Venue News: Fenway Seeks National Landmark Status; Memphis Threatens Lockout-Related Lawsuit

The Boston Red Sox are on deck to pick up another $40 million in tax credits — bringing their total to $80 million — if Fenway Park’s pending bid for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places is approved next spring. The Sox face a pair of hearings seeking local support for their federal application: they will make their case before the Boston Landmarks Commission on Tuesday, followed by an appearance before the Massachusetts Historical Commission in December. Typically, if local boards approve the application, the federal government gives the go-ahead. If they win a coveted spot on the National Register, Sox owners are in line for a 20% investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of the 99-year-old ballpark, which turns 100 next year…

…Memphis City Council chairman Myron Lowery has advised Memphis Grizzlies majority owner Michael Heisley of a council resolution to examine the city’s recourse options and possible lawsuit against the NBA should the league miss a large portion of its 2011-12 season. The letter acknowledges the league’s attempts to resolve the lockout, but also states the city’s reliance on seat fees to pay the debt service on FedExForum. While the NBA and its players association participated in marathon negotiation sessions with a federal mediator Tuesday, the city council passed the resolution to explore a possible lawsuit against the NBA. The lockout began July 1 when the league’s collective bargaining agreement expired. Over the years, Heisley has been a vocal supporter of revenue sharing and still supports it despite the league issuing a gag order on teams commenting on the lockout…

…The Tennessee Titans unveiled plans for $25 million worth of upgrades to 12-year-old LP Field. According to the team, the upgrades would not require new revenue, but will instead be covered by a $2-per-ticket usage fee that is already in place. Regardless, the improvements must still go before the Nashville Sports Authority and Metro Council for approval. If the proposal is approved, the team said construction would begin in February and be complete by August 2012, in time for the first Titans preseason game. Planned improvements include new high-definition LED screens, a new sound system, high-definition ribbon board video, and a new video control room…

…While the question of where, or how, to build a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium has yet to be answered, up to $100 million could come from money now going to the Tampa Convention Center if the ballpark is built in Tampa. An idea that is gaining steam takes existing tax and redirect it to a new stadium. Currently, Tampa spends about $13.5 million a year to pay off the convention center’s bonds. The money technically comes from a special downtown property tax district that uses “tax increment financing.” Some of the tax money raised in the downtown district is funneled back into the area to pay for development projects. In 2015, Tampa Convention Center bonds will be paid off and the tax money, hypothetically, could be put toward a new downtown stadium. Using the tax money would require the stadium be built downtown, in the tax district. If the city committed those tax dollars to a new stadium, it might be able to raise $80 million to $100 million through a bond issue, approximately one-fifth or one-sixth of the cost of a new stadium, which could run up to $600 million.

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