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Volume 24 No. 178

Facilities

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi yesterday said that the city "remains at the negotiating table for a new NHL arena even though the Flames have declared they’ve pulled out of talks," according to Donna Spencer of the CP. Nenshi: "We worked very hard to come up with a deal that makes sense in this economy without impacting people’s taxes." Councillors yesterday voted to "allow Nenshi to release financial details" on a city-backed Victoria Park entertainment district option, which the mayor "said he would do soon." It was reported yesterday that the city "offered to pay a third of the cost, but that money had to be paid back." Nenshi said, "I can tell you that what has been reported -- the one-third, one-third, one-third deal -- as the basis, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I can tell you the city has a very fair offer on the table. One I think many Calgarians, most Calgarians will see as eminently reasonable." Nenshi said the proposed team-backed CalgaryNext project is one "most Calgarians will see as eminently unreasonable." Nenshi has at times "downplayed the economic benefit of a new arena, which created tension between the NHL team and the mayor" (CP, 9/13). In Calgary, Shawn Logan in a front-page piece reports both proposals "call for the Flames and the city to each shoulder about one-third of the price tag," which is currently about $550M, with a "ticket surcharge covering the remainder." Sources said that the "sticking point between the city and the ownership group seems to be around cost recovery for taxpayers." Nenshi "would not say" when the city would be making the proposals public. However, he said that the city has "always been ready to find a middle ground both sides could live with." But Councillor Andre Chabot said that making the documents public will "only create a further divide between the two sides." Chabot: "It may actually hurt future negotiations" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/14).

PLAYING THE BLAME GAME: In Calgary, Rick Bell writes Nenshi is "to blame for talks on a new NHL arena going sideways," as a deal with the Flames "could have been done." Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart said that former Mayor Dave Bronconnier "should be brought in to broker a deal between the Flames owners and the city." She added that Nenshi "never really backed a new arena." Colley-Urquhart: "There’s no evidence the mayor ever felt a new facility was needed. ... It’s such an affront to the owners of the Flames and what they’ve contributed to this city. It’s really embarrassing" (CALGARY SUN, 9/14). Also in Calgary, Eric Francis writes "something good came out" of the Flames' "aggressive declaration that they’ve stopped their pursuit of a new arena." The cause was forwarded by way of a "hastily-called vote" by city council yesterday to "release details of the team owners’ last offer and the city’s most recent counter-proposal." Francis: "Progress" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/14). The CALGARY HERALD's Don Braid writes, "The thought that an arena project for Calgary just died is plain ridiculous." Owners "haven't really walked away." In a city where polls show a big majority "favours a new arena, nobody wants it more" than Calgary Sports & Entertainment (CALGARY HERALD, 9/14).

WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET? 
THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ryan Kennedy wrote under the header, "Flames Billionaire Owner Can Build His Own Arena." The "posturing coming out of Calgary lately is beyond absurd." If Flames President & CEO Ken King, co-Owner and Chair Murray Edwards and CS&E "truly care about the city of Calgary, they’ll use ownership’s money to build a new facility." That is what the Maple Leafs did, that is what the Canadiens did and, more recently, that is what the Golden Knights did. The Red Wings and Oilers "received public funding for their latest arenas" but fact is, the Flames "can afford to build a new arena with their own money" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/13).

A day after the A’s "proposed building a ballpark" near Laney College, nearby business owners and residents "reacted to the news with varying degrees of resistance, apathy and excitement," according to Kimberly Veklerov of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilman Abel Guillen, who represents the district, "applauded the A’s commitment to stay in town and privately finance the ballpark." A's President Dave Kaval said that the team is "working with city officials to keep the surrounding community and its culture intact." Among the first people he "will have to persuade" are the trustees of the Peralta Community College District, which "owns much of the land at the site." Kaval said that he "wants to see the A’s and the district partner up for workforce development and internship programs." Economists said that the "impacts may not be as severe as community members fear." Stanford professor Roger Noll said that "unless the facility is part of a larger development push, property values may actually decline in the immediate vicinity because of negative effects such as traffic congestion." Schaaf: "The A’s have their work cut out for them. They are going to have to convince many community stakeholders that this project is going to be good for them" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/14). In Oakland, David DeBolt notes Schaaf all along had "supported the Howard Terminal site" north of Jack London Square on the waterfront. When asked if she would help the A's sell the ballpark to the community, Schaff said that her job is to "ensure the project benefits the neighborhood." Guillen said that an informal poll he conducted in his district "showed two-thirds of residents prefer the A's stay at the Coliseum" (EAST BAY TIMES, 9/14).

SMART DECISION: In Oakland, Dieter Kurtenbach writes the A's preferred site is not "ready-made," but the team "picked the best site to build their new ballpark." It would be hard to "find a better axis in the East Bay, and that’s exactly what the A’s need around their new ballpark." Kurtenbach: "Say what you will about the Coliseum’s looks, but it wasn’t hard to reach. The A’s couldn’t be regressive on that front." The area around Laney College has some "great bars, restaurants, and shops already in place." The neighborhood is "quintessential Oakland." It is "not the perfect site: it won’t rival AT&T Park with the awesome water-front views." However, the Laney site is "significantly easier to reach via public transportation and car than Howard Terminal, and the area has so much more potential to turn into the desired 'ballpark village' than the Coliseum area" (EAST BAY TIMES, 9/14). THE ATHLETIC's Tim Kawakami wrote the A's just "completed a logic test, and though it wasn't terribly difficult, let's give them credit for bounding to the correct conclusion and doing it a little quicker than expected." Previous A's administrations have "flunked this test over and over and over again." By almost every measure, the Oakland parcel of land near Laney College was the "most sensible compromise choice" for Kaval in his assignment to find a "suitable site" for a new ballpark. Kawakami: "This could be a very nice place for a new ballpark and I absolutely believe it is superior to the Coliseum site and probably Howard Terminal" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/13).

BID FAREWELL: In S.F., Ann Killion writes under the header, "Mourning The Soon-To-Be-Former Home Of The A's, Raiders, Warriors." With the A’s announcement this week, the Oakland Coliseum "abandonment plans are complete." And even though the Coliseum has been "maligned, shunned and ridiculed in recent decades, it actually has continued to produce winners." Killion: "It is the height of absurdity that both the Raiders and A's are choosing to abandon it" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/14).

Levy will take over food service next season at Tropicana Field, said Rays VP/Operations & Facilities Rick Nafe. Levy replaces Centerplate, which has run the ballpark’s general concessions and premium dining since the Rays’ first season in '98. Centerplate’s current agreement expires Dec. 31, and as Levy begins the transition, the company has posted a job listing to fill the role of Tropicana Field’s executive chef on its website. Nafe confirmed the decision to sign a new vendor was made before a Sports Illustrated story ran in early August ranking Tropicana Field as the worst MLB park in terms of food safety. The Rays had discussions with most big-league food providers before selecting Levy in mid-July, sources said. “(SI’s report) may been the rotten cherry on top,” Nafe said. Rays VP/Strategy & Development Bill Walsh, who was principally involved in the Levy deal, was unavailable to comment on terms of the deal and why the Rays chose Levy. In an email this morning, Walsh wrote the Rays are short-staffed and trying to get the ballpark ready for baseball again after Hurricane Irma struck Florida. Tomorrow, the Rays start a three-game series against the Red Sox. In addition to the Rays, Tropicana Field plays host to college football’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. For Levy, the Rays are its eighth MLB account. The concessionaire also has deals with the D-backs, Dodgers, White Sox, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates and Cubs.

North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham said that plans to "upgrade the Smith Center -- or replace it with a new facility -- remain on hold for what could be several years," according to Nolan Hayes of INSIDE CAROLINA. UNC worked with an architecture firm in '13 and '14 to "generate renderings of what an updated version of the Smith Center or a new arena might look like, but the school is not ready to proceed down either path." Cunningham said, "Part of the impetus of contacting them and getting some thoughts was, ‘Could we create some premium seating in the Smith Center just like we did in football?’ It would generate more revenue, it would allow us to retire the debt on that project, and it would fund some of the other sports." He added, "But given the NCAA issue that we had going on, there just didn’t seem to be an appetite to do that. So we put that on the back burner and just went full-speed ahead with the Olympic sport project." UNC currently is "constructing a new football practice complex, a new stadium for the men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams, a new field hockey stadium, and a new outdoor track and field complex." Cunningham estimates that the "cost of those projects" will be about $100M. Cunningham: "Once the Olympic sport project is over, I think we could turn our attention to the Smith Center. That’s probably five to seven years away" (SCOUT.com, 9/13).

San Diego State AD John David Wicker said the school plans to have renderings for a possible Mission Valley stadium near its campus "by the first of December," according to Kirk Kenney of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. SDSU has been a "tenant the past 50 years" at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium, so building -- and owning -- its stadium would be "much more beneficial to the university." Wicker: "One of the great things about a new stadium, and if we do it the right way, there's a nice bump to our bottom line. It gives us the opportunity from a budget standpoint to be better across the board." Wicker has said that SDSU would like to "build a 35,000-to-40,000-seat stadium that could also accommodate a potential MLS team." Wicker: "We're looking at the right size stadium, that's a multi-use stadium that's right for college football but also has elements for soccer as well. We want a stadium that we have a partnership with someone on. The more events we can do in a stadium, the more successful San Diego State athletics is going to be." He added, "We want appropriate premium options. We want to create a special opportunity for our students with their seating area, plus maybe some type of club options that's specifically for the students that could, in turn, be used for that MLS team's fan club" (SANDIEGOUNIONTRIBUNE.com, 9/13).

In Edmonton, Elise Stolte notes city council yesterday "unanimously approved a plan" to take back and "close Northlands Coliseum" at the end of '17. Starting Jan. 1, the coliseum, formerly Rexall Place, "will be permanently closed as a sports and entertainment venue." Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said that "saving the full building is unlikely, but it's possible some pieces of the Coliseum structure, a wall or some seating, could be incorporated into a new amateur sports venue or other facility on the site" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/14).

WE WILL REBUILD: Pistons VP/PR Kevin Grigg said that "nothing has been determined" about how the next act for The Palace at Auburn Hills will proceed. However, in Detroit, Kirk Pinho noted there is a "blueprint for redeveloping the Joe Louis Arena site." Financial Guaranty Insurance, who bought the property during Detroit's bankruptcy, is to "replace the soon-to-be-demolished arena with a hotel with at least 300 rooms and standing no more than 30 stories; and a mix of office, retail, recreation and residential space." Joe Louis Arena is expected to be demolished this year "under terms of the settlement agreement, but a specific date has not been set" (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 9/11 issue).

FINAL FAREWELL: In Milwaukee, James Nelson noted the final year of the BMO Harris Bradley Center will "include a fundraising campaign for 16 area organizations" that were supported by late philanthropist Jane Bradley Pettit, who donated the arena to the community. Bradley Center officials on Tuesday "announced plans for the final year of the arena's operation." In addition to home games for the Bucks and Marquette men's basketball team, there is a "busy schedule of concerts and other programs" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/13).