Venue News: SEC Investigates Miami Marlins’ Ballpark; Britain Doubles Olympic-Venue Security Budget

Federal authorities have opened a wide-ranging investigation into the Miami Marlins’ controversial ballpark deal with Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami, demanding financial information underpinning nearly $500 million in bond sales as well as records of campaign contributions from the Marlins to local and state elected leaders. The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission is giving the city and county until Jan. 6 to deliver everything from minutes of meetings between government leaders and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, to records of Marlins finances dating back to 2007. The financing agreement to build the controversial new stadium in Little Havana left the county and city on the hook for almost 80% of the overall $634 million tab, which critics considered a giveaway to the Marlins. According to Marlins President David Samson, the team has not yet received a subpoena. Neither subpoena said exactly what the SEC is looking for, though federal investigations into municipalities generally focus on whether bondholders were misled about finances while being enticed to purchase the bonds. According to two former SEC attorneys who reviewed the subpoenas, government investigators are likely looking at whether the city and county did proper due diligence into the Marlins’ finances, and whether there was any influence peddling to local politicians…

…Britain has doubled its budget for security at venues for next summer’s Olympic games after underestimating the number of guards needed to admit spectators, athletes, and officials through airline-style security. The games are Britain’s largest peacetime security operation and keeping the competition safe may now cost more than a billion pounds out of the event’s total 9.3 billion pound budget. An additional 13,700 guards, including an unspecified number of soldiers and volunteers, will be employed on top of the 10,000 already planned to secure the perimeters of the Olympic and Paralympic venues. According to Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, the original estimate of guard numbers had been made before the final design of the venues became clear and the publication of the competition schedules. The main Olympic venue in London may even be protected by missiles against airborne attack, in line with measures taken in Beijing in 2008 and Athens in 2004, according to Defense Minister Philip Hammond…

…The San Francisco 49ers and City of Santa Clara announced that they have secured long-awaited funding for the project. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, and U.S. Bank have agreed to an $850 million loan with the city’s stadium authority and the 49ers. The money will cover the bulk of the estimated $1 billion project. Funding from the National Football League, a hotel tax, and city redevelopment funds is expected to make up the difference. According to officials, the loans were the last major piece of the project. The goal is to open the new stadium in 2015. In June 2010, Santa Clara voters passed a plan by the 49ers to build the 68,500-seat stadium. Under the agreement with the team, the city, and area hotels would contribute $114 million to the $937 million project next to Great America theme park…

…The University of Texas at Arlington’s new $78 million College Park Center is set to open in February. The building boasts large windows that frame the main entrance and two levels of bright-blue seats. Hanging above center court will be a multisided, $1.2 million Daktronics video board.  The massive multipurpose facility will be the new home for the men’s and women’s basketball programs as well as women’s volleyball. The center will also host conferences, concerts, and area high school graduations. The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted in 2009 to build the center, and construction began in March 2010. Under plans approved by the UT System, $68 million came from revenue bonds and $10 million from donations backed by UTA funds. The center was designed by HKS Inc., the architects of the University of North Texas’ new $78 million Apogee Stadium. The Dallas-based firm also designed Cowboys Stadium.

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