Oak View Group is in charge of a $600M renovation to Seattle's KeyArena, and CEO Tim Leiweke has a "specific vision for what the refurbished venue will look like," according to Mike Johnston of SPORTSNET.ca. Leiweke: "What we’re doing is we’re keeping the outside of the arena as is because this is 1962 and the World’s Fair and so there’s a great deal of history and tradition but we’re going down and completely gutting the bowl and completely gutting the concourses and doubling the size of the arena to 660,000 square feet. Imagine, essentially, it will look an awful lot like the Air Canada Centre and like the Air Canada Centre we’ll have an atrium that essentially gets people down -- so you’ll enter on the top level and then go down to the rest of the building and the bowl." He noted the arena will be "very tight" and feature 17,500 seats, but be "economically designed in a way to be top third of the league in revenue." Leiweke said the upgraded arena will feature premium suites and a lower bowl that "will be one of the larger lower bowls in the league." Leiweke: “The environment will be amazing because it will be tight." Meanwhile, Johnston noted OVG will "not be the sole owners of an NHL franchise should that come to fruition." Leiweke said, "We will own a small piece of an NHL team because I’m not capable of writing whatever cheque the (NHL) owners may or may not want. So what we are doing is my company is putting in half the money on the arena but my company can’t own a hockey team. We had to go find an owner, or in this case two, that were prepared to write that cheque and in order to make sure that we were aligned we gave them half of the interest in the arena" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/19).
The Braves are "officially relocating" their Spring Training to a new ballpark complex in North Port, Fla., after the plan yesterday "received its final public approval from the North Port City Commission," according to a front-page piece by Zach Murdock of the Sarasota HERALD-TRIBUNE. The commission narrowly voted 3-2 to "approve the last major piece needed to finalize" the $100M deal. The approval "paves the way for initial construction work to begin on the site almost immediately." It will be a "feverish dash to turn the almost 100 acres of ranch land" into a full ballpark complex in time for Spring Training in February '19. The campus will include an 8,000-seat ballpark with six "full-sized practice fields, a public plaza, an eventual year-round player development academy and five multi-purpose fields for overflow parking." Although the final price tag is "considerably higher" than the roughly $75M estimate "initially cited, the team will pick up the remainder of the tab." The Braves' obligations include almost $37.5M in "debt payments" on the ballpark over the next 30 years and another $18M in "architecture, engineering and construction" (Sarasota HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/20). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes the Braves "expect to offset some of their costs by selling naming rights" to the ballpark. Five other teams train "within an hour's drive of the Braves' new location" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 9/20). L.A.-based law firm O'Melveny & Myers, together with local co-counsel, represented the West Villages Improvement District in the negotiation of an agreement for the development of the complex. O'Melveny was led by Partner Irwin Raij and included Partner Daniel Cantor, Counsel Alexander Chester and Associate Daryl Steiger (O'Melveny).