Venue News: Candlestick Park Prepared to Host NFC Championship; FIFA Criticizes Brazil Prep

PG&E and city officials say they are taking no chances that another embarrassing power outage will mar Sunday’s NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park. A month after the lights went out at Candlestick during a big Monday Night Football game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the city of San Francisco and PG&E have spent close to a million dollars to ensure there will be no repeat of a darkened field when the 49ers host the New York Giants this weekend. More than a mile of wire has been replaced, an in-stadium switch has been repaired and software has been upgraded. The pair of outages during the Dec. 19 game began when a spliced wire leading to the stadium failed and problems with computer software and a faulty switch inside the stadium made the power failure worse. According to representatives of the city and PG&E, that equipment has all been fixed, and it all worked perfectly when the lights were on during last weekend’s divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints…

…FIFA’s secretary general rebuked Brazil again for being behind schedule in stadium preparations for the 2014 World Cup. According to Jerome Valcke, “there is not a single stadium ready today.” He added that beer must be allowed at matches despite Brazilian law prohibiting beer sales at games. Brazil prohibited alcohol sales inside stadiums in 2003 in a bid to reduce violence, but Budweiser is a major World Cup sponsor, and FIFA is urging lawmakers to allow beer sales in the stadiums during the showcase tournament. Brazil’s World Cup will be played in 12 far-flung venues, including a 44,000-seat stadium being built in the Amazon jungle city of Manaus. All 12 cities will host at least four matches, prompting concerns about travel in a vast nation whose ailing airport infrastructure has repeatedly been highlighted by FIFA as needing an upgrade. Other disputes between FIFA and the Brazilian government include liability for security and safety problems, and the sale of discounted tickets to students and the elderly as guaranteed by Brazilian law…

…The deal for a new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara unveiled last month is meant to insulate the city from the financial problems that similar publicly funded projects have caused elsewhere. But leading sports economists warn the arrangement still leaves the city at risk. The stadium is projected to cost at least $1 billion, including up to $850 million of debt that will be assumed by an entity created by Santa Clara. Economists say the project is hard to justify, given the other ways public money could be used to help the local economy, and it may be difficult to pay back creditors. Santa Clara has taken steps to try to ensure the stadium doesn’t become a financial albatross like publicly funded venues in Cincinnati, Glendale, AZ, and other cities. But some locals are worried the stadium won’t be able to cover its payments and that residents will ultimately foot the bill. They also argue the city won’t get a decent return from the up to $40 million it is committing to the project from its redevelopment agency, as well as the 14 acres of land it is dedicating to it. The National Football League is also kicking in at least $150 million…

…Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that a legislative vote on a Minnesota Vikings stadium package could be in jeopardy unless lingering questions are answered about all three main potential sites. Dayton had been expected to state a clear site preference for the team’s long-sought replacement to the Metrodome, choosing between two possible locations: one in downtown Minneapolis and one in suburban Ramsey County. Instead, the Democratic governor said all three plans as currently proposed are inadequate. With momentum on the stadium push hard to come by, Dayton’s comments appeared to muddle the issue further, though he expressed optimism that a deal could still come together soon. The Legislature convenes for its 2012 session next week, and the fate of a new stadium is expected to dominate the attention of lawmakers. The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome has expired and team owners have said that 30-year-old facility is no longer profitable enough compared to other NFL facilities. It’s raised fear among fans that no new stadium could drive the team to another city.

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