Venue News: Derby Tix More Democratic, But Fans Pay The Price

Churchill Downs has implemented a new online ticket request procedure for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks that it says is more democratic, using first-come, first-served criteria. However, fans will be charged a $50 “administrative fee,” whether they get seats or not. According to a track spokesman, up to 20,000 seats will be available, ranging in cost from $196 to $1,076 for a two-day package that includes the Oaks. Many are in the grandstand or into the first turn. For decades, the allocation of Derby tickets was cloaked in secrecy, with fans writing letters every year requesting tickets. A Derby ticket committee, looking to increase diversity at the event, made ticketing decisions; the new procedure gives everyone a shot. Those applying must provide a $100 deposit by Nov. 20. Of that, $50 will be credited toward the cost of the seats if a person gets tickets. For those who don’t get tickets, $50 will be refunded. It is the first time in Derby history that those applying for tickets will have to pay even if they are turned down…

… Minnesota’s top two legislative leaders now want local voters to have a say in a new Minnesota Vikings stadium project, a move that potentially creates a major obstacle for the plan. House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he also wants a countywide vote wherever the stadium is built. The owners of the Vikings have an agreement with Ramsey County officials to build a more than $1 billion stadium at the old U.S. Army munitions plant in Arden Hills. But stadium backers believe that voters would be likely to reject a countywide half-cent sales tax planned to fund the project. Like Target Field, a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills would rely heavily on money from a countywide sales tax increase — this time in Ramsey County — along with at least a $407 million contribution from the team and $300 million from the state…

…Quebecor, a Montreal-based communications company, and Quebec City have come to an agreement about a proposed NHL-caliber arena, but the city council and agglomeration council will have to approve the accord before the mayor can officially sign the deal. The 150-to 200-page agreement contains five documents detailing how Quebecor would manage the $400-million amphitheater. The documents include stipulations regarding naming rights and lease provisions for shows and a much-desired NHL team. Quebecor would acquire full control of the venue until 2040, with a possible extension to 2045 for $63.5 million if the company succeeds in landing an NHL team. The price tag would drop to $33 million without NHL hockey…

Indianapolis Grand Prix will remain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until 2014. MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna Sports announced an agreement Sunday with the famous venue following a meeting between Indy speedway corporation president and CEO Jeff Belskus and Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been hosting MotoGP since 2008…

… As Cal opens the 2011 football season 19 miles away at Candlestick Park, work continues at a feverish pace to bring 88-year-old Memorial Stadium up to 21st century standards in time for 2012. If the $321 million project remains on schedule throughout the next 363 days, the Berkeley landmark will be a shell of its former self when the Bears open next season on Sept. 1, 2012. Inside, 70% of the facility will be new and seismically safe, from the northeast section below Tightwad Hill along the west side to the south end of the stadium, where the Hayward Fault takes its leave. Only the east side of the old stadium will remain, built on solid ground at the mouth of Strawberry Canyon. The buff-colored wall with its arched portals is being preserved in a nod to history, while everything else will be new, except for the recycled aluminum seats being moved from the west side to the east side to replace ancient splintered bleachers. The project, begun in early December 2010, is about 30% complete one year out from a hard deadline of Sept. 1, 2012.