Venue News: Churchill Downs Preps for Derby Day with DAS Installation; MLS Moves One Step Closer to Franchise, Stadium in Queens

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, KY, is currently installing a new high-speed Mobilitie distributed antenna system that will provide enhanced wireless connectivity to those attending thoroughbred horse racing and other events at the historic track. The DAS will significantly improve wireless coverage, capacity, and data speeds during peak times throughout the venue on Kentucky Derby Day and during the rest of the year through a series of wireless antennas installed at locations in the clubhouse, grandstand, Jockey Club Suites, and all premium seating areas. AT&T will be the first wireless carrier to connect to the Mobilitie DAS network with additional carriers expected to connect to the DAS later this year…

…Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, whose private investment group owns Manchester City in England’s Premier League, has entered final negotiations to purchase a franchise of Major League Soccer to be situated in Queens, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations. The prospective owners are willing to pay a $100 million expansion fee for the league’s 20th team, which could be called New York City F.C. and begin play in 2016, the two people said. After months of public hearings, applications and discussions, a deal for a privately financed $340 million stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which would hold 25,000 spectators and could be expanded to 35,000, could be completed in several weeks, according to several people with knowledge of the deal…

…A malfunctioning speaker system was believed to have sparked a fire in the scoreboard at Crew Stadium, home to MLS’s Columbus Crew, which was soon extinguished by Columbus firefighters. The game had been scheduled for a 7:37 p.m. start but didn’t start until about 8:30. Fans seated below and around the scoreboard — the visitors’ section, which sits at the south end of the stadium — were evacuated, and no one was injured. Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers said the fire marshal as well as scoreboard partner Daktronics will be in Monday to assess the damage and determine what, if any, parts can be salvaged…

New drawings of the proposed Sacramento Kings arena at Downtown Plaza — put together by architectural firm AECOM — have emerged. The renderings show an arena on the L Street side of the current plaza, with a large, open pedestrian gathering area where the middle of the mall now sits. The inside of the arena shows windows along the top of the upper bowl, much like Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. There’s also a rendering of a VIP suite and a bar dubbed the Bunker Club…

…The clock is ticking on the Miami Dolphins’ quest for a taxpayer-supported stadium renovation, as the Florida Legislature is struggling to come together on a deal in the waning days of session. The Florida Senate again postponed debate on the tax-break package on Friday, and the House has refused to move without approval of the bill in the Senate. State Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, who is sponsoring the bill, said negotiations are ongoing between the two chambers, and he still hoped to reach a deal in the last five days of the legislative session. If the bill passes the Legislature, Miami-Dade voters will get their say in a May 14 referendum on whether to increase the mainland hotel tax rate from 6% to 7%. That would bring in up to $289 million for the team to rebuild its stadium. If voters don’t approve the increase, the plan is dead…

…Kansas State demolished the old press box and club seating at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in December and is scheduled to open a state-of-the-art replacement in time for the football season opener against North Dakota State on Aug. 30. Can a massive renovation project like that be completed in eight months? K-State AD John Currie insists it can, and that construction is ahead of schedule. When construction is complete, K-State will have a state-of-the-art press box and luxury suites than span the length of the field and offers fans added club-level seating, suites, wider terraces, larger restrooms, brighter lights, a Hall of Honor and much more space to meet and move around during games.

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