The "red hot venue wars between AEG and Azoff MSG Entertainment might be cooling off," according to Dave Brooks of BILLBOARD. Facing an inquiry from U.K. regulators, AEG officials said that they are "considering backing off a tying arrangement" between Staples Center in L.A. and the O2 in London if Azoff MSG Entertainment "does the same." Irving Azoff said that there is "no mandated booking link between his group’s venues," The Forum in L.A. and MSG, which are "often promoted by Live Nation but open to all promoters and touring shows." Azoff: "A show can play (AEG’s) Staples Center and still play the Garden. You might have to route around basketball and hockey, but you can still play the Garden no matter where you’ve played before.” AEG officials said that they are "considering ending the pairing of bookings between Staples Center and O2 arena now that Azoff has said that no block-booking exists between the Forum and the Garden." AEG in a statement said, "The only thing that would make us happier than if Mr. Azoff officially declared that MSG will no longer prevent artists from choosing Staples Center would be if they then actually follow through with it." Following AEG's statement, Azoff issued another statement, saying he and MSG Owner James Dolan are "thrilled that AEG has listened to the artists and is going to adopt the same booking policy as MSG. For the record, and at the risk of being redundant: MSG and The Forum are open buildings. We said it and we mean it" (BILLBOARD.com, 8/22).
The first sight greeting fans at the main entrance of Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be a "giant falcon monument," which serves as the "beginning of a highly curated collection of art designed to elevate the new stadium from a high-tech sports center to a space that also embraces the cultural and artistic heart of the city," according to Nedra Rhone of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. AMB Sports & Entertainment enlisted the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), which "commissioned more than 50 artists, including 26 from Atlanta and surrounding cities, to create more than 180 pieces." The art experience "begins outside the stadium and continues throughout the interior from the main concourse to the private suites and club rooms." It "includes the photographs, paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works of highly regarded artists featured as prominently on the upper levels of the stadium as on the main level." Savannah-based artist Melody Postma "turned to history to create 'Love of the Game,' an homage to the 50-year history" of the Falcons. Other artwork "references" soccer. A 35-foot mirror-faceted soccer ball sculpture by Studio Roso will be installed next year at the north entrance as a "symbol for Atlanta United" (AJC.com, 8/21). In Atlanta, Jill Vejnoska notes the falcon monument is a "massive stainless steel artwork created by Hungarian artist Gabor Miklos Szoke" that rises 41 1/2 feet tall and weighs 73,000 pounds. The falcon "appears to be rising in triumphant touchdown-scoring or interception-snatching flight with a bronze football clutched in its talons" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/23).
SHOPPING SPREE: The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION's Rhone reports there are 15 retail locations throughout M-B Stadium, "including the main store -- an 8,000-square-foot, two-story team store near the main entrance at gates two and three." Retail sales for "all events at the stadium are operated by Fanatics," which has "recently been expanding into brick-and-mortar operations nationwide." In addition to the main retail store, there are "several smaller team retail shops in the stadium" (AJC.com, 8/22).
San Diego State AD John David Wicker said the school is "still working with the city" toward a possible stadium in Mission Valley near its campus. Wicker: "We had a lease extension that had basically been agreed to that would take us through 2020 and it kind of got held up for whatever reason, but we’re continuing to discuss with the city and looking at what that long-term outcome might be." SDSU is now the main tenant at Qualcomm Stadium with the Chargers in L.A. Wicker said Qualcomm Stadium is where SDSU is "going to be for the long-term" until the school "builds a stadium in Mission Valley." However, last week it came out that Qualcomm Stadium will close on Dec. 31, 2018. Meanwhile, Wicker noted SDSU will "roll out some new opportunities in the club areas" of Qualcomm Stadium this season. He added the school has sold "almost 3,000 new season-tickets" for football ahead of the '17 season (“Sports Xtra,” KGTV-ABC, 8/21).
The Shreveport City Council yesterday discussed a proposal by the Pelicans to "build a new sports complex" worth more than $100M, and although the plans are "centered around the Pelicans' G League team, the proposal includes a 'Saints practice facility' in the development site plan," according to Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Shreveport and Pensacola, Fla., have "emerged as the two finalists for the Pelicans' developmental team." Shreveport is "considered the front-runner in the competition to land the franchise" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 8/23). In Shreveport, Lex Talamo in a front-page piece notes the project would have "two parts," including a mixed-use development, as well as an "indoor center with capacity for seating 3,200," which would be built with up to $27.1M in city funds. The sports complex "may draw the most public reaction because of the public funding." Some of the more than a dozen people who spoke at yesterday's meeting "expressed less enthusiasm than those" in a city-sponsored Pelicans video. They questioned the "merits of investing in the sports complex and mixed-use development rather than the police department, city streets and other infrastructure, or existing sports venues" (Shreveport TIMES, 8/23).
EPL club Manchester City on Monday "unveiled its Tunnel Club, a first of its kind in European soccer," which lets fans "buy access to the area around the tunnel that leads from the Etihad Stadium's dressing rooms to the pitch itself," according to Rory Smith of the N.Y. TIMES. Prices for the "so-called premium access" range from $385-19,240 per season. Fans are "rewarded with the chance to see the players from each team as they enter the stadium." They can watch them "file from their changing rooms before the start of each half, and see them return at halftime and full time." It is an idea Man City has imported from the U.S. -- most notably from the Cowboys, whose AT&T Stadium "boasts a similar facility." The fans are "ensconced in a sophisticated lounge on either side of the tunnel." Man City COO Omar Berrada said that the goal was to "create the feel of an exclusive membership club, and what resulted is a space with an air of relaxed opulence." There is a "circular bar, fine food, private table service, an extensive wine list and, on Monday night, a gin-tasting station." But Smith notes the introduction of the Tunnel Club has "met resistance in some quarters," who see it as yet "further proof of the creep of gentrification" in the EPL. Meanwhile, those paying for the Tunnel Club are not only "offered a tactical briefing before the game -- delivered by two Manchester City analysts -- but a question-and-answer session" with a Man City assistant coach. After the game, fans can see manager Pep Guardiola and the opposing manager "give their postgame interviews to the news media" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23).