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Volume 25 No. 177

Facilities

State Farm Arena's new center scoreboard will be 27.75-feet high and total 4,477 square feet
Photo: HAWKS

The new centerboard at State Farm Arena will be one of the three largest in the NBA. The board will have underbelly displays offering better views for fans near the court. All told, the Hawks' venue will have 20 new LED video displays from Utah-based Prismview. The venue also will now have 12,047 square feet of total video space with more than 30.4 million individual LED pixels. Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said the goal is to become the "most video-centric" sports venue in the U.S. The arena will have 10 times more LED video boards and displays and what is being touted as a first-of-its-kind, new 360-degree center scoreboard when it reopens later this month after a $192.5M renovation. The new center scoreboard will be 27.75-feet high and total 4,477 square feet. The old scoreboard was 960 square feet. Prismview President & CEO Don Szczepaniak said the size, quality and scope of the scoreboard and other new video displays will stand out to fans at the renovated arena. Szczepaniak: “It is such a big canvas. You can’t help but notice it." Szczepaniak said video display boards and equipment from the smaller, existing center board are being re-purposed and used as corner video boards throughout the arena. “This is a first for us,” Szczepaniak said of the re-purposing effort. Prismview is a division of Samsung, who also installed a centerhung scoreboard at Rogers Place in Edmonton add videoboards at M&T Bank Stadium and Audi Field (Mike Sunnucks, THE DAILY). Koonin said that the "extreme emphasis" on video displays in the renovated State Farm Arena "reflects the proliferation of screens in people's daily lives, from smartphones to supersized high-definition TVs." Koonin: "Screens are more important that they have ever been. We live with screens. Just a few short years ago, we weren't a screen culture" (AJC.com, 10/12).

Discussions between the Clippers and the City of Inglewood regarding construction of an arena "started several months earlier than previously disclosed," according to court documents cited by Nathan Fenno of the L.A. TIMES. Emails "contradict public statements and court filings" on behalf of Inglewood and Mayor James Butts Jr. Clippers investor Dennis Wong "emailed developer Chris Meany" in June '16 "under the subject heading 'Inglewood site #3.'" Then a year later came the "announcement of Inglewood’s three-year exclusive negotiating agreement with the Clippers." The email is "included in a declaration by an attorney" for MSG as part of a lawsuit "accusing Inglewood of violating California’s Public Records Act in connection with the arena plan." Butts "told constituents in a newsletter at the time" that negotiations with the Clippers started in January '17. That date "changed to April 2017 in later court filings by the city." Inglewood attorney Skip Miller said that the '16 discussions were "about the Clippers building an arena on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack." Miller said that Butts "rejected the proposal." Fenno notes Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer has "expressed his desire for the team to have its own arena because of its low priority on booking dates and the lack of corporate sponsorship opportunities as a tenant at Staples Center, sharing the venue with the Lakers and Kings." The Clippers' lease runs through '24 (L.A. TIMES, 10/12).

Miami's new facility features two fields and a massive neon "U" logo hanging on one wall
Photo: UNIV. OF MIAMI

The Univ. of Miami "celebrated the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility with a dedication ceremony that drew more than 400 community and university leaders," and the project has now raised $36.3M "toward its newest goal" of $40M, according to Susan Miller Degnan of the MIAMI HERALD. UM football coach Mark Richt said, "It is without a doubt the finest indoor practice facility in America." The 90,000-square-foot facility has "two fields, one 80 yards long and the other 40 yards," and the football operations area, "still under construction, will encompass nearly 30,000 square feet." The "name of every Miami first-team All-American hangs from the rafters on orange banners, as does a long one with all five Hurricanes national championship seasons." There is also a "giant video board nearby." A "massive neon U in orange and green hangs on one wall." On the other: a "giant mural of every Hurricanes player" in the Pro Football and College Football HOFs. UM Senior Associate AD/Development Jesse Marks said that "close to 100 former UM players" had donated about $2.3M to the project, including $1M from Richt and his wife Katharyn. But "no one did their part more than Carol Soffer and her family," who donated $14M as the lead gift (MIAMI HERALD, 10/12). In Ft. Lauderdale, Christy Cabrera Chirinos notes Soffer "celebrated the fact" that the facility "bears a woman’s name." Soffer: "It’s not about my name, it’s about the fact that a woman is on a building that is a men’s football facility. That’s something really special and I hope more women get involved in sports" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 10/12).

Ripken's lawsuit alleges the city has not fulfilled its capital maintenance obligations with the ballpark
Photo: IRONBIRDS

Cal Ripken Jr.'s Tufton Professional Baseball is "claiming conduct by the City of Aberdeen in recent years has made operating Ripken Stadium 'unbearably difficult,'" and the company has "filed suit accusing the city of not living up to the terms of an agreement made nearly 20 years ago," according to Erika Butler of the BALTIMORE SUN. Tufton's suit "claims the city has recouped its initial investment" into the ballpark project -- the debt service on $3M -- "per a concession agreement entered into Dec. 7, 2000." The lawsuit states that once the city has "recouped its investment," management of the majority of events at the ballpark, which houses the Single-A New York-Penn League Aberdeen IronBirds, becomes the "responsibility of Tufton." The suit also "claims Aberdeen has not fulfilled its obligations to undertake and pay for capital maintenance and improvements" at the ballpark. Tufton is "requesting that the Aberdeen mayor and council live up to the agreement signed 18 years ago" and believes the court action is necessary because "numerous attempts to negotiate with the city, including a mediation session in September, have been unsuccessful." The agreement "expires on Dec. 31, 2022, but Tufton has a right to renew it for an additional 20 years" (BALTIMORE SUN, 10/12).

In Detroit, Helene St. James notes in an effort to "make attendance woes less visible" for games at Little Caesars Arena, the year-old facility has "black covers on the red seat backs in the lower bowl." A months-long installation of "new black seats will begin in December." Thursday was the first time the Red Wings "skated on the main ice sheet since the renovations." Red Wings G Jonathan Bernier "wondered if it might affect seeing pucks being dumped in from the other end of the ice" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/12).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: In Las Vegas, Mick Akers notes a steel beam "signed by various dignitaries" was placed atop the north wall of the planned $150M, 10,000-seat Las Vegas Ballpark. There are 179 days until the Triple-A PCL Las Vegas 51s "play their first game" in the new ballpark. Team President Don Logan said that there is "no contingency plan in case there is a delay" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/12).

NOT ENOUGH: Meadowlands Racetrack Chair & CEO Jeff Gural said that revenues from the East Rutherford facility's new sports betting operation "simply are not enough to close the competitive gap with tracks in neighboring states." In New Jersey, Stephen Edelson notes Gural "hammered home that point" when it was announced that the track will "apply for just 68 days of live racing" in '19, down from 90 this year (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 10/12).