The 49ers are "rolling out a new-and-improved plan to accommodate even bigger crowds" for their Levi's Stadium debut Sunday in a preseason game against the Broncos, according to Rosenberg & Richards of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. It will be a "crucial test for the team and local officials who are looking to ease the traffic jams, parking confusion and hour-plus waits for trains that many fans endured" when the stadium first opened its gates for an MLS match. This time, "more parking lots will be available and more lanes will be open on key roads, while traffic signals have been fine-tuned." Niners officials also are "hoping that the crowd of mostly 49ers season-ticket holders will rely more on the custom traffic directions the team provided to fans going to each of the two-dozen lots near the stadium, which many Earthquakes fans apparently ignored." The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority this week is "finishing a months-long" $14M project to "build extra tracks outside the stadium to store three additional post-game trains that can take 1,350 riders home and increase service frequency." The VTA also is "adding some pre-game trains, increasing the bus routes serving the stadium from five to six and launching new buses that will run along the light rail route to supplement packed trains." Serving the stadium "for the first time Sunday will be the Altamont Corridor Express and Capitol Corridor train lines from the East Bay, and charter buses coming from throughout the region, though those services will each carry a small number of riders." It is "unclear if the boost in transit service will offset" the 40% increase in fans compared to the MLS game (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/15).
The Cowboys are "reviving the party tent known as the Corral, a gathering spot that came of age during the team’s 1990s glory years," according to Jeff Mosier of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The Miller Lite Corral in the west end zone plaza at AT&T Stadium "debuts Saturday for the preseason home opener" against the Ravens. The new Corral is an "update, but not that much fancier than the old tent." The 8,190-square-foot space -- "slightly larger than the old one -- should have room for about 1,000 people." The original Corral was created in '90 as a "focal point for after-game celebrations." The team already had one club "reserved for those with premium seats." But the party tent was "available to any fan with a ticket, although some had to pay an additional cover charge." Just outside the stadium, the new Corral will be an "open-air, covered plaza with a curved roof." It will "feature a DJ booth, bar, concession carts, live music stage and 18 televisions, including a 90-inch screen in addition to the portable big screens typically used in the plazas." Seating will be "added to an adjacent tree-lined grassy strip south of the Corral to create a beer garden." An "upstairs VIP area will be used by Miller to entertain its guests." The Corral will be "open before and after each home game." Last call is "planned for two hours after the game ends with closing time coming roughly a half-hour after that." The party tent "could sometimes stay open longer, for example, when a Sunday afternoon game is over and fans want to stay to watch that night's matchup." But not everything is "expected to be finished by Saturday's game," as some of the signage "won't be completed and not all the speakers will be installed" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/15).
The Warriors "for the first time Thursday sketched out the team’s broad vision" for a $1B arena and office complex in the Mission Bay neighborhood, giving residents "their first rough outline of what would be a transformative project for the still-evolving area," according to Eric Young of the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES. Detailed drawings "won't come until later this fall," but the initial design revealed at Thursday's meeting with the Mission Bay Citizens Advisory Committee "would incorporate an oblong arena placed off-center on the 12-acre site." The designers "placed office and lab space totaling about 500,000 square feet at both the northwest and southwest corners of the site." The main plaza area by the arena "would be comparable in size" to S.F.'s Union Square. Warriors officials said that building heights "would conform to existing limits at the site." The arena "at its highest point would be 135 feet high; the highest points of the office towers would be 160 feet and the retail sites would vary from 25 to 40 feet high" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/14). In S.F., Jonah Lamb notes the new arena "will seat 18,000 people, the same size as the former site" considered by the team along The Embarcadero. Parking will "be provided below ground in a 700-car lot with two access points on the north and south ends of the site." All arena-related functions "will be accessible through the two entrances to the underground garage." The arena and complex are "slated to be ready" for the '18-19 NBA season (S.F. EXAMINER, 8/15).
Rosemont, Ill., officials this week renewed the naming-rights deal for Allstate Arena in a $15M deal that "will keep the insurance giant's name on the village-owned stadium" until '24, according to Christopher Placek of the Chicago DAILY HERALD. Under the original agreement in '99, Allstate paid about $10M "over the course of 10 years, and then renewed" for $5M for an additional five years. Plans now "call for Allstate's logo to be placed on top of the stadium." The new agreement also "will allow Allstate use of the stadium for an upcoming charity concert event" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 8/15). The arena is home to the WNBA Sky, AFL Chicago Rush and AHL Chicago Wolves (THE DAILY).
Glendale and Goodyear, Ariz., “may not receive” any of the $100M-plus “in repayments the cities were promised for Cactus League baseball complexes, because tax revenue used to pay them continues to fall below original projections,” according to Peter Corbett of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Under the best scenario, the “financially squeezed” Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority will repay the two cities sometime between ‘21 and ‘31, “well beyond the original schedule.” Glendale is owed $60M of the $152.6M “the city spent building Camelback Ranch stadium to host” the White Sox and Dodgers. Goodyear is “waiting for” $57.5M from the ASTA for its $123M investment in Goodyear Ballpark, the Spring Training home of the Reds and Indians. The potential Cactus League shortfall “could worsen Glendale's efforts to dig out of a financial hole” linked to its $180M investment in Gila River Arena and “other major costs” to keep the Coyotes in Glendale. The ASTA’s revenue from a 1% hotel-tax and 3.25% rental-car surcharge to pay for Cactus League facilities “has fallen far short of initial projections, and the Great Recession compounded the problem.” Add to that “an arms race of costly, state-of-the-art ballparks, clubhouses and training facilities for Arizona's 15 Cactus League teams” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/15).
The Buccaneers this week unveiled new menu items at Raymond James Stadium, with many of the items "inspired by the unique tastes" of the city and a focus on "showcasing regional foods," according to Laura Reiley of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The new items, "part of a collaboration" between the Tampa Sports Authority and concessionaire Aramark, include a "pressed-to-order Cuban sandwich on local bread" and a new "bocadillo" shaved ham sandwich for $11 each. The menu also features "new sides" like sweet potato and yucca fries for $6.50 each. Buccaneers COO Brian Ford described the "shiny new concession kiosks as operating like self-sufficient little restaurants." He said it is a shift aimed at "improving the overall guest experience in terms of menu selections and speed of service." Raymond James Stadium Exec Chef Kevin Riley said that the new changes "reflected a more 'chef-driven concept,' with an emphasis on house-made sauces, condiments and roasted meats" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/14).
IRON STOMACH: In Pittsburgh, Michael Machosky noted Heinz Field's menu has been "revamped at the club and suite levels and a few items have been added to general concessions." One new item called the "Burgher" on a Stick features "panko-breaded ground beef, cheddar, relish, spicy ketchup and bacon." Another new item is the Arancini, which are "breaded Arborio rice balls filled with ground beef, veal and pork, sweet peas and parmesan cheese." Both are "available in the suites." There also is an "AFC North-theme Football City Mini Sampler of hot dogs, featuring three short, grilled dogs representing the Steelers (grilled kielbasa, bacon-caramelized onion kraut, whole-grain mustard), the Ravens (Old Bay crab dip and diced tomato), and the Bengals (Skyline Chili, cheddar, onion)" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/13).
FLY ON, LITTLE WING: In Buffalo, Jerry Zremski noted Ralph Wilson Stadium's renovations include a "radical overhaul" of the concessions operations. This means several "trademark Buffalo food outlets will be scattered around the stadium." The "modernized concessions operation made it possible to offer much more local fare," including Tim Hortons doughnuts, La Nova pizza and Duff's wings (BUFFALONEWS.com, 8/14).
I'M THE BEST DOG IN THE GAME: Seattle-based KING-NBC noted the "new items" at CenturyLink Field for Seahawks games this season include "a 24-inch long hot dog" called the "Colossal Hawk Dog." The hot dog comes "topped with chipotle cheese sauce, pico de gallo, diced red peppers, diced jalapeños, sour cream, and guacamole with blue and green tortilla strips" (KING5.com, 8/13).