Venue News: Sacramento Continues Arena Push Despite NBA Lockout

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s effort to build a sports and entertainment complex downtown will move forward despite Thursday’s announcement that the NBA and its players union have broken off contract talks. Earlier this month, the league canceled the first two weeks of the season, and further cancellations are expected as a result of the negotiations breakdown. Johnson issued a statement Thursday reiterating his intention to build an arena for sports, concerts, and other events, regardless of whether the Sacramento Kings play in it this year or at any time…

…The Buffalo Bills take pride the seating bowl inside Ralph Wilson Stadium and the tailgating experience outside the entry gates, but before moving forward with a lease extension, the team will examine upgrades to everything between and underneath. The team hired Populous, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, MO, to conduct an extensive study of Ralph Wilson Stadium’s infrastructure. The study will determine how much necessary improvements will cost. Until then, the Bills and Erie County cannot broker a lease extension because they won’t know how much money they’ll ask from the state; the price tag will likely exceed $100 million. Improvements to the 38-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium would be geared towards enhancing basic functionality and safety, including widening concourses, adding more communal areas for fans to gather, and adjusting the number and location of restrooms and concession stands…

… Architectural firm Aecom will design a $25 million upgrade to Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler University’s 83-year-old arena. While the plans are not finalized, the goal is to install more chairback seats to market as premium seats inside the vintage facility. Those newer seats would replace wooden bench seats. Building more chairback seats will cut Hinkle’s capacity from 10,000 to 8,500, but in doing so, the school would meet the demand from fans for better-quality seats. The arena will still have about 3,000 wooden bench seats, most in the upper deck. Chairbacks were first installed at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1989, the last time the arena went through a major renovation. Butler has raised $8.5 million in gifts and pledges, enough to move forward with some parts of the renovation after 2012 spring graduation…

… Rice University unveiled a proposal for a new two-story football facility at the south end of Rice Stadium that will house training and locker rooms, a sports medicine center, and the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. The proposal is contingent on approval by the Rice Board of Trustees and fundraising to pay for the project. The structures now at the stadium’s south end, including the R Room that currently houses the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, will be demolished. The proposed 80,000-square-foot facility will house offices for the coaching staff and support personnel, and a room for news conferences and other functions that now take place in the R Room. A pre-design study was conducted last summer, and the next step will be to develop design and cost options. Rice Stadium opened in 1950 and has hosted many historic events for the university, the city of Houston, and the country.

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