Venue News: Brazil Claims World Cup Stadiums Are On Schedule; Mariners Oppose New Seattle Arena Plans

The Brazilian government said construction at 2014 World Cup stadiums is on schedule in all 12 host cities. With 800 days to go until the World Cup, the government said Tuesday that five stadiums have more than 50% of work completed, while another five have more than 30% of construction ready. Two are just 20% completed — the Beira-Rio stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre and the Arena das Dunas in northeastern Natal. The report contrasts with numbers released last month by a government watchdog group that said only stadiums in Salvador and Fortaleza had more than 50% of work completed. According to the government, the Castelao stadium in the northeastern city of Fortaleza is the one closest to being finished, with 60% of work completed. Most stadiums are expected to be ready by the end of this year or the next…

…For now, the Seattle Mariners believe a proposal to build a new NBA/NHL arena in Seattle needs to find a different home. The Mariners sent a formal letter to the city of Seattle and King County officials on Tuesday opposing the idea of a new multipurpose arena in the same neighborhood as the Mariners home of Safeco Field. The letter, signed by Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln, cited concerns about traffic and scheduling of events taking place in an area that already features Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field — the home to the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders. In the letter, Lincoln says the franchise supports the idea of the NBA returning to Seattle, but that an exhaustive examination of various sites for a new arena in the greater Seattle area needs to be conducted. The Mariners are the first and largest local organization to express its desire for Christopher Hansen to look at other site options for his proposed arena…

…As the Cubs ready for their home opener today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration are in the final stages of negotiating a deal to pave the way for the renovation of 98-year-old Wrigley Field. If there is an agreement, sources said it’s likely to include a variation of the financing scheme that Emanuel once called a “non-starter”: the city forfeiting 35 years’ worth of amusement-tax growth from the Cubs. But there’s a new wrinkle: The Cubs have agreed to a minimum guaranteed payment to the city that would increase every year — an attractive proposition after amusement-tax revenues plunged in 2011 along with attendance at Cubs games. And if amusement-tax growth exceeds the amount needed to retire stadium bonds, the city would get a share of that money. Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts has been trying for nearly two years — and the Tribune Co. was trying for years before that — to convince the city to forfeit 35 years’ worth of amusement tax growth to bankroll Wrigley renovation…

…By late next week, a deal could be off for a new arena for the Sacramento Kings and the franchise’s future in the city could be in doubt — yet again. After a handshake deal was reached more than a month ago during NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando between Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, city officials and owners Gavin, Joe and George Maloof, a dispute over who cuts the first checks has arisen. It centers around the brothers contributing $3.2 million of pre-development costs for the $391 million entertainment complex to open in 2015. The city council voted 7-2 late Tuesday to accept $200,000 from the NBA to pay for environmental and architecture work to allow the project to begin. But it is only a reprieve for both sides to settle the dispute, or this arena project likely will die. This covers the time period of the NBA’s next Board of Governors meeting, in New York for several days next week, when Commissioner David Stern is expected to talk with both Sacramento sides in hopes of resolving the arena/franchise issue. The Maloofs say they never agreed to contribute to pre-development costs when they settled on a non-binding term sheet with Johnson and city officials.

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