The NFL Panthers yesterday unveiled the team's "first phase of planned renovations for Bank of America Stadium, which will include four new escalator bays and video boards that are more than twice as large as the current screens," according to a front-page piece by Steve Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The team said that the $65M renovations will "make the 18-year-old stadium one of the NFL’s most modern." The Panthers will start the renovations in two weeks after the Charlotte City Council voted last year to give the team $87.5M in "exchange for a six-year 'tether' to keep the team" in the city. Of that amount, $75M is "slated for construction," and the Panthers are spending $37.5M "for this phase of improvements." The team plans to "build four new escalator bays to take fans to the upper bowl faster." The bays are "designed to blend in with the stadium's architecture," and will be "covered from the elements, but won't be climate-controlled." On top of the escalator bays will be four new "party plazas" that will allow fans in the upper bowl to "congregate, watch games on TVs and have views of the city and uptown skyscrapers." Charlotte-based architect David Wagner said that the new video boards will be "2.5 times as large and have a higher resolution" than the current boards. They will be "200 feet wide and 60 feet high." Panthers President Danny Morrison said that the team "wanted to ensure the video boards fit in with the stadium and weren't too big." Harrison notes the team also will install "two new 'ribbon boards' on the interior of the stadium" and flagpoles "on the top of the upper bowl that will double as new speakers to improve the stadium sound system" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/8).
The Dodgers have submitted plans to the city of L.A. for the second phase of their Dodger Stadium renovation plan, which is set to be completed in time for the '14 season-opener on April 4. The plans include relocating the visiting clubhouse to an area near the visiting team dugout at field level so that all visiting team areas are in a single new area adjacent to the batting tunnel. The Dodgers also will expand field-level entrances, which will enable all fans with pavilion, dugout, field, loge and club tickets to enter via the north side of the ballpark. These new entries will house new team stores and concessions. The plans also include seating and lounging areas at bars and drink rails overlooking the bullpens in the outfield, and an enhancement of the ballpark's landscaping to triple the amount of in the outfield (Dodgers). MLB.com's Ken Gurnick noted architects for the projects include D'Agostino Izzo & Quirk, Boston, L.A.-based Brenda Levin & Associates and L.A. landscape architects Mia Lehrer & Associates. PCL Construction of Glendale, Calif., is construction manager (MLB.com, 1/7).
The Memphis City Council and the administration of Mayor A.C. Wharton "reconciled and voted for the city to acquire AutoZone Park from Fundamental Advisors" for $19.5M, according to Michael Sheffield of the MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The acquisition "clears the way" for the MLB Cardinals to acquire the Triple-A PCL Memphis Redbirds from Fundamental Advisors for $15M. The vote "passed by an 8-4 margin." The deal also will "include $300,000 in rent from the Cardinals, and the team has committed another $100,000 if sales tax rebates don't meet expectations, payments from owners of the Moore Building (the Toyota Center) and the parking garage, and sales tax rebates, which were a major issue for council members from the beginning." In addition, AutoZone Inc. also is "guaranteeing $100,000 to cover possible shortfalls." If the Cardinals "back out of their 17-year lease before it expires, the team could be on the hook" to pay the city $17M of the $31M in debt service on AutoZone Park. The Cardinals also would "help the city find a 'suitable replacement' tenant in the event that they do leave." Because the deal "was approved later than the Cardinals and Wharton hoped, $4.5 million in proposed improvements to AutoZone Park will not start until after the 2014 season concludes in September" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/7). In Memphis, Connolly & Veazey note supporters of the deal say that it also "calls for the expansion of inner-city baseball programs and for many youths to get free tickets to games" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/8).
Astros General Counsel Giles Kibbe said that with the team's "proposed site for a new spring training stadium in Florida in limbo," the team is "'absolutely' going to again look into a move to Arizona," according to Evan Drellich of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Kibbe: "I've been over there several times. Before we started serious discussions with Palm Beach Gardens, I had been looking at sites in Arizona, and talking to a lot of different people there. It's time to renew those discussions." Drellich noted the Astros have "long hoped to be able to move to a new stadium in Palm Beach Gardens." They would "share that proposed stadium with the Blue Jays, but the plan has been met with local opposition." Kibbe: "I'm kind of waiting to hear from Palm Beach County as to what other sites they would like for us to look at. I would expect that it's going to happen sometime in the next three weeks, but I don't know that." A Palm Beach Gardens city council meeting is scheduled for tomorrow night, but there is a "time limit for the Astros to be able to move to a new stadium" for spring of '17. Kibbe said that the Astros by the end of '14 "need to have a plan finalized ... ideally sooner." Kibbe: "Just knowing the construction schedule on this project -- we need to know something by the end of this calendar year" (CHRON.com, 1/6). In West Palm Beach, Tony Doris notes Palm Beach County will "'cast a wide net' in its search for a spring training site" for the Astros and Blue Jays -- including asking St. Lucie County if it "might have room for two more baseball teams." Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche said that he "hoped to meet with St. Lucie officials within the next week" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/8).