Lexington Mayor Jim Gray yesterday announced that he is "scuttling" the $350M proposed renovation project for Rupp Arena and an attached convention center after the Univ. of Kentucky told city and state officials that it was "interested only in a scaled-back Rupp Arena renovation," according to Beth Musgrave of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Gray said that the plans have been “suspended indefinitely until all parties can come together.” The Rupp renovation proposal “included adding chair-back seats to the second tier, luxury seating between the lower and upper bowl, better food and more bathrooms.” Gray said that UK had “requested the luxury seating and other amenities that were originally in the design.” But in meetings with Gray and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear over the past two weeks, UK officials said that they “no longer were interested in those amenities.” The school had “agreed in principle to contribute” $10.7M annually to the project for the next 30 years. Beshear has been one of the project’s "biggest supporters" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/19). In Louisville, Kyle Tucker notes UK men's basketball is Rupp Arena’s primary tenant and its "current lease expires" after the ‘17-18 season. Gray met with UK President Eli Capilouto last week in a “last-ditch effort to reach a compromise both sides could live with,” but that “didn't happen.” Gray: “He didn't feel like the public had the appetite for the project right now, and he could do with less of a project. He said the bleacher seats in the upper arena are fine. He didn't think adding suites was a priority. He was talking about a proposal where the university would commit 10-15 percent of the original commitment, which would mean the scope of the project would change completely" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/19).
A deal for $4M worth of work on a Wi-Fi system at EverBank Field “could be voted on when Jacksonville’s City Council meets Tuesday,” according to Steve Patterson of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The Jaguars “want the city to split the cost of work at the city-owned stadium, with legislation being introduced next week” that would take $1.25M from the city’s banking fund, "an account used to cover big-ticket items.” The legislation “requires the football team to spend” another $1.8M, with about $1M more “coming from projected savings that would have been recovered" from an estimated $63M of other ongoing work at the stadium. The deal is “expected to be brought to the council as an emergency next week with the hope of getting the measure approved that night and work at the stadium started in coming weeks.” The Jaguars “want to have the Wi-Fi system ready" for the July 26 friendly between Jaguars Owner Shahid Kahn’s EPL club Fulham FC and MLS club DC United (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 6/19).
Smoothie King Center's exterior walls will have sample colors that "could be a variation of gray, taupe, brown or tan" painted onto them within the next few weeks as "part of the extensive process involved in changing the current bluish-green exterior of the 14 1/2-year-old building to a new color," according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton said, "We want to pick a color that will be reflective of the LED lighting. The other guiding principle is that we want to have a color that’s neutral and not something that competes with the Superdome." Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District Chair Ron Forman yesterday said that they "plan to evaluate various color recommendations from architects involved in the renovation project, along with lighting experts responsible for installing the new LED lighting system for the building" (NOLA.com, 6/18).
The Braves and Falcons are both "preparing to sell the names of their new stadiums to corporate sponsors, a task potentially complicated by having two Atlanta venues on the market at the same time," according to a front-page piece by Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Execs with each team described the process as in the “early stages and not to the point of negotiations." Falcons CMO Jim Smith: "We are going to run into each other in the marketplace." Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay added, "The great thing about that is, it’s a big marketplace." Braves Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Derek Schiller said he thinks they are "unique opportunities" likely to appeal to different companies. Tucker notes a "top of the market" deal could be similar to MetLife's deal with the NFL Jets and Giants for a reported $17-20M a year, AT&T's deal with the Cowboys for a reported $17-19M a year, or Levi's deal with the 49ers for $11M a year. Smith said the Falcons "should be well within that range." But Tucker notes the Braves are "likely to be in a lower range" based on the deals for many MLB ballparks. Still, Grinstead said of the Braves' new ballpark, "Signage is a huge part of the price, and sitting there between two interstates gives the Braves a premium opportunity." The Braves also are "counting on an adjacent mixed-use development to enhance the value of their stadium’s name." Schiller said, "We believe a naming-rights partner will have some tie-in to the development, including signage and some form of (brand) activation area." The Falcons retained Premier Partnerships and the Braves hired Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment to "help value and market the names," and both agencies have "extensive experience selling naming rights" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/19).
New HD videoboards are coming to Kansas State's Bramlage Coliseum and will hang from the center of the basketball arena "in place of the current scoreboard," according to Kellis Robinett of the K.C. STAR. The new videoboards "will be installed this fall, along with six additional LED displays and lighting and sound improvements." The enhancements "are scheduled to be completed by October" at a cost of $2.4M. The videoboard "will feature four Panasonic screens, measuring 25 feet by 18 feet with 6mm high-definition display, that is four times larger than the existing videoboard, which is one of the oldest and smallest in the Big 12." Six additional LED displays "will be installed above seating on the North and South ends of the arena." They "will be the first major improvements made to Bramlage Coliseum since the addition of loge boxes" in '07. The project "will be privately funded by the athletic department" (K.C. STAR, 6/19).
ROCK, CHALK...: Univ. of Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger on Tuesday confirmed that he and his staff are "in the process of looking into taking out the track" that surrounds the field at Memorial Stadium. Zenger: "The staff has done a great job of researching what we could do affordably and within reason as an intermediary step to our greater renovation project, and I want to make sure that [KU football coach Charlie Weis] thinks whatever we do is advantageous to the program." In Lawrence, Matt Tait noted if the school decides to move forward with removing the track, "doing so quickly could lead to getting it out of there in time for the beginning of the upcoming season" (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD, 6/18).
GOGAMECOCKS.com's David Cloninger reported the statue of former South Carolina RB George Rogers that "will grace a new plaza" outside Williams-Brice Stadium is "slowly coming to life." South Carolina AD Ray Tanner on Friday said, "We’re vetting it out with sculptors at this point, and we project that it will be between ($100,000-$300,000)." The plaza and statue "are scheduled to be completed in time" for the '15 season. Meanwhile, the new plaza will remove some premium parking spaces and "cover the entire east side of Williams-Brice with brick walkways, green space and a new ticket office/souvenir store/operations building" (GOGAMECOCKS.com, 6/16).
SUN DEVIL MAY CARE: Arizona State VP/Athletics Ray Anderson said that "change is coming" to Wells Fargo Arena, "probably once" the Sun Devil Stadium renovation project is finished in a few years. Anderson said that everything "from renovation to building a new arena is on the table." ASU "opened a state-of-the-art practice facility" for men's basketball in '09, but the 40-year-old Wells Fargo Arena "hasn't changed much in recent years." ASU recently "has upgraded the Wells Fargo scoreboard and sound system, but nearly every other major project has remained on hold until the arena's future is determined" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/19).
NO SMALL POTATOES: In Idaho, Cripe & Murphy report Boise State "will receive $9,081,250" from its naming-rights deal for Albertsons Stadium, and Learfield Sports "will receive the rest." Albertsons will pay $12.5M over the "next 15 years for the naming rights to Bronco Stadium." The split "is slightly worse than the 75-25 split that was originally described." BSU "had withheld details of the Albertsons deal -- even from the State Board of Education, which was to consider the dollar-less contract" today (IDAHO STATESMAN, 6/19).