A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today at the new Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau Field, which is "21,500 square feet of glamour, kitsch and cuteness offered with big-city style," according to a front-page piece by Richard Ryman of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. The shop has Packers gear for "tiny quarterbacks, linebackers and cheerleaders; furniture and fridges for those Packers basements; a wall of hats -- 36 linear feet of headgear -- jerseys, jerseys and jerseys, and everywhere photos of Packers history." It is "more than twice as large as the one it replaced," and is "angular, open, bathed in natural light and visually stimulating." New elements include "non-Packers items, such as Lucy, Kuhl and Cutter & Buck merchandise, as well as a Nike section that includes Tiger Woods golf apparel, golf balls, bags and more." The Pro Shop also can be "ever-changing," as most of its fixtures "are on wheels, including extra checkout stations for big game-day crowds." Team officials said that they "expect the shop to make" $1-2M a year more than it previously did (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 7/17). The shop includes a six-foot-tall, "authentic, scaled replica of a game-day helmet hanging from the ceiling at its main entrance." Other new amenities "include a football light fixture measuring 10 feet by 6 feet and a refurbished 1957 Packers truck" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/17).
The NBA Kings are in the midst of "defending their arena construction project against a citizens’ lawsuit," and the team is demanding project opponents post a $100M bond to "cover the 'substantial' losses the team would suffer if litigation delays completion of the arena," according to Dale Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Kings CFO John Rinehart said that "even a short delay in the start of construction at Downtown Plaza could have enormous financial consequences, pushing the entire project beyond" its anticipated October '16 opening. Kasler notes it has "long been known that the NBA has the right to buy the Kings and move them out of town if the arena isn’t open" by fall '17, or one year after the scheduled opening. The citizens’ lawsuit, filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, is "coming to a key juncture." The arena opponents are "pressing for an injunction halting the project, and a hearing on that request is set for July 25 in Sacramento Superior Court." Sacramento Treasurer Russ Fehr said that the city would lose $5.7M if the arena project "got hung up because of the litigation, and the plaintiffs should have to post bond to cover those costs." Rinehart said that the team’s financing costs would climb by $2.5M if the project "slides beyond" October '16. Also, he said the team would face “potential financial penalties due to the NBA in excess” of $1M (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/17).
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed last month sent a letter to the Braves "requesting a firm departure date" in anticipation of their move to Cobb County, according to Klepal & Leslie of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Reed yesterday said that he has asked Braves officials "whether they plan to renew the team’s lease before it expires" in '16. Braves President John Schuerholz later responded to Reed's letter, saying the team was "open to meeting" with Reed. Braves Dir of PR Beth Marshall said that the letter, dated June 20, marks the "first correspondence between the city and Braves since the team’s stunning announcement in November that it plans to leave for Cobb County" in '17. The Braves have until Jan. 1, 2016, to "officially give notice" to the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority of "whether it will exercise its right to a five-year extension" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/17). The MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL reports the Cobb County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted "unanimously to approve the rezoning requested by the Braves" for the team’s $400M mixed-use development that will surround the new $672M ballpark. The commission’s vote "changed the zoning to regional retail commercial from general commercial, office high-rise and institutional." It will "allow the Braves to build up to 630,000 square feet of Class A office space, 500,000 square feet of 'upscale' retail space, 450 hotel rooms, 600 'luxury' multi-family residential units and 100,000 square feet for a multi-use entertainment facility." Braves Exec VP/Business Operations Mike Plant said that it would "be but a few days until the franchise inks a deal with its development partner for the site" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 7/17).
NYRA President & CEO Chris Kay yesterday "outlined changes to the organization and Saratoga Race Course," but not everyone is "thrilled with some of his moves," according to a front-page piece by Dennis Yusko of the Albany TIMES UNION. Kay "introduced a new team of executives he said would enhance guest experiences, improve horse racing and make NYRA profitable as it reorganizes itself." Kay said that NYRA invested nearly $2M "into the track’s grounds during the off-season." That includes installing 750 new HD TVs, an "enhanced sound system and new Wi-Fi spots." Kay said that after "ending several consecutive years in the red" and posting a $13.1M deficit in '13, NYRA is "on-track to have a budget surplus" in '14. In addition to "debuting three high-definition video boards and a children’s play area at Saratoga this year, NYRA has instituted more expensive admission, seating and parking fees and changed its policy for its popular giveaway days." The price for daily general admission "increased to $5 from $3, while daily clubhouse admission went to $8 from $5." NYRA as of yesterday had "sold 4,631 discounted season passes." But one alteration to the track this year already has "generated complaints from fans," as NYRA "removed dozens of wood benches from the clubhouse porch along the apron and replaced them with dining tables that can be reserved for breakfast and lunch" (TIMESUNION.com, 7/16).
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: DAILY RACING FORM's David Grening noted NYRA hopes to "emphasize quality over quantity at the 40-day Saratoga meet" that begins tomorrow, with plans to "run approximately 15 to 20 fewer races than the 420 conducted" in '13. NYRA Senior VP/Racing Operations Martin Panza said that he wants to "write fewer cheaper races if possible." While there will be "less flat racing, there will be more steeplechase racing at this year’s meet -- 12 races compared to nine in previous years" (DRF.com, 7/16).
In San Antonio, Brent Zwerneman reported if Kyle Field's $450M rebuild is not ready for Texas A&M's home opener on Sept. 6, the school has "contingency plans in place" that include NRG Stadium. Texans President Jamey Rootes said, “We've had a number of (past) conversations about NRG Stadium and that we would be open to putting that together, if that's what Texas A&M needs." However, Rootes noted that "no such conversations have taken place of late," as Texas A&M officials have "vowed the project is on target for the Sept. 6 game" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 7/16).
IN HIDING: In California, Art Marroquin noted a report estimating how much it would cost to "demolish Angel Stadium and build a new ballpark will be kept secret during the team’s stadium lease negotiations" with the city of Anaheim. Mayor Tom Tait had "wanted the city-commissioned analysis to be made public Tuesday, but could not muster any support from his four City Council colleagues." Waronzof Associates was paid $37,380 to "complete the study" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/16).
WISH LIST: Pro Football HOF President & Exec Dir David Baker on Tuesday said that the organization's BOT is working with community and business groups in Canton, Ohio, to create a "master plan that addresses Fawcett Stadium's renovation needs as well as incorporates the stadium into plans for a surrounding campus" (CANTONREP.com, 7/15).