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Volume 24 No. 156


The Heat on Thursday "sought to defuse an awkward stand-off" with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez after team Owner Micky Arison’s announcement that the mayor "had endorsed a new arena deal that Gimenez later said he doesn’t support," according to a front-page piece by Hanks & Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. Arison on Wednesday sent out an e-mail to season-ticket holders "announcing a deal with Gimenez." Heat lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez, who helped prepare the e-mail, said, "The words were more final than they should have been. It failed to clarify that the negotiations were ongoing." Gimenez said that he was "still baffled at Arison’s sending out the email, which touted an extended lease that would have the Heat pay rent on the county-owned AmericanAirlines Arena but also increase Miami-Dade’s subsidy tab" by about $121M through '40. He added, "For some time, I relayed to them I was not comfortable with that amount." Hanks & Mazzei report neither the Heat nor the county "fully clarifed how the mixed messages came to be," but the situation has "helped reveal a rift between County Hall and the Heat over the long-sought deal to add 10 years to the arena’s lease, as well as skepticism among commissioners that Arison’s favored terms were fair to Miami-Dade" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/25).

Braves officials said that the team is in the "process of completing the purchase of an additional 25 acres of land in the Cumberland area of Cobb County" for about $15M, according to Klepal & Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The land is "near, but not contiguous with, 57 acres the Braves closed on in January" for $34.2M as the site of their planned ballpark and private, mixed-use development. The additional 25 acres, "consisting of several parcels the team has had the option to buy since last year, will be used for parking and a later phase of development." The Braves will "officially take ownership of the property next week." Jones Lang LaSalle Senior VP Michael Hall, who is managing the project, said that the ballpark will "be a total of 1.1 million square feet, and the site preparation work will cost between" $50-100M. The project timeline shows that "the general contractor will be selected by May 27, site clearing will begin in July, utility relocation and removal will start in September, foundations will begin being poured in October, and stadium construction will commence" in February '15. The Braves are "purchasing the additional land from the same seller" -- Maryland-based real estate firm B.F. Saul Co. When the additional purchase is completed, the Braves will have paid "almost" $50M for "82 acres of undeveloped land" near the intersection of I-75 and I-285 (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/25).

The "proposed cost" of UNLV's proposed new 50,000-seat on-campus stadium ranges from $490M for an open-air venue to $632M for a domed facility and $682M for a retractable roof stadium, according to a report cited in a front-page piece by Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The figures do not include costs like "parking garages, playing field relocations and pedestrian bridges, which could run in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars." The report by stadium consultant CSL Int'l, a subsidiary of Legends, states that the proposed cost for a domed stadium includes $142M "for a fixed fabric roof." CSL President Bill Rhoda on Thursday "presented slides showing pictures of three football stadiums in Texas that were toured" by members of the board: AT&T Stadium, Baylor's new McLane Stadium and TCU's recently renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium. CSL indicated that a new UNLV closed-roof stadium could "draw 24 annual events compared to 12 at Sam Boyd Stadium, the university’s off-campus venue." The stadium consultant next month "will present stadium revenue numbers." The board in June "will focus on stadium funding methods" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/25).

The Broncos' $35M renovation of their Dove Valley HQs "should be completed by the time players report for the start of training camp around July 24," while the new fieldhouse should be "operational around midseason," according to Mike Klis of the DENVER POST. However, there "is no place for fans to park at training camp" until the upgrades are complete. That will force the Broncos to hold training camp "without the energy boost from their fans." To "help compensate for the missed training camp sessions," the Broncos will hold three open practices at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Parking "will be free for all three sessions." The Broncos the last two years "averaged 2,833 fans for their 15 camp days at Dove Valley, a total of 42,495 fans." The summer scrimmages at Sports Authority Field the past two years "drew an average crowd of 42,872" (DENVER POST, 4/25).

Economic and sports finance specialists claim a study last year that may have resulted in Legends Hospitality gaining the concessions contract to Angel Stadium "considerably overstated the team's economic benefit" to Anaheim, according to Elmahrek & Gerda of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The study, conducted by CSL Int'l, showed the Angels would generate "more than" $200M in economic benefit by bringing on Legends Hospitality. Both CSL and Legends Hospitality are divisions within N.Y.-based Legends. The report was commissioned by the city of Anaheim as it "entered into stadium-lease negotiations with the team." The finding of $200M in economic benefit "played a central role in the Anaheim City Council majority’s justification for a proposal to give team owner Arte Moreno development rights to 155 acres of city-owned land surrounding the stadium." Legends Hospitality announced that it was chosen for the concessions contract two days after a CSL consultant "made a glowing presentation to the City Council about the team's economic benefits." L.A.-based Center for Governmental Studies President Bob Stern said, "The question obviously is, are they being rewarded for their report?" City of Anaheim Public Information Officer Ruth Ruiz in a statement said that city officials "were not made aware of the relationship until the company made a public announcement on Sept. 26." Ruiz: "As stated in the correspondence from Legends Chairman and CEO, Mr. David Checketts, CS&L is a stand-alone, wholly owned subsidiary of Legends which operates autonomously." However, Angels consultant Marie Garvey said that the city "was told of Legends’ potential as an Angels contractor before the economic report was presented to council members in early September." Still, Garvey emphasized that the two contracts "are not connected" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/25).

The Univ. of Akron has announced a $76M downtown arena project that will be paid for by a "county sales tax hike," according to Stephanie Warsmith of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. The announcement was "greeted with excitement by the parties involved" but also "raised more questions." The biggest question was whether voters will support a 0.25% sales-tax increase to fund the arena and "other county expenses that will be put on the Nov. 4 ballot." The arena would be "home to UA’s men’s and women’s basketball teams and would host other events." UA would "continue using the aging, 5,300-seat James A. Rhodes Arena on campus, where the basketball team currently plays, with plans down the road for updates." The new 8,500-seat arena would be a joint venture between UA, the city, Summit County and the Development Finance Authority of Summit County (DFA). UA and the city would "supply the land, the county would provide the funding and own the arena, and DFA would operate the arena and issue the bonds." UA's BOT on Tuesday "approved an initial agreement for the project," but the school and the other parties "still need to reach a more detailed agreement." Trustee Roland Bauer said that construction of the arena "would likely take three years" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/24).

The campaign "pushing for a renewal" of a Cuyahoga County (Ohio) sin tax raised more than $1.2M during the most recent campaign finance period, nearly $1M of which came from the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians, according to documents cited by Andrew Tobias of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The forms show that the three teams "contributed about $333,000 each to Keep Cleveland Strong between Jan. 1 and March 15." The teams in April "loaned another $200,000 to the effort, splitting the costs evenly." The Cavaliers "contributed $231,000 worth of free marketing and personnel, the Indians gave $297,000 worth of signs and audiovisual production and the Browns gave another $88,750 in free marketing." The campaign "outspent two opposition groups by a factor of 30," spending almost $1.3M this year. Voters on May 6 "will decide whether to approve a 20-year renewal of the county's tax on alcohol and cigarettes to pay for upkeep to Cleveland's professional sports stadiums" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/25).

Paul McCartney on Thursday confirmed he will play a "send-off concert at Candlestick Park -- the last scheduled event ever at the 54-year-old stadium" -- ending a "back-and-forth drama that had the city competing against the 49ers for the right to play host to the music legend," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. S.F. Mayor Ed Lee "personally invited McCartney to close the Stick" when he played the Outside Lands festival in S.F. last year. The idea was "to say goodbye to the ballpark where the Beatles played their final paid concert" in '66. Things looked fine until McCartney's envoys "toured Candlestick last month and told city officials that ... they were negotiating with the 49ers to have Sir Paul christen the team's new Levi's Stadium" instead. A source said, "It was natural for McCartney to consider the new stadium -- it is the bright, new, shiny penny." But S.F. Recreation & Park Department GM Phil Ginsburg said, "We just kept pushing and were persistent and drove the deal down the field" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/25).