Venue News: Seattle Unveils Arena Proposal; Vikings To Call Metrodome Home For One More Year

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled yesterday what they described as a risk-free proposal to build a half-billion-dollar arena that could bring NBA basketball back to Seattle and attract its first NHL team. Both officials said the arena could be built just south of Safeco Field with $290 million provided by private investors and $200 million in taxes generated by the arena, but that construction would not begin until the investors, led by San Francisco hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, are able to secure both NBA and NHL teams. According to Constantine, the 18,000-seat arena in the Sodo neighborhood would have the third-highest private investment in a professional sports arena anywhere in the country…

…The Minnesota Vikings appear locked in to one more season at the Metrodome, with a team executive saying the club has no plans to file a notice of relocation with the National Football League ahead of this week’s deadline. Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said the team remains optimistic that state lawmakers will approve a plan for a new publicly subsidized stadium this year. With no apparent other market available, the Vikings had not been expected to file the notice. Yet some of their supporters had worried that a guarantee of another season in the Metrodome would wipe away any urgency lawmakers feel to head off a move. The team’s Metrodome lease expired after last season. Bagley declined to say whether the team would soon sign a one-year lease at the Dome for the 2012 season. He repeated the team’s position that it will not extend its lease without a new stadium agreement in place…

…The Mets and their fans must wait until opening day in April to get their first good look at the new outfield wall dimensions in Citi Field. However, a near replica of the park in Queens already exists at the team’s spring training complex in Florida. Field 6, which was initially constructed with fences that mimicked the original shape of Citi Field, was altered this winter to match the stadium’s new design. So far, it has been left unused by the players who came to Florida this week for voluntary workouts, and no one is expected to practice there before the team officially opens spring training next week. The original chain-link fence at Field 6 in Port St. Lucie, like the original wall in Citi Field, remains. But the grounds crew in Florida has erected new fencing, topped with orange plastic, to correspond with the home stadium in New York…

…This off-season, the Texas Rangers are spending about $12 million to renovate the Vandergriff Plaza in the Ranger Ballpark’s center field area with a Batter’s Eye Club, a two-story restaurant/sports bar, more concession stands, a new visiting bullpen, and an indoor area for kids. The project is 65% complete, and is expected to be finished by March 20, which is plenty of time before the Rangers host an exhibition game against the Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League on April 3. The Rangers open the 2012 season at home vs. the Chicago White Sox on April 6. The project’s biggest challenge was the short time frame. Work began on Oct. 31, only two full days after the World Series, and has continued with six- to seven-day work weeks by crews from Manhattan Construction. The process was helped by a mild winter.

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