Venue News: Seattle Arena Deal Approved; World Baseball Classic Sets International Venues

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

On Monday, the Seattle City Council approved Chris Hansen’s plan to bring a new arena to the Seattle area. Six of the eight City Council members voted to approve the hedge fund manager’s plan for the $490 million downtown arena. The hope is that this arena will be the first step in bringing professional basketball back to the city of Seattle. A key sticking point in the deal was that it required $200 million in public financing. That point was met with initial skepticism but Hansen personally guaranteed the city’s debt with arena-related taxes. In addition, he also agreed to provide more money for transportation improvements, $7 million for KeyArena, and to potentially buy back the arena for $200 million at the end of the 30-year agreement. This agreement comes amid the speculation that the Sacramento Kings ownership is exploring the possibility of moving their franchise…

…As the Major League Baseball season starts to head toward the playoffs, another sort of baseball playoff schedule is starting to emerge as the World Baseball Classic has finished its first round of qualifiers and has set its international sites. While little of the action will be this year, it is obvious that competitive baseball will be starting earlier than usual next season. That is not to discount the last two qualifiers still to be played this year to fill the last two spots open for teams…

…The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will name the architectural firm that will design the new Vikings stadium tomorrow. The authority is working with the Vikings to oversee construction of the $975 million football stadium. The Star Tribune reports it has scheduled a special meeting for 8 a.m. Friday to announce the decision. Five national firms are competing to design the new stadium, which will replace the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis: HKS Inc. of Dallas, Ewing Cole of Philadelphia, HNTB Corp. of Kansas City, MO, AECOM of Los Angeles, and Populous of Kansas City. The job is expected to earn winning firm as much as $50 million…

…Citing serious concerns, a group of high-profile architects advising Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the downtown football stadium is recommending a redesign of the Los Angeles Convention Center hall that is part of the project. Several members of the “Vision Team,” a group of eight architects assembled by Villaraigosa to consult on the project, believe the plan has major flaws, including having visitors enter the new hall through a dark, unsafe space created by stretching the building over Pico Boulevard. They believe this will so negatively impact Pico Boulevard and the Pico-Union neighborhood that an overhaul is required. The new hall of the convention center has been AEG’s selling point to city officials skeptical of the $1.5 billion football stadium plan. Long derided as a “white elephant,” the convention center was built in 1971 and expanded in 1993.