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Volume 24 No. 115


Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman last night unveiled plans to construct a $75M-plus, 190-acre National Training & Coaching Development Center that "will serve as a home base for the U.S. Soccer Federation and its national teams," according to a front-page piece by Sam McDowell of the K.C. STAR. The agreement with the USSF "has not yet been finalized, but the federation is discussing a 20-year lease of the facilities with two additional five-year options." Heineman said that he "envisions Sporting Park turning into 'a big-game site' for the men’s and women’s national teams, with both teams regularly using the training center." The men’s, women’s and youth national teams "would train at the site, though it remains to be seen how often." Heineman said that the project, which will be about a 10-minute drive from Sporting Park, "is pending city approval." Plans "call for 16 fields -- eight youth fields and eight lighted professional fields -- and include a state-of-the-art indoor complex with a practice field." Heineman anticipates that construction for the center "will start this fall, with an eye toward completion" before the U.S. hosts the '16 Copa America tournament. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said that the project "would be funded primarily through sales tax revenue, or STAR, bonds, though it won’t require an increase in sales tax." The project also requires "approval from Kansas Secretary of Commerce Pat George." Brownback and George said that they "foresee no obstacles at the state level" (K.C. STAR, 7/24). In K.C., Vahe Gregorian reports the USSF "isn’t moving its home office from Chicago, but it is committed to relocating administrative staff" to K.C. as it consolidates its national training center from "some 30 current sites around the country." Heineman said that the venue's design "will be led" by SKC VP/Development David Ficklin and K.C.-based Populous, which also built Sporting Park (K.C. STAR, 7/24).

SOCCER CITY, USA? The K.C. STAR's Gregorian writes under the header, "Sporting Group’s Latest Vision Further Cements KC’s Soccer-Capital Status." The project shows that the area is an "emerging hub for soccer" in the U.S. The project is "another audacious venture hatched by Sporting Club’s minds," and could make K.C. the "epicenter of soccer in the country" (K.C. STAR, 7/24).

The NFL Panthers have "finished their first round of renovations at Bank of America Stadium, largely paid for with tax dollars," and the team has "ruled out asking for more money," according to Ely Portillo of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The Charlotte City Council gave the team $87.5M last year in an agreement that will keep the Panthers in Charlotte "for at least six years." If the city "decides to pay" an additional $50M, the Panthers could "consider adding another four years to their agreement to stay put." Charlotte Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said that the $50M possibility was "put in the original plan to leave room for future negotiations." The deadline for "deciding whether to give the Panthers more money" is Aug. 1, 2015, but officials said that the team and the city could "negotiate past then." The money could "come from the city, state, county or any combination of public funds." Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said, "Including that clause in the contract was simply a placeholder to keep the door open for future discussion. Our ability to fund additional improvements there is fairly limited" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/24).

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: In Minneapolis, Rochelle Olson reports the Vikings "won’t be spending" an extra $1.1M to "protect migrating birds from crashing into the team’s new stadium." The Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority yesterday "confirmed that decision after the Minnesota Audubon Society sent out an alarm saying the structure’s 200,000 square feet of glass could be a 'death trap' for birds traveling in the Mississippi River corridor." The Vikings said that they are "working with Audubon on lighting design and procedures but can’t afford the added cost of special glass" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/24).

Tax bumps were presented yesterday "as the most logical revenue source to fund" UNLV's proposed multimillion-dollar on-campus stadium, according to Brian Nordli of the LAS VEGAS SUN. UNLV Regent and Stadium BOD member James Dean Leavitt yesterday in an e-mail to UNLV Chair & acting President Don Snyder "supported a slight increase in the Clark County sales tax and room tax on the Strip." Leavitt said that the tax "should be spread between both areas because they are 'the primary beneficiaries of this project.'" Snyder suggested that a "countywide sales tax would be preferable because it would spread the cost, minimizing the impact on residents." UNLV is "considering three on-campus stadium models." The costs to build them range from $523M for the smallest to $833M for the domed stadium. The proposed sales tax "would increase the current tax" from 8.1% to up to 8.37% "depending on the type of bond UNLV would receive and the size of the stadium." The increase would provide $83M in "potential revenue to pay for the building." A proposed sales tax on the Vegas Strip only "was also considered, which would bring in about" $79M in potential revenue (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/24). Leavitt said that UNLV students "should also pay a suggested $100 toward a 'perpetual fund' for major universities projects such as a stadium or medical school." Stadium board member Chris Giunchigliani said that any room tax increase "should first help pay for the proposed expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center." Fellow board member Rick Arpin of MGM Resorts Int'l "cautioned that a covered stadium could 'cannibalize existing events' at private venues and wanted a pros and cons report on the idea of covering a stadium" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/24).

Construction workers at the Univ. of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium "will continue work through" the '14 football season with "the goal of completing renovations" before the '15 season begins, according to Nick Gray of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. The $110M stadium project "will continue on non-game days, forcing some changes to the way fans enter" on game days. UK Assistant AD/Media Relations Tony Neely said that seating capacity "will be down" about 6,000 this year compared to '13 "because of construction in the south upper deck." He added that Rows 22 through 39 have been removed "in favor of a new structure that will rise above the upper deck and hold luxury suites, along with a new press box." About 2,000 season-ticket holders "held seats in the removed area." Those holders "were allowed to choose where they wanted to move" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 7/24).

RUPP CLOSE & PERSONAL: Louisville-based WHAS-CBS' Doug Proffitt reported UK President Eli Capilouto's "vision for UK's future outweighed the prospect of asking the state of Kentucky for more money to invest in a new Rupp Arena." Currently, $1B in new construction at UK "is underway that is all self-financed." The construction includes new student housing and Capilouto said that the school's "priorities of campus, education, service and research meant he couldn't see himself asking the state for millions for the basketball arena." Proffitt noted Capilouto "hopes talks about Rupp Arena continue, but in a private venue -- not publicly" (WHAS-CBS, 7/22).