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VENUE NEWS: Newly Formed Midwest Entertainment Group Hopes to Book Target Center

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire)
Looking to become more competitive with the newer Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN, James M. Nederlander and Glen Taylor (Minnesota Timberwolves owner and head of the Taylor Partnership) have formed Midwest Entertainment Group, hoping to become the new operators of the city-owned Target Center in Minneapolis, which is currently managed by Clear Channel Entertainment. Nederlander Executive Vice President Dana Warg made the proposal to Minnesota Timberwolves President Rob Moor.

On March 23, a Minneapolis City Council panel gave the green light to a new operating agreement, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The City Council is expected to approve the new deal at its April 2 meeting.

City leaders are concerned that the 19,500-capacity arena has not hosted more shows since Clear Channel took over operations in 2000, the paper reported. It also stated that Clear Channel has booked major shows at the 18,000-capacity Xcel Energy Center in nearby St. Paul, taking revenue away from the Target Center.

"It's in the interests of the city as well as the interests of the team to see the building succeed as much as possible," Council President Paul Ostrow said.

Both Warg and Moor said an upcoming Jimmy Buffet show on May 20, booked by Warg, is only a taste of shows to come. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Amphitheater Near Swamp Now A Quagmire

FOLKSTON, FL (AP) — Plans to build a 27,000-seat outdoor amphitheater near Folkston are dead due to a lack of funding, according to a key organizer and local officials. "The project, as far as I’m concerned, is over," said Bob Freeman, executive vice president of what was announced as the Starlight Amphitheater in September 2000. He said he hasn’t been involved with the project for a year after determining that the multimillion-dollar venture wouldn’t be funded.

The amphitheater, which was touted as a likely venue for major touring acts to perform in the Jacksonville, Fla., market, was scheduled to hold its first concert in April 2001. Folkston is about 40 miles from Jacksonville.

Plans were delayed after developers moved the site from Georgia 121 near the Okefenokee Swamp, south of Folkston, to U.S. 1, east of Folkston and about two miles north of the Florida line. The cost climbed from $2.5 million to an estimated $12 million. The site since has been sold.

"Generally, it was a disappointment this has fallen through," said Charlton County Manager Steve Nance. Said Folkston City Councilman Marion Davis: "They just ripped the guts out of a lot of people. The deals were being made to make this work. This thing has been a tragedy to us." Davis said he’s still owed more than $250,000 for work done by his contracting business. When he called Joe Arnall, a former Florida legislator from Jacksonville Beach and president of Starlight, to request payment, Arnall was "evasive." Arnall then quit returning his calls, Davis said.

Arnall did not return telephone messages last week from The Florida Times-Union to his office in Tallahassee, where he is listed as a lobbyist. Folkston pharmacist Marion Wainright said he paid at least $30,000 for the rights to sell concessions. He plans to hire a lawyer to get his money back.

Freeman said the project was doomed because past allegations of wrongdoing against original investor Dennis Cerilli were not revealed until after money had been spent on the original 472-acre site near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Cerilli was ordered to pay nearly $700,000 to settle civil penalties brought against him for securities fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in April 2000. He was later sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution to the investors he allegedly defrauded.

Doug Vaught, former vice president of sponsorship sales for Starlight Amphitheater, said he hasn’t talked with anyone from Starlight in more than a year. "I’ve thought about it so much, I’m tired of thinking about it," Vaught said. "We hung onto a dream that never developed."

Global Entertainment To Develop And Manage Ohio Venue

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Global Entertainment Corporation will develop and manage a 5,500-seat multi-purpose facility in Youngstown, Ohio. Construction will begin shortly on the Youngstown Convocation Center. A grand opening is planned for fall 2005.

The venue will include 550 club seats as well as 26 luxury suites, and significant meeting space. Global Entertainment subsidiaries International Coliseums Company (ICC), Global Entertainment Marketing Systems (GEMS) and the Central Hockey League (CHL) will all play significant roles in the new facility. ICC will handle all project management of the venue, while GEMS will lead the corporate partnership and sales efforts. The completed facility will serve as home to a CHL expansion franchise.

"We are very pleased to complete finalization of an agreement that will spearhead the planned re-development of Youngstown's downtown area," said Rick Kozuback, president and CEO of Global Entertainment. "We are anxious to begin construction of an outstanding facility that will serve as the keystone of these efforts." –- Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Global Spectrum to Manage Arizona Cardinals New Stadium

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Global Spectrum, the fastest growing firm in the public assembly management field, and their partner International Facilities Group (IFG), were selected unanimously by the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority to manage all phases of the new 63,000-seat future stadium for the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ. From the project's initial development phase to complete facility operations, both companies will team up to facilitate the completion of the Arizona Cardinals new stadium in time for the team's 2006 National Football League season. The new stadium will also host Superbowl XLII in February 2008.

Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment firm Comcast-Spectacor, was selected as the top firm to handle the pre-opening and management of the stadium. Global Spectrum, who will open Citizens Bank Park, the new home of Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies this weekend, will also secure additional events for the Cardinals Stadium, including concerts, consumer and trade shows, soccer, motor sports, festivals and other unique events. At its other facilities, Global Spectrum has experience in hosting major events, including the 2000 Republican National Convention, NCAA Final Fours and Regionals, as well as All-Star Games for the National Basketball League and National Hockey League.

The Authority's evaluation team, headed by Board Member William H. Peltier, conducted extensive interviews, visited facilities throughout the United States and thoroughly researched all of the management companies bidding on the Cardinals Stadium. The result of the committee's exhaustive search was a recommendation to TSA Chairman John Benton that Global Spectrum is the ideal management company for the new stadium. Global Spectrum was selected as the management company by the TSA Board in a unanimous vote at their meeting on March 30.

IFG, a full-service company designed to provide the key strategic planning, project development and management services essential to the creation and operations of today's state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facilities, will oversee all pre-opening phases including, design, construction consulting, project coordination and operational start-up. IFG will also support Global Spectrum with operations and bookings, and serve as a key component of the executive committee.

"We will make this new facility our crown jewel and one that will be the pride of the entire State of Arizona, as well as one that will be envied throughout the NFL," said Global Spectrum Chairman Peter Luukko. "We are very excited to begin working with the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority, the Arizona Cardinals and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl as we begin to secure events and attractions for this beautiful new stadium."

"This is a significant day for everyone at Global Spectrum," added Global Spectrum President Michel Sauers. "Many of our senior management have worked in major stadiums throughout the world and we're very excited to align our company with the Cardinals Stadium as the premiere stadium on our facility roster."

"The Global Spectrum team demonstrated a shared vision for the use and marketability of the new Cardinals Stadium," said TSA President Ted Ferris "The demonstrated that they understand the uniqueness of the design and the flexibility of our facility for a wide range of events. We are excited for them to joins us on the project."

"IFG and Global Spectrum make a dynamic team, which will empower the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority to make their vision, creating the premier state-of-the-art sports stadium of its size, become reality," states IFG Managing Member Michael Reinsdorf. "We look forward to working with Global Spectrum and the TSA on this tremendous opportunity."

The Cardinals Stadium sits on 165 acres and is immediately adjacent to the new Glendale Arena, home of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League. Its critically acclaimed design by world-renowned architect Peter Eisenman, along with HOK Sport, will become a landmark facility for Arizona. The basic form of the design takes its cue from a barrel cactus and offers alternating vertical slots with smooth panels. In addition, the translucent "Bird-Air" fabric roof will allow the stadium to have an open, airy feel even when the roof is closed. The roof has two large retractable panels that will uncover the entire playing field while providing maximum shading for fans. The roof can be closed and the facility air conditioned in the hot months, while the roof can be opened to take advantage of the Valley's world-famous climate in cooler months.

The new stadium also features North America's first retractable playing surface, which will store the natural grass field in an outdoor setting to allow the stadium to host numerous concerts, consumer and trade shows, exhibitions, dirt shows and motor vehicle events. With the retractable field outside, the stadium will feature a 10,000-square-foot slab-on-grade concrete floor that incorporates a full utility grid. Construction of the stadium began in July of 2003 and will be completed in August of 2006. — Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Inspectors Certify Coors Field Escalators

DENVER (AP) The escalators at Coors Field are not quite ready for the Colorado Rockies' first home game next month.

All seven escalators at the ballpark will take fans up before and during games, but only five will take fans back to ground level this season, the team said Wednesday.

Rockies vice president of ballpark operations Kevin Kahn said officials were erring on the side of safety.

Last July, an escalator suddenly sped up after a post-game fireworks show, throwing fans into a pile. Dozens of people were injured, and some needed surgery.

Officials with the escalator company Kone Inc. blamed overcrowding and a misconnected wire that delayed how quickly safety brakes could be activated. City officials said the culprit was a missing safety switch.

After the accident, all escalators at the park were shut down.

Steel Work Halted At Iowa Events Center Site

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Steel work at the Iowa Events Center construction site was halted Wednesday when Havens Steel of Kansas City couldn't raise the money to pay employees.

Havens is "in some serious financial trouble," said the center's project manager, Mark Stevens. "From what I've heard, their old bank has filed some sort of injunction, and they are unable to make payments with their current bank."

Havens has a $15.5 million contract to provide structural steel work at the $218 million center's arena and exhibit hall, and precast seat decks for the arena. The company has finished two-thirds of its work at the exhibit hall. No work has begun at the arena.

The exhibit hall is scheduled to open this fall. It's unknown how long it will take for the steel work to resume.

Havens sent 40 employees home, Stevens said.

Stevens said the company could be suffering from the rising cost of steel. "The price of steel has skyrocketed in the past year or so," he said. "That's hurt them."

Polk County requires all of its contractors to have insurance to make sure that paychecks are cut and work is done no matter what happens.

Havens is insured through a subsidiary of St. Paul Cos. in Minnesota, county officials said.

St. Paul "has been helping (Havens) cover some of the bills," Stevens said. "Up until today, it appeared to us that Havens was going to pull through."

Polk County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Mauro said work could resume as quickly as this week or take up to 14 days.

"It's up to the bonding company to decide what direction it goes," Mauro said. "We don't have a lot of say."

The 85-year-old company is a contractor on projects across the country, according to the company's Web site, including such high-profile projects as Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., and the new Philadelphia Phillies ballpark.

World Hockey Team May Take Over Silverdome

(AP) — Redevelopment plans for the Silverdome have been narrowed to two of three proposals, and the stadium may house a World Hockey Association team until it is sold, officials said.

The Stadium Authority voted Tuesday to drop a proposal put forward by partners Danou Enterprises Inc. and Derek S. Albert of the Albert Group for a convention center with an aquarium. Remaining are the Silverdome business campus proposed by Etkin Equities and Kojaian and Pontiac Towne Center by Schostak Brothers Co. Inc. and General Development Co.

The authority also voted to allow events to continue to be booked at the 80,000-seat stadium through December 2005. The decision enables Silverdome executive director Eric Walker to continue talks with the WHA to place franchises in the dome, The Daily Oakland Press reported.

The authority has been charged by the city council with recommending a redevelopment plan for the stadium, which lost the Detroit Lions as a tenant when Ford Field opened in downtown Detroit in 2002.

The city council will conduct public hearings before approving a plan.

Gov. Bush Says He'll Back Marlins Stadium

TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday that he'd be open to helping the defending World Series champion Florida Marlins fund a new baseball stadium, although he shot down a similar effort three years ago.

But Senate President Jim King said he won't back any proposals offered during this year's legislative session to direct state dollars for a new ballpark.

Bush met with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and other team officials Wednesday, and told the team delegation that he'd try to help keep $60 million of the sales taxes generated by the ballpark — $2 million annually over a 30-year span.

"I told them that I would support the inclusion," Bush said.

He noted that Loria did not get the benefit of the $2 million annual break former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga received when he renovated the team's current home park, Pro Player Stadium — a facility Huizenga owns.

"The idea may be good," King said. "It's not timely. There isn't even a bill yet."

The Marlins are seeking a 38,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof, which carries an estimated minimum price tag of $325 million. The team has played at Pro Player Stadium since 1993 and wants a new ballpark built by 2007.

Bush scuttled a previous proposal by the Marlins to use cruise taxes to help finance a new ballpark, saying it would have required too much money from the state.

The Marlins are also asking to borrow a rebate slated for the NBA's Orlando Magic. The team hasn't begun work on a new arena yet and the theory would be the state would then grant the Magic its rebate later.

Marlins officials were not immediately available to comment Thursday.

"It needs to be fleshed out," King said. "I would not feel comfortable … if Wayne Huizenga was going to be paid more millions of dollars for a baseball team he no longer owns or has any interest in while the same basic baseball team was petitioning for another $60 million presumably for the same purpose."

The state has forgiven more than $85 million in sales tax to more than a dozen stadiums since 1993 to attract or keep professional teams in Florida.

"You have to balance it against the fact, what if you lose the Marlins?" King asked. "Are the Marlins worth double-dipping?"

New Hard Rock Cafe Set For Louisville In June

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Hard Rock Cafe will be adding a new location in Louisville, KY. The 8,500 square foot cafe will be located in the heart of Louisville's nightlife on 4th Street between Liberty Street and Muhammad Ali Blvd. Scheduled to open in June, Hard Rock Cafe Louisville is the first Hard Rock Cafe in Kentucky.

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of rock 'n' roll and during this historic year, we are thrilled to be announcing the Hard Rock Louisville," said David Catalano, chief operating officer, Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. "As we continue to expand the Hard Rock Cafe brand, we will look for new, exciting locations, such as Louisville, that will offer great nightlife, terrific food and live entertainment. From Kentucky natives, Nick Lachey and Brian Littrell to Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, the area is rich with rock, pop, country and blues music history." — Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen