Mercedes-Benz Stadium "looks just about ready for action," and stadium officials "expect more than 50,000 Falcons and Atlanta United season-ticket holders to attend an open house Saturday" before the stadium's official opening with a Cardinals-Falcons preseason game on Aug. 26, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. About 10 NFL staffers yesterday were on site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, making a "final test of the stadium's readiness for football by checking many aspects of game day operations." Stadium officials yesterday showed off some of the "signature features of the 2-million-square-foot building," such as the "massive halo-shaped video board, the 101-foot-tall video column and the wall of windows framing a view of the city behind one end zone." There was "no new information about when the complex and problematic retractable roof can be opened for events." The roof yesterday was "in the closed position," where it will "remain through Aug. 26." The plan is to "slowly open and re-close the roof in the days after that to continue testing." But officials have "indicated it will be at least October before the roof is sufficiently automated to be opened for events." Stadium project exec Bill Darden said that he "expects games to be played with the roof open 'this year in the fall sometime ... for both soccer and football" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/16). Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said of the roof, "We knew it would be complex. It's probably been as complex or more than we thought. It's one of a kind. It's going to take some more work." AMB Group Senior VP & General Counsel Mike Egan said that engineers are "still working out some bugs to ensure the roof can be opened or closed in 11 minutes." The AP's Paul Newberry notes the stadium looks "ready for business after being delayed three times because of the ongoing roof issues" (AP, 8/16).
A REAL GEORGIA PEACH: NFL Network's Tiffany Blackmon noted she was "blown away by all the stadium's unique features." When fans get inside the stadium, their eyes will be "directed up to the one-of-a-kind halo board." Blackmon: "Look even higher than that, and above your head is the eight-piece retractable roof, each panel weighing 500 tons. The stadium seats 71,000, and those fans can enjoy friendly concession pricing and state of the art Wi-Fi.” McKay said, “We tried to build a building and put the elements into the building that truly transformed the fan experience. We don't say that in a corny way, we say it in a real way. Hopefully they’re going to say that, not just from the exterior architecture, but from the experience they have within” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 8/15).
Blues ownership is asking a judge to "order the St. Louis comptroller to sign off" on a $64M financing agreement for Scottrade Center renovations, according to a front-page piece by Mike Faulk of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The deal was approved by the Board of Aldermen in a 15-12 vote in February, but St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green has "refused to sign the agreement, saying it would hurt the city’s credit rating." The Blues are "seeking what’s called a writ of mandamus, a court order directing a government official to fulfill his or her duties." Green’s stance "suggests the law gives her discretion not to sign." Blues owners said that they have "met with Green and her staff multiple times over the last six months to attempt to get her signature on the agreement." They added that Green instead tried to "negotiate a different financing plan." Combined with interest, the "cost to the city for the renovations over 30 years" is estimated at $105M. The plan includes $50M from a Community Improvement District tax on sales at Scottrade Center "over the next 30 years." To help pay off the debt, $55M from a 5% tax on ticket sales "would be used." Part of the debt payment "still will come from general revenue" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/16). The city of St. Louis owns Scottrade Center, and the owners of the Blues, St. Louis Blues Hockey Club LP and Kiel Center Partners LP, in '92 entered a "50-year lease for the center at a rate of $1 per year" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/15).
In S.F., Bruce Jenkins cited sources as saying that the A's "have ruled out" Howard Terminal as a possible site for a new ballpark. Jenkins: "Let’s hope so; It’s just too grim. As an active port, this is a fully industrial, no-charm area." The Lake Merritt site, said to be the A’s "favored location, got a recent boost when Jowel Laguerre, chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, switched his stance and sounded enthusiastic about sharing that property with the A’s." Meanwhile, settling for the "tired, ancient Coliseum site wouldn’t be such a bad thing." Build a 35,000-seat ballpark with "pristine views of the Oakland hills ... and let your imagination take it from there" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/13).
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: Circuit of the Americas will house the USL Austin Aztex starting in '19, and COTA Chair Bobby Epstein said that he "preferred to build a downtown stadium but it wasn’t economically feasible." Epstein plans to build a 5,000-seat facility at COTA, and said, "Our first choice would be a municipal stadium located in the heart of town. ... [But] that takes tens of millions of dollars. It’s just not an option for 2019 and this team” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/16).
NOTES: Long-time Tropicana Field concessionaire Centerplate, which was responsible for "food safety rating concerns" last week, is in the "final year of its contract and will be replaced" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/13)....The Dickies brand is being sold, but a company spokesperson said that there "will be no impact on the naming rights deal" under which a new 14,000-seat multipurpose arena under construction at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Ft. Worth "will become known as Dickies Arena" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 8/14).