Venue News: Michigan Camera Puts Fans in Big House; Preds Plan Fan Zone

Michigan fans can prove that they were at the Big House for the Wolverines’ first night game last Saturday by visiting the Under the Lights FanCam, available on the Michigan athletic department Website. The 360-degree, high-definition camera captured Michigan Stadium in its entirety during the pregame ceremony, and fans can “step inside” the image of the Big House and look around, as if they were standing at midfield for a frozen moment of time prior to kickoff. The resolution of 5 billion pixels is so high that fans can zoom in to find themselves or friends in their seats, “tag” themselves in the photo, and share via email, Facebook, and Twitter. The University of Michigan is the first college football program in the U.S. to use this technology and provide interactive images for fans…

…The Nashville Predators have teamed with sports architect Populous to develop a master plan for renovating Bridgestone Arena. According to Populous, the goal over the next several years is to refresh the 15-year-old facility to forge a stronger brand identity for the NHL club and create a better connection to Nashville’s downtown entertainment district. The first phase is building an area called the Fan Zone on the upper concourse in the arena’s south end, with a sit-down bar and 60 feet of continuous drink rail space at the edge of the seating bowl. It will be open by Sept. 24, the Predators’ first preseason home game. To develop the Fan Zone, project officials carved an opening in the south wall spanning three seating sections to free up space to install the drink rails, made from the arena’s old dasherboards.  In addition to the recycled dasherboards, an old penalty box is being converted to a new photo booth on the main concourse…

…The California State Senate passed a bill to expedite legal challenges to Farmers Field, Anschutz Entertainment Group’s $1.2 billion proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles; a decision that could pave the way for the NFL to return to Los Angeles next year. Senate Bill 292, which passed 32-7, will now go to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has 30 days to either sign or veto the bill. He is expected to sign it but if he takes no action, the bill will become law anyway. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his support for the bipartisan bill on Thursday. The decision represents the biggest milestone for the NFL’s return to Los Angeles since the city council unanimously passed the financial framework of an agreement between AEG and the city last month to build the 72,000-seat stadium and a new $275 million wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center next to Staples Center and L.A. Live, also owned by AEG. AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said plans for Farmers Field could not have continued unless the bill was passed.

…In a long-awaited financing proposal, released last week, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s arena task force identified a potential treasure trove to fund the proposed downtown sports arena: up to 8,000 city-owned downtown parking spots that could be leased to a private vendor. The vendor would immediately pay the city millions of dollars, maybe tens of millions, for the right to run the spots. Similar deals have been made by city and state governments elsewhere, with mixed results. In Sacramento, a big upfront payday would reduce the amount of borrowing needed to fund the $387 million complex. The city needs a finished plan by March or the Sacramento Kings intend to leave town.