Venue News: Vikings Plan New Stadium Groundbreaking for 2013; AT&T Upgrades DAS at Sun Life Stadium

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, SVG

Ground will be broken on the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium in downtown Minneapolis during the 2013 season, according to a press release sent out Wednesday by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. The Vikings and MSFA, who have been working together on the stadium project, said that while the project “remains on time and on budget” they have decided to push back the announcement of a construction manager to Feb. 1. The design of the stadium, which will sit on the same footprint as the Metrodome, will be unveiled in the spring. Because the new venue will take up far more ground than the Metrodome, the groundbreaking will occur behind the current stadium. The Vikings likely will spend the 2014 and 2015 seasons playing at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus before moving into their new home in 2016. HKS Sports & Entertainment already has been hired as the architectural firm for the stadium…

…AT&T has upgraded its network at Sun Life Stadium in time for college football bowl games. AT&T revamped its distributed antenna system at the Miami Gardens-based stadium by adding 4G LTE technology and additional antennas. The upgrades are expected to more than triple voice and data capacity, as well as help increase coverage and data speeds inside the venue. AT&T also attached antennas to the outside of the stadium to expand coverage and capacity in the parking lot, where thousands will tail gate before games. The improvements were made in time for Tuesday’s Discover Orange Bowl; the BCS National Championship was held at Sun Life Stadium last night…

…What does $130 million buy at Ralph Wilson Stadium? 

A new entrance plaza with a larger team store on Abbott Road. A stadium wired with fiber optics. Restrooms with live game sound. Updated suites, kitchens to prepare more food options, a second video scoreboard, an expanded concourse on the east end of the stadium, and more.  What it won’t buy is a major overhaul of the 40-year-old stadium. The Bills will put $25.3 million into new technology in the stadium, including a second high-definition video display board at a cost of $8.8 million and update the way data can be distributed throughout the stadium. The technology improvements matter to the team because the Bills ticket sales must contend with home viewing where fans can access a trove of statistics, game highlights and analysis while watching the game on a big-screen TV…

…Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s mid-year capital budget includes $7 million for improvements to Bridgestone Arena’s south entrance, a move that will spark larger changes at Fifth and Broadway. According to Nashville Predators’ COO and President Sean Henry, the city’s investment will be used to create a more dynamic entrance on the MCC-facing side of the arena. While plans aren’t yet finalized, Henry said arena patrons can expect a plaza similar — albeit smaller — than what is on the “front porch” of Bridgestone facing Broadway. The revamping of the entrance — which these days only handles “5% or 6%” of arena visitors — is needed, Henry said, because more foot traffic will be directed to the south side of the building once the convention center and its 1,800 parking spaces come online…

…It started out as a sports arena but has become Edmonton’s longest running soap opera. A cost-shared deal between the hockey-mad city and the Edmonton Oilers to build a palatial downtown rink for the NHL team went from deal to no-deal to possible deal in 2012, with all sides now agreeing a final resolution — one way or the other — must come early in 2013. It was a deal everyone thought was done in October 2011, but fell apart a year later when Oilers owner Daryl Katz demanded an extra $6 million a year from taxpayers along with a promise that the city ignore its own tendering rules and move its staff in as the anchor tenant in a proposed Katz office tower.