By R.V. Baugus
I don’t know why, but a feeling of sadness always comes over me when a venue is used for the last time before its tenant moves on. Such was the case when the Oakland Raiders played their last game at venerable RingCentral Coliseum (forever in my heart known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum) before the NFL team heads to Las Vegas in 2020.
Actually, the stadium is still home to the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball and hosts other events, but NFL football played before perhaps the most, um, rabid fans in the league is a thing of the past.
When I think of the Coliseum, I suspect that I like many of you veteran in the industry also think of our dear friend, Ray Ward, who served as the perfect maestro in directing the stadium for many years. One regret of mine is not sitting down with Ray to go over some of those stories he built in his memory bank from his days with the venue. Some of you are fortunate to know some of those stories; whether they are fit for print is another matter.
But I digress.
I think of some other NFL stadiums that used up their lifetime warranty, such as the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, which lost the Lions and for the most part sat idle for years before finally disappearing under a stick of dynamite. I think of Houston’s Astrodome, which amazingly still sits while for years the city has tried to decide what to do with the original “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
But the stadium in Oakland for some reason was dear to me, even as I grew up in Dallas. Maybe it is because the venue opened on my birth date of September 18, back in 1966. Maybe it is because I just really dug those green and gold uniforms that the A’s interchangeably wore back in the day. Maybe it is because I loved the Raiders’ black and silver uniforms before those even became cool colors to wear. I loved watching Daryle Lamonica fling footballs down the field to Fred Biletnikoff, who now has an award named after him that goes to college football’s top receiver.
I loved the team mottos of “Pride and Poise Boys” and “Commitment to Excellence.” And, of course, there was owner Al Davis and his “Just Win Baby” mantra all while wearing the most outlandish outfits this side of Elvis.
And all of this took place within the confines of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Who knows, the team left once for Los Angeles and returned in 1995. Will history ever repeat itself in some fashion, perhaps even another team’s relocation?
Meanwhile, the Raiders’ new home, Allegiant Stadium, will sprout up at a cost of $1.9 billion with every amenity a fan could want.
Back in Oakland, the stadium that served as the last to have both a football team and baseball team play on its grass (and dirt), will have a new future itself.
Alameda County is proceeding with a sale of its half-share of the Coliseum site to the Oakland A’s, as supervisors unanimously advanced the deal.
The agreement between that has been in the works would allow Alameda County to get out of the sports facilities business, while potentially giving the A’s more influence in mapping out the site’s future. As part of their ongoing effort to build a new ballpark at the waterfront Howard Terminal site, the A’s are proposing a large-scale redevelopment of the Coliseum complex, according to Ballpark Digest.
More exact parameters of that project could take shape over time, but the A’s have released a broad vision that includes tearing down RingCentral Coliseum and replacing it with a small sports park/amphitheater, retaining Oakland Arena as an event venue, and redeveloping the surrounding the land with mixed-use amenities.
All of that is ongoing and still to be worked out. For now, the last game was played on December 15, a 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
By R.V. Baugus
Talk about a way to raise money! It is not necessarily unusual for a venue to auction off unused or unneeded equipment, but U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota raised more than $45,000 recently in such an auction.
The venue, owned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, and home of the NFL Minnesota Vikings along with other major events, opened in 2016 and as recently as 2018 played host to a Super Bowl.
During this short life span, the stadium was saddled with some excess equipment, and what better way to produce some revenue than to invite the public to participate in an online auction.
The recent auction was a collector’s dream with items such as hot dog rollers, cocktail shakers, and champagne flutes. The Minnesota Star Tribune reported that 106 individual bidders went away with items. In all, some 540 lots of surplus stadium equipment was up for grabs that also included a pitching mound and numerous concessions and catering items.
The auction proceeds of $45,815.60 are being split with items sold from concession and catering-related items deposited into a concession capital reserve account while proceeds from other items go into a capital reserve account.
“The public auction resulted in a total value of $45,815.60. The proceeds from the sale of the concessions and catering-related auctioned items will be deposited into the concession capital reserve account. The proceeds from the sale of the other auctioned items will be deposited into the capital reserve account.
Grafe Auction Company, a professional auctioneer from Spring Valley, Minnesota, handled the auction.
By Sarah Maio
Wisconsin Center District (WCD) President and CEO Marty Brooks announced that the architecture team of tvsdesign and EUA has been selected to design the expansion of the Wisconsin Center.
“(Today’s) announcement is a critical milestone in this exciting and ambitious process,” Brooks said. “The expanded Wisconsin Center will be a facility providing superb, captivating, and buzzworthy experiences to all who enter. We will create jobs, generate economic impact, and capitalize on the momentum that Milwaukee is only starting to feel. It’s the beginning of a new legacy.”
Atlanta-based tvsdesign has most recently completed expansions for the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the largest convention center in North America, McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.
tvsdesign is partnered with Milwaukee-based firm EUA. EUA is best known for designing environments that elevate people’s potential. The 112-year old firm has been involved in many of Milwaukee’s landmark projects including Fiserv Forum, Miller Park, Milwaukee Intermodal Station, Discovery World addition, and dozens of projects on the Summerfest Grounds including the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. EUA is based in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.
“On behalf of EUA and tvsdesign, we are incredibly proud to have been selected,” said Rich Tennessen, President of EUA. “The combined expertise of our EUA staff with the world-class convention center team at tvsdesign is ready to design a convention center that draws people from around the world to experience our phenomenal city.”
Wisconsin Center District owns & operates the Wisconsin Center, UWM Panther Arena & Miller High Life Theatre.
Sarah Maio is vice president of marketing and communications for the Wisconsin Center District.
By CNY Central
The Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York, officially has a new name.
During a press conference on Friday, December 20, 2019, County Executive Ryan McMahon announced an 11-year sponsorship agreement that includes naming rights of the Upstate Medical University Arena at Onondaga County War Memorial. The sponsorship includes health programming and the continuation of Upstate’s sponsorship with the Syracuse Crunch.
Medical University has expanded its partnership with Onondaga County and the Syracuse Crunch to now have the Upstate Medical University Arena at the Onondaga County War Memorial.” He added, “As I have said repeatedly, the primary tenant of this building will always be our Veterans and I am also pleased that they have been consulted in this process and will also receive many benefits from this expanded partnership.”
The owner of Syracuse Crunch, Howard Dolgon said, “This is a great day for our community, our fans, and everyone who will enjoy any of the hundreds of future events at the Upstate Medical University Arena.”
According to County Executive McMahon, The agreement includes a foundation established by the Syracuse Crunch to support initiatives for veterans. The first-year cost for the naming rights portion of the agreement is $228,000.
The agreement also provides Upstate with year-round use of the venue as a site for health programming for the community and special interest groups, such as veterans and youth.
By Larry Solters, Sam Threadgill, and Erik Stein
Oak View Group (OVG), the global venue development, advisory, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries, announced respected venue management executive John Bolton, CVE, has joined the company as Senior Vice President of Entertainment and General Manager of the new arena at Agua Caliente in Palm Springs. Based in Palm Springs, Bolton assumes his new role effective immediately.
Reporting to Stephen Collins, Chief Operating Officer, OVG, Bolton will be part of the company’s senior leadership team and will support all OVG venues in driving entertainment and programming content. Bolton will assist in developing grand opening and entertainment plans for OVG’s eight new arena projects as well as working with OVG’s current venues under management.
“John brings decades of industry expertise, and throughout his career, has played an integral role in building world-class successful venues. We are very pleased to welcome him to our team,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “As General Manager, John will bring passion, energy, and vision to the arena in Palm Springs, and I look forward to his contributions in the years to come.”
As General Manager of the Palm Springs arena, Bolton will oversee the development and opening of Southern California’s newest arena. The Palm Springs arena will be home to the recently announced American Hockey League (AHL) expansion team, an owned-and-operated affiliate of the Seattle NHL team that also begins play during the 2021-22 NHL season. Groundbreaking and construction on the $250 million arena in downtown Palm Springs will begin in February 2020 with completion in the fall of 2021.
“Nothing could be more exciting to me than being part of OVG’s unprecedented number of new arena projects both nationally and internationally,” commented Bolton. “To have a role in developing the new arena in Palm Springs is a dream come true as I have always loved Palm Springs. I can’t wait to become involved in the community there and develop another unique and iconic arena,” added Bolton.
“We’re thrilled to have John playing a key role in our business development efforts as we aspire to partner with the best facilities around the world. John will also play a crucial role in our event and content innovation strategy, said Peter Luukko, Co-Chairman of OVG Facilities and Alliances.
“Bolton is a key ingredient to building a top-notch team for this world-class facility,” said Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe, of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. “We are excited about the energy this new arena will bring to the revitalization efforts in Downtown Palm Springs.”
Prior to his role with OVG, Bolton served as Vice President of Entertainment for ASM Global. As part of the corporate team at SMG Entertainment, Bolton worked with stadiums and arenas across the country to present over 32,000 live events annually. Bolton supervised a national network of regional marketing directors who were responsible for some 140 arena marketing professionals.
In addition to his previous role as General Manager for SMG in Tulsa, where he was entrusted to oversee the final phases of construction and grand opening of one of SMG’s premier arenas – Tulsa’s BOK Center, Bolton acted as Regional Vice President for SMG for its venues in Puerto Rico and the West Coast. Bolton was responsible for creating five new festivals and events in Tulsa that attract more than 200,000 people per year, and through his vision, this previously underserved market became a “must play” stop for national touring artists and family shows. His effort led to a nomination for Pollstar’s “Best New Major Concert Venue” and subsequent nominations for Pollstar’s “Arena of the Year” every year he was General Manager. Bolton and the BOK Center were awarded the prestigious IAVM (International Association of Venue Managers) Venue Excellence Award recognizing the Top Arena in the World.
Bolton earned “Venue Executive of the Year” recognition from the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) in 2011 and from Pollstar in 2012, as well the “Venue Excellence Award” from IAVM in 2011. He is also a three-time winner of Venues Today Hall of Headlines Award (2008, 2013, and 2015).
Bolton recently served as Chair of the Board of Directors (2013-14) for the IAVM. Bolton also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of IEBA as well as on the Board of Directors of the Country Music Association (CMA) located in Nashville.
In the past 24 months, OVG has announced the redevelopment and operations of the New Arena at Seattle Center as well as leading arena development projects in Belmont, NY, Austin, TX, and Milan, Italy. OVG is the largest developer of new arenas in the history of the industry.
Larry Solters, Sam Threadgill, and Erik Stein are with Scoop Marketing.