Venue News: NFL’s Falcons Break Ground on New Stadium; University of Phoenix Stadium Plans Upgrades Ahead of Super Bowl XLIX

The Atlanta Falcons have officially broke ground on their new Atlanta stadium, which is set to open in 2017, writes Stadia magazine. The new $1.2 billion multi-purpose stadium aims to be a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex designed to attract world-class sports, civic, cultural, and commercial events and serve as a landmark for the city of Atlanta. The 1,800,000 sq. ft. stadium, designed by 360 Architecture, will accommodate seating for 71,000 and will feature a first-of-its-kind retractable roof configuration and an open-air concourse. The technologically advanced facility will showcase other unique elements including a 60ft high, 360-degree video board, a floor-to-ceiling window with views of the downtown Atlanta landscape, and exterior accent lighting reflecting the event color scheme. The new stadium will also incorporate the latest in sustainable and LEED advancements in design, construction and operations…

…Another Super Bowl, a future college football championship game and the Valley’s first Final Four are only three of the big events the folks who run University of Phoenix Stadium hope to attract with millions of dollars in upgrades this off-season, writes azcentral.com. There is at least one more: getting you to put down the remote, get off the recliner, and go to an event. That’s one reason there will be new video boards at each end of the stadium, triple the size of the originals, by the time the 2014 football season starts. The WiFi in the stadium also is being upgraded, with the idea being that those wanting to use smartphones and tablets can actually get a strong signal. It’s not cheap. The video boards are $10.8 million, with the Cardinals fronting that cost. The team will also cover the entire $8 million cost of upgrading the wireless system…

…Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Miami Dolphins are close to a deal under which the NFL team would finance a $400 million upgrade to Sun Life Stadium and the county would pay the franchise a fee for bringing in major sporting events like the Super Bowl, according to the Miami Herald. Gimenez, who huddled with team officials for several hours Friday, was expected to work on nailing down the agreement over the weekend. He said in a statement issued Friday evening that he would announce details as soon as they’re finalized. The agreement would cap a multi-year campaign by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for public assistance in renovating his 27-year-old stadium, something he has argued is essential in order to attract future Super Bowl contests. The long-contemplated overhaul includes installation of new seats, new video screens, lighting and sound systems, and an open canopy to shield fans from sun and rain…

…After a public dust-up six weeks ago, the A’s and their landlords at O.co Coliseum are nearing agreement on a 10-year lease extension for the team to stay in Oakland, according to San Jose Mercury News. The joint Oakland-Alameda County board that oversees the Coliseum complex held a special closed door meeting Friday morning to review recent lease negotiations with the team, said Oakland Councilman Larry Reid, who also sits on the Coliseum board. A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said Thursday that a lease extension could be inked within two weeks…

…As Tokyo prepares to demolish the half-century old stadium that hosted the first Olympics in Asia, debate is raging over whether the colossal, futuristic replacement planned for the 2020 Games will help revitalize or indelibly mar Japan’s famous capital, writes the Associated Press. Tokyo, the frenetic center of a mega-metropolitan area of 36 million people, is planning an ambitious reboot on a par with its last big reincarnation, for the Olympics in 1964. Those games were the catalyst for a far-reaching makeover of Tokyo and marked Japan’s reemergence as an Asian power following its defeat in World War II. Today, Japan faces altered circumstances…

…West Coast vs. East Coast. Los Angeles vs. New York City. Staples Center vs. Madison Square Garden. The Kings and Rangers aren’t the only two entities going head-to-head in the Stanley Cup Final, as each team’s arena — two of the most used sports/entertainment venues in the world — hope to host the championship trophy celebration. Madison Square Garden is arguably the most recognizable name (after all, it bills itself as “the World’s Most Famous Arena”) and it now boasts a recent $1 billion renovation. Staples, meanwhile, is  one of the busiest arenas in the nation hosting two NBA teams and the NHL’s Kings as part of its 250 events per year. Sports Illustrated takes a deeper look at the two venues hosting the Stanley Cup Final.