Venue News: Thunder Arena Renamed, Niners and Raiders Consider Shared Stadium

The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced a new naming rights agreement with Chesapeake Energy for the team’s downtown arena.  Formerly known as the Ford Center, the Thunder will now call the Chesapeake Energy Arena home. Under the 12-year naming rights agreement, Chesapeake will pay the Thunder $3 million the first year, with a 3% annual escalation clause for each year thereafter. The agreement includes Chesapeake branding throughout the building, including on the basketball court, prominent premium placement on the high-definition scoreboard, and new state-of-the-art interior and exterior digital signage. Most of the signage is expected to be in place by the start of the Thunder’s 2011-12 season…

… The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders have been meeting to discuss the possibility of sharing a new football stadium. The 49ers have been working on getting a new stadium built for years, most recently setting their sights on Santa Clara, where the team also has its headquarters. In June 2010, Santa Clara passed a measure that would provide $114 million of public money to build a 68,500-seat stadium. However, the total cost of the project could be near $1 billion, and it is not clear where the 49ers would get the rest of the money. The Raiders have pursued building a new facility on the same site, finding little success or support. The team’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum runs through the 2013 season, and the 49ers have said a stadium in Santa Clara could be ready by 2015. The Raiders and the 49ers currently play in two of the NFL’s oldest stadiums…

…Following the tragic death of Shannon Stone, a firefighter who died trying to catch a ball thrown into the stands, the Texas Rangers have implemented several new ballpark safety measures. Bright yellow signs have been placed around Rangers Ballpark that warn fans not to lean, sit, or stand on rails.  A pregame warning will be made over the loud speaker at the start of each game, and the Rangers plan to fill six or seven new security positions to enforce the policy. The Rangers also plan to raise the rails up to 42 inches. Currently, some rails are at 42 inches while others are at 30 and 34 inches.  The design and engineering phases are underway, and the Rangers hope to start work during the season when the team is away. Although the new height might obstruct some sight lines of the field, most Rangers fans appear to welcome the change…

… According to a recent report, the football stadium and expanded convention center proposed for downtown Los Angeles would generate about $41 million a year in net tax revenue, with approximately $22 million of those taxes going to the city. Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Unified School District would each take in more than $6 million. Most of the rest would be divided between the state and the county’s transportation authority. The reports come as the city is nearing the end of negotiations with AEG on the terms of a proposal to build a $1.3 billion event center that would include a new football stadium and convention center hall.