The Indians on Thursday announced the elimination of "roughly 7,000 little-used seats and some empty suites for new gathering areas at Progressive Field, as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation scheduled to start this year," according to a front-page piece by Michelle Jarboe McFee of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Indians President Mark Shapiro said that the team is "responding to years of fan feedback and broader changes in professional sports." The Indians "hope to boost sagging attendance at games by tailoring sections of the park to families and young professionals, creating more standing-room areas and social spaces, and trying to better link the field to the city." The renovations, which will "stretch from center field to right field, could be finished" by Opening Day '15. The club is "capping off a section of the upper deck, which sits empty on all but the busiest days, with a platform that will conceal unused seats and create new game-viewing areas." The Indians are also "remaking the Gate C entrance off East Ninth Street by pulling out concrete and opening up views of the ballpark from the street." The gate makeover will "eliminate a pavilion and a bar, but the Indians plan to build a two-story, indoor-outdoor bar in right field." The club is "moving the bullpens up into the seating area in center field to give fans a better view of the players during warm-ups." The shift will "create a section of exclusive seats in front of the new bullpens and will open up the existing bullpen space to fans who want to stand closer to the field." The Indians are also "expanding the Kids Clubhouse, which opened" in '12, to "two levels and renovating the mezzanine." Shapiro "wouldn't put a figure on the costs of the project, which is the first -- and largest -- of several years worth of renovations the team is considering" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/8). Shapiro said that the renovations will be "'100%' privately financed by Indians ownership and via a partnership" with concessionaire Delaware North. The project "will begin as soon" as the '14 season is finished. He added the work will go out "very shortly" (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 8/7).
MOVIN ON UP: MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince noted a new "climate-controlled two-story bar will take root in right field, at the current location of the Budweiser Patio." Both the home and visiting bullpens will be in a "tiered section beyond" the center field wall and there will be a "small group of exclusive seats just in front of the bullpens." The "recently unveiled" Jim Thome statue along with Bob Feller's statue will be "consolidated to one area at Gate C, where they will be joined by future statues," including one in '15 honoring Larry Doby who broke the A.L. color barrier (MLB.com, 8/7).
The "first major expansion" of PNC Arena since it opened in '99 is being considered, with Raleigh-based Ratio Architects and K.C.-based 360 Architecture chosen to "handle the concepts and renderings," according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. The expansion would come at the "north end of the arena." While there would be "no added seating" for Hurricanes or N.C. State basketball games, options include adding "dining areas, a rooftop restaurant and bar, storage space and meeting areas." The cost is estimated at $15-20M. Centennial Authority Chair Steve Stroud, whose organization oversees arena operations, said, "If you’re going to get major entertainment in the building you have to be able to offer these amenities. We want to make sure the arena remains attractive and viable." Centennial Authority Exec Dir Jeff Merritt said that the expansion renderings "could be completed in late-November and presented to the authority board in December." Stroud said that expansion "likely would take at least two years to complete." Alexander notes the Centennial Authority has "approved the spending of $650,000 for an LED lighting system in PNC Arena that will be operational Sept. 5," as well as $190,000 for "safety upgrades" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/8).
Arizona State on Thursday selected K.C.-based architecture firm HNTB to "team up with the Phoenix branch of Gould Evans to design the 60,000-seat stadium at the current Sun Devil Stadium location," according to Jeff Metcalfe of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. ASU also announced it had hired Hunt Construction and Tempe-based Sundt Construction Inc. to "develop the stadium under a collaborative contract with the architects to complete the project faster and save money." The new Sun Devil Stadium's projected cost is $225M, although that "could change depending on fundraising," which began with a $50M drive in January. The project "will be paid for by private donations and revenue from development of a 330-acre athletic-facilities district along Tempe Town Lake, naming rights and other new revenue sources." ASU football will "continue to play at Sun Devil Stadium during reconstruction, with the project tentatively scheduled for completion" in August '17. HNTB's recent work includes the $1.3B Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara and the "seismic retrofitting" of Cal's Memorial Stadium. Hunt Construction built Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, AT&T Park and Busch Stadium, "among other sports facilities" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/8). In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks noted Sun Devil Stadium "currently has a capacity of 71,700," but renovation plans will "reduce that number to 60,000 while taking out the north bleachers and installing better lower-bowl seats and improved boxes and suites." The school "ditched previous ideas of making the stadium site into a dome and then having a canopy structure to protect fans and players from the Sonoran Desert heat." ASU also is "looking to modernize the stadium in the wake of renovations and new stadiums built by other Pac-12 schools." ASU conducted a "formal bidding process for both the design and construction work." There were "seven bids for the architectural work" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/7).
Columbus is one of five cities trying to land the '16 DNC, so civic leaders on Thursday gave site selectors a tour of Ohio Stadium, where locals tried to "sell Democrats on the idea of their presidential nominee ... accepting the nomination in front of 100,000 people," according to Joe Vardon of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Ohio State AD Gene Smith: "I was going to go get (Buckeyes football coach) Urban Meyer, put him in my car, and have him spend 5 minutes with (site selectors) at the stadium." Smith said that Meyer "was going to be a part of the Democrats’ tour of Ohio Stadium, but as of now likely won’t be because the time of the tour was switched from the morning to the afternoon, when Meyer’s team will be practicing." When Cleveland "wooed Republican site selectors in June, the city’s 'wow' moment was a surprise visit during dinner" by Browns QB Johnny Manziel, head coach Mike Pettine and other Browns rookies. Columbus' courtship of the DNC started Wednesday, when selectors "were treated to pedicab rides into a morning pep rally with about 1,000 people outside of Nationwide Arena ... followed by a tour of the arena, a luncheon and viewing of other sites around Columbus." Following Wednesday’s rally and Nationwide Arena tour, Democrats "had a sports-themed lunch." Guests "included local sports legends Buster Douglas and Jimmy Jackson, as well as Ohio State’s Smith" (DISPATCH.com, 8/7). The DISPATCH's Vardon notes, "As of now, Ohio State opens the 2016 football season on Sept. 3 at home against Bowling Green, so conflicts over hotel rooms and stadium availability probably would be avoided if the Democrats pick Columbus" (DISPATCH.com 8/8).