Venue News: Labor Dispute Hampers 49ers’ Stadium Effort

The San Francisco 49ers’ $1 billion stadium project in Santa Clara, CA, has hit yet another snag and is likely to be delayed a year, at least until 2015, as a result of the labor dispute between the NFL and the players union. According to team President/CEO Jed York, it will be impossible to secure the financing from the NFL and other investors needed to build the 68,500-seat stadium next to the Great America theme park without a settlement between the league and players. In June, 60% of voters in Santa Clara voted in favor of the stadium, allowing the 49ers to go forward in their move from San Francisco to the South Bay.

The Miami Dolphins have launched campaign efforts to fund a massive stadium renovation of Sun Life Stadium with public dollars. The team has hired a polling firm to gauge support in Miami-Dade for improving the stadium and launched a Website last month touting the stadium design. The Dolphins say the upgrades are needed to make the venue more appealing to large events, such as the Super Bowl and World Cup soccer. This marks the second try in seven months to win tax money for a massive renovation of the stadium.

The University of Alabama football team will open the 2012 season against the University of Michigan on Sept. 1, 2012, in the Cowboys Stadium Classic at Cowboys Stadium. The primetime kickoff will be televised by either ESPN or CBS and will mark the fourth time the schools have played. The Alabama-Michigan contest will be the third time since 2008 that the Crimson Tide has opened the season at a neutral site in front of a primetime national television audience. Alabama opened the 2008 and 2009 seasons with victories against ACC opponents Clemson and Virginia Tech, respectively, in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

The new arena in downtown Evansville, IN, will be opening before a new downtown hotel does, according to the redevelopment commission. Arena Project Manager John Kish says the construction of the new stadium is right on schedule and should be on track to open at the beginning of November 2011. Kish says right now the majority of the roof is complete and should all be in place by Thanksgiving. He says the roof will be totally enclosed by the end of the year, so crews can focus on the inside of the arena.

It’s not hard to see the drastic upgrade the Pittsburgh Penguins are enjoying this season with the new Consol Energy Center. The arena not only carries all the latest high-tech bells and whistles but also allows the team to double both the number of corporate partners and revenue derived from those deals. As a result, the Penguins jumped from the NHL’s bottom quarter in local-sponsorship income to one of the league’s top five teams in that category, according to club officials.