Venue News: Rays Pursue New Stadium; Superdome Unveils Completed Antenna Upgrade

According to Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, Bud Selig and the owners of the 29 other MLB teams have turned up the volume this offseason concerning the Florida club’s stadium issue. Sternberg has a meeting scheduled for Jan. 17 with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster to discuss both the prospects of getting a new stadium and the concerns of Selig and his fellow owners. With the Marlins set to play in a new stadium and the A’s moving out of Oakland, the Rays are the last team looking for a new stadium. Foster has said he will not allow the Rays out of their Tropicana Field lease, which runs through 2027, unless the Rays select a location in St. Petersburg or Pinellas County for a new stadium. Sternberg has said that he would like the opportunity to investigate possible sites in Hillsborough County…

…Cellphone users attending football games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this past weekend should have experienced an easier time sending photos and messages to friends, thanks to AT&T’s completion of a $10 million “distributed antenna system” in the Dome. According to spokeswoman Sue Sperry, the system extends coverage serving older 3-G and new 4-G phones to Champions Square by means of a 70-mile network of cables connecting the new system’s nerve center in a Superdome garage with 950 antennas. The new antenna system is the equivalent of 200 traditional cell towers. AT&T customers will experience improved reception immediately, while other cellphone users are likely to see improvements in service soon. Verizon has agreed to piggyback onto the system, but the company must install its own equipment to make that happen. Verizon officials announced last week that they had upgraded the company’s existing antenna array in the Superdome to improve reception during games…

…The Santa Clara Stadium Authority and Legends Sales & Marketing announced the launch of Club Seat and Stadium Builders License (SBL) sales for the San Francisco 49ers’ proposed stadium in Santa Clara.  The launch will begin with a seat allocation process for current lower bowl Candlestick season ticket holders.  The SBLs for the majority of the 9,000 Club Seats are priced at $20,000 and $30,000. The proposed stadium will have roughly 150,000 square feet of Club space, which will be among the most in the NFL, and is estimated to cost approximately $1.02 billion…

…Despite icy temperatures and winds that hit the region last week, construction crews kept pace on the $47-million stadium complex that will bring football to UNC Charlotte. The planned 15,000-seat stadium can be expanded to 40,000 seats, and will be part of a complex that also includes a field house and two practice fields. A press box with media seating, a university box, and television and radio booths will be built along the west sideline at the concourse level. McColl-Richardson Field is named for Carolina Panthers principal owner Jerry Richardson and former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl; according to university officials, the naming rights are worth $2.5 million. The Charlotte 49ers are expected to play their first football game on Aug. 31, 2013, against the Campbell University Camels.

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