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Volume 24 No. 135


The effort to build an MLS stadium for the Revolution in Dorchester is "all but dead” after more than a year of discussions, according to Shirley Leung of the BOSTON GLOBE. The finger-pointing “has begun,” and if the effort “goes away, blame the Boston Teachers Union.” At issue are the 2.7 acres the union owns on the site where Revolution Owner Robert Kraft "would like to put his sports venue.” The union is “asking for a deal that Kraft ... thinks is too rich.” Kraft “needs about 10 acres for his stadium, and much of that would come from UMass.” But the stadium “doesn’t work without Kraft taking over the adjacent property, too.” That is where the union “has had its headquarters for four decades.” To help reach an agreement, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh “offered many sites for a new union home.” The union “recently asked” for at least $17.5M in cash. Sources said that the union also “wants Kraft to pick up costs related to relocating and rebuilding, bringing the total package” to nearly $30M. Kraft “wants a soccer stadium in Boston, but not if it feels like he’s being ripped off.” He “seems ready to move on.” Leung writes the deal dying "would be a shame because a stadium would have helped accelerate the revitalization of Columbia Point” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/11).

St. Louis Alderman Christine Ingrassia, who sponsors the bill to put $80M into a new MLS stadium in the city, said that the proposal is "effectively dead," according to a front-page piece by Faulk & Addo of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Ingrassia said that the mayor’s office "informed SC STL over the weekend that the bill would not move forward." Whether that "kills the city’s dreams of an MLS franchise is yet to be determined, but the odds against are stacked." City officials wanted MLS investors to ask for "less public money" to build a $200M stadium. Mayor Francis Slay's Communications Dir Maggie Crane said that the city had asked SC STL to lower its $80M request but "didn’t say by how much." With two weeks until the deadline for placing propositions on the April 4 ballot, it is also "unclear how the state could help." Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens last week "repeated his opposition to public financing." Faulk & Addo note MLS expansion franchise applications are "due to the league Jan. 31." Ingrassia said that the ownership group "didn’t spend enough time reaching out to the community as their plan developed." City Alderman Steve Conway, who chairs the Ways & Means Committee, said that it is "possible a proposal could be revisited and approved in time for a summer special election" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/11). The AP's Jim Salter noted MLS officials have "shown strong interest in St. Louis, but only if a new stadium is built." The city would "own the stadium and lease it to the MLS franchise for 30 years." SC STL would pay about $80M of the stadium cost and cover the $150M MLS expansion fee (AP, 1/10).

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: In St. Louis, Jose de Jesus Ortiz notes SC STL "must come up with a different attack." Now is the time to "rally the St. Louis community and literally go back to the drawing board and see if a more inexpensive soccer stadium" can be built for $120M. Ortiz: "Moreover, it's time to challenge local soccer fans to stand up and show MLS their commitment." SC STL "should gauge the interest by asking for deposits on potential season-ticket packages." Ortiz: "Let’s show MLS how excited and committed we are about making an MLS franchise not only succeed but thrive here." While the stadium funding issues "are ironed out, let’s start a season-ticket campaign to show MLS how many folks are willing to buy packages to a season that won’t start" until '20, at the earliest (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/11).

Some Charlotte City Council members "want the city to consider building" an MLS stadium at the site of an abandoned mall "rather than at Memorial Stadium," according to a front-page piece by Harrison & Portillo of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Under a proposal discussed by Mecklenburg County commissioners last week, the city and county "would each spend" $50M toward building a new stadium. The local ownership group of SMI's Bruton and Marcus Smith "would also spend" $50M for the Memorial Stadium project. But some on the council "want a closer look" at Eastland Mall, which the city has been "trying to redevelop unsuccessfully for nearly five years." Council member John Autry, whose last day was Monday, said, "Does it make more sense doing it there than tearing down Memorial Stadium, which is a historic landmark, when we have 72 acres sitting at the end of Central Avenue?” Charlotte Center City Partners President & CEO Michael Smith, whose group is looking to bring MLS to Charlotte, said that an analysis of different sites "concluded Memorial Stadium would be the best for a new soccer stadium." That is in "large part because the stadium would be ... near hotels, restaurants and other businesses that would benefit from and serve soccer fans" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/11). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes if city government ends up helping build a stadium, council member James Mitchell is expected to "be a big part of the conversation." Mitchell "helped round up votes and negotiate" the deal to use $87.5M in city money for Bank of America Stadium renovations. Mitchell said of the city pitching in, "The county's in the driver's seat because they own the land. I think for us the first crucial criteria is January 31st and getting a site (for the local bid)" (, 1/11).

There has been "zero coordination" between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as they "compete to build the Rays a new ballpark, even disagreeing on informal ground rules to prevent a bidding war," according to Noah Pransky of Tampa-based WTSP-CBS. Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said that he has "worked with the team to narrow a list of sites down to 'one or two' that would connect Tampa's Channelside, and Ybor neighborhoods." Hagan also said that the county's bankers in N.Y. have been "meeting with the Rays' banking team" to discuss ballpark financing, possibly a "bigger challenge for the region than finding an appropriate site." That conflicts with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, whose city resides in Pinellas County, saying that he "hopes to avoid a competition between Hillsborough and Pinellas." St. Petersburg has been "meeting with the Rays privately as well and seems to hold a distinct advantage over Hillsborough County when it comes to available funding streams" for a new ballpark. Kriseman has also been "bullish on the possibility" of a new ballpark next to the existing ballpark, so redevelopment at the Tropicana Field site "could help fund the project." Kriseman said that he "hoped both counties would then rally around the chosen site and hope the financing fell into place." Kriseman: "We’re not getting into a bidding war because that doesn’t do any of us any good" (, 1/10). In Tampa, Janelle Irwin noted the Rays have been "very quiet about plans." Last summer, the team put out a survey "asking where fans wanted their team and listed possibilities in four areas." While a "narrowed list shows progress in Hagan’s quest" for MLB in his county, he is still "frustrated with the time frame." Even with a short list in mind, he "expects anything public is still a couple months off" (, 1/10).

More than 150,000 people attended the inaugural year of Indianapolis Motor Speedway's "Lights at the Brickyard" holiday lights show, a source said, a sign that the effort could turn into a valuable new annual revenue stream for the track. IMS' lights show -- which several other tracks, including SMI-owned Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway have similar versions of -- started in mid-November and ran through Dec. 31. The idea for tracks is to leverage their sprawling venues to find a new revenue stream during late fall and early winter, when tracks are typically dormant for the offseason. Depending on how many people were in a vehicle, it cost $20-100 to attend IMS' show, which featured more than 2 million lights along a 1.7 mile course split between the track's road course and oval. IMS President Doug Boles called it a "truly special experience for us." Boles: "The large crowds and smiling faces that greeted us every night surpassed our expectations." The lights show is one of a host of new events that IMS has or plans to put on, including the Red Bull Air Race and the LPGA Indy Women in Tech Championship to be held on IMS' golf course.

In K.C., Dave Hellling writes it is "time for the metropolitan area to begin thinking about the future of the Truman Sports Complex," which houses both Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums. Jackson County voters in '06 "approved a 3/8 cent sales tax for improvements at the complex," and both the Chiefs and Royals "signed 25-year lease extensions." Those lease agreements are "now 11 years old," which "means the area has just 14 years to figure out if it wants to keep professional sports in the community for several more decades." The "crushing math of big-time sports means the Kansas City area should at least start considering the choices it will face" when the current leases expire in '31 (K.C. STAR, 1/11).

: In Houston, Adam Coleman noted the back section of Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse is set for a $4M renovation, "creating locker rooms and team lounges" for the golf, soccer, track and field and cross country teams with "additional space for future enhancements." The privately funded project's completion date is set for summer '17 and "will be ready for use" for the '17-18 athletic year (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/7). 

THEY GO TO EXTREMES: On Long Island, Glenn Gamboa notes Nassau Coliseum’s Long Island All Access Pass program "offers tickets to every event planned at the new arena, including the much-sought-after tickets to opening night," a Bill Joel concert April 5. Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum VP/Marketing Kate Girotti said that "both businesses and families have jumped at the chance to be part" of the program, which is now about 50% sold out. Girotti said that every member of the program is "able to pick out the seats they want in the arena’s lower bowl" (NEWSDAY, 1/11).