Posts Tagged ‘New Stadium’

The optimism surrounding yet another attempt at CFL expansion to Atlantic Canada has been extremely cautious. Besides, many have said they’ve been here before only to have the conversation fall flat.

But since Anthony Leblanc and his business team, Maritime Football, made serious their intention to bring a team to Nova Scotia during Grey Cup week last November, it’s felt different.

Even CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has fanned the football expansion flames, saying “it’s the unfulfilled part of our national dream to have the Maritimes have a football team,” and that it would be a “defining moment” to have a team in the Maritimes.

They’ve all been saying the right things.

Now though, the dream of having a 10th CFL team has reached a pivotal point in the process, one Leblanc says will determine whether or not this will actually happen.

On Tuesday, Halifax regional council approved a motion to begin discussions with Leblanc’s group and the province about the viability of a team and a stadium.

“I think everybody should continue to have the optimism we’ve had all along,” Leblanc told CBC Sports ahead of the vote. “We wouldn’t be getting into a phase of public discussion if we felt we didn’t have good chances of making this happen.”

Leblanc said his team has had a number of conversations with elected officials over the last number of weeks and believes there’s enough support to continue this venture and feels comfortable they’ll be able to move forward.

He said his hope is that administration moves quickly while looking over their proposal to bring a team to Halifax.

“People will say you can’t put deadlines on this, but candidly, we can because we’re the group that’s planning to do this and if we don’t feel we’re moving the ball down the field, we need to look at what our next steps are.”

The deadline Leblanc has suggested is four to six weeks — they want this done by Labour Day. The reason? If they’re able to move forward with the project ahead of Labour Day, they want to start a season-ticket drive for football fans in the region to support a team.

It would be right around this same time — if everything goes as planned — that Leblanc also hopes to have the CFL award Maritime Football a conditional franchise.

But what about the stadium?

Leblanc knows building a stadium and its location are the most important parts of this expansion puzzle. Last week it was reported Maritime Football had narrowed the choice down to two spots. However, that’s since changed.

“That’s speculation,” Leblanc said. “We haven’t publicly confirmed which sites we’re looking at.”

Those two reported sites were Dartmouth Crossing and a property behind the Kent store in Bayers Lake business park. Leblanc says they’ve brought in a new group to help them look more closely at a number of different spots that would be best suited for a multi-purpose development.

“They’ve been working with us for the last several months and I think it’s fair to say we’re somewhat back to the drawing board because they want to understand all the sites.”

Leblanc said they’ve looked at seven locations a stadium could be built.

“What we’re doing over the next two weeks is reaffirming the sites we’ve narrowed down are the right sites. We’re being incredibly thoughtful on this.”

He added the only way they’ll be able to make a stadium situation work is that if it includes the multi-purpose model.

Premier says taxpayers won’t pay for stadium

Last week Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil made it clear taxpayers won’t be on the hook for a CFL stadium in Halifax.

“General revenue is not part of our conversation. I’m not reaching into general revenue to build a football stadium,” he told CBC News.

McNeil said he will wait for the formal ask to discuss how the government might contribute to the stadium, but was clear it wouldn’t come from general revenue.

“If you have another option, you have a new idea of how I can help, feel free to come and ask,” he said. “But don’t come in and expect I’m going to write you a cheque.”

Leblanc says that was never their expectation and interprets the premier’s message this way.

“What he means by that, from what we’ve been told, is they don’t want to see provincial dollars that have already been designated being utilized. We’ve never contemplated that,” Leblanc said.

Leblanc feels new money can be generated from the project and can be put toward building a new stadium.

“We understand as the private sector we have to participate this in a very healthy manner,” Leblanc said.

 

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In the quest to find the Tampa Bay Rays a location for a new stadium, owner Stuart Sternberg publicly stated his preference for a 14-acre site in Ybor City during a news conference on Friday.

The Rays, currently located on the west side of Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, would shift to the east side of the bay and into Tampa if Sternberg gets his wish.

Tropicana Field has long been maligned as an inadequate home for baseball, and is the last remaining fixed-dome stadium in the sport. Last year, the Rays finished last in attendance among all MLB teams, and posted the franchise’s lowest attendance mark since 2005.

Last offseason, five potential locations were eliminated, but Sternberg remained “confident” that the team would be able to stay in the area.

The timeline to finalize the location and the potential cost for a new stadium in the area remain unclear.

 
 

Miami – David Beckham has finally achieved his goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Miami, but the prospect of a stadium without parking that drives up housing costs in a low-income neighborhood is no hit with residents.

The former England captain and glitzy star of storied Champions League teams was formally awarded an MLS franchise on Monday, but key details remain up in the air, such as its name and logo and when it will debut.

For the 25,000-seat stadium, the investor group led by Beckham has acquired land in an area called Overtown, a working-class district between downtown and Little Havana.

They still need to buy one more piece of land, but for now the deal is held up in court by a lawsuit. The investors are confident they will prevail.

“Our 24th team now is in Miami. The stadium is in the Overtown site,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said.

One problem is that Miami is already choked with traffic and the stadium will not have its own parking lots.

And people in the neighborhood fear housing costs that are already rising will force them to move away as they keep going up.

“We are largely overwhelmed by the larger forces in the community that are out there. Our voices are not being heard sufficiently,” said Ernest Martin, a member of the Miami River Commission, an association of people living near the waterway.

Martin was especially critical of the lack of parking.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday that although the stadium itself will have no on-site parking, there are plenty of big lots two to three blocks from the planned arena.

He also pointed to public transport, but people in Miami love their cars.

The problem of rising housing costs comes with gentrification. Overtown is a black-majority neighborhood of some 13,000 people, and 24 percent of the residents earn less than $10,000 a year, well below the poverty level.

Worried about rent

“This has been a low-income housing area for many years,” Martin told AFP at his home along the river.

“Ultimately, the big increase in rent for the area will cause Overtown to become a more select area for residential users,” he added.

The barren lot of land where the stadium is supposed to go up is surrounded by a fence on which neighbors have hung a sign that reads “No to the stadium.”

Nearby are modest apartment buildings and a few shops. At a corner liquor store, the cashier tends to customers from behind bulletproof glass. The storefront is protected by iron bars.

Douglas Romero, a 27-year-old resident of Overtown, told AFP that this year his rent has already gone from $1,050 a month to $1,200.

“I’m a little worried, you know,” Romero said, holding his four-year-old son.

“The prices of rent have been going up lately, starting in January. The only thing would be, if prices go up, you know, everybody looks to move. Everybody looks for somewhere else.”

Second time lucky?

It isn’t even the city’s first tryst with MLS.

Its first team, Miami Fusion, made their debut in 1998 but only played for four seasons before being cut from the league after the 2001 campaign amid low ticket sales and the lowest revenues of any team in the competition.

Football in America is nowhere near as popular as baseball, basketball, or American football. But Beckham and his fellow investors are counting on the cultural diversity of Miami – with its large Hispanic and Caribbean populations – to attract fans.

And not all in the neighborhood are against the newcomers: “Him bringing the stadium here … it’s wonderful,” said Cedric Dixon, 52. “It’s excitement. It’s changing Miami.”

Landscaper Williams Charlie is skeptical that the new stadium can bring jobs, but says “we need a soccer team” nonetheless.

“Beckham knows what he’s doing. I’ll go right to the game – if they don’t move us out.”

One sign of how deeply opposed some are is the emergence of a Facebook group against the stadium which publishes scary videos of football-related violence as a way of warning against the dangers of hooligans.

“It’s not a done deal!” is the slogan of the Overtown Spring Garden Community Collective.

This is true: the proposed sale of the last piece of land needed is being held up by a millionaire named Bruce Matheson, who argues the county had no right to cede the first lot without opening it up to bidding.

He lost his first battle in court but has lodged an appeal.

Mayor Gimenez, meanwhile, remains bullish. “We are very confident that we are going to win the lawsuit,” he told reporters.

The Atlanta Falcons found out during the 2017 season that dropping the concession prices allowed fans to spend more at the stadium.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced that despite a 50 percent decrease in concession prices, fans spent more in the inaugural season inside Mercedez-Benz Stadium than they did at the Georgia Dome.

“There’s a huge value in delighting your fan base, to make them as happy as they could possibly be,” Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group said to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “We started with one of the biggest pain points and it paid off.”

It appears that Cannon and Blank are providing the template all teams should follow.

“Arthur wants other teams to do this,” Cannon said. “We are an open playbook. “We’re happy to show anybody how we’ve done it.”

The Oakland Athletics received some terrible news on Wednesday which affected the potential building of a new stadium for the franchise.

The governing board of the community college that owns the intended building site ordered discussions between the two sides be stopped.

Laney College in Oakland, Calif. was announced as the Athletics preferred site for a new ballpark in September, but local community groups as well as teachers and students of the institution didn’t appear pleased with the idea.

The news caught the Athletics off guard.

“We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” the Athletics said in a statement. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred “applauded” the efforts of the Athletics, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, and urged Oakland leaders to “rejoin the conversation.”

There doesn’t appear to be a back-up plan for a different site, according to the Chronicle, and team president David Kaval explained building on the current Oakland Coliseum site isn’t “feasible.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement Wednesday which said the city is “fiercely determined” to keep the Athletics in Oakland despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the ended negotiations.

The Coliseum opened in 1966 and houses both the Athletics and Oakland Raiders. It is widely considered as one of the worst stadiums in baseball.

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LAS VEGAS (AP) The Oakland Raiders are one step closer to being able to start building their proposed stadium in Las Vegas.

Local officials on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a series of permits required for the proposed 65,000-seat stadium.

Officials in Nevada’s Clark County gave the team a year to figure out a solution for parking, which has been a major concern. Per county regulations, the stadium is required to have 16,250 parking spots, but the site selected for the project near the Las Vegas Strip has only about 2,400.

Raiders adviser Don Webb told Clark County commissioners the team is exploring a wide variety of parking options.

The Raiders want to play in Las Vegas starting in 2020. Their ambitious construction timeline for the partly tax-funded $1.9 billion project calls for some site work to begin by December.

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The Texas Rangers have a new retractable-roof stadium on the way, and it was officially given a familiar name Thursday.

Globe Life Field – the replacement for Globe Life Park, the Rangers’ home since 1994 – is scheduled to be ready for the 2020 season. Along with a retractable roof, the new ballpark will include air conditioning.

As part of the naming deal, which has been extended through the 2048 season, Globe Life is donating $10,000 to Sam Houston High School’s baseball program, according to Loyd Brumfield of the Dallas Morning News.

Globe Life has had the naming rights for the Rangers’ stadium since 2014, after the club severed its relationship with Ameriquest.

The city of Arlington and the Rangers announced the proposal for a new ballpark back in May. The city will pay half of the $1 billion cost, with the club incurring any overages.