Venue News: San Francisco Mayor Predicts 49ers’ Departure from City; Patriots Owner Proposes Casino

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee acknowledged that there’s very little time left on the clock to persuade the 49ers to stay in the city, and that Santa Clara is all but assured a win in the battle to claim the team after it announced last week it has secured $850 million to finance a new stadium. Santa Clara city officials last week announced that three banks — Goldman Sachs, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and U.S. Bank — have pledged a total of $850 million to pay for a new stadium, now projected to cost $1.02 billion. The city plans to open the stadium in 2015 if not before. Lee said the city’s only hope to keep the 49ers, which have played in San Francisco for 65 years, is if the NFL doesn’t approve the Santa Clara plan. The league has been promoting stadiums shared by two teams, and Lee believes the Oakland Raiders would be more likely to share a San Francisco stadium with the 49ers than a Santa Clara one…

…A proposal by Patriots owner Robert Kraft to lease 200 acres in Foxborough to Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn for a $1 billion casino would provide a lure to tens of thousands of fans, many fueled with alcohol after tailgating.  Addressing concerns that the casino’s proximity would corrupt players or tarnish the Patriots, sports analysts insist that that is unlikely as long as betting on sports remains illegal in Massachusetts. According to analysts, the proposed casino would be unlikely to make thrown games, point shaving, or other sham outcomes any more common than they are today. NFL rules ban teams from owning casinos, but they do not explicitly prohibit team owners from leasing land to casino operators, as Kraft has reportedly proposed…

…The city of Minneapolis is backing the Metrodome as its favored site for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and wants to use the nearby Minneapolis Armory to create an enhanced game-day experience for fans. Mayor R.T. Rybak said the presence of one (and eventually two) light-rail lines at the Metrodome and its lower costs compared to Arden Hills make the current home of the Vikings the best place for a new stadium. Proposals for sites at the farmers market and near the Basilica of St. Mary remain in the running, Rybak said, but will not have the city’s official support. Addressing the state senate, Rybak declared that the city is prepared with existing revenue streams to put $300 million on the table. However that revenue — from city liquor, sales, and lodging taxes — is now dedicated to the Minneapolis Convention Center and may not be sufficient in the early years of the stadium project. According to Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the Metrodome would cost roughly $200 million less than the Vikings’ preferred site in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills…

Pinnacle Bank will pay $11.25 million to put its name on the sports and entertainment complex in downtown Lincoln, NE, scheduled to open in 2013. The $11.25 million buys the naming rights for 25 years and also includes a center-court suite. Pinnacle Bank will pay an additional $20,000 per year if the arena is selected for state high school championships in basketball, volleyball, or wrestling. Pinnacle does not have exclusive rights to things like court logos, which is unusual for a naming-rights deal. The West Haymarket Joint Public Agency, made up of the city and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, broke ground this fall on the 15,000-seat, $179 million facility. In addition to hosting UNL basketball, concerts, and other entertainment, the arena will anchor a redevelopment of the historic Haymarket district that will include new roads, parking garages and neighboring hotels, restaurants, and shops. Naming rights fees, along with revenues from premium seating and advertising, will help pay down the project’s debt. Officials hoped to generate about $2 million per year through naming rights; the Pinnacle Bank deal equates to $450,000 per year.