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Volume 24 No. 112


The Pirates have “launched a 10-phase study” with K.C.-based Populous of PNC Park that team officials “hope will add longevity to the riverfront ballpark” that opened in ’01, according to Michael Sanserino of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Pirates Owner Bob Nutting, at the '14 Veritex Sports Facilities & Franchises Symposium yesterday, said, “In 1970, Pittsburgh had a cutting-edge, visionary ballpark in Three Rivers Stadium. It turned out that didn’t have the sustaining legs as a ballpark design. I personally believe PNC Park can, and I hope that 50, 60, 80 years from now, it’s seen as an icon.” Sanserino notes the goal of the 10- to 15-year study is to make sure PNC Park will “continue to be an industry leader and not become obsolete.” The Pirates as part of the study have “considered building a hospitality deck beyond the center-field wall” and “other modifications to its suites that would add space for larger parties.” PNC Park is currently being “outfitted to support Wi-Fi so fans with Internet-capable devices can connect during a game.” The installation was “supposed to be finished by opening day,” but Pirates President Frank Coonelly said that “free wireless Internet should be available in August.” The Pirates “launched the study a couple months ago” and is paying for the review, though it declined to disclose costs. The Pirates will “work with fan focus groups throughout its analysis.” Coonelly said that the fans have already informed the team that they “don't want any modifications that will alter the view of the Allegheny River or Pittsburgh's skyline” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/12). Nutting said, “We have to be as responsive as possible to our fans. It really right now is a process. We're just getting started. We're looking forward to sharing the process as it develops.” Nutting added, “We're trying to find what the best ballpark in 2030 is gonna look like, and it's not crystal clear” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/12).

TURNING THINGS AROUND: Nutting yesterday sat for an extended Q&A as part of the Sports Franchises & Facilities Symposium. He addressed the Pirates' approach to building through the draft and investing in a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, saying, "I'm not a patient person, particularly. You can ask people who work with me. But we needed to do the right thing for the long haul. ... We began to see an impact about two years ago, when we saw a team that was playing better baseball with the right building blocks. Last year, we saw it develop in a big way, our first winning season in 21 years. To see the passion of Pittsburgh light up was a confirmation that some of the rocky travel we took was worth it." After making the postseason last year for the first time since '92, Nutting said the most important thing the team needs to do is "earn the trust of this community and the fans." He said, "We need to reward their commitment with our own commitment that we are going to do everything we can to make the Pirates better. We need to earn their respect and trust." Nutting added the Pirates will never use the MLB revenue landscape and the size of their market "as a reason we can't succeed." Nutting: "We have a certain hand we are dealt and it includes market size and the way revenue is handled within the league. Our responsibility is to be realistic and be as efficient as possible in utilizing our assets. We need to use the resources we have as effectively as we can. We can't have a scapegoat mentality" (THE DAILY).

The Jaguars will be “removing 9,500 seats” and taking tarps off 12 sections of EverBank Field to accomodate the addition of premium seating and construction of video boards and pools, but seating capacity will “roughly remain the same,” according to Michael DiRocco of The stadium’s seating capacity before the renovations was 67,246, and “only four sections, totaling about 3,000 seats, will have tarps” in ‘14. The Jaguars’ “new four premium seating options” will include 180 field-level seats at $350 per game, four-seat tables outside the East Stadium Club at $350 per seat per game, four-seat tables outside the West Stadium Club at $375 per seat per game and 120 bar rail seats along the north end zone (adjacent to the pools) at $150 per game. The team also is “expanding the State Farm Neighborhood Fan Cave” by adding a second level and increasing capacity “from 400 to more than 600.” The Fan Cave is “open to any ticket holder and includes Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, tablets, video game consoles, and power leather home theater recliners.” The additional premium seating allows the Jaguars to “increase their revenue without raising ticket prices across the board” (, 6/10).

COPACABANA: Jaguars Senior VP/Sales Chad Johnson said that 65% of the new cabana seats at the stadium have been sold even though the team can only “show the fans artist renderings of them.” In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino noted the pools will have an acrylic front so fans in other areas of the stadium can “look into them.” Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that the project will “definitely be completed” by July 26 when the changes will be “unveiled after a friendly match” played by Jaguars Owner Shahid Kahn’s EPL club Fulham FC and before a Carrie Underwood concert. Johnson said that the team, which had a season-ticket base of 44,000 last year, “hopes to increase it to 50,000 or higher.” He said that the Jaguars had a “renewal rate” of 75% of the season tickets at the original deadline, an increase of 10% from last year. The team has “managed to sell around 15,000 extra tickets a game with the help of various promotions,” including single-game and group sales, and has sold 5,500 new season tickets this year. Meanwhile, Lamping said that if no firm “emerges to develop” the Shipyards near the stadium in the northern sector of Downtown, the Jaguars might “step up and develop it as a sort of football theme park.” He "called the Shipyards property the stadium’s front door and indicated the Jaguars will be ready to move forward sooner rather than later” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 6/11).

COMIC RELIEF: Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert noted the Jaguars are “a team that’s won only 11 games in the last three years but has a bold new plan to put butts in the seats by taking out the seats.” Colbert noted the pools are the "perfect place to kick back and watch a football game, at least until they put hammocks between the uprights." The cabana package "costs a mere $12,500 a game" with 50 tickets and includes "all you can eat and drink," but "of course, you will have to wait an hour after eating before getting into the pool. ... Naturally, this bold plan raises a lot of questions, like, 'Why?' and, 'Really, why?'" The team said that it wanted to use "underperforming" areas in the stadium and "get creative." Colbert: "They should tackle the stadium's most underperforming area, that green liney space in the middle. Let's get creative in there. You know what? Maybe put a professional sports team on that thing" ("The Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 6/10).

CROSS PROMOTION: In Jacksonville, Don Coble noted Khan and Lamping are “looking to increase the team’s regional reach.” One option is “moving a preseason game out of Jacksonville and around the state, chiefly” to Orlando. Daytona Int’l Speedway, which is undergoing a $400M renovation and “envisions hosting NFL and college football games, soccer matches and concerts,” is another option. Speedway President Joie Chitwood said the speedway and the Jaguars have not had “a formal discussion” but the sides have a “great relationship.” Meanwhile, Chitwood and NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray “took their sales pitch for the July 5 Coke Zero 400 to the football field” Tuesday by running 30 minutes worth of drills at Jaguars OTAs as part of a promotion to “bring in new fans” to NASCAR (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 6/11).

The "tiny family-owned church that stands in the way" of Orlando's MLS stadium has "hired a Jacksonville law firm specializing in property rights to fight the city's attempt to take its land," according to Mark Schlueb of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. City Hall "filed an eminent domain action" in '13, "after a year of failed negotiations to buy Faith Deliverance Temple." Attorney Andrew Prince Brigham said that the city's action "violates Florida's Constitution and state law because the land wouldn't be used for a legitimate public purpose." The city initially offered $1.5M for the property -- "more than twice the appraised value -- but church leaders said that wouldn't be enough to rebuild elsewhere, and countered with a selling price" of $35M. The city "eventually raised its offer" as high as $4M and the church "dropped its price" as low $15M. The city's failure to acquire the property "already has delayed the stadium's construction." Orlando City SC "initially planned to begin playing in the new facility" during the '15 MLS season, but "uncertainty about the land prompted the decision to play" the entire '15 season in the Citrus Bowl. The current plan is for Orlando City to "start playing in the new stadium with its home-opener" in March  '16. Orlando City COO Brett Lashbrook said that it is "expected to take 14 to 15 months to build the stadium, so construction, ideally, would have to start" before January '15 (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/12).

MOVING IN: In Colorado Springs, Monica Mendoza reported the Colorado Springs City Council signed a $2M deal Tuesday with USL Pro expansion club Colorado Springs Switchbacks to "play at its Sand Creek stadium despite objections from the neighboring" Triple-A PCL Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The council "approved, in a 5-4 vote, a 10-year lease agreement." The team will "pay the city $18,310 a year in rent." About $1.4M in upgrades, "including bleachers, a press box and stairs along the berms and two light poles, will be permanent" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 6/11).

UNLV has "scrapped its proposed location for its new on-campus football stadium because of concerns about its close proximity" to McCarran Int'l Airport, according to Paul Takahashi of the LAS VEGAS SUN. The university is now "looking for a new site for its 50,000-seat stadium." Alternative stadium locations include "the parking lot of the Thomas & Mack Center and 40 acres of privately owned land at the corner of Koval Lane and Tropicana Avenue." UNLV officials had planned to build the stadium "on 60 acres of university-owned land northeast of Swenson Street and Harmon Avenue." The original site was "less than two miles from Las Vegas’ major airport, and was in the direct path of flights coming in and out of the city." The Federal Aviation Administration "argued the UNLV stadium could affect planes’ departure and landing routes, block radar and interfere with communication signals between aircraft and the air-control tower." The university has hired engineering consultant Kimley Horn "for about $15,000 to study possible new sites" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 6/12).

The Univ. of Florida Athletic Association has "made the decision to move forward" with the $45M renovation project for the O'Connell Center, approving $2.75M on Tuesday for "designing fees," according to Robbie Andreu of the GAINESVILLE SUN. An architect will "be hired shortly and the new design for the O'Connell Center will be drawn up." The $2.75M for designing fees is part of the $103.3M budget for '14-15 that was approved by the UAA BOD on Tuesday. The $45M estimated price tag includes about $35M "being generated by UAA" and another $10M by the university. UF AD Jeremy Foley said that the UAA and UF "are on target to meet their funding goal in the next few weeks, but still need to raise" about $15M more "before construction begins." The complete renovation of the O'Connell Center is "set to begin at the conclusion" of the '14-15 basketball season and "be complete by" Jan. 1, 2016. With construction "set to begin in March of 2015 and expected to take 10 months, coach Billy Donovan's basketball team is going to have to play its fall schedule in 2015 at various neutral sites around the state, including Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, three cities where the Gators have played in the past" (GAINESVILLE SUN, 6/11).

KICKIN' UP DUST: In Sioux Falls, Mick Garry noted state engineer Gordon Hollenbeck on Tuesday "signed off on the maximum price estimate" of $66M for the Univ. of South Dakota's arena construction plans. The university said that it would be "holding the perfunctory photo op with guys in suits holding shovels" on June 17 at 1:45pm CT. But USD AD David Herbster said that the "real digging" will begin in "late July and early August with the track and soccer facility expected to be completed in the fall of 2015 and the arena ready by fall 2016." By then, USD expects to have ready a 6,000-seat arena "with a ground-level main floor and second-level concourse that includes practice courts," a connecting building that will "house a science, health and research lab that will include classrooms, clinical areas, office space and a weight room," as well as the outdoor track and soccer facility (Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER, 6/11).

THE MORE THE MERRIER: In Chicago, Shannon Ryan noted DePaul Univ. on Tuesday released a "new series of photo renderings depicting its future basketball arena." The images show "suites now on two levels of the west sideline instead of the floor level suites that were originally planned behind the team bench." An additional photo shows a "sports bar and restaurant." The rendering also shows the location "for the 1,200-room hotel adjacent to the arena" (, 6/10).

Columbus Arena Management COO Xen Riggs on Tuesday presented budget documents that show that Nationwide Arena "should eke out a $60,000 surplus" when its '13-14 FY ends June 30, but "cautioned that next year, the arena likely will finish with a deficit of about $500,000," according to Lucas Sullivan of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Both of those budgets include a $4M "public subsidy of casino tax dollars from the city of Columbus and Franklin County." The publicly owned arena this FY had about $20.5M in "total revenue" and $20.5M "in expenses." The "overwhelming majority of the arena’s operating costs are to provide security, staff, and mechanical and technical resources for concerts and other special events." The arena spent $14.3M to "host those special events" and made $13.8M in "ticket sales and rental revenue." The public "does not make any money off hockey games or related events." Officials have projected that there will "be a deficit next year based on the events that already have been scheduled." Riggs understands that the public "might be frustrated that the arena is barely breaking even, but he said his group has grown revenue" by $1-2M in each of the past few years (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 6/11).