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Marlins Finally Land Long Sought After Stadium Funding PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 23 March 2009 22:42
Miami Marlins Stadium
The Marlins finally will see this stadium become a reality after Miami-Dade
County commissioners voted 9-4 in favor of a funding package for the
retractable-roof ballpark
(Click to see in larger view)

Late night update: Miami-Dade County commissioners have voted 9-4 in favor of an amended funding package including $515 million for a baseball-only stadium and $94 million in parking lots at the former site of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana for the Florida Marlins.

Voting in favor of the funding were Commissioners Dennis Moss, Bruno Barreiro, Audrey Edmonson, Natacha Seijas, Javier Souto, Barbara Jordan, Dorrin Rolle, Jose ''Pepe'' Diaz and Rebeca Sosa.

Dissenting were Commissioners Carlos Gimenez, Sally Heyman, Katy Sorenson and Joe Martinez.

Sorenson described attempts to making the deal better like putting “lipstick on a fish.”

By a super-majority vote of 10-3, the commission also approved a bid waiver for the stadium's construction manager.

Last week, the Miami City Commission voted 3-2 in favor of an amended package that will see increased profits to Miami and Miami-Dade County, should the sale of the Marlins occur. The County commissioners today looked to get much of the amendments memorialized. As reported by Sarah Talalay of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the club will look to break ground on the facility as early as this summer in order to meet a targeted 2012 opening.

The plan calls for the county, which will own the 37,000-seat venue, to contribute $297 million in county hotel bed taxes and a $50 million general obligation bond. The city is to donate the land and $13 million in bed tax and build $94 million in parking lots but will be repaid as the team buys the spaces for every game. The team is to provide $155 million, including $35 million in rent. The team would cover cost overruns.

[…]

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has owned the team for eight years and told commissioners he has no plans to sell it.

"I've already been involved with this team longer than any previous owner," he said. "My commitment to this team is as rock solid as it's been since day one."

As part of the agreement, the club will change the name of the team from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins.

To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution:

Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium

Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium Miami Marlins Stadium

ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT

Business of Sports Network Feature Articles of the Day (late night edition):


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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After 14 Years, Today’s County Vote Could Finally Land Marlins Stadium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 23 March 2009 11:49
Miami Marlins Stadium
The Marlins plans for a new stadium is one county vote away from
reality, but it will most likely come wit more concessions.
(Click to see in larger view)

The Florida Marlins are hoping that after 14 years, today will be the day they finally land a baseball-only stadium in the Miami area.

County commissioners will vote whether to approve the $639 million stadium project this afternoon. The passage of the funding package has seemed to gain momentum after city officials voted 3-2 in favor of the deal, but only after concessions were made.

Watch streaming video here

Those concessions, which include a greater share of the profits for the county and city if the team is sold after construction, and a promise that at least half of the people who will build the stadium will be hired from South Florida, seem to open the door for the county to try and gain concessions of their own. Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez has called for scrapping the existing contracts and writing new ones, with the public contribution dropping from about $480 million to about $76 million. The Marlins are committed to paying $120 million toward construction and repaying a $35 million county loan. That seems very unlikely, according to County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

''I think they have the votes now, but you can still make the deal better by changing some aspects of it,'' said Gimenez.

As reported by the Miami Herald, there are several concessions that commissioners will see if the Marlins will accept in order to gain the long sought after ballpark:

Gimenez also wants the public to get a share of the profits if the team is ever sold -- not just in the first nine years, as the current contract stipulates. And he wants the county to hire an independent auditor to make sure that the Marlins have the money to live up to the deal. Team owner Jeffrey Loria has refused to open the Marlins' books to show assets and liabilities.

[…]

A skeptical Gimenez said the county shouldn't enter into such a big business deal based on its partner's word.

And, Gimenez isn’t the only county commissioner looking for concessions:

Commissioner Sally Heyman said she'll introduce an amendment to reduce the county's share of the construction cost to $206 million and to make Major League Baseball cosign the Marlins' promise to stay in Miami for 35 years. That way, the league could be sued if the team were to leave.

Heyman also wants to get rid of the so-called ''death clause'' that would allow Loria's heirs to sell the team without the requirement to share the profits with the city and the county.

Heyman wrote in a memo on Wednesday that she is concerned that the current agreements “offer little financial or legal protection for our citizens.”

In other Marlins stadium news, proponents are using Facebook in order to gain support.

To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution:

Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium

Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium Miami Marlins Stadium
  

ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT

Business of Sports Network Feature Article of the Day:

Soccer City, USA Goes Major League

 


 

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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New Portland Beavers Stadium Likely After MLS Award PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 22 March 2009 03:01

Portland Rose Quarter Baseball Stadium

Proposed minor league stadium for Triple-A Portland Beavers
(Click to see in larger view)

It’s not everyday that a baseball team can thank a soccer club for a new stadium, but that seems a very likely case after Portland was awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise on Friday. As part of the agreement, Portland’s PGE Park will be converted into a soccer-only facility. To make way for the renovations, the Triple-A Beavers will be forced to leave.

To deal with this situation, Beavers and now MLS Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, along with the city have proposed building a 7,500-9,000 minor league park on the banks of the Willamette River, just next to the Rose Garden Arena where the NBA Trial Blazers play. To make room for the stadium, the current Memorial Coliseum that was built in late 1960. Funding for the new stadium, targeted at $55.095 million using tax-increment financing through an existing urban renewal district, part of a $12 million investment by Paulson and his family, and $31 million in Spectator Facilities Fund Bonds in the total package to renovate PGE Park, and the new minor league stadium (for more see, Soccer City, USA Goes Major League).

There is currently a $15 million funding gap for the $88.785 million project that includes the two facilities, but with the conditional award of the MLS franchise set to play in 2011, odds increase dramatically that the funds will be found.

With the shortfall, Portland has ostensibly been awarded the new expansion MLS franchise on condition that all the funding is reached.

Asked what would happen if the funding is not fully met, MLS Commissioner Don Garber set the stage for Paulson and other soccer and baseball boosters to get the funding passed through leveraging of the MLS award.

"Then we won't be able to have an MLS team in Portland," he said.

Mayor Sam Adams believes that the city will arrive at the final dollar figues.

“We have to address the funding gap, but I feel very confident that we’ll meet the funding requirements,” Adams said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could.”

Asked if the Paulsons will be asked to add more capital to the project to meet the gap, the mayor placed the issue squarely in the city’s hands.

“No,” Adams said. “Merritt and his family have been excellent private partners in this endeavor and I don’t see them adding more.”


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Astros Unveil Renovated Executive Suites at Minute Maid Park PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 19 March 2009 18:31

Astros Suite

Click to see in larger view

Astros Suite

Click to see in larger view

This afternoon the Houston Astros unveiled the newly-renovated Executive Suites at Minute Maid Park. Pam Gardner, the Astros President, Business Operations, took part in a ceremony unveiling the new look of the executive suites, which underwent extensive renovations and improvements during the offseason.

“We are excited to present the new upgrades and renovations to our suites at Minute Maid Park,” Gardner said. “Our goal is to make our suite experience the best in sports, and our enhancements bring fresh, new dynamics to the fun.

“This is a great way to help celebrate our 10th season of baseball at Minute Maid Park, and we’re confident our suite holders and fans will be very pleased.”

The Astros selected a couple of longtime suite holders to join former Astros great Jimmy Wynn, who currently serves as a Astros Community Outreach Executive, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  

The event also included complimentary sampling of many of the food and beverage selections available on the 2009 menu at Minute Maid Park, provided by ARAMARK Sports and Entertainment.  

Some renovations to the 63 suites include:

  • Upgraded suite entrances;
  • modern, built-in wet bar and built-in cabinetry;
  • new flooring, light fixtures and dining tables, and;
  • 37-inch flat screen televisions.

Theresa Hildreth, Vice President, Project and Design for Croix Construction who came up with many of the new concepts, participated in the unveiling event as well.

“We had high expectations and managed to exceed them,” Hildreth said. “We wanted to create a unique, fun, exciting and modern experience, and we’ve done that. The new look provides fans with the comforts of home and the excitement of being at the ballpark.”

The offseason improvements to the suites are a part of the Astros ongoing efforts to ensure that Minute Maid Park remains as one of the top facilities in the country.

“We are very proud of Minute Maid Park,” said Astros Chairman and CEO, Drayton McLane. “One of our great assets has always been our suites. The renovations will maintain them as the best in all of Major League Baseball.”

In addition to the suite renovations, the Astros also are finalizing renovations in the stadium restaurant, which will also be unveiled prior to the start of the season.

Source: Houston Astros

Business of Sports Network Feature Article of the Day:

MLS Expansion Points to Pacific NW Rivalry, League to Expand (Again), More News


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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City Commission Approves Marlins Ballpark Plan. County Vote Monday PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 19 March 2009 15:21
Miami Marlins Stadium
The Marlins plans for a new stadium clears a major hurdle today
when the Miami City Commission voted 3-2 in favor of a $639 million
funding package.
(Click to see in larger view)

The Miami City Commission voted 3-2 today in favor of a $639 million package to fund a new ballpark for the team that would be named the Miami Marlins after the Marlins made several concessions in an effort to get the funding passed.

The new provisions would increase the profits to Miami and Miami-Dade County should Marlins owner Jeffery Loria look to sell the club. As reported by the Miami Herald:

The new numbers begin at 70 percent of any profit and descend to 5 percent in year nine; the old agreement had the profit share beginning at 18 percent and going down from there. The Marlins also agreed to donate $500,000 each year to a charity of the team's choice, with $125,000 of that money going to the city and county for the first few years.

The Marlins are hoping to secure votes for a ballpark complex where the Orange Bowl once stood in Little Havana. A city vote last month deadlocked 2-2, with Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones out on maternity leave, prompting the issue to return for a final vote Thursday.

The county would pay the lion's share of the construction costs, mostly through tourist taxes. The Marlins would spend $120 million and borrow another $35 million from the county. The city would be on the hook for the $94 million parking complex. The county would own the stadium.

The final hurdle for the Marlins hinges on a Miami-Dade County Commissioners vote set for Monday. The Marlins have been sharing what is now Dolphin Stadium through three different ownership groups over the course of a decade.

To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution:

Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium

Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium Miami Marlins Stadium
  
ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Yankees Borrow $105M to Cover Cost Overruns for New Stadium PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 10:48

New Yankee StadiumThe New York Yankees borrowed $105 million in early March to cover cost overruns at new Yankee Stadium set to open this year, according to a report in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal. The loan was made using “sponsorships, premium seating and ticket sales, categories that are expected to total $330 million this season” as collateral.

The stadium, which according to Neil DeMause of Field of Schemes, now totals more than $2.3 billion, has debt totaling $1.329 billion, according to the SBJ

(see table provided).

As debt and costs continue to rise, so does fan acrimony over which seats are being assigned former season ticket holders moving into new Yankee Stadium (see Jay Jaffe’s Unfiltered post on Baseball Prospectus for starters).

However, the Yankees may be looking well past all of this news as the SBJ reports that, “when adding in the Yankees’ fees from the YES Network and other media, and calculating in concessions revenue, total dollars generated by the team should exceed $450 million. That would make the club one of the highest-revenue clubs in pro sports, if not the highest.”

Yankee Stadium Finance
Catagory Amount
Tax-exempt bonds $1.199 billion
Taxable bonds $25 million
Goldman Sachs-led loan $105 million
TOTAL $1.329 billion

Source: SportsBusiness Journal


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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A’s Reject Offer From City of Oakland for New Stadium Assistance PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 13 March 2009 11:35

Lewis WolffYesterday, Oakland city officials wrote Commissioner Selig requesting help in developing plans for a new ballpark for the Athletics. Mayor Ron Dellums and City Council President Jane Brunner contacted the league looking to retain the A’s after efforts to relocate the club to Fremont failed.

Today, the ownership of A’s rejected the efforts of Oakland in that effort. A’s managing partner Lewis Wolff released the following statement:

“We have fully exhausted our time and resources over the years with the City of Oakland, dating back to previous A’s ownership.

We recognize conditions have not changed.  Letters to Major league Baseball offer nothing new or of any real substance.  Outside stimulation to have us continue to play in an aging and shared facility may generate press and “sound-bite” opportunities,  but do not provide any tangible alterations in the circumstances we face.

We understand the facility continues to cost the city of Oakland and Alameda County millions of lost dollars per year.  Sadly, the business and corporate base of the city of Oakland was very limited when we purchased the team and has eroded since. Our attendance and low number of season ticket holders (both one of the lowest in Major league Baseball) also continues to decline; even when our on-field performance produced play-off participation.

We appreciate the sincere interest of Mayor Ron Dellums, Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Gail Steele and local citizen Sherman Balch, as the very few people that have offered encouragement and in-depth understanding about our situation.

Our goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California .  That goal has not changed.

We have no interest in covering old ground again, as we need to move forward in finding a future home for our team.”

(Read the Lewis Wolff interview on The Biz of Baseball)


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Marlins Reach Deal to Hire Minorities for New Stadium PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 13 March 2009 10:52
Miami Marlins Stadium
The Marlins plans for a new stadium have been on life support
as of late. Two key moves over the last 48 hours have been
brokered to try and gain passage of two votes later this month.
(Click to see in larger view)

With the Marlins’ new stadium effort running on life support, the club has been vigorously trying to work political deals that will allow them to see funding passage with two votes set for March 19 and 23.

Today, the Florida Marlins, NAACP and county chamber of commerce are slated to sign an agreement that commit the club to hiring black-owned businesses for 15 percent of its stadium-related contracts. According to the Miami Herald:

According to a statement released Thursday evening, that contribution would apply to both the $155 million the team is paying toward construction and operating contracts that would ensue if the park is built as planned.

The team, Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce and local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People intend to sign the deal at JungleIsland in a ceremony late Friday morning.

The news of the minority hiring deal comes one day after Miami commission vote Thursday to expand the life of an Overtown special taxing district, thus placating Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones who said she would not support the Marlins stadium vote without receiving receive a half-a-billion dollars worth of projects and a youth academy.

To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution:

Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium

Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium Miami Marlins Stadium
  
ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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UPDATE: Portland City Council Votes In Favor of Amended Funding Package. Includes New Triple-A Ballpark PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 12:07

PGE Park

UPDATE: After an amendment to remove $15 million through a new urban renewal district was added, the Portland City Council has voted 3-2 in favor of the funding package for renovations to PGE Park and a new minor league ballpark in the Rose Quarter. Now, the effort will be to find the $15 million gap. The City Council will need to vote again on this issue into a binding agreement.

The Portland City Council will vote today on a $88.785 million funding package, which includes the construction of a new 7,500-9,000-seat minor league baseball stadium and renovation of PGE Park as part of the city’s attempt to lure an expansion MLS franchise to the city

The complex plan sees several issues which could prove costly for today’s vote. Portland would need to create a new urban renewal district on Portland’s Westside where PGE Park is located, and using as well as issue $64.5 million worth of bonds, including $18.5 million in tax increment financing monies for the new ballpark in an existing urban renewal district. Also, a 7 percent surcharge on tickets is being created that would be applied to all MLS stadium and Triple-A stadium events.

Another funding piece involves a House Bill winding its way through the Oregon Legislature. HB2531 is a revamped version of Senate Bill 5 which was created as part of the MLB to Portland effort in 2002 (see the text of the bill). That bill that was signed into law, earmarks the state income tax from both home and visiting players for both MLS and minor league baseball players, as opposed to the money going into the general fund. The projected funding amount is targeted at $11.785 million with hripe-A afficliate Portland Beavers and USL First Division Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, son of Henry Paulson, the former US Secretary of the Treasury, acting as the guarantor, should the income taxes collected be below the projected threshold (read The Biz of Baseball interview with Merritt Paulson).

Portland Beavers and USL First Division Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, son of Henry Paulson, the former US Secretary of the Treasury, is heading the bid for the MLS team and new stadium for the Beavers.

FOR MORE DETAILS SEE TODAY’S FEATURE ARTICLE

In-Depth: Portland’s MLS Bid Hinges on Council Vote


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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Nationals to Release Extra Tickets to Elton John, Billy Joel Concert After Glitch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 05 March 2009 11:14
Elton John
Billy Joel

The inaugural concert at Nationals Park bumped into technical difficulties when tickets went on sale in late February for Elton John and Billy Joel’s Face-to-Face Tour. The glitch, through Tickets.com, had many fans looking to purchase tickets online staring at an error screen and then a “Down for maintenance” message.

The Nationals announced today that the system has since been corrected, and that in recognition of the difficulties that many fans experienced, additional seats will be released for purchase this Monday, March 9th at 10:00 AM

“During the initial on-sale, our online ticketing system experienced an issue that limited fans’ ability to access tickets for a period of time,” said Larry Witherspoon, CEO of Tickets.com.

“We have resolved the issue and we apologize for any resulting inconvenience. We look forward to providing fans with a consistent, positive ticket-buying experience during the on-sale scheduled for Monday, March 9.”

Just because new tickets will be made available, doesn’t mean they are cheap. Ticket prices for John and Joel will include seating options at $182, $102, and $56.50 plus applicable service charges.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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Lewis Wolff Announces that A’s Relocation to Fremont is Officially Dead PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 18:54

Cisco Field details

Say goodbye to this grand design for the A's in
Fremont, as the club officially ceased relocation
efforts from Oakland to the market today.
(CLICK TO SEE IN LARGER VIEW)

The grand plans for a $1.8 billion ballpark village for Lewis Wolff and the Oakland Athletics in Fremont is officially dead. Today, Wolff released the following statement:

"After much consideration, today we informed Mayor Wasserman and City Council members that the Oakland Athletics will cease efforts to relocate our franchise to the City of Fremont.

"I expressed my regrets and gratitude, especially to those people who shared our vision and spent endless hours in support of our proposal. However, it became increasingly clear that our ballpark project faced significant delays ahead and I could not, in good conscience, continue to lead our team down this path.

"My focus now is on baseball with Spring Training and the opening of the 2009 season. I am extremely excited about the team's prospects this year.

"My goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California. This goal has not changed."

The question now is, where in Northern California will Wolff focus his efforts? There has been speculation that the A’s, through MLB, will look to negotiate with the San Francisco Giants to regain control of Santa Clara Co. as part of their league-defined territory. San Jose, where Wolff has been involved in several development projects, including the return of MLS to the city. As part of the agreement with MLS, plans for a soccer-specific stadium in San Jose are currently being negotiated.

As mentioned, the A’s once had control of Santa Clara Co.

When Giants owner Bob Lurie was looking to get out of Candlestick Park in the late 80’s, baseball expanded the Giants territory to include Santa Clara County where there were efforts to pass funding to build a new ballpark in San Jose. The voters in Santa Clara County rejected tax hikes to fund the stadium in both 1990 and 1992, yet baseball reaffirmed those rights when Peter Magowan purchased the team in 1995 and built PacBell Park.

Another possible relocation market might be Sacramento where the A’s triple-A affiliate plays. The River Cats have led the minors in attendance, including last season.

There is, of course, Oakland to consider. Wolff may once again look to the location where they currently play as an option for a new baseball-only stadium.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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Fremont A’s RIP? Athletics Ask City to Stop Ballpark Village Plans PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 21 February 2009 02:20

Cisco Field details

Is the grand plan in Fremont dead for the A's?
(CLICK TO SEE IN LARGER VIEW)

In 2007, with the club saying all their options were exhausted in Oakland, the Athletics embarked on an ambitious plan to build a “ballpark village” to the south in Fremont. Now, it appears, that plan has dried up, as well.

The A’s told the City of Fremont to halt the planning process for the $1.8 billion project that would include a ballpark, housing and other mixed use development next to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge after running into a steady stream of opposition citing traffic, noise, and light pollution from the proposed ballpark. The A’s said they wish to reassess their options.

"I think this means the A's aren't going to build this here, at least not at that site," said Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I think it's terrible. Fremont's lost the best opportunity we've ever had."

In December of last year, Commissioner Selig sent a letter to the A’s that signaled the league’s willingness to explore other options, should Fremont fall through.

"It is important that we get to some resolution in the near future," Selig wrote in a Dec. 3 letter to the A’s managing partner Lewis Wolff (read The Biz of Baseball interview with Lewis Wolff). "As a result, I have decided that in the event you are not able to promptly assure the implementation of the desired ballpark in Fremont, you may begin to discuss a ballpark with other communities."

There have long been discussions about relocating the A’s just south of Fremont in San Jose. The problem with this plan is that the San Francisco Giants claim Santa Clara County, where San Jose is located, as their territory.

In October of 2004, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales introduced a resolution to San Jose's City Council, officially requesting that Major League Baseball release the city from the Giants' territorial rights, freeing the A's to relocate there. At the time, the Giants ownership stuck to their guns saying that the territory was not up for negotiation.

In an odd twist, the A’s once controlled the territory.

When Bob Lurie was looking to get out of Candlestick Park in the late 80’s, baseball expanded the Giants territory to include Santa Clara County where there were efforts to pass funding to build a new ballpark in San Jose. The voters in Santa Clara County rejected tax hikes to fund the stadium in both 1990 and 1992, yet baseball reaffirmed those rights when Peter Magowan purchased the team in 1995 and built PacBell Park.

With the recession squeezing the bottom line for MLB clubs, the Giants could consider loosening their position on the territory if some form of compensation were to come into play. Other relocation markets outside of the Bay Area could be Sacramento, Las Vegas, or Portland, OR., although there are exceptional difficulties in gaining the needed public support to build an MLB stadium in these locations.

See renderings of the proposed Athletics ballpark in Fremont.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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UPDATE: Marlins Stadium Vote Hanging On By a Thread PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 13 February 2009 16:01

Marlins Stadium Hanging By a Thread

UPDATE: Miami city commissioners adjourned today's vote amidst turmoil and have moved to continue the meeting/vote on March 12th to allow the Marlins and city officials to address the changes that were proposed at today's meeting and allow a fifth commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones who was absent today, to be at the dais for the vote then.

City and county officials are set to vote on funding for a new Marlins stadium in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, but at the moment, the vote is stalled at the city level before even getting to the county vote, and hangs in a deadlock. As reported by the Miami Herald:

A vote on the Florida Marlins stadium plan descended into chaos Friday afternoon after City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff demanded significant modifications to the deal in exchange for his support.

Those modifications included making the team partially responsible for cost overruns at the stadium's planned parking garage and greater financial benefits to city and county government when it comes to stadium naming rights and profits from the possible future sale of the team.

Without Sarnoff's support, commissioners were deadlocked in a 2-2 tie, which for now would kill the deal.

Neil deMause of Field of Schemes has been watching the proceedings online this afternoon, and gives the following play-by-play as to how everything has gone sour.

  • After several hours of discussion, the Miami City Commission voted on approving the Marlins' final stadium contracts. Two members, Joe Sanchez and Angel Gonzalez, voted yes, and two, Marc Sarnoff and Tomas Regalado, voted no, creating a stalemate. Regalado said in explaining his vote that he wanted a new stadium, but the agreement as presented was a "very bad deal" for the city of Miami.
  • Sarnoff then proposed a series of three amendments: 1) The Marlins would pay for cost overruns on the stadium's $94 million parking garages, in exchange for getting rental income from a retail tenant of the garage building, if one could be found; 2) the city would get a cut of naming-rights revenue, since it's putting up a share of the construction cost; 3) if the Marlins were sold, the city and county would get their stadium costs paid back before the team would be allowed to reap any profits from the sale.
  • There was a proposal to recess for ten minutes, so that commissioners could check with the Marlins to see if these amendments would be acceptable to them. Right before that happened, though, Sanchez shouted that he was withdrawing his support for the motion, saying, "This will kill the deal!"

As Neil notes, the group recessed anyway, huddled with Marlins president David Samson to see if the club were willing to budge on the amendments, to wit, Samson came back saying that the naming rights and any share of the club sale price being shared was off the table. As for the team share in any cost overruns from the $94 million parking complex planned at the site, Samson said that the Marlins would not do that, but would accept whatever parking facility the city could build for $94 million. Sanchez then declared the deal dead, and now, another recess is occurring.

As for 4:15pm ET, the commission was still in recess. Details as they become available (watch online here)


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Final Votes on Marlins Stadium Occur Today PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 13 February 2009 10:21
Miami Marlins Stadium
Will the Marlins finally land their long-sought stadium?
(Click to see in larger view)

City and county commissioners will vote today on the Marlins’ proposed $515 million retractable-roof stadium, which would be located at the site of the former Orange Bowl in the Little Havana section of Miami.

The ballpark is part of a larger $3 billion public works project that includes a tunnel for the Port of Miami as well as a downtown trolley line.

If approved, it will mark the final hurdle for the Marlins in their long quest to have a baseball-only facility. Since coming to the league in 1993, they have shared the stadium that the NFL Dolphins play in.

Three of five votes by the Miami City Commission and nine of 13 votes at the Miami-Dade County Commission are needed order for final funding to occur. As reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

The ballpark would be financed mostly from taxes paid by tourists. But county commissioners, some of whom have supported the project in the past, are concerned about pledging a large sum of money during a recession. Some also worry that certain general fund revenue could be tapped as a backstop, should bed-tax dollars run short.

[…]

The plan's specifics call for the county to contribute $297 million from hotel bed taxes and $50 million from a general obligation bond issue. The city would provide the land and $13 million in bed taxes, and build $94 million worth of parking garages and lots. The team would contribute $155 million. The Marlins have always stressed they don't want to redirect tax dollars for social services to the ballpark.

There are also questions as to how much total debt cost will be on the facility. The Miami Heard reported earlier this week that no one is certain what the interest rate will wind up being on the construction bonds as the repayment plan was not released by County Manager George Burgess before today’s votes. The report by the Herald, using repayment schedules for projects in the Miami area, concluded that the final cost could be as low as $528 million, or a far higher figure (the Herald mentions more than $1.1 billion, but that figure is most likely highly inflated based upon calculating money deferred for the project in 2009 dollars, not at project end).

As to whether the credit markets have stabilized sufficiently in order allow debt to be carried, according to the South Florida Business Journal:

County Manager George Burgess said he recently met with Citigroup, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, and was told they were all interested in doing business with the team for its portion of the stadium funding.

"They indicated that there is an appetite in the marketplace for these types of financings, and that they could secure the team portion of the financing even in today's market," he wrote.

Terrence O’Grady, senior vice president of municipal trading for FMS Bonds, said recently that the market for issues has improved and rates were near 6 percent, down from 7.5 percent to 8 percent in December.

"It seems like municipal bonds have now started to right themselves, and their timing might be good if they start toward the end of the year," he said.

If approved, the ballpark is slated to open in 2012. The lease agreement would be structured so that the newly renamed “Miami Marlins” could not relocate for 35 years.

It is uncertain whether the Marlins would wield the relocation stick again, if the votes are not there today for passage. Marlins president David Samson made a cursory visit to Portland, OR, and more substantial discussions occurred with the city of San Antonio about possible relocation. At the time, concerns about the television market size were mentioned by Marlins officials, and Commissioner Selig then threw his support for the Marlins staying in South Florida.

The county's special meeting starts at 1 p.m. ET, while the city started its meeting at 9 a.m.

Those interested can watch the proceedings live online here.

To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution:

Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium

Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium Miami Marlins Stadium
  

ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Rangers Adding LED Displays at Ballpark PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 05 February 2009 15:27

Rangers LED Board

Click to see in larger view

Rangers LED Ribbon Board

Click to see in larger view

Daktronics Inc (Nasdaq-DAKT) of Brookings, S.D., announced today that the company will design, manufacture and install full-color light emitting diode (LED) display technology throughout Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers.

“We’re pleased to work with Daktronics again on this upgrade to the ballpark,” said Chuck Morgan, Vice President, In-Park Entertainment for the Texas Rangers. “Together we’ve put together a great addition to the ballpark that will give fans more enjoyment at each and every Rangers game.”

A new video display will replace the existing manual scoreboard on the left field wall. This display will feature Daktronics PS-23 LED video technology and will showcase complete game information from other major league games as well as video replay highlights.

Over 1,200 linear feet of full color, digital LED displays will be installed along the lower suite level fascia, the lower Home Run Porch fascia and the fascia below the Diamond Club in left field.

Daktronics ProAd digital ribbon displays offer complete flexibility. When not showing exciting graphics, animation, stats or out-of-town game scores, advertisers are highlighted with a wide variety of visuals and messages.

“We think from an architectural design, our ballpark is as pretty of a stadium as there is in baseball," said Nolan Ryan, President of the Rangers. "We're trying to balance having the best up-to-date scoreboards that are available to enhance the fan experience, while maintaining that step-back-in-time feeling that you have at Wrigley. We feel like we've accomplished that.”

“Daktronics is a proven leader in providing scoring and statistical information and display integration and we’re pleased to be able to bring this enhanced experience to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the Texas Rangers,” said Brent Stevens, Daktronics Regional Sales Manager.

Source: Daktronics


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Citigroup Looking to Back Out of Mets Naming Rights Deal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 03 February 2009 09:31

Citi Field Logo

Is this name on the new Mets stadium going to be
pulled before it opens?

Banking giant Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE: C)  is looking to back out of its record $400 million naming rights deal with the New York Mets, citing controversy in the midst of asking for federal bailout money.

The Wall St. Journal reports that no final decision has been made by Citi at this time.

Citigroup said Monday that it has no plans to use Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP monies toward the naming rights for the new Mets stadium set to open this year, but pressure from the federal government may edge Citi toward dissolving the deal with the Mets.

The news comes as Citi has had total net losses of $28.5 billion since 2007, and received $45 billion in bailout aid from the federal TARP program last fall. They also have come under pressure from politicians, most recently “Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) and Ted Poe (R., Texas) who wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday, asking him to push Citigroup to dissolve the Mets deal.”

The naming rights deal with the Mets is the most lucrative in all of U.S. sports. The agreement reached in 2006 before the bottom dropped out of the markets, is for 20-years, and $20 million annually. The record naming rights deal has a provision by which the parties can extend the deal for up to 35 years.

The agreement between Citi and the Mets is worth $100 million more than the next highest naming rights deal. That agreement is between Reliant Energy and the NFL’s Houston Texans for $300 million.

Since November, when Citi announced the layoffs of 53,000 workers, the Mets have maintained that the naming deal with the banking giant has been safe. Now, the government may quash the deal. The legal implications are not yet known as it has oft been repeated that the naming deal was "contractually binding." As noted prior, backing out of the deal is not as easy as it seems.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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New Marlins Stadium Images Released. Final Vote Set for Feb. 13 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 27 January 2009 20:20
Miami Marlins Stadium
Click to see in larger view


With the Miami-Dade County Commissioners and Miami City commissioners set to vote on the five agreements for the new Miami Marlins stadium on Feb. 13 , new images of the $515 million retractable-roof facility have been released.

The new stadium at the former location of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana is a clear break from the “retro” ballpark designs of the past. The design by HOK has the roof retracted to one side, much like the Mariners’ Safeco Field in Seattle. The design renderings appear to have the ballpark in white. With the roof closed, many see a modern, nearly “space ship” like quality to it.

Field dimensions in the site plan show the following: 340 to far left, 384 to left center, 420 "curved section" to straight-away center, 416 and 392 to right center, 335 to far right.

To see all of the following images, plus others in high-resolution here:

Proposed Miami Marlins Stadium

Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium
Miami Marlins Stadium Miami Marlins Stadium
  

ALL IMAGES COURTESY HOK SPORT


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Images Released of New Omaha College World Series Stadium PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 22 January 2009 15:24
New Omaha College World Series Stadium

Images were revealed at yesterday’s groundbreaking for the Omaha Baseball Stadium. The City of Omaha, the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority (MECA) and NCAA leaders unveiled the Omaha Baseball Stadium’s design as the city’s newest downtown attraction.

See more images, plus a "fly-through" animation of the new Omaha Baseball Stadium

“The Omaha Baseball Stadium will enhance Omaha’s reputation as one of America’s great sports communities and will create a dynamic new gateway into our city,” said Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey at the groundbreaking.

According to HOK Sport, “The ballpark was designed to fit within its context of the downtown entertainment district. Composed primarily of metal, brick and glass, the building’s base is set apart by a unique combination of brick and translucent glass. The glass creates a playful atmosphere – at night, the glass will glow, creating a street ambience, and during the day, visitors approaching the stadium will be able to see the activity within. A metal canopy atop the ballpark’s seating bowl will provide shade and a modern architectural element to the ballpark’s structure.”

“Getting to Omaha is such a thrill for collegiate baseball players and fans, and that drove us to create an image of success,” said Martin DiNitto, principal at HOK Sport, the ballpark’s design architect. “The ballpark’s modern expression, coupled with a ballpark experience bar none, will continue to make Omaha a memorable destination.”

In addition to serving as the home to the NCAA College World Series for the next 25 years, the ballpark will provide numerous sports and entertainment opportunities throughout the year, including professional and collegiate baseball, outdoor concerts and special events.

Led by Omaha-based HDR Architecture, Inc. as architects and engineers of record, the team also includes nationally recognized ballpark designers HOK Sport as design architect and DLR Group as associate architect.

HDR has been a fixture in Omaha architecture for more than 90 years. DLR Group has designed 40 ballparks, and HOK Sport has designed 150 ballparks across the country.

The design team worked with ballpark owner MECA and its Design Advisory Committee to complete the ballpark’s final design. MECA will be responsible for construction and operations of the new ballpark on behalf of the City of Omaha.  MECA currently operates Qwest Center Omaha, one of the most successful arena and convention facilities in the country. Primary goals of the project focused on enhancing the student-athlete experience, the fan experience and the community, said Bruce Carpenter, HDR project principal.

“This is a tremendous project for the community to continue its legacy as the home of the College World Series – and by creating this vibrant new environment, it will be a place where dreams are realized and memories born,” he said.

Source: HOK Sport


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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New Yankee Stadium Being Considered for NHL Winter Classic PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 12:23

New Yankee Stadium

New Yankee Stadium could host the NHL
Outdoor Winter Classic.

It was supposed to be the final sporting event at The House That Ruth Built, but fell through in favor of Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Now, it may be one of the first sporting events, other than the Yankees, to take place in new Yankee Stadium, according to NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins.

The NHL is looking seriously at hosting the NHL Outdoor Winter Classic in New York, with the Yankees new stadium as the location.  Other possible locations for the event could include The Strip in Las Vegas, and the Rose Bowl.

This year’s event, staged on New Year’s Day, was the highest rated regular season NHL game in 34 years.

(See more details on The Biz of Hockey)


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Royals Report that Kaufmann Stadium Renovation on Schedule PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 January 2009 18:11

Kaufmann Stadium renovationWhile the sounds of jack-hammers are still heard daily, the Kansas City Royals report that the $250 million renovation to Kaufmann Stadium will be ready for opening day, set for April 10 against the Yankees, with the interactive Hall of Fame and museum behind left field the only addition not set for completion by season start. As reported by The Associated Press:

"We need some good weather and some good breaks," Bob Rice, vice president of ballpark operations and development, said during a hard-hat tour for the media.

[…]

"It is a baseball stadium. At the end of the day, we have to have field lights. We have to have life safety," Rice said. "We're 100 percent certain we're going to have all the life safety issues. There may be pieces that aren't finished, and if those aren't finished we'll work around those.

"We're very confident in what we've got going on right now and the time we have left."

(See details and artist renderings of the Kaufmann Stadium renovation)

Improvements came by way of voter approval on April 4, 2006. In December of 2005, county and team officials announced they had reached new agreements with the teams to extend their leases to 2031.The current leases do not include caps on cost overruns, and the new leases would require the teams to pick up those costs.

The sales tax pays for $425 million of the work. The Chiefs contribute $75 million, the Royals $25 million, and the state contributes $50 million in tax credits.

There were actually two items on that April 2006 ballot:

  • The first, that passed, was a 3/8 -cent sales tax to raise $425 million toward $575 million in improvements at Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums. The Royals will put in $25 million, the Chiefs would chip in $75 million and the state $50 million in tax credits.
  • The second ballot measure that failed would have imposed a use tax on certain purchases made out of state to help raise funds for a $200 million roof that could roll between the two stadiums in 35 minutes or less. The NFL has said Kansas City could be host of a Super Bowl with a roofed facility.

The Royals added $900,000 to the project to build a state-of-the-art video control room that will be used for player evaluation. The money will be used for hardware, software, and expansion of the current video room space. The Royals initially looked to try and roll this cost into the stadium renovation, but Jackson Co. officials scoffed at the idea of this enhancement as a "stadium renovation".


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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