Pacers officials are conducting "hush-hush negotiations" with the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board on potential upgrades to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the Hawks' recent renovations to State Farm Arena "might provide hints" as to what the Pacers are hoping for, according to Mickey Shuey of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. City and CIB officials are "negotiating major improvements to the fieldhouse in return for a long-term commitment" from Pacers Owner Herb Simon to "keep the team in Indianapolis and continue playing at the arena." Simon said last year that he "would like to sign a lease extension but to do so the fieldhouse would need upgrades 'to enhance the fan experience' that would cost 'a lot of money.'" Pacers officials "have told city officials they’re hoping work wraps up before the city hosts the NBA All-Star Game" in '21. While the current lease "doesn’t expire" until the '23-24 season, city officials are "eager to strike a renovation deal soon." The Hawks put $50M toward the $192.5M in "renovation costs for their arena," while the city of Atlanta "picked up the rest in return for the team’s agreeing to an 18-year lease extension." Despite "millions of dollars in upgrades over the past few years, Bankers Life Fieldhouse has fallen behind many of its peers." One portion of the arena that "appears ripe for a new use is the Pacers’ former practice court, which is adjacent to the outer lobby." The team "stopped using the court" in '17 when the $50M St. Vincent Center opened "directly across" from the arena (INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/14 issue).
FRONT OFFICE WAVES: ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Pacers are hiring longtime WNBA exec Kelly Krauskopf as the "first woman assistant general manager in NBA history." Krauskopf "will work with the Pacers basketball operations staff," including President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard, GM Chad Buchanan and Assistant GM Peter Dinwiddie. She had been President & GM of the WNBA Indiana Fever for 17 years until "relinquishing only the GM duties" in '17 to "oversee the Pacers' new esports entry" in the NBA 2K League. Krauskopf will move into a "full-time role in the Pacers' front office," meaning that she is "relinquishing her WNBA and esports duties" (ESPN.com, 12/17).
The Calgary Municipal Land Corp. has told a council committee that a new Flames arena would cost between C$550-600M, based on estimates "provided by contractors and discussions" with the owners of the Flames, according to Meghan Potkins of the CALGARY HERALD. The estimates "don’t include the cost of land and represent a slight increase from the price tag floated previously for the 'Plan B' proposal." Calgary Sports & Entertainment execs "haven’t said whether they concur with CMLC’s estimate," though they "provided conceptual drawings of a 20,000-seat building by architectural firm Rossetti for CMLC to review." Calgary Economic Development has "hired Ernst and Young to carry out the study, which could be completed by late January." The firm said that it "plans to compare Calgary’s proposed district to 'similar' developments in Edmonton, Columbus and Nashville." Potkins noted regardless of the study's outcome, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi "pointed out there are at least three major capital projects that fall within the redevelopment boundary for Victoria Park where the entertainment district would be located." A number of funding sources "could be available to bankroll the creation of an entertainment district." City Manager Jeff Fielding said that the city has approximately C$300M to "spend on a major project over the next few years" (CALGARY HERALD, 12/15).
The eventual decision on a new Rays ballpark "will be based on a simple calculation" of how much it will "cost the Rays to build a stadium compared to how much more money a new stadium might make for them," according to John Romano of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. There is "nothing else" to the decision besides the financial aspect, which is "one of the reasons the Rays will not be pinned down on how much they are willing to contribute to a stadium’s construction." The monetary figure is "presumably different in St. Petersburg than it would be in Tampa," and it is "different in Tampa than it would be" in any other city hoping to lure an MLB team. The Rays and MLB "will subtly flirt with those other cities to keep them salivating while also letting Tampa Bay know there are other options out there." That was "part of the strategy behind the Las Vegas press conference carried live on MLB Network" last week in which the team announced the Ybor City ballpark deal had fallen through (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/15). In Tampa, Marc Topkin wrote for an ownership group that "typically prefers the low-key approach, it was a bit unusual, and somewhat opportunistic, for the Rays to take their stadium concerns to the winter meetings press conference stage and national TV." Meanwhile, the team is "planning to install new LED lights" at Tropicana Field and "replace the Shaw Sports turf for a third straight year" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/15).
Marquette earlier this year "discreetly explored the idea of developing its own basketball arena" in downtown Milwaukee before eventually "deciding against pursuing the project," according to Tom Daykin of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The arena would have "come with a potential naming rights sponsor: Chicago-based Wintrust Financial Corp. and its Hartland-based subsidiary, Town Bank." But Marquette "dropped the idea" after about two to three months of preliminary study. University leaders "decided raising money for a basketball arena would have taken its focus from higher-priority projects, including long-range plans for a new business school." The men’s basketball team this season "began playing games at downtown’s new Fiserv Forum," while the women’s team plays on campus at the Al McGuire Center. Marquette’s Fiserv Forum lease is "only seven years," lasting through the '24-25 season, and the seating capacity of 17,500 is "too large for many of Marquette’s games." Sources said that around 10,000 seats "would be a better fit for Marquette" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/15).