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Archive for the ‘Stadium Construction’ Category

Taxpayers forced to pay off debts for sports stadiums

Posted by ZA on September 8, 2010

A good article from the New York Times that exposes the debt that still exists on many unused stadiums.  The tax payers in New Jersey still have over $75 million in dept to pay off on the Izod Center, yet no professional sports teams play there any longer (the Nets & Devils have already said bye, bye).  Indianapolis residents have over $60 million in debt yet to pay on the RCA Dome, even though the team is starting their second year at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Both are ridiculously unfair to the taxpayers, but that’s the price you can pay in big time sports.

While I agree that these stadium finance deals can turn out badly for taxpayers, I do think more has to be considered than just the dollars.  A stadium and the team that plays in it is a big part of the identity of a city.  The Meadowlands and RCA Dome are landmarks in their cities, even once they are no longer in use.  So while taxpayers need to be reluctant to pick up the entire tab on these stadiums, they don’t want to stop the next big sports venue from being built in their town.

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Pontiac Silverdome sold for 1% of cost to build it

Posted by ZA on November 23, 2009

How bad are things in Detroit?  Pretty bad if the city is selling the former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions for $583,000.  A stadium that cost more than $55 million dollars to build in 1975 just sold for a mere 1% of the cost to build it.  Now I’ve heard of depreciation, but that has to be a record for a major professional sports venue.  Particularly when you consider that the city had received offers to buy it for more than $22 million in the past decade.  I’m sure they are kicking themselves now that they didn’t sell it while it still had some value.

The buyer is an “anonymous Canadian firm” that plans to use the facility for a soccer league they are going to develop.  I’m not buying that they ever use for a professional sports team or league, at least not anytime soon.  I expect to see it sold again (quietly) in the coming months.  Perhaps to be used as a mega-Church like the one Joel Osteen has in Houston that used to be home of the Houston Rockets.  Because it seems that Detroit needs prayer a lot more than they need sports right now.

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Historic Rosenblatt gives way to TD Ameritrade

Posted by ZA on June 16, 2009

Right now one of the best, and least heralded, sporting events in the World is occurring at a stadium in the heartland of America.  The 2009 College World Series is being played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.  The College World Series, or CWS as it is commonly called, is the postseason tournament to decide the NCAA Division I Champion from men’s college baseball.  The tournament brings together 8 of the best teams to compete in a double elimination tournament.  What makes it so great is the emotion these teams and their fans display; the emotions that come out when you have reached your goal (Omaha) and have the championship in sight.

Every division I college baseball player, fan and coach starts the season with one goal in-mind.  That goal is to get to Omaha for the College World Series.  Teams typically play a 40+ game regular season schedule and then a dozen postseason games just to try to earn a spot in the CWS field.  So naturally those fortunate few that make the trip to historic Rosenblatt Stadium are excited to be there.  That excitement comes through as a tangle buzz of emotion that surrounds each game.  And Rosenblatt Stadium is the grand, old ballpark that plays host to that excitement.
For over 50 years the CWS has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium on the outskirts of Omaha.  Rosenblatt is full of stories about great teams, players or moments that occurred on that field.  It is one of those stadiums that you say ‘if these walls could talk’ because you know it would tell a ton of great stories.

But very soon, that is all going to end.  No, not the College World Series.  That will continue on in Omaha through at least 2035, thanks to a new deal with the NCAA.  But the games will no longer be played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.

The City of Omaha is currently building a new $128 million dollar stadium that will become the new home of the CWS in 2011.  The new stadium will be located in downtown Omaha and will more closely resemble a modern professional baseball stadium.  That means the stadium will have higher priced club seating and luxury suites, which bring in more revenue.  Following another tradition common with professional stadiums; the new stadium will have a corporate sponsor paying for the naming rights to the stadium.  TD Ameritrade announced on June 10th that they would be to be the title sponsor of the new ballpark, paying approximately $20 million over the next 20 years.  That means the new home of the College World Series in Omaha will be named TD Ameritrade Park, not Rosenblatt Stadium.

As sad as I am to see Rosenblatt Stadium put out to pasture, I understand this is how sports work today.  Sports are a revenue generating venture, so it is necessary for Omaha (and the NCAA) to upgrade the facility to make more money on the CWS.  Part of that money will be made from the aforementioned venue naming rights.  Although it would be great to still have games played at a stadium named for Johnny Rosenblatt, there is a great opportunity with TD Ameritrade.  TD Ameritrade stepped up to the plate to support this venue and thereby the event that will be played there each June.  They should be commended for their investment, and I believe their $1 million per year will be well worth it in the exposure they receive.  Their name is now linked to one of the best events in college sports and will be on the lips of media around the country.  So it’s easy to see how they will recoup their annual investment in the CWS.

But it will be sad to longer see games after 2010 CWS at Rosenblatt.  Since I was a kid I have memories of games there.  And there are thousands of fans who have great memories of games at Rosenblatt, that will have to remain memories…because the reality is that after next season there will be no more CWS games played at Rosenblatt.  A great legend of sports will be leaving us, but hopefully it will be adequately replaced by the new venue.

New home of College World Series

New home of College World Series (photo from Wikipedia)

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Wrigley Field expansion on the horizon

Posted by ZA on May 26, 2009

Wrigley Field has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916.  The park was build in 1914 at a cost of $250,000.  It currently seats just over 40,000 people.  It is the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, just behind Fenway Park which opened in 1912.  Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic sports venues in the World.  So naturally it is constantly at the center of debates of how to change it for the better.

Andrew Ziola who runs a website devoted to building a public park in Wrigleyville across from the famous ballpark.  Andrew’s idea goes in contrast to what the Cubs and City of Chicago have agreed upon, a project called the Triangle building.  The purpose of the Triangle building is to provide to more revenue generation opportunities for the ball club, by building restaurants and other stores that would be accessible by fans throughout the year.

I think we know which concept has won; the writing is already on the wall that the Cubs will build the Triangle building.  It’s just a matter of when the new Cubs ownership kicks in the money to start the project.  Something the Tribune’s architecture critic, Blair Kamin, has said the Cubs need to do right away.  Someone just needs to break the bad news to Mr. Ziola.

I applaud Ziola for pushing forward a different concept, one that is more earth friendly and therefore greener than the alternative.  One that will obviously do more for the residents of Wrigleyville, who could get year round use out of a park.  But the problem with his ideas is that the Cubs and city are most interested in is the green that comes on dollar bills.  They need to develop the land across from Wrigley into the Triangle in order to house some of the amenities that many other modern stadiums can incorporate into their building.  Wrigley Field is a historic monument, so that limits the scope of changes that can be made to the structure.  There is no way to have the restaurants and shops unless the Cubs convert the parking lot across the street.  So it truly is the right decision for the Cubs to build the Triangle.  A park would be great, but unfortunately it cannot generate the revenue that a retail development can.  That’s just the world we live in and money helps make the world go round.

You can follow Andrew Ziola’s quest on Twitter (@wrigleyfield4u).   Follow BrandDunk on Twitter (@BrandDunk).

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Yankees caught with performance enhancing substance?

Posted by ZA on April 20, 2009

The New York Yankees have been caught red handed providing a performance enhancing substance to members of their team.  The result has been an overabundance of home runs at new Yankee Stadium.  Yankee home games are averaging 4.5 home runs per game, which translates to approximately 350 home runs over the course of a season.  The current rate of home runs is more than 3x greater than the 1.35 home runs per game average at Camden Yards and US Cellular Field, which shared the top two spots in 2008.

The performance enhancing substance being provided by Yankees brass?  Wind.  The design of new Yankee Stadium is causing a wind tunnel that has caused the rash of home runs.  Darren Rovell at CNBC was first to report on the story and said the Yankees are examining the “wind tunnel” effect causing all of the home runs.  Then a Accuweather story said that the angle of the seating in the new stadium “could have an effect on wind speed across the field”.  Accuweather went on to say that the “wind tunnel” conditions are most prevalent now and in late Fall, so the homers presumably would not keep up at this pace.

I’m sure this story will continue to evolve as it is investigated by the team, league and media.  But there is one thing that I’m already sure, that the Yankees are not happy at the thought that their $1.5 billion dollar stadium has a flawed design.  And if that turns out to be true, then I expect Populous, the architects who designed new Yankee Stadium, might be looking to change their name back to HOK Sport to hide from this embarrassment.

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Suites in the new Cowboys Stadium are flawed

Posted by ZA on March 12, 2009

For over two years we’ve been hearing about the unveiling of the grandest stadium in sports, the new home for the Dallas Cowboys (aka: Jerry World).  The story has consistently been the same, that Jerry World will be the finest stadium in professional sports.  Packed with every imaginable amenity to make a Cowboys home game more fun than breakfast in Paris, lunch at Disneyworld with the kids and dinner in Las Vegas.

But now the story is starting to change.  Oh no, not the official story from the Dallas Cowboys.  They all still have smiles on their faces and are saying that sales are going just fine.  They continue to justify that by pointing out that they have 273 out of 300 luxury suites leased.  Nero also played the violin as Rome burned.

The reality is that the luxury suites and other premium areas in the new Cowboys Stadium are beyond what the current marketplace wants to buy.  The economy today is different than two years ago, so the Cowboys need to take some proactive steps to make sure they are adjusting to the changed economy.  Darren Rovell nails this concept in his article about the Cowboys Stadium.

A few interesting tidbits from Rovell’s story:
* There will be people who break their luxury suite leases at the new Cowboys Stadium.
* The Giants, Jets, Mets and Yankees are all dealing with similar issues at their new stadiums.
* Safeco Field converted 8 of their luxury suites into a large area that could be sold to smaller businesses.

Not sure if Jerry Jones is reading CNBC today, but if he does see the article he might consider making some changes now.  Never wrong to admit you overestimated the market.  The Cowboys have already (smartly) started to lower prices on some of the premium PSL’s they offer, so why not change the plan on luxury suites as well.  Doing it now might save millions in dollars down the road.

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Jerry Jones fires shot across the bow of Texans

Posted by ZA on October 1, 2008

The rivalry was officially formed on September 8th, 2002.  That was the date of the Houston Texans first game as a franchise against the in-state Dallas Cowboys.  The 19-10 season opening win for the Texans was just the second time in history an expansion team won their first game.  That victory was made so much sweeter for Houston fans as they sent Jerry Jones and his Cowboys crawling back up I-45 with egg on their face.  “America’s Team” was not supposed to lose to their in-state little brother; and Texans fans took every opportunity to let Cowboys know about it.

Six years later not much has changed.  The Cowboys are still “America’s Team” with a lineup stocked full of Pro Bowl talent, led by moviestar dating Tony Romo.  The Texans are a respectable team in a tough AFC Division still looking for their first playoff berth.  The biggest constant remains that these two teams don’t like each other too much.

The teams now play each year in the preseason for the Governors Cup, and although it isn’t the same as a regular-season game, it is as intense as preseason games get.  The fans from each squad look for every opportunity to rag on their cross state rivalry.  Now even the owners have gotten into the rivalry act.

Recently the Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was responding to questions from the Los Angeles Times about his new $1.2 billion stadium that the Dallas will move into for the 2009 season.  During the interview he decided to take the opportunity to fire a shot across the bow of his rivals, the Houston Texans.

Jones said, “The Cowboys have never been about checkered tablecloths and boots and hats.  They’ve been about glitz and glitter.  Leave the other stuff to the Houston Texans.

Chalk a point up for the Dallas Cowboys.  Just one of many that goes back-and-forth in this Texas-sized rivalry.  I’m sure the Houston Texans will even the score soon.

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Why don’t the Chicago Cubs like Wrigley?

Posted by ZA on September 17, 2008

Twice in the last week pitchers for the Chicago Cubs have been quoted in the media bashing venerable Wrigley Field.  The most recent was pitcher Jason Marquis who was quoted in the Chicago Tribune on his desire for Wrigley to have some modern upgrades.

Marquis said, “If I had a personal choice, I think they should knock down Wrigley and build a replica in the exact same spot to give it that same feel.”

That followed a quote made by pitcher Carlos Zambrano earlier in the week who said “Gosh, I wish we could have a new ballpark.”

I don’t fault the Cubs players for wanting more luxurious digs, but what they need to understand is you cannot replace history.  Wrigley Field is one of the two legendary ballparks for baseball, along with Fenway in Boston.  Tearing down Wrigley is akin to tearing down a national monument.  You wouldn’t tear down the Washington Monument, would you?  Which is why the people of Chicago, baseball purists, and Cubs fans across the country do not want to tear down Wrigley Field.  Folks in Chicago are so loyal to their historic sports venues that they choose to land a spaceship on top of Soldier Field, rather than tear it down and remodel it from scratch.

Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois

Does it look like a spaceship landed on Soldier Field?

It is obviously a difficult situation to decide how to treat Wrigley Field.  Cubs outfielder Jim Edmonds said it best, “Everyone is going to have a different opinion.”  Edmonds went on to say the Cubs players, “…enjoy it, and enjoy the history…of course it’s always nice to have a new place.”

My take is that certain things shouldn’t be upgraded, they are a part of fabric and too important to people.  Wrigley Field is that for baseball and the people of Chicago.  I absolutely think they should find creative ways to upgrade the facility so the team has the amenities that they need, but they should never follow the advice of Marquis to tear it down and rebuild it new.  That may seem like the same place, but it wouldn’t have the soul of Wrigley that carries all of the great history with it. 

It doesn’t matter that the St. Louis Cardinals tore down Busch Stadium or that the New York Yankees are building a new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field must stay.  Those new stadiums will be incredible, but every fan who enters them will tell you that you cannot replace the history of the former ballparks.

Winston Churchill said it best, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”  The Cubs should learn from those other teams, and keep Wrigley Field the way it is.

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Pay $104 to sit behind a pole at an NFL game?

Posted by ZA on July 17, 2008

Lucas Oil Stadium view

These could be your seats at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Indy Star ran an interesting piece on the limited view seats at Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home for the Indianapolis Colts.  The article states that there will be less than 200 limited view or disabled view seats sold for each Colts game, and all will be clearly marked on the tickets.  It says the seats might someday be removed to add more luxury suites.  Let’s hope that’s true, because from the photo it looks like those seats are going to be some real stinkers.

The limited view seats are located in sections which the Colts website says will sell for $104.00 per ticket for individual games.  Although I imagine the Colts ticket office plans to severely discount these limited view seats…at least, I hope they do.

I wonder who made the design decision to put those columns where they were going to obstruct seats?  It had to be the Colts decision to do that, with the idea they would maximum revenue selling those seats as limited view until they replaced them with luxury suites.  I cannot imagine an established design firm like HKS, Inc, who is the architect on the Lucas Oil Stadium project, would design it in such a way that fans would be sitting behind columns.  Regardless there is going to be some fans who show up to a Colts game next season who are shocked at their view (or lack thereof).

Image courtesy of the Indy Star.

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New Twins ballpark will be cash cow for team

Posted by ZA on April 29, 2008

The Minnesota Twins are about to get a lot richer.  That’s because it is estimated that the Twins new ballpark will help the club generate more than $1 billion dollars in additional revenue.  The yet to be named new ballpark being built in Minneapolis, Minnesota is expected to be completed for the 2010 baseball season.

The reason for the cash windfall is the Twins will own all of the revenue from the new park, while they currently get very little from their lease at the HHH Metrodome.  At the new park the Twins will have revenue from naming rights, concessions, in-stadium signage, suites and the 40K seats in the ballpark.  The suites alone are estimated to generate $8 million per year.

The new Twins ballparkis being built by HOK Sport.  The capacity is expected to be around 42,000.  The new ballpark will be 4000 seats smaller than their current home in the Metrodome.  It will also be a natural grass surface, the Metrodome has an artificial playing surface.  And the new Twins home will not have a roof like the Metrodome, so the Twins will have to get used to playing outside in the elements.  Brrr…I don’t want to be a fan a Twins fan sitting in the stands the next time they play a November World Series game.

The average ticket price in the new stadium is expected to be around $17.00, which is the most affordable average ticket price among recently built stadiums in the 4 major U.S. sports leagues.  Now that’s a great way to make sure you keep fans filling up the stands…give them prices they can afford.

New Minnesota Twins ballpark
Drawing of new Twins ballpark (image courtesy of MLB.com)

Posted in Improve Attendance, MLB, New Venues, Stadium Construction, Tickets, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | 2 Comments »