A "complicated and costly deal" is being discussed that would see BMO Field "significantly expanded in time for the Maple Leafs to host the Winter Classic" in '17, according to Chris Johnston of SPORTSNET.ca. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke said that the organization has "held high-level discussions with the municipal, provincial and federal governments and believes that they are all on board with renovating the six-year-old stadium." The "driving force behind the proposed expansion is a desire to hold major events like the Winter Classic and NHL sources indicate that Toronto is in line to land the signature outdoor game should the building’s capacity be increased." Leiweke said, "I think if the league liked that idea we can 100 per cent get a deal done with the various government agencies and then do the renovation so we’d be ready." Johnston noted the "biggest issue to be worked out for the project is determining how it is financed." The building is owned by the City of Toronto and Leiweke "indicated that all three levels of government would likely kick in for the upgrade." The current capacity is "about 22,000 for soccer and it would need to be almost doubled to make it feasible to hold a Winter Classic" (SPORTSNET.ca, 12/31).
IS IT WORTH IT? YAHOO SPORTS CANADA's Andrew Bucholtz wrote it is "tough to see" BMO Field "working as a 40,000-seat stadium in general." Toronto FC "doesn't need the extra capacity at the moment, and while they might draw more fans if they start winning, it's a rare MLS team that can draw in that range." There is a "reason most MLS stadiums have a capacity of 25,000 seats or less." Even if the "considerable difficulties of convincing football and soccer teams to share a home are overcome, the Argonauts aren't going to draw 40,000 fans regularly." Only three CFL games "crossed the 40,000 mark this year." It would be "awfully difficult to make a business case for a 40,000-plus seat stadium as regularly needed for MLS or CFL games" (CA.SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/1).
Baylor Univ.’s new on-campus football stadium "will be named McLane Stadium" after former Astros Owner Drayton McLane Jr. and his family, according to Regina Dennis of the WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD. The McLane family, who in March '12, provided the lead donation of $260M for the project and was "granted naming rights for the facility." It chose the name Baylor Stadium, preferring "for the spotlight to remain on the university and the football program." However, BU Regent Chair Richard Willis in a statement said that the decision to change the name "was made to honor the family for their continued support of the university and advancing the idea of an on-campus stadium." McLane, a BU alum, said that BU officials and regents have "lobbied him to change the stadium’s name since July 2012, about the time the regents formally approved the project." He said that they "argued that having the stadium branded with a family name -- such as one with three generations of Texas business leaders like the McLane family -- would boost the long-term appeal for the facility." Dennis reported since McLane’s initial gift, BU has surpassed $125M in "private gifts and pledges for the project," as well as $35M in "public funds from the city of Waco." Another $100M in "athletics revenue is to cover the remaining costs of the stadium" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 12/31).
FITTING HONOR: A WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD editorial states the "deserving honor" of naming the stadium after McLane goes beyond the fact he "gave the lead gift” for the project. The editorial: “This newspaper concurs with [the] regents’ decision, if only because of what Baylor -- and the newly dubbed McLane Stadium -- have meant and will continue to mean for all Waco and Central Texas.” McLane was “touting the idea of an on-campus stadium back when many of us dismissed the notion as appealing but still a pipe dream.” In many ways, the change “will help reshape perceptions by the broader public about our city -- and given some of our past, that’s only for the better” (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 1/2).
The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE reported construction workers on Monday "began harvesting items so fans could remember the Metrodome," which is being torn down. Part of the job, which is being handled by Albrecht Sign Co., is "salvaging about 20,000 of the stadium’s aging but still usable bright blue seats," which fans can buy for $60 each. Community organizations and nonprofit groups "will be charged $40 a seat," while fans with an attachment to a specific seat or group of seats "will be charged $80 each." The facility "had more than 60,000 blue seats." Orders "must be placed with Albrecht by Jan. 7," and orders for more than 200 seats "must be received by the firm" today (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/31).
IN WITH THE NEW: In San Jose, Mark Purdy wrote when Levi's Stadium opens later this year, everything "won't be perfect right out of the gate," as new venues "always have glitches." Purdy: "But based on my construction tours and interviews over the past two years, I'm confident all those fans who have forked over money for season tickets ... will have a delightfully smoother game-day experience than they did at Candlestick." The freeways in Santa Clara "run both ways" and there will be "11 freeway interchanges to access the stadium area, roughly three times as many as Candlestick." There also are "public rail options." In addition, Levi's Stadium will have 28% "more plumbing fixtures than Candlestick, which amounts to 250 more toilets" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/29).
SPEED WALKING: In Daytona Beach, Mark Harper reports Florida state officials are putting nearly $20M into their budget to "add pedestrian-friendly pathways along International Speedway Boulevard to accommodate the millions of people expected to visit the renovated Daytona International Speedway and a new complex planned across the street." State officials in a statement said that safety "is the primary justification" for the project. ISC and Jacoby Development Inc. "expect to break ground in mid-2014 on the first phase of One Daytona." DIS Senior Manager of Media Relations Andrew Booth said that "the pedestrian improvements will help" with the influx of visitors (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/2).