Venue News & Notes: Selig Says Rays Need New Stadium

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig weighed in this week on the politically charged debate in St. Petersburg, FL, over the future of the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. In a press conference before baseball’s All-Star Game, he said that the Rays need a new stadium, giving weight to similar claims made by team owner Stuart Sternberg last month. Sternberg vowed in a press conference that his team will not be playing in Tropicana in 2027, when the team’s lease with the City of St. Petersburg expires. He drew city officials’ ire when he also said a search for possible sites for a new stadium should include areas outside the city. One study by the ABC Coalition commissioned by the city also found that viable sites should include Tampa.

At the same press conference, Selig hinted at the possibility of an All-Star Game at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, in the near future. He said that the Mets “deserve” to host an All-Star Game at their home in Queens. Although the commissioner would not make any official announcements, MLB is expected to award the 2013 All-Star Game to the Mets. He also held strong on his refusal to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Arizona despite continued protests and player threats to boycott the game as a result of the state’s controversial immigration laws.

Oilers owner Daryl Katz is telling the Edmonton, AB, City Council that he will fulfill his original commitment to put $100 million towards the cost of a new downtown arena. In a letter sent to the City Council on June 29, Katz’s representative Bob Black says the money will go directly toward construction of the arena. The letter also says the cost of the arena will be significantly less than the $400 million originally reported. When Katz bought the Oilers two years ago, he promised he would put $100 million toward a downtown arena.

For some, it’s a pipe dream. For Aubrey Bruce, it’s a mission. A former music promoter, Bruce hopes to save Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena by recruiting an arena football team, a Women’s National Basketball Association team, and an American Basketball Association team to play there. It’s debatable which is the biggest challenge. Still, Bruce, who writes sports columns for the New Pittsburgh Courier, has formed Seastorm Sports Management Group with hopes of salvaging Mellon Arena by recruiting teams to play under its iconic silver dome.

Now that the conference has requisite 12 teams necessary for a championship game, the Big Ten is searching for a venue to hold this season finale. The early leader looks to be the legendary Lambeau Field, but the home of the Green Bay Packers is facing competition from Detroit’s Ford Field, Chicago’s Soldier Field, and Cleveland’s Browns Stadium.

After a year of construction, Florida Marlins officials say  that their new $642 million ballpark is on schedule to open in April 2012. The stadium is about 40 percent complete and construction over the next 11 months will focus on the retractable roof, the most dangerous part to build.

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