Venue News: Toyota Center Unveils Massive Video Board to Mixed Reviews; Goodell Eyes New Stadium for Falcons

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Toyota Center’s new scoreboard system, which debuted during the Rockets’ home opener, is the latest electronic trendsetter in a town that has been setting scoreboard trends since the original Astrodome board in the mid-1960s. The big board, part of a $15 million arena upgrade leading up to the NBA All-Star Game in January, is basketball’s equivalent of the NFL-sized gargantuan board at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. That board stretches from 25-yard line to 25-yard line; the Toyota Center board is 56 feet by 25 feet — roughly free-throw line to free-throw line — with 25-foot-square boards facing each end line. Early reviews of the board’s impact from fans were mixed. While many were impressed with its size and clarity, others said its comfort level is best suited for fans on the club and suite levels, where the board is roughly at eye level…

…After speaking with fans, business and political leaders, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is optimistic that the Falcons will get a new retractable roof stadium to replace the Georgia Dome. He met with Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday morning to discuss the stadium issue. The NFL and the Falcons are interested in a public-private partnership that would help the Falcons generate additional revenues through a new stadium. Goodell said new stadiums built for the Cowboys and the New York Jets and Giants are state of the art and have essentially made the 20-year old Georgia Dome obsolete…

…Taxpayers in the U.S. spent about $10 billion more on stadiums and arenas for professional sports teams than they forecast, according to a new book by Harvard University urban planning professor Judith Grant Long. The costs of land, infrastructure, operations and lost property taxes add 25% to the taxpayer bill for the 121 sports facilities in use during 2010, increasing the average public cost by $89 million to $259 million, up from $170 million commonly reported by the sports industry and media. The highest-cost deals include Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium, where the National Football League’s Colts play; Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, home of the Bengals; and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park in baseball. In those cases, the public share of costs, once ongoing expenses are included, exceeds 100% of the building’s original price tag…

…The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are targeting major upgrades for 14-year-old Raymond James Stadium over the next two years, with a focus on food and retail. The Buccaneers’ plans include a two-story, 13,000-square-foot team store that would be one of the biggest in the NFL outside of Cowboys Stadium’s 18,000-square-foot Pro Shop. The proposed improvements would bolster the case for the Super Bowl to return to Tampa for the first time since 2009. The plans are outlined in a request-for-proposal that the NFL team issued in July…

…Two more members of Markham city council have provided voices of dissent for plans to build an NHL-ready arena in their suburb north of Toronto, bringing the total number of confirmed opponents to seven — which is enough to form a majority on council. Colin Campbell confirmed his opposition in a statement released Monday, after declining to offer his position last week. Fellow councilor Logan Kanapathi also confirmed he was not in favor of the proposal, which calls for the city to be involved financially. Under terms of the proposed financial framework, Markham would essentially take out a $325-million loan to fund construction of the arena, known for now as GTA Centre. The city would repay half of that total using a variety of sources — including a controversial levy placed on local developers — while a private group would cover the remaining half, of $162.5-million.