Venue News & Notes: Vikings Look for Stadium Stimulus Money

A new wrinkle developed in the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium strategy this week, when team officials said they are looking at federal stimulus money to help them build a new home that just might be located in the suburbs. Vikings’ spokesman Lester Bagley told a real estate gathering in Minneapolis that private developers and local government officials have also approached the team about a half dozen potential Twin Cities suburban sites. Bagley would not say where, but some signs pointed to Dayton, near Interstate 94 in western Hennepin County, as a possible home.

The 49ers are certainly charging ahead with plans to build a 68,500-seat stadium in Santa Clara, CA, but at least one major player isn’t putting all its eggs in the Silicon Valley basket. That would be the National Football League. The league, which the 49ers are counting on to help fund a new stadium, has weighed in on San Francisco’s plans to redevelop Candlestick Point and the shuttered Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, where Mayor Gavin Newsom hopes to persuade the team to build a new waterfront stadium.

The World Cup stadium in Cape Town, South Africa’s top tourist destination, hosted its first football match on Saturday, with organizers saying everything appeared to work fine without any major glitches. An estimated 20,000 fans used a park-and-ride system to take buses from the city centre to the new 68,000-seat arena to watch Ajax Cape Town take on Santos, the city’s top two teams. The stadium will host several matches, including a semifinal, when the first World Cup to be played on the African continent begins in June. “This event is important so we can pick up any flaws now,” said Carlo Scott, who will help co-ordinate up to 1,700 volunteers during the World Cup games.

City officials in Mesa, AZ, approved an agreement to keep the Chicago Cubs’ spring-training home in Arizona for at least the next 25 years, the Associated Press reported this week. According to the deal, Mesa will build an $84 million stadium and training facility for the Cubs, and the team will continue to hold spring training in the Phoenix suburb. Arizona lawmakers still need to approve legislation to finance and build the stadium, and city voters will still need to vote on the issue in November, but Mesa city officials see those as minor hurdles, according to the report.

The Fremont, CA, Chamber of Commerce held a rally this week to build support for a new stadium proposal. About 200 people were at the rally at the Saddle Rack Bar to say they still want to see a stadium built for the Oakland A’s. Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman was there, and he had a message for Major League Baseball. “We have submitted a concept as you know, and they have not responded as yet,” he said. “So we’re waiting to hear from Major League Baseball and the A’s as to where we go next.”

New Jersey’s new governor, Christopher J. Christie, wants the Nets to pay a $7.5 million penalty if the team breaks its lease at the Izod Center and moves to the Prudential Center in Newark next season. The suggestion was included in a 20-page document issued by the New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Committee of the governor’s transition team. The report, compiled before the governor took office last Tuesday, focuses largely on the state’s casinos and horse racing, both of which, the committee said, are “broken.” The report identified agreements made during previous administrations that the Christie Administration hopes to revise or undo.