Venue News: MLB Pushes to Keep A’s in Oakland; Athens Olympics Venues Largely Abandoned

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s blue-ribbon committee snuck into Oakland this week for a top secret meeting with East Bay officials and boosters at a downtown law office to discuss a new plan for an A’s waterfront ballpark. This is the same committee that has been meeting for three years, and has yet to make a recommendation on the A’s proposed move to San Jose. For months, Mayor Jean Quan and company have been publicly touting the idea of building the new ballpark next to the Oakland Coliseum as part of a huge sports, housing, and retail complex. But this meeting focused on a waterfront ballpark, most likely at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. The idea would be for the cash-strapped port to sell the land for a badly needed $40 million…

…Eight years after the 2004 Athens Games, many of the Olympic venues Greece built at great expense remain abandoned or rarely used. They are the focus of great public anger as the country struggles through a fifth year of recession and nearly three years of a debt crisis that has seen a surge in poverty and unemployment. Some venues have fared OK. The badminton hall has been converted into a popular theater venue, the former international Olympic broadcast center is a shopping mall and what was the main press center now houses ministry offices. The main Athens Olympics complex is now mostly open to the public and its sporting venues are used by local teams or to host national championships…

…Change is coming to Dodger Stadium, and sooner than most may have imagined. The Dodgers hired someone with vast experience in stadium renovation on Monday, and team president Stan Kasten said much of the initial work could be completed prior to the 2013 home opener. Janet Marie Smith, who has overseen the development of Atlanta’s Turner Field, Baltimore’s Camden Yards, and the renovation of Boston’s Fenway Park, was hired by the Dodgers Monday for the newly created position of vice president of planning and development. Kasten said Smith liked the “retro, ’50s feel” of Dodger Stadium and changes would be incorporated into its current design, much as was accomplished at Fenway. One of the first stadium areas of improvement won’t necessarily be noticeable. Kasten said bids are already being taken for infrastructure improvements for power, water, and data systems, and it was hoped that work could be completed during the offseason…

…After years of discussion, Air Force is hoping that designs to renovate Falcon Stadium start to become reality after the 2012 football season. Athletic director Hans Mueh outlined plans for a potential $20 million renovation of the football stadium. Improvements to the stadium have been discussed in general terms by the athletic department publicly the last few years, but Mueh revealed some of the details and added that he hopes construction can begin in a few months. The Falcons will need to raise funds for the improvements, and Mueh stressed that the project hasn’t been finalized.