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Volume 24 No. 117

Facilities

Islanders co-Owner Jonathan Ledecky said that the team's sole focus is on "building a new arena at Belmont Park," according to Baumbach & Brodsky of NEWSDAY. Ledecky said, "We are locked and loaded on Belmont. We have blinders on for Belmont. We are not looking at other places or other opportunities. We want to make Belmont a reality." Baumbach & Brodsky note the Islanders’ group, New York Arena Partners, includes Sterling Project Development, which is "controlled by the Mets’ Wilpon family and Oak View Group," which is backed by MSG. Ledecky would not discuss the specifics of the team's bid but said that the state-run property in Elmont is "'strategically located' with easy access to a Long Island Rail Road spur." The Islanders, who are in their third season playing at Barclays Center, are "engaged in negotiations over modifying their 25-year license agreement." Both sides have the ability to "opt out of the agreement in January." Ledecky said that the team will "play in Brooklyn next season, as it is contractually obligated to do, but declined to speculate where the team would play if the Belmont arena was not ready to open or if the Islanders’ bid is not chosen." Baumbach & Brodsky note two other known bidders have also "submitted plans for Belmont." A source said that NYC FC is "proposing a roughly 26,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium." Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group also "submitted a proposal" (NEWSDAY, 10/11). Ledecky said that the costs of an arena and what percentage the Islanders might own had "not been determined." He said, "The fact that the Mets have endorsed us financially and say that Belmont Park is the best option, that sends a very strong message as well that we’re making the right decision here" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/11).

Entrepreneur Chris Hansen, who is leading a bid for a new arena in Seattle's Sodo District, said that he "would not try to block" Oak View Group's $600M plan to renovate KeyArena "if it is approved," according to Geoff Baker of the SEATTLE TIMES. But Hansen also said that he is "open to a two-arena solution for the city and will keep pushing his Sodo plan for at least an NBA franchise." Hansen "wants the city to conditionally agree to sell him part of Occidental Avenue South so he can make his project site 'shovel ready' and give him a better chance to attract teams." Hansen said of OVG's proposal, "If the city wants to pursue that and build an arena there, that’s OK with us." Hansen's five-year Memorandum of Understanding with the city formally expires Dec. 3, but he said it "has effectively expired." Hansen added that his "group has 'told the city we would not sue' if the OVG proposal is accepted and finalized before that date." Hansen has "changed his initial proposal for Sodo" to be 100% "privately funded on construction," and he recently proposed a $100M renovation of KeyArena into a "downsized" music venue. Hansen said that his "new offers effectively supersede his current MOU." However, Baker reports an email between city officials states that Hansen's Sodo proposal is still "five to six months from being ready to show" the city council. His group "already has invested upward" of $130M at the Sodo site and "hinted they’d likely use collateral to finance the rest of the venue." Hansen said that he has had "conversations with potential NHL owners, but nothing came to fruition." He acknowledged that he is "more passionate about the NBA than hockey," but he "remains open to doing a deal with any prospective NHL owner or team" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/11).

KEEPING AN OPEN MIND: In Seattle, Matt Calkins writes under the header, "Chris Hansen’s Sodo Arena Group Deserves One Last Listen." Hansen has "remained a paragon of persistence." But the "first question that comes to mind is whether having two arenas in this city is economically viable." Calkins: "Would the concept work in Seattle? We don’t know for sure. But there is a precedent for it, and it’s probably worth looking into." Civic pride is "immeasurable," and the Sonics "would provide that." It is also "possible that a prospective NBA ownership group would scoff at the idea of having to share an arena with the NHL and LiveNation." OVG "might very well get the Sonics, but having a backup plan with Hansen’s group seems more prudent than risky" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/11).

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has "acquired naming rights" for the new home ballpark of the Triple-A PCL Las Vegas 51s in a 20-year, $80M deal, according to Adam Candee of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Howard Hughes Corp. announced "plans for a 10,000-seat" downtown Summerlin ballpark that will "break ground by early" '18 and be ready for the '19 season. The venue, called Las Vegas Ballpark, will "feature 22 luxury suites, club seats, berm seating, party zones and decks, a kids zone and a pool beyond the outfield wall." Architectural firm HOK will "design the facility." The 51s will "leave Cashman Field when Las Vegas Ballpark is ready." The 34-year-old ballpark is the oldest in the Triple-A PCL and has "suffered in recent years from sewage leaks and other maintenance issues" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/11). In Las Vegas, Alan Snel noted Howard Hughes will "build the ballpark" next to the Golden Knights' two-rink training center and HQ. Howard Hughes "hopes to have the ballpark open" by March 17, 2019 to "host Big League Weekend" when two MLB teams play preseason games in Las Vegas (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 10/10). LVCVA President & CEO Rossi Ralenkotter said that the move takes the LVCVA out of the ballpark management business and "allows it to instead focus on professional sports' marketing potential." Also in Las Vegas, Velotta & Helfand note a "clause within the contract enables the LVCVA to exit it if minor-league baseball no longer is played in the city" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/11).

Members of Rhode Island's House Finance Committee yesterday "indicated they're still seeking more detailed answers" than the Triple-A Int'l League Pawtucket Red Sox and city have "so far provided" on a proposal to issue $38M worth of bonds for a new $83M PawSox ballpark, according to Kate Bramson of the PROVIDENCE JOURNAL. Rep. Kenneth Mendonca asked if the PawSox had "provided the team’s balance sheet to the state throughout the course of negotiations." Mendonca said that legislators "know the state’s and Pawtucket’s finances, and they want to know the team’s finances so that if they’re asked to vote on a stadium-funding proposal: 'We can say we voted with all the information that we had.'" Under the proposed deal, the team would pay back $33M in "additional bonds to be issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency." The PawSox have said that they will provide $12M "up front." PawSox Chair Larry Lucchino "stressed the team has proposed paying a higher portion" of overall ballpark costs "than any other AAA or AA ballclub has done over the past decade when helping to build" publicly-owned ballparks. Lucchino "pushed back to Mendonca, saying the proposed stadium financing deal is not a 'legal investment,' although he said he’d agree to provide legislators with a letter from the team’s accountants." While this might not be a legal partnership, Mendonca told Lucchino it is a “financial commitment” by both parties (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 10/11).