Venue News: Vikings Stadium Project In Politcal Limbo; Hornets Agree to Lease Extension

With an important legislative deadline having passed Friday, Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers remained unclear whether he would give the Minnesota Vikings stadium project a necessary procedural exemption to keep it alive at the State Capitol. The project was left in precarious political limbo, with lawmakers aiming to adjourn in just over a month. After a highly anticipated release of the stadium deal a week ago, no legislative committee has approved the plan and there are no hearings set. Though the $975 million stadium project can still be revived, Zellers at some point will likely be needed to give it special assistance. The five-term legislator had earlier said he would not grant the project any special favors. Zellers said the stadium proposal is seriously flawed, but he added it was “way too early” to declare the project politically dead at the Capitol this year. Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said the team was working to address the plan’s sticking points and was assuming the project would move forward…

…Louisiana and the New Orleans Hornets announced Friday an agreement in principle between the two for a 10-year lease extension through 2024 with the New Orleans Arena, an accord that has eliminated any exit clauses for the team. Additionally, in return for investing $50 million into upgrading the Arena, the state will get out of subsidizing the Hornets, achieving two goals – modernizing a 13-year-old facility while keeping state monies from going somewhere other than what needs to be paid for in a tough economy. As part of the agreement, the state will fund $50 million in improvements to be finished by the beginning of the 2014 season. The emphasis of the improvements will be to provide the Hornets with more revenue-producing streams, including electronic billboards on the outside of the arena. The Hornets will be allowed to host 15 events per year in Champions Square and, as part of the agreement, the NBA has promised to host an All-Star game at the Arena at some point during the lease’s time…

…Providence College began renovations of Alumni Hall/Mullaney Gymnasium. Alumni Hall was built in the early 1950s and currently serves as the primary practice facility for men’s basketball, while the women’s basketball and volleyball teams use the gym for practices and games. The renovation project will help make Alumni Hall a state-of-the-art facility, and includes a new ceiling, air conditioning and heating systems, upper level windows, new seating in the upper and lower arena. The entire communications and data systems will be overhauled and a video scoreboard will be installed, along with an enhanced audio system for public address and in-game entertainment needs…

…Mississippi State University sought and received approval on two new renderings from the state College Board last week, signifying another step toward expansion at Davis Wade Stadium. The 6,000-seat expansion is expected to be complete in time for the 2014 season. Construction will likely start at the turn of the year, with most of the work focused in the north end zone. MSU has released the two renderings, as well as a video with athletic director Scott Stricklin detailing a few highlights from the $80 million expansion, which will include more premium seating…

…Under the terms of a two-year lease extension to continue playing at RFK Stadium, D.C. United will limit seating to the lower bowl and mezzanine level and attempt to sell sponsorships on tarps covering the upper-deck seating areas. United and Events DC, which operates the stadium, are also seeking to sell naming rights to the playing surface. The new capacity for MLS matches is 19,647 in a facility that is able to accommodate about 45,000 – far too large for United’s purposes. The upper deck is rarely utilized. In past seasons, United stuck visiting supporters there, but last weekend, Kansas City fans were in a corner of the lower bowl. United is one of the few MLS teams that still plays in a large stadium. By limiting seating capacity at RFK, United hopes to create demand and encourage fans to secure seats in advance.

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