Venue News: Hurdles Remain in Kings’ Move to Seattle; Cubs’ Chairman OKs Wrigley Renovation

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

The announcement Monday of an agreement by a Seattle group to purchase the Sacramento Kings made the NBA’s return to the city as close as it has been since the Sonics left in 2008. But while there was a celebratory feel in the statements from those involved in the sale, as well as city and county officials, there was also caution that a few significant hurdles remain. Specifically, the sale of the team from the Maloof family to the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer still must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors in April, which could also hear a counteroffer from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Johnson is attempting to put an ownership group together to keep the team in Sacramento. The team must also file for relocation by March 1…

…Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said Saturday the team will fund an ambitious $300 million renovation plan at Wrigley Field if the city eases some of its restrictions around Wrigley Field. Among the proposed improvements the Cubs revealed are larger concourses, additional restaurants, more bathroom and concession areas, expanded suites and amenities for the players, including a larger home clubhouse, batting cages and additional training facilities. A new roof would replace the wooden roof, new seats would be installed and the façade would return to its 1930s-era luster…

…The new Nationwide Arena scoreboard, part of a $6.4 million arena renovation during the summer, finally made its debut in the first Columbus Blue Jackets home game of an NHL lockout-shortened season. With 21/2 times more video space than its predecessor, the scoreboard hardly blends into the building. It offers a source of entertainment in itself, with four screens united to play one video or separated to show replays, statistics, and advertisements simultaneously. Also new: video screens on the party towers, which previously displayed illuminated signs. Auxiliary and ribbon boards, which used to show only black-and-white text, have been upgraded to host live tweets from fans and flashy animation…

…Even with the 49ers being one of sports’ hottest franchises right now, they just might open their $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium in 2014 without a naming-rights deal that would pay a big chunk of the construction bill. According to team spokesman Bob Lange, the 49ers don’t have anything in the pipeline, but quickly added, “It’s not a necessity. … A number of other stadiums have opened without a naming-rights partner.” True, says former 49ers executive Andy Dolich. But given all the excitement that the team has created on the field and the buzz it has generated over the stadium, Dolich believes there should be many interested corporate entities…

…Nearly six months after the Olympics ended in a burst of self-congratulation for Britain, there is no firm plan in place for the stadium. The most likely tenant, the West Ham United soccer team in the top-level Premier League, is still negotiating the terms of a possible move. It is a thicket of a process that began some time ago, that has been repeatedly thwarted and delayed by financial, logistical and legal obstacles, and that by no means has a certain outcome. Even if the team does succeed in its latest, reconfigured bid to secure a 99-year lease, it will probably not be able to move in until 2016, two years behind schedule.

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