Venue News: Texas Rangers Plan Plaza Changes; Vikings Stadium Deal on the Rocks

The Texas Rangers are planning a multimillion-dollar renovation to the center-field plaza at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that could include adding a sports bar area and reconfiguring the visitors bullpen. Work will likely involve the demolition of Vandergriff Plaza and adjacent spaces to accommodate a new concession pavilion, club pavilion, renovation of a suite for a sports bar, and a mezzanine and family entertainment area, according to plans filed with the state. The project is estimated to cost $11 million and be completed by April 1, 2012, before the start of the next baseball season. It appears that the renovation plans, including those to the visitors bullpen, were well underway before a bullpen controversy erupted in Game 5 of the World Series in Arlington on Oct. 24, when St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claimed he couldn’t be heard over the bullpen phone, resulting in his inability to change pitchers at a critical moment. Visiting managers are unable to see inside the bullpen from the dugout because of the physical layout of the ballpark…

…In another sign that a deal for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium may be fracturing, House Speaker Kurt Zellers has told legislators that he does not think a special legislative session is necessary this year to approve the project. Zellers’ message came shortly after Governor Mark Dayton, who wants a special session by Thanksgiving, said Tuesday that he would not pursue a legislative exemption for a voter’s referendum in order to increase local sales taxes to help build a stadium. Although the team insisted after Dayton’s announcement that the project could still move ahead, the governor’s decision appeared to scuttle a plan to have Ramsey County raise $350 million for the stadium through an increase in countywide sales taxes…

…The BankAtlantic Center, home of the Florida Panthers, could see a name change, following the announcement that BankAtlantic Bancorp is selling its BankAtlantic subsidiary to BB&T. According to the team, the time frame for a possible name change could take a few months, but will take place quickly once the deal between the two banks is finalized. The $185 million, 872,000-square-foot arena opened in 1998 as the National Car Rental Center. It became the Office Depot Center in 2002, and took its current name in 2005…

…Earlier this week, the City of Edmonton concluded a deal with the Katz Group to purchase three parcels of land for a proposed new downtown arena and entertainment district, for a total cost of $74.9 million — significantly more than the estimated $20 million previously used to describe the cost of the arena site itself. According to the city, the price is higher because Edmonton purchased additional land beyond what would be needed for the proposed arena. The seven-acre site where the arena itself, as well as a planned public skating facility, will sit cost the city $24.6 million, plus an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and carrying costs. That $25.9-million total is roughly in line with the city’s original estimate.