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Volume 25 No. 177

Facilities

The club now expects the expansion project to be completed by late May or early June '19
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Timbers' deep run in the MLS Cup Playoffs has "forced the club to delay certain facets of its construction plan" for Providence Park, according to Jamie Goldberg of the Portland OREGONIAN. Timbers President of Business Operations Mike Golub said that the team's playoff run has "slightly impacted the timeline around stadium expansion." Golub said that the club now "expects the expansion project to be completed by late May or early June" '19. He added that due to the new timeline, the Timbers and NWSL Portland Thorns would "both be on the road for a significant amount of time at the start" of their '19 seasons. Golub also said that the Timbers "could play their first 12 games" next season on the road. Goldberg notes less than 24 hours after the first leg of the Timbers' playoff series against Sporting KC on Sunday, crews were "busy at work on Providence Park as they prepared for the next phase of construction." On Monday, crews "began disassembling the current roof on the east side of Providence Park." In the coming days, additional cranes "will be brought in." A new roof will then be "installed in parts starting in the middle or the end of December." The club will "install essentially what are trays for the new seats in early January." Golub said actual seats "will be installed in early spring." Goldberg notes along with "adding 4,000 seats to Providence Park and completely remodeling the east side of the stadium, the Timbers and Thorns also plan to add a new scoreboard and video board to the stadium in the offseason" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/27).

Planning documents submitted to the city for FC Cincinnati's MLS stadium "reveal future development plans around the stadium that include a hotel and entertainment venues," according to Sharon Coolidge of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. The plans also show that parking "remains a question mark for the stadium," as details about a Hamilton County (Ohio) garage at the site are "still under discussion." The documents are the "most detailed look yet at what the FC Cincinnati stadium will look like." The plans show that the venue will have "six levels on its east and west sides: the lower three for seating, atop two for suites and another for the media/television." It will have "no more than 26,500 seats." Plans show that four of the seven gates are "on the east side of the stadium, giving access to two-thirds of the stadium's seats." The "majority of parking -- 5,300 spaces are required under city code -- is outside the development." Parking is a "paramount concern for neighborhood residents, who don't want residential streets filled with fan cars" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/27). In Cincinnati, Steve Watkins noted the club "aims to have the stadium built in time" for the '21 MLS season. The team will begin MLS play next year and will "play its first two seasons at its current home in Nippert Stadium." Hamilton County is expected to "build a parking garage" that can hold up to 1,000 cars, but more parking "will be necessary" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/26).

Any events held at Nationwide Arena, including Blue Jackets games, are subject to the 5% fee
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Columbus (OH) City Council has "unveiled a revised ticket-tax proposal that would reduce the rate" from 7% to 5% and stipulates that "only the tax revenue from Nationwide Arena events could be used for arena improvements," according to a front-page piece by Mark Ferenchik of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The council "tweaked the proposal after hearing from promoters and venue owners" concerned that a 7% ticket tax would hurt sales at the Blue Jackets' home venue. The two-pronged proposal would implement a 5% "fee on performances and sporting events at venues with more than 400 seats, not including Nationwide Arena, for tickets costing more than $10." It also would implement a 5% "fee on events at Nationwide Arena." That would raise about $3M a year, with 80% -- $2.4M -- "going to the arena and $600,000 for improvements to arts facilities." An analysis of other cities' arena plans show Nashville has a 9.25% admissions tax; Cleveland is at 8%; Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are at 5%; and Cincinnati is at 3%. A public hearing on the new proposal is scheduled for 5:00pm ET Thursday. City Council President Shannon Hardin said that the plan is to "introduce legislation at Monday’s council meeting, with a vote expected at the Dec. 10 meeting." The Blue Jackets were "among the opponents" of the 7% tax (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/27).

A co-founder of Rays 2020 said a multiyear deal for the proposed Ybor City site could be from $5-10M a year
Photo: RAYS

Two Florida-based "'household name' companies have met multiple times with a private booster group to discuss a naming rights deal" for a new Rays ballpark, according to Charlie Frago of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Tampa lawyer Ron Christaldi, co-founder of Rays 2020, "declined to name the companies." But he said a multiyear deal for the proposed Ybor City ballpark "could be in the range" of $5-10M a year. Christaldi framed the naming rights discussions as "part of a gathering corporate momentum" in support of bringing MLB to Ybor City. Earlier this month, he said that his group had "received pledges" of $160M in "new support -- think suites and sponsorships -- over a ten-year period." Meanwhile, pressure is "mounting as the clock ticks on a Dec. 31 deadline" for the team to explore ballpark sites around Tampa as was agreed upon by the Rays and the city of St. Petersburg. Once a clear financing picture emerges by the end of the year, Christaldi said that he "expects more corporate money to surface" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/27).