Venue News: Renderings for New Seattle Arena Released; Sun Life Stadium Renovations Clear Another Hurdle

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Chris Hansen, the Bay Area hedge fund manager who is leading the charge to bring NBA basketball back to Seattle, has been very tight-lipped about the process ever since striking a deal in January to purchase the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family. This week, he began his final push leading up to a presentation in front of the NBA’s Board of Governors on April 3rd — a date set by commissioner David Stern — before an April 18th final vote on whether or not to approve a sale to Hansen’s group. On Monday, Hansen announced he was opening a waiting list for potential ticket buyers — with former season ticket holders from 2008 getting first dibs — in order to gauge interest in tickets if a team were to return. A little more than twelve hours before Thursday’s 10 am signup, he strategically released interior plans for a Sonics arena that would rest just south of CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field someday…

…The Miami Dolphins’ push for a bill to help pay for stadium renovations sailed through another committee of the Florida Legislature on Thursday with the support of lawmakers hailing from Umatilla to Sebring. While legislators who live hundreds of miles from the Miami Gardens stadium have agreed to send state tax dollars to the Dolphins, Miami-Dade County’s delegation is lukewarm to the idea. The result: The only organized opposition to SB 306 is coming from the county that is requesting a special tax carve-out. An informal poll of 25 Miami-Dade County lawmakers (some have districts that extend beyond Miami-Dade) shows that the delegation is split over the Dolphins’ stadium, reflecting the political potency of the issue of sending taxpayer dollars to sports teams in South Florida. Uproar over the taxpayer-financed stadium for the Miami Marlins led to the recall of former Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez in 2011…

…The biggest stumbling block remaining between Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and the $1 billion retractable-roof stadium may not be approval of a plan for the public portion of funding. It could be working out deals with two churches near the site he covets. Mt. Vernon Baptist Church is in the middle of the favored stadium site, a chunk of land immediately south of the Georgia Dome. Friendship Baptist Church, where the late Mayor Maynard Jackson’s father once preached, is just across Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which would have to be rerouted through the church’s property to make way for the new Falcons nest. Both historic congregations now face the weighty decision on whether to sell out to make way for a new stadium – and if so for how much…

…MLS Commissioner Don Garber reiterated that the league isn’t focusing on the New York Cosmos or what the re-launched NASL club is doing. But he did say they’re making progress on their stadium push in Queens for a second New York team, and want to get the situation wrapped up soon. While the Cosmos chose to join the NASL this fall playing at Hofstra and pursue plans for their own stadium near Belmont, MLS is pushing forward with plans to build a stadium in Flushing Meadow Park – although there are significant hurdles to clear with regards to their desired 10-acre plot.