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Volume 24 No. 156

Facilities

The retractable roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium has required "more money, time, steel and stress than anyone involved expected," according to a front-page piece by Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The roof is not "ready to retract, forcing games to be played with it in the closed position until mechanization is completed." Falcons and stadium officials do not "know exactly when they’ll be able to open the roof for a game." But they said that it will be "sometime this fall." Architectural firm HOK Senior VP Bill Johnson said the difficulties “had a lot to do with the fact that this roof has never been done before." The roof concept was "introduced by Johnson and his team," and their pitch won the $35M assignment, "in part because it met Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s mandate for a building that resembled no other." Tucker notes while retractable roofs on other NFL stadiums have "two massive moving pieces, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s eight are four different sizes and must move at slightly differing speeds." Johnson: "The complexity of the roof structure is something we found out along the way. It was a lot more difficult to achieve that structure than we had originally anticipated." Blank said in the future the roof "will be open more often than it will be closed." The construction team has "moved the roof four times so far." However, rather than in the expected 12 minutes, the moves have "required hours or even days." But Blank insists it is not a "big disappointment to him." Blank said, "I don’t get upset, to be honest with you, over two or three months delay. The roof works. It just doesn’t open and close in 12 minutes yet, but it does open and close" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/22).

The 49ers this year at Levi's Stadium added 100 "portraits and banners, installed a ring of honor atop their suite tower and added splashes" of gold in response to critiques that the 4-year-old venue was "too bland and didn’t have enough of a home-stadium feel," according to Matt Barrows of the SACRAMENTO BEE. 49ers President Al Guido said, "A lot of people kept saying, ‘You know, we need to add some gold into the building. It feels like it was red and white. And we’re not the Arizona Cardinals. We’re the San Francisco 49ers -- so where’s all the gold?’" Barrows notes the ring of honor "features the jersey numbers," from Steve Young's No. 8 to Charles Haley's No. 94, of the 20 former 49ers who are in the Pro Football HOF. The stadium enhancements "coincide with an effort to embrace past greats more so than in recent years." Both Young and Pro Football HOFer Jerry Rice "spoke to players before a recent practice." Guido said that the stadium "initially was light on nostalgia because the team thought its museum would be the best way to honor the past." But fan surveys -- about 150,000 of them over the last three years -- "revealed a call for more history and color." Perhaps the "most striking additions are the large banners in the main concourse that depict great moments in the team’s history" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/22).

Hillsborough County (Fla.) officials trying to lure the Rays across the bay from St. Petersburg are "aggressively working to secure a site for a ballpark in the Channel District-Ybor City area, and hope to make an announcement soon," according to Steve Contorno of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Hillsborough County and its lawyers have had "dozens of conversations this year with the Rays, its financing team at Goldman Sachs and Populous, the architect for the new ballpark." They have "discussed financing options, reviewed sites and compared economic development proposals." Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said that more recently, they have "spoken with land owners about assembling a package of parcels that can fit a ballpark." They are also looking to the Braves for "ideas on how to pay for it." At the same time, direct talks with the Rays front office "have slowed." There is also "lingering frustration the team has not demonstrated enough urgency in its search for a new ballpark." Hagan said, "The team has been arguing for a new home for eight-plus years. It doesn't need to take years to create the partnership required for a new ballpark, but it does take leadership at the ownership level to get us across the finish line." As recently as late July, Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said that the team was "waiting for Tampa and Hillsborough County to present a viable option and challenged them to 'completely weigh in.'" Sternberg: "When they do then we'll be able to make a decision in a pretty quick time" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/21).