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Volume 24 No. 116

Facilities

Oak View Group "plans to spend" $600M renovating KeyArena for NBA and NHL use and finish by October '20, according to a front-page piece by Geoff Baker of the SEATTLE TIMES. According to a new deal with the city of Seattle, OVG would commit $40M to "improve traffic, transportation and parking beyond any requirements stemming from a mandatory environmental impact review." The deal "guarantees Seattle the revenue it currently gets from KeyArena, and includes a plan for sharing new money generated by the 55-year-old facility after renovation." Both sides hope the draft memorandum of understanding is "approved by a City Council vote by Dec. 31." Beyond the construction and transportation outlays, OVG plans to put $20M "toward a community fund," with millions more spent to "relocate existing Seattle Center tenants." OVG will also assume financial commitments for the "duration of the WNBA Seattle Storm’s new 10-year lease at KeyArena once it reopens." Baker reports the new 39-year lease has a "pair of eight-year extension clauses triggered only if OVG spends" at least $168M in "ongoing KeyArena capital improvements and acquires NBA and NHL teams." Baker notes the completion timeline "could lead to an NHL franchise beginning play" in Seattle by the '20-21 season. OVG has "partnered with billionaire investment banker David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to be Seattle owners of an NHL franchise." The project’s completion date "assumes construction beginning" in October '18. There is "no exclusivity clause in the MOU, but it does specify that competing Seattle arena projects must be all-private with no city subsidies for construction." That "leaves a door open to entrepreneur Chris Hansen and his proposed private arena project in the city’s Sodo District if it wishes to vie for an NBA team down the road" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/12).

Temperature issues at Levi's Stadium have gotten "so bad" that the 49ers yesterday acknowledged that they have hired Populous to "'review a number of aspects of the stadium with the goal of enhancing the fan experience,'" according to a front-page piece by Ann Killion of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The team said it is exploring "feasible solutions to address concerns regarding warm weather days, both for the short and long terms." The team's "lukewarm fan base" is "irritated at being gouged and a blisteringly uncomfortable stadium experience." Temperatures in the high-80s "not only provides a reason to avoid watching mediocre football, but it portends doom at Levi’s." For those in "most of the stadium seats, a warm day means massive discomfort." Given the 49ers’ on-field woes following a 2-14 season, it is "understandable that the stadium wasn’t full, even on opening day" Sunday against the Panthers. Though tickets "were sold -- the pricey personal seat licenses and the tickets were hot stuff back in the glory days under [former 49ers coach] Jim Harbaugh -- it wasn’t full at kickoff or during the first half." The 49ers, who lost 23-3 Sunday, are a "bad team, ripped from its historic roots, playing in a flawed building, charging exorbitant prices." The shady side of the stadium was "full and took in many refugees from the sunny side, but that area accounts for only a relative sliver of seats, below several stories of glassed-in suites." Most of the seats are on the "exposed side." 49ers President Al Guido said that the team is "aware of the concerns and had tried some things through guest services to alleviate the discomfort, including free water, misters and sunscreen" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/12). The49ersHub.com's Jay Moore tweeted, "It's a step in the right direction that the team is identifying that there is a problem. ... I hope this talk of a canopy for Levi's stadium is legit. It needs it bad. Want a full stadium, give the people shade (and wins)" (TWITTER.com, 9/11).

Fans will be able to grab what they want from the ampm store and pay for it on the way out
QUICK AND EASY: In San Jose, Jody Meacham reported the 49ers are "trying out a concept this season" that allows fans to stop by an ampm convenience store at Levi’s Stadium's northwest entrance and "grab the soft drinks, beer, snacks and candy they want and pay on the way out to their seats." It got its "first full test" Sunday against the Panthers. 49ers VP/Stadium Operations & GM Jim Mercurio said, "We’re not going to cannibalize any sales (from regular concession stands). This is a terrific add-on." The ampm store concept "eliminates the line waiting for somebody to decide what they want and someone else to prepare or go get it." Mercurio: "It’s the convenience of the convenience store" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/11).

Marlins Park’s retractable roof "suffered minor damage" from Hurricane Irma, with a small portion of the rubber and plastic membrane on the ballpark’s west side "ripping off," according to Tim Healey of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The Marlins said that represents approximately 6% of the "entire roof membrane, which weatherproofs the structure, and will be replaced immediately following the end of the season." The ballpark "did not suffer any flooding or water damage" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/12). In West Palm Beach, Tom D'Angelo notes the outer membrane of the Heat’s practice court roof at American Airlines Arena "was damaged, pictures showing it draped over the side of the building." However, the Heat said that it is believed the damage is "minor and the building remains sound structurally." Heat players have been "working out at the facility throughout the summer and it is expected they will be allowed to resume those workouts this week" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/12).

MINIMAL DAMAGE FOR BALLPARKS: In Boston, Jason Mastrodonato notes the Red Sox Spring Training facility at JetBlue Park "sustained some damage" from Irma. Red Sox Senior Dir of Communications Kevin Gregg in an email wrote, "The damage to the Fenway South complex was moderate and mainly attributed to high winds resulting in downed trees, fencing, and (light) poles around the ballpark. ... The drainage system continues to draw off water from the playing surfaces but there are other areas of the complex that sustained minimal flooding" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/12). SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi noted the Blue Jays Spring Training facilities in Dunedin, Fla., "suffered little more than cosmetic damage." Blue Jays Exec VP/Baseball Operations & GM Ross Atkins: "We weathered the storm as well as we could have hoped" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/11). The SUN-SENTINEL's Healey notes Roger Dean Stadium "made it through the storm without significant issue" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/12).

READY TO RACE: Daytona Int'l Speedway President Chip Wile gave the all clear yesterday, saying that the property had "suffered moderate damage" from Irma. Wile: "Overall, the structure did its job. We had some moderate damage, but that can be fixed and replaced." In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly notes DIS finished its $400M renovation in '16 and since then has been "pounded by two hurricanes" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 9/12).

The Patriots on Sunday began the "process of replacing the current FieldTurf" at Gillette Stadium, the "third time the surface has been replaced" since March '14, according to Jim McBride of the BOSTON GLOBE. A Patriots spokesperson yesterday said that the FieldTurf "passed all the standards" of the NFL and MLS, and the decision to replace it was "because it didn’t fit the team’s standard." Some Patriots players "complained the new surface was too soft" following Thursday's opener against the Chiefs. There is "no evidence to suggest the surface isn’t safe, but there have been three notable injuries in the three games the Patriots have played since May." Patriots CB Cyrus Jones, Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower and Chiefs S Eric Berry all suffered leg injuries on the surface. Because the Patriots "don’t play at home for two weeks and the Revolution, who share the stadium, don’t play there until Sept. 23, there is plenty of time for the installation" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/12). NBCSN's Chris Simms said, "They should have had a good feel for what the surface totally was. I had always heard they were never really happy it went from grass to the field turf." He added, "I’m just so sick of seeing field turf in general on the field. We’re the only country in the world who goes, ‘Hey, we’re paying you $25 million a year and we’re not going to put a great surface underneath you.’ ... We don’t see Ronaldo and Messi ever play on field turf" ("PFT," NBCSN, 9/12). ESPN.com's Mike Reiss wrote under the header, "Is It Time For Patriots To Consider Going Back To Natural Grass Field?" (ESPN.com, 9/11).

The planned renovation to Hayward Field in Eugene has "been delayed again" and is "expected to begin next summer -- two years after the start date on the original timeline," according to sources cited by Ken Goe of the Portland OREGONIAN. Sources said that the renovation is "expected to take more than a year and not be complete" until some point in '20. The stadium is expected to be closed during renovation, and sources said that it could force the '19 Prefontaine Classic, the '19 NCAA Outdoor Championships and the '19 OSAA Track & Field Championships to "relocate." Hayward Field received the bid for the '21 World Outdoor Championships with the "proviso the stadium be modernized and its capacity expanded to 30,000 permanent and temporary seats." Hayward Field's "current listed capacity is 10,500." Sources said that the current revision calls for "approximately 10,000 permanent seats." Goe notes it is "unclear whether Nike will have any direct involvement with the project." Nike co-Founder & Chair Emeritus Phil Knight is "expected to donate to it" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/12).