Fi network through cellphones and other mobile devices" during the Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders. Over the course of the game, "more than 32,000 fans connected." Winborn said that the Broncos "held the usage records for a couple of games before the Cowboys eclipsed them." AT&T Antenna Solutions Group VP Chad Townes said that AT&T Stadium's system has "tripled in capacity" since it opened in '09. AT&T recently "completed a major upgrade of the stadium’s Wi-Fi system, replacing 750 access points and adding 500 more for a total of 1,250." AT&T said that the DAS "has 1,000 antennas inside and around the stadium and about 26 miles of coaxial cables" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/13).
CHARLOTTE'S WORLD WIDE WEB: AT&T said that it has invested $500M in "cellular and Wi-Fi upgrades across Charlotte during the last three years." In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted an "unspecified portion of that investment" includes Bank of America Stadium. Through the first six home games in '13, fans "used 1.9 million megabytes of data on the stadium's upgraded Wi-Fi system," an increase of 50% compared from the same period last year. At the same time, wireless cellular data "jumped 90 percent over 2012 through the first six games." AT&T has "blanketed the stadium with antennas to strengthen reliability and connection times." Meanwhile, voice minutes on the cellular network at the stadium grew 32% "to 78,000 minutes during the first six games of this season." For Wi-Fi, 32,000 connections "have been made during the same period" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/12).
The UNLV Stadium Authority later this month is "expected to hire a project manager who will oversee the design process" for an on-campus football stadium, according to Paul Takahashi of the LAS VEGAS SUN. The state received "nine bids for the project manager position," and it will "review the bids and make a recommendation to the stadium authority." The board is "expected to vet the candidates at its Dec. 20 meeting and choose a suitable manager." Univ. of Michigan sports management professor Mark Rosentraub, who advised the UNLV stadium board on Thursday about the proposed project, said that the stadium "should seat at least 50,000 people and have a Teflon-coated inflatable cover." He added that the school "should nix the notion of a 100-foot-long video screen, a feature that was prominently touted in the last iteration of the UNLV stadium concept." Rosentraub said that building "the 'world’s largest video screen' is expensive and would detract from the live experience of watching a football game." He argued that instead of "a 60,000-seat 'mega-events center' with the world's largest video screen ... UNLV should focus on building 'social spaces' that can serve as a tailgating space for fans." Rosentraub said that UNLV should consider the Baylor Univ. or Univ. of Washington football stadiums, which "incorporate a large plaza and glass design that invites fans and students in." UNLV also "should consider a stadium that has at least 50,000 seats and has several tiers so that UNLV could host major bowl games" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 12/13).
COMPANIES VYING FOR UNLV STADIUM PROJECT
Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Barrett Sports Group
DC-based BW Realty Advisors
Plano, Texas-based Convention Sports and Leisure Int'l
Madison, Wisc.-based Hammes Company Sports Development
San Diego-based JMI Sports
Las Vegas-based Jones Lang Lasalle Americas
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Nations/Wright
Tampa, Fla.-based Price Waterhouse Coopers
Flushing, N.Y.-based Sterling Project Development Group