The Greater Cleveland Gateway Economic Development Corp. BOD yesterday approved more than $33M in combined, major capital repairs to Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field, including an estimated $9.4M for a scoreboard that the Cavaliers "are attempting to have in place in the next two months," according to Kevin Kleps of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. The proposed funds -- nearly $23.1M in improvements to the arena and between $8.4-9.9M in renovations to the ballpark in the next 10 months -- "would come from Cuyahoga County’s sin tax on cigarettes and alcohol." Gateway Chair Tim Offtermatt said, "It’s a pretty heavy lift to have the scoreboard ready for the beginning of the season, but I’ll leave that for others. We haven’t considered as a board any construction contracts yet." The next Gateway board meeting "is scheduled for Sept. 16." Cuyahoga County Council Chief of Staff Joseph Nanni, who attended yesterday’s meeting, believes that the financing "will be worked out between the city and county well before then." The Cavs "could finance the project themselves, then be reimbursed in 2015, when the next round of sin tax money is collected" (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 8/20).
The Univ. of North Carolina "still has interest in renovating the Smith Center or building a new arena to replace it," but UNC AD Bubba Cunningham this week said those plans “have been pretty much on the back burner for 12 months,” according to Andrew Carter of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Cunningham has publicly "expressed a desire to renovate" the Smith Center, which opened in '86, and "add premium features -- like luxury suites -- that could generate more revenue." But the "uncertainty of the college sports landscape ... as well as budget concerns have decreased the likelihood that UNC develops a formal plan for the Smith Center, or its replacement, any time soon." Cunningham: “We don’t know about the long term implications of the O’Bannon ruling. We don’t know where the autonomy group is going to take the governance structure. So I think now’s the time to be pretty cautious in what we’re going to do next.” Carter notes renovations to the Smith Center would "likely cost tens of millions of dollars, and a new arena could cost hundreds of millions." It is "unclear how any project would be funded." But Cunningham said that any plan to renovate or build a new arena "would likely be tied to a yet-to-be-formalized broader university-wide fundraising campaign." Cunningham said of whether the school would prefer to renovate the Smith Center or build a new arena, "It’s like remodeling your house. You can enhance it. There’s plenty of things you can do. Some will argue a need to enhance it a lot; others will say you don’t need to change it -- it’s terrific. And other people will say, boy, if you’re going to invest this significant amount of money you should probably bite the bullet and really build new" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/21).
The Bruins' new practice facility will be a "potential event space for corporate partners, such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Hallmark Health," according to Callum Borchers of the BOSTON GLOBE. TD Garden "cannot accommodate all the requests it gets for corporate events, private functions and advertising, so the Bruins hope to redirect some of that business" to the new facility, scheduled to open in '16 as part of the "massive Boston Landing development by New Balance." Bruins President Cam Neely said, “We’re wondering what we can offer our corporate partners that someone else can’t offer them -- that’s an experience they can’t buy somewhere else. ... Is there an opportunity to bring people behind the curtain, so to speak?” Borchers notes the Bruins’ plans for the practice rink "reflect how some sports teams are turning the places where players scrimmage and run drills into legitimate attractions." But not every team "can pull this off." Clubs with little history "struggle to sell game tickets, never mind function space at practice sites." The new facility will "not be owned" by Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs. Instead the club has "signed a letter of intent for a long-term lease" with New Balance, whose "14-acre Boston Landing project includes a new company headquarters, a hotel, and another sports complex." But the rink "will have a pro shop, where the Bruins can sell merchandise, and the team will be able to book corporate functions and sponsorships there." The money the Bruins make from events there "will be exempt" from the NHL's revenue-sharing program (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/21).
The Raptors are "one council vote away from a new practice facility at Exhibition Place" near downtown Toronto, according to Don Peat of the TORONTO SUN. Toronto City Council exec committee members "unanimously approved" MLSE’s plan to build a $30M (all figures C) practice center at the city-owned site, and MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke "wants it ready in time" for the '16 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. City Council will "debate the deal next week." Under the proposal, MLSE would "foot the $30-million bill to construct the facility and pay Exhibition Place annual rent that would start at $205,000." MLSE has also "agreed to make the majority of the daytime and evening basketball court time at the facility available for 'community use' through the city’s parks department" (TORONTO SUN, 8/21). The GLOBE & MAIL's Elizabeth Church notes MLSE will "rent the facility for 20 years," and during that time, the Raptors "will have exclusive rights to use two-thirds" of it. Leiweke said, "Now we have a home for the Raptors; we have a home for Canada Basketball. Now we just have got to go build it" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/21).
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh yesterday cut practice short "after divots kept coming up" and players "perilously lost footing on the 4-month-old sod" at Levi's Stadium, according to Cam Inman of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Players, and even Niners GM Trent Baalke, "repeatedly tried patting down divots, which often came up from pass rushers and linemen." The grounds crew on Tuesday "replaced several patches of sod, in 1-foot-by-3-foot segments, throughout the field." A Niners spokesperson "would not reveal further details about the plans or whether the sod would be replaced in its entirety." Field conditions "were called into question after the 49ers' first game Sunday." Niners S Eric Reid said that the sod "was coming up and likely needed more time to take root." Levi's Stadium hosts a Chargers-Niners preseason game on Sunday, which will be shown nationally on Fox (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/21). In Sacramento, Matt Barrows noted the Niners yesterday "finished the workout on its usual practice fields" in a session that "was closed to fans and media." Fans at the open practice were "bewildered," and the team announced via loudspeaker that they "would get complementary tickets to the team’s new museum." There "won’t be a lot of opportunity for the sod to lay deep roots" before Sunday's game. Levi's Stadium is then "scheduled to host a high school football doubleheader" on Aug. 29, and an int'l soccer match between Mexico and Chile on Sept. 6 (SACBEE.com, 8/20). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said Levi's Stadium has "all the bells and whistles, all the Wi-Fi," but the 49ers apparently "brought down the Candlestick Park turf" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 8/21).
In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane reported the Florida Atlantic BOT yesterday voted to "name the field at the FAU stadium after Howard Schnellenberger, the legendary coach who founded the program and led the effort to build the stadium." FAU on Sept. 13 will "host a ceremony before the home opener against Tulsa," and FAU President John Kelly also will "make a presentation at halftime" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 8/20). FAU BOT Chair Anthony Barbar confirmed that a donation was made by an FAU football fan who "agreed to the gift only if the school's board of trustees voted to name the field" after Schnellenberger. In Ft. Lauderdale, Cristina Ledra notes the name of the venue "will remain Florida Atlantic Stadium" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/21).
EDDIE MONEY: Grambling State interim President Cynthia Warrick yesterday said that one of her primary goals is "to improve the facilities at Eddie Robinson Stadium." Warrick: "We have got to do something about that stadium. We have got to renovate that stadium. We need a Jumbotron. We need new turf. We need a new drainage system." She added that she "hopes to launch a national campaign soon to start the funding process" (Monroe NEWS STAR, 8/21).
DAWG DAYS ARE OVER: In Atlanta, Chip Towers reports AT&T has invested $10M to alleviate issues with "connectivity, or rather the lack of it," at Georgia's Sanford Stadium. More than 400 antennae "have been installed throughout the stadium and are designed to handle to demand of phones in specific areas." AT&T Regional Dir of External Affairs Paul Chambers said that the company also "doubled the wireless capacity outside the stadium and in and around Athens to improve coverage as spectators tailgate and drive into the stadium area" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/21).
HOOK 'EM HOOPS: In Austin, Brian Davis reports Texas booster Marian Dozier "has made a 'significant gift' to the athletic department" that is "earmarked to rename the basketball offices after the Dozier family and renovate the basketball practice facilities inside Cooley Pavilion" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/21).