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Volume 24 No. 116

Facilities

The MLB Rangers are set to break ground Sept. 28 to build Globe Life Field, their new $1.1B ballpark in Arlington. HKS is the main architect and Manhattan Construction is the general contractor. Walter P Moore fills the role of structural engineer. The 41,000-seat venue will encompass 1.7 million square feet, covering about 13 acres. It will sit next to Texas Live!, an entertainment district scheduled to open a portion of its complex in '18 (Don Muret, Staff Writer). In Ft. Worth, Bill Hanna reports the new ballpark will have a "retractable roof, but the baseball team wants fans to feel like they're still outdoors." One of the main goals is to "allow for plenty of natural light, even when the retractable roof is closed to keep everyone cool." HKS Exec VP & Dir of Sports & Entertainment Bryan Trubey said, "We wanted to make it feel like an open-air ballpark -- not a retractable-roof ballpark." Hanna notes there is "one other wrinkle: the roof will close over the infield first, allowing the most important part of the field to be covered in the event of a sudden downpour." Trubey said that in most ballparks, the roof "closes over the outfield first" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/22).

KEEPING THE FANS IN MIND: In Dallas, Loyd Brumfield notes the renderings released by the team Thursday depict "views into the seating area from every part of the concourse and a roof that slopes downward at certain places so that it doesn't dominate what fans see when they arrive at the ballpark." Trubey said, "Everybody still talks about Camden Yards, which was finished in 1992. With the exception of Globe Life Park, all the ballparks built since then have been more similar than they are different, and we think it's time for another transformation." Trubey said that the new ballpark will "take up a larger geographical footprint" than Globe Life Park but seat "fewer fans to allow for a more intimate experience." Designers also "included five entry gates." Brumfield notes Globe Life Field is "scheduled to open in time" for the '20 MLB season. Trubey said that the new ballpark will "boast a larger overhang that completely covers upper-deck seating and will provide shade on the days that the roof is opened." He added other architectural flourishes include "a progression of arches instead of just a facade of arches." Brumfield notes architects "studied other landmarks with arches, including Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo in San Antonio, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and a monastery in Italy." Meanwhile, Rangers officials also announced that fans "won't have to purchase" PSLs (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/22).

GRASS OR TURF? In Dallas, Evan Grant notes the "combination of a roofed stadium and a lower elevation point for the field make growing and sustaining grass more difficult." The field will be "about 50 feet below the main concourse and will be lower than the current field." While the Rangers' intent is to "play on grass, the issue could force the club to consider an artificial playing surface." Rangers Exec VP/Business Operations Rob Matwick said, "We're still evaluating all of the options" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/22).

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he was "encouraged by the league's 'redoubled' efforts to expand netting at ballparks" across baseball, according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. In the wake of an incident at Yankee Stadium this week involving a young fan, Manfred said that MLB had "'extensive' talks with clubs on Thursday in an effort to increase fan safety." Manfred: "I'm really encouraged by the conversations that have taken place." He added, "A number of clubs have made clear that they either have made ... or will be making announcements about additional netting for the 2018 season. I see that as a continuation of a process that is really good for the game over the long haul" (MLB.com, 9/21). The Reds, Padres and Mariners on Thursday all "committed to extend the amount of netting in their ballparks." Before Thursday, only about a third of MLB teams -- the Yankees not among them -- "have at the commissioner's urging extended the netting to at least the far end of the dugout." U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) "told Manfred in a letter to push to extend safety netting at all 30 ballparks" (ESPN.com, 9/21). In Seattle, Scott Hanson notes the Mariners are expected to extend netting at Safeco Field "to at least the end of the dugouts" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/22). SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi reported the Blue Jays will review protective measures at Rogers Centre "during the off-season" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/21).

ALL EYES ON YANKEES: In N.Y., Red & Botte write under the header, "Yankees Being Pushed By MLB, Local Pols To Add Protective Netting" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22). Also in N.Y., Kevin Kernan writes the Yankees have "run out of excuses" and must "extend the netting." The Yankees are "studying the issue in detail but have not yet made any announcements" (N.Y. POST, 9/22). On Long Island, Anthony Rieber reports Yankees President Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost were "out of the office Thursday because of the Rosh Hashanah holiday" (NEWSDAY, 9/22). Twins President Dave St. Peter said, "For our season-ticket base, netting is part of their new reality." He added, "Over time you’re going to see more netting across the industry, with hopes of doing everything we can to prevent the types of injury that took place yesterday. We still have injuries in our ballpark and we’ve added more netting. It isn’t a perfect system" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22). In N.Y., Christian Red reports it is "unclear if the family of the girl" hit by the foul ball at Yankee Stadium is "exploring litigation of any sort" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote under the header, "Yankees Incident Revives An Old Question: How Responsible Are Teams For Foul Ball Injuries?" (SI.com, 9/21). FORBES' Maury Brown: "Waiting for the Yankees. Happy to hear other clubs deciding to extend netting but Levine and NYY front office are on the clock" (TWITTER.com, 9/21).

TIME TO TAKE ACTION? N.Y. City Council member Rafael Espinal Jr. said the injury at Yankee Stadium "could have been avoided if only the Yankees would have extended their netting at the proper time.” Espinal said of the Mets extending their netting past the dugout, "They did right by their fans and from what I've heard, they haven't had any injuries since.” Espinal said of the bill he introduced into legislation in May that would make it law for all ballparks in N.Y. to extend netting all the way to each foul pole, "I've kept it on ice for the past few months because the club did approach me and we did have productive conversations." He added, "At this point, it's a no-brainer. You have a two-year-old child get hit by a 100-mile-an-hour foul ball, I think that itself will send a message that not only the Yankees should take the lead on this issue, but I guess the MLB as a whole" (“OTL,” ESPN, 9/21).

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: In N.Y., Juliet Macur wonders what it will take for MLB to "make every team do what some teams already have and extend the protective netting even more." Macur: "It's called doing the right thing" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes, "It’s time for you, the fans, to speak out." Blame MLB for "merely recommending, and not requiring, that teams have protective netting that extends beyond every dugout." But "blame your peers, too, the ones who pay top dollar for the finest seats in these largely taxpayer-funded palaces." Nightengale: "They're the ones who keep telling baseball owners that you don’t want expanded netting" (USA TODAY, 9/22). In Detroit, Anthony Fenech writes fan safety "should be the MLB’s first priority." It "shouldn’t take a young child getting hit with a rocket foul ball in the head to make things change" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/22). Pittsburgh-based KDKA-FM's Colin Dunlap wrote on Twitter that Manfred "needs to step up and mandate netting at all parks." Dunlap: "Not leave it up to teams. Be a leader, make unilateral decision" (TWITTER.com, 9/21). SI.com's Gabriel Baumgaertner: "Just put the nets up please" (TWITTER.com, 9/21). ESPN’s Mike Wilbon said he “will not allow” his son to sit in unprotected areas. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “It seems to me that baseball in this particular case needs to rather quickly make a decision to put netting up” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/21).

MORE REAX: The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates said of teams without extended netting, “I got to believe it’s because they know that there is a seriously diminished experience.” Yates: “It's not just about the visual presentation. It’s about the interaction of the fans with the people on the field.” But ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez said “you can barely tell” there is netting when sitting behind home plate and the experience is not “really effected.” Gutierrez: “What shouldn’t be the case is when you go to this game or any sporting event, is the idea that a brush with death is possible.” ESPN’s Pablo Torre: “There is a trade-off that is encountered when you go to a ballpark between safety and entertainment and what I would say is when the financial cost is this minimal, safety tends to be the answer” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 9/21). The N.Y. Daily News’ John Harper said the teams that have extended their netting have had “very few” complaints from fans. SNY’s Dan Graca said if fans are “sitting that close, safety is the primary concern.” Graca: “Be proactive, it shouldn’t take something like this for the rest of baseball to catch on” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 9/21).

DC United plans to open Audi Field next season, but "might have to play" an MLS home match in an "alternative location" at the beginning of the season, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. With the venue scheduled to open more than three months into the '18 season, DC United is "working with MLS to determine whether the entire slate of home matches at the new venue in Southwest DC can fit into the league calendar." DC United President of Business Operations Tom Hunt said, “We want to get every single match at Audi Field, if we can. If we can’t, we have some ideas that we think would be a very cool, unique event for our fan base and the expansion of our fan base.” Goff notes DC United has "no plans to play again at RFK Stadium ... even if the league mandates one home match before Audi Field is ready." Hunt: “There is no expectation we’ll be back at RFK.” Goff notes the team will "continue to lease RFK's practice fields and facilities until it builds a training facility of its own." Meanwhile, Hunt said that United has "sold 24 of the 29 available suites" for Audi Field. Two others are "set aside for use by the city and visiting team." Hunt said that the season-ticket "target is 12,500," whereas DC United has "9,000 at RFK." Hunt added that because of Audi Field's proximity to Nationals Park, MLS will "not schedule matches on the same days as baseball games" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/22).

The Flames on Thursday "disclosed what they think they should pay for a new arena" via a press release and newspaper ads in a "rebuttal" to the city of Calgary revealing its financials last week, according to Donna Spencer of the CP. Calgary Sports & Entertainment said that it was "willing to contribute" $275M (all figures C) of its own money before it "ended negotiations with the city." CS&E "thinks the city can raise" $225M via a community revitalization levy (CRL), which is "tax collected from new development that springs up around a new arena." CS&E in a statement said, "In a ‘small market’ city, even one with an NHL team, a privately funded arena is not economically viable. The city’s proposal is just not workable (or even for that matter ‘fair’) based on other arena deals in comparable cities." CS&E "repeated their position stated a week ago they will no longer talk with the city about building a new arena, but will continue to make the 34-year-old Saddledome work for their teams for now." The statement also said, "After two years of discussions, the Flames see absolutely no basis upon which a new agreement can be achieved with the city and have concluded that there is no point to continue the pursuit of a new arena in Calgary." The city "proposed a three-way split" on the cost of a $555M arena, with the city and the Flames each paying $185M and the "remaining third raised from a surcharge on tickets sold to events in the new building." Flames President & CEO Ken King "contended the city’s plan amounted to the team paying the entire cost, or more," because CS&E considers a ticket surcharge paid by users "revenue that belongs to the team" (CP, 9/21). Below is one of the newspaper ads the Flames ran:


BURNING QUESTIONS: In Calgary, Bill Kaufmann notes the city "issued an analysis of the Flames offer" and said that the CRL option is "dead in the water." The city "forecasted" its value at only $150M -- $75M "short of the club’s demand." The city said the projected CRL revenue is "not sufficient to fund a new arena" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/22). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote when a deal gets done with the Flames for a new arena, Calgary residents will be able to thank Mayor Naheed Nenshi for "keeping his wits about him and watching out for the interests of his constituents." Campbell also writes what the city is offering -- $185M -- is "more than generous." Campbell: "You have to wonder if the Flames realize how silly they look here. Perhaps they don’t care." The Flames "aren’t going anywhere," and "neither is Nenshi." He is "expected to win the Oct. 16 municipal election in a landslide, which will give him major amounts of currency and a ton of leverage when he and the Flames get around to getting back to the negotiating table" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/21). In Calgary, Eric Francis writes the city "will get a new downtown arena." The question is "whether city hall will ask taxpayers to pay for a reasonable part of it now, or pay much more for it" once the Flames leave. That is the "bottom line on what is at stake here" (CALGARY SUN, 9/22).

In Dallas, Ezra Siegel notes Texas on Thursday "announced a variety of upgrades to both the Frank Erwin Center," the school's basketball arena, and the team's practice facilities. The renovations "will cost" $4.25M. An upgraded display system "highlights the changes, with a new center-hung video board and 360-degree wraparound screen set to improve" the Erwin Center's in-game presentation. The arena floor will also "receive a new paint job." All renovations are "scheduled to be completed" before the '17-18 season (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/22).

SAYING GOODBYE: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel wrote with so much talk about the new $1.8B Raiders stadium being built in time for the '20 NFL season, the fate of UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium has "hardly been discussed." Asked what will happen to the facility, Sam Boyd Stadium Exec Dir Mike Newcomb said, "Sam Boyd Stadium will be closed." Snel noted the 40,000-seat stadium is a "workman-like, all-purpose venue that also hosts international rugby matches, motorcycle races and monster truck jams" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 9/20).

GETTING CLOSE: In Norfolk, Harry Minium reports K.C.-based Populous "appears almost certain to receive the contract to design the new Foreman Field for Old Dominion." ODU "filed an 'intent to award' notice recently that indicates the school will hire Populous and Moseley Architects of Virginia Beach to design the renovated stadium." However, ODU Dir of Design & Construction Dale Feltes and Procurement Dir Etta Henry said that no contract has been "signed nor a fee agreed upon" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 9/22).

LEFT IN THE DARK: In San Diego, Kirk Kenney noted a 22-minute blackout during Stanford-San Diego State on Saturday at Jack Murphy Stadium was "attributed by some to an aging, decaying stadium that marked its 50th anniversary last month." However, a city official said that it was "due to human error." Supervising Public Information Officer for the City of San Diego Arian Collins said, "The lights should have been switched into manual mode. However, they were put into auto mode instead, which has a nine-hour cycle" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/20).

In Oakland, David DeBolt noted the Warriors and the agency operating Oracle Arena are at "odds over how much debt the team owes." Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Exec Dir Scott McKibben this week said that the two sides "disagree over the remaining" $55M debt and will "resume talks" once the '17-18 season begins. McKibben said, “Our position has been they owe the net amount. Their position has been they owe less than that.” At the heart of the issue is a "20-year lease" signed in '96 to include "upgrades to the arena, which were to be paid over 30 years" (EAST BAY TIMES, 9/22).

HOLDING STRONG: F1 Mexican Grand Prix Head of Marketing Rodrigo Sanchez said that the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in southeast Mexico City was "not damaged" by this week's earthquake. Sanchez: "It’s been inspected twice already from the track surface and also the buildings, and it’s OK." REUTERS' Alan Baldwin noted the F1 race is "scheduled for Oct. 29." Sanchez said that the "immediate focus was on helping relief efforts and mobilising international support" (REUTERS, 9/21).

WHAT THE FANS WANT: In Sacramento, Noel Harris noted USL club Sacramento Republic FC "announced a citizen architect contest" Tuesday on its website, as the club "wants fans to be involved in planning for a stadium." Submissions are "welcome until Oct. 27." More information on the contest can be found on Republic FC's MLS website (SACBEE.com, 9/19).