The Sacramento City Council last night "amid a festive atmosphere" at City Hall voted to "approve the construction of a new downtown arena for the Kings, ending years of effort and angst," according to a front-page piece by Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The 7-2 vote "came after more than four hours of impassioned public testimony and deliberation" by the City Council. An "overflow crowd inside the Council chambers erupted into cheers of 'Sacramento' when the vote was tallied." Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive addressed the crowd after the vote, saying, "You have our promise that we’re going to be unrelenting in our pursuit of excellence in creating the world’s greatest arena." The $477M arena includes a city contribution of $255M and $222M from the Kings. Attorney Patrick Soluri, who has filed a lawsuit challenging the arena plan, said that a PAC was "being formed to seek a referendum on the City Council’s vote." City officials said that the committee would "need to collect roughly 12,900 signatures from registered city voters within 60 calendar days" from today to force a public vote on the plan. Jim Cathcart, one of the leaders of a campaign that sought a public vote on city subsidies to sports facilities last year, said that a "group of 12 downtown residents planned to file a legal challenge to the arena’s environmental report." Kings President Chris Granger said that the team would "begin preparations to demolish Downtown Plaza within the next few days." Demolition is expected to "start in July, with construction of the arena scheduled to begin in November." The arena is "scheduled to be open" by September '16 (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/21). City Council member Steve Hansen "voted for the project but beseeched the Kings ownership group to move quickly on ancillary development, including a hotel, condominiums and 1.5 million square feet of commercial development overall" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/20). Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson after the vote said, "We had our backs against the wall, but we defied the odds. We made a comeback for the ages and in doing so, I feel like we unleashed the very best that Sacramento has to offer" (AP, 5/20).
WORTH THE RISK: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes there is "simply no such thing as a risk-free project," but the prospect of "doing nothing was even more frightening and carried an even greater probability for lasting regret." Many arena opponents "try to muddy their position by saying they’re not opposed to keeping the Kings; they are against the 'city subsidy' to build the arena." But the city’s $255M contribution "was the price of getting the deal done, so if you’re against it, you’re against keeping the Kings" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/21).
The Dolphins “plan to abandon their push for tax relief in favor of asking” Miami-Dade County to “pay the team for recruiting” the Super Bowl and other major events to a renovated Sun Life Stadium, according to Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross had been negotiating with the county to “have the county take over ownership of the stadium, which would free the team of a yearly property-tax bill” worth nearly $4M. The "broad outline" of the plan is that Ross would use private dollars for a $350M renovation of the stadium, and Miami-Dade “would then pay the team for each major event the stadium brings.” Sources said that the Dolphins also are “proposing that major concerts be eligible for bonus payments.” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that the money would “come from county hotel taxes, the same dollars that currently subsidize” the Heat and “pay the debt on Marlins Park.” Hanks notes Gimenez “declined to say how large the payments might be, but described them as modest compared to the kind of spending a Super Bowl can bring.” The stadium deals for the Dolphins and David Beckham’s MLS expansion team “may intersect,” since the Univ. of Miami "may want to move from Sun Life to the proposed soccer stadium.” UM has a long-term lease to play football at Sun Life Stadium, and the contract “could give him an extra bargaining chip with Gimenez, who is pushing for the soccer stadium” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/21).
LET'S GET IT STARTED: In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson notes the upgrades would “begin this summer and be completed in two phases” -- the first before the '15 season and the second in time for the '16 season (PALM BEACH POST, 5/21). In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes Ross is “eager to get in the running” for Super Bowl LIII in '19 after losing out on the '16 and '17 games, and not being a finalist for the '18 game. Finalists for Super Bowl LIII are “expected to be determined in October” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/21).
Miami-Dade County commissioners yesterday “eliminated from contention the publicly owned PortMiami location” David Beckham’s investment group had “initially set its sights on” for an MLS expansion team’s stadium, according to Patricia Mazzei of the MIAMI HERALD. For now, the planned MLS club “will have no fallback plan, with commissioners voting 11-1 against a port stadium.” The decision, which “came during a discussion of future port development, was unscheduled but clearly orchestrated behind the scenes by the Miami Seaport Alliance, an organization led by Royal Caribbean Cruises in opposition to a soccer stadium” next to the cruise company’s waterfront HQ. No one from Beckham’s core group was present -- an absence that underscored how he has been “outmaneuvered at times in the game of local politics.” There "seemed to be more support for the water basin, known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip, that Beckham’s group is now targeting.” But that site is “fraught with complications, since it is owned by the city of Miami and would involve a land swap with the county” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/21).
Madison Square Garden has “remained impervious to reform or repeal, though another effort has been started this month by the City Council" to have the venue pay property taxes and "is gaining support in the State Legislature,” according to Jim Dwyer of the N.Y. TIMES. MSG Co. and the Dolan family have “already beaten every other sports franchise in town,” as the venue has “not paid a dime to New York City in property tax for the land and the building it occupies” since '82. N.Y. Independent Budget Office Deputy Dir George Sweeting said for the tax year that begins in July, MSG will save “roughly" $54M in property taxes. Dwyer notes the savings were $17M last year, while "cumulatively," MSG has saved $350M since ‘82. City Councilman Corey Johnson is the “sponsor of a resolution asking the state to repeal the tax deal.” State Assemblyman David Weprin said that because the resolution “won wide support in the Council, a State Assembly committee will consider a bill next week to end the exemption” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21).
The city of Orlando "after a year of failed talks" has filed suit in court to force a family-owned church to "sell its land to make way" for Orlando City SC's new MLS stadium, according to Mark Schlueb of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. If successful, the eminent domain action filed Thursday in Orange Circuit Court "would allow Orlando to take the last of 20 parcels needed" for the $115M stadium being built for the MLS expansion club. Newly released records show that the city "more than doubled its initial offer" for the Faith Deliverance Temple to $4M. Members of the family that owns the church "reduced their initial selling price" from $35M to $15M. Of the 19 properties Orlando "has already acquired, 17 were from willing sellers." The other two "were taken through eminent domain actions." The same judge assigned to Faith Deliverance Temple's case "sided with the city in those earlier two cases" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/21).
IT'S MAGIC! Schlueb also reports the Magic yesterday "won preliminary approval for the first phase" of its $200M sports-and-entertainment complex. The first phase of the project "includes a six-story office building where the team would move its corporate headquarters, shopping and dining, a parking garage and a festival plaza." It "won unanimous approval from the Municipal Planning Board, despite some concern about the size and number of giant video screens that would adorn the exterior of some buildings" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/21).
Levi's Stadium has "spurred a burst of nearby growth as developers position projects that they hope will bask in the glow of the 49ers' new home," according to George Avalos of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. The "highest-profile projects are two mixed-use developments adjacent to the stadium," and roughly $3B worth of "office buildings, retail centers, hotels and residences are under construction or on the drawing boards in the vicinity of the stadium." Much like the China Basin district of S.F. was "transformed after the Giants began playing baseball at what is now known as AT&T Park, local officials hope Levi's Stadium will anchor a bustling zone of restaurants, cocktail lounges, residential units, office buildings and tech companies." Santa Clara-based brokerage firm Cornish & Carey Commercial Exec VP Phil Mahoney said, "I personally have experienced with tenants that they think being near stadiums like this one is kind of cool" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/19).
TOO GOOD TO PASS UP: In San Jose, Jon Wilner wrote of Levi's Stadium hosting the Pac-12 championship football game, "It was too good a venue ... too grand a stage ... to pass up given how valuable the title game is to the conference's TV package and relationship with sponsors." Everyone "associated with the conference, from ESPN and Fox to sponsors to fans, knows where and when the game will be played." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott "could never have sold it to the presidents were it a money-losing proposition." Wilner guessed the deal with the 49ers and increased revenue from sponsors "will add" $1M per school per year. But with "all that said, the league was smart to limit the deal to three years," as the Bay Area is "not ravenous for college football, even a league title game -- and that's especially true on Friday nights after the stadium has been around for a few years and played host to other college games." The Pac-12 after the '16 game will "reassess and possibly decide to return to the home-hosting model" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 5/19).
TRANSFER STATION: The Santa Clara Stadium Authority has partnered with STR Marketplace to provide a service to help fans buy and sell Levi's Stadium Builder Licenses. SBL owners also will be able to process all ownership transfers through the Official Levi's Stadium SBL Marketplace (THE DAILY).
AEG is growing its AXS ticketing division with the “goal of taking market share” from Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, according to Jonathan Polakoff of the L.A. BUSINESS JOURNAL. AXS does “nearly half of its business abroad, where ticketing deals go through promoters.” Three years in, AXS is now “trying to lock up contracts with non AEG-venues.” AEG President of Digital, Tickets & Media Bryan Perez said, “We’re starting to turn our attention to third-party clients.” Polakoff notes AXS “makes money by charging a venue a set amount or a percentage of the surcharge on each ticket.” The company “also makes money through other offerings such as website design and marketing on behalf of venues.” The company’s “focus thus far has been on ticketing concerts and other live shows, since Ticketmaster is a formidable opponent in sports.” Ticketing for the Clippers and Lakers is “still handled by Ticketmaster even though the teams play their home games at AEG’s Staples Center.” In such cases, Ticketmaster and AEG “work as partners with a shared interest in selling out games.” But AXS is now “actively trying to switch the teams over to its system" (L.A. BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/19 issue).