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  • Facility Faceoff

    Facility Faceoff

    Stadium Authority to spend up to $20 million keeping up the Jones Dome
    Christopher Tritto
    Sports facilities experts estimate it could cost between $5 million and $9 million to bring the Edward Jones Dome's video display boards, sound and communications systems, and playing field surface in line with other top NFL stadiums. That's on top of the $4.8 million spent this year on upgrades to luxury and club seating areas.

    Keeping up the Dome is part of the St. Louis Rams' lease with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC). The agreement requires the Dome rank among the top eight of 32 NFL stadiums by July 31, 2005. That has Rams and CVC officials looking at four initial areas for "first-tier" improvements: luxury suites, concourses and amenities; club seats, lounge and amenities; stadium and playing field lighting and sound communication systems; and the playing field. The Rams plan to present an additional list of upgrades in September, said Bob Wallace, Rams executive vice president and general counsel. Although Wallace declined to say what items might be on the list, he confirmed they would not have to be completed until July 2007 under a current proposal. The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority has budgeted about $20 million for first-tier improvements between 2003 and 2008.

    Since the Dome opened in 1995, 17 other NFL stadiums have been built or renovated, raising the bar among the league's best facilities. With negotiations under way on specific improvements to be made at the Dome, the Business Journal checked in with some of the NFL's best venues to see what's tops on and off the field.

    Have a seat

    Formica countertops and neutral colors are giving way to granite counters and wood paneling in the Dome's special seating areas. First-tier renovations to the Dome's luxury suites and club seating are under way and scheduled to be completed in time for the Rams' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears Aug. 12. About $4.8 million has been spent on those upgrades so far. Another $2.4 million in undefined improvements around concessions and other facilities in the concourses are budgeted for 2005.

    Improvements to the "fit and finish" areas were driven by rising standards at other NFL venues, said Kent Underwood, executive director of the Sports Complex Authority.

    Suites will have improved fixtures, refrigerators and ice makers, granite countertops, more wood finish, new carpet and slate floors. The pre-game dining area for spectators with club seating will include new bars, buffet lines, televisions, improved lighting and wood paneling.

    "All this (original) stuff was done before we had a football team," Underwood said. "We want to make it feel more attractive and incorporate more of a Rams theme through the finishes."

    Pumping up the volume

    More than $1 million was invested in the Dome's sound system in the late 1990s, so major upgrades might not be necessary to meet first-tier standards, Underwood said. Still, the beat around the country at NFL stadiums is getting louder and has better quality, according to sound experts.

    "The level of audio keeps getting one-upped for each facility that is built by getting louder or, more commonly, by getting higher-quality sound with wider bandwidth systems similar to what you find in a home or movie house or car," said Paul Chavez, director of systems applications for Harman Professional Systems. The Northridge, Calif.-based company has manufactured sound and speaker systems for several professional sports venues, including Ford Field in Detroit and Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Chavez estimates an upgraded sound system in the Dome would cost between $300,000 and $700,000 for the equipment alone. Installation could cost twice as much as the equipment, he said.

    Dave Stearns, an audio/visual consultant with Dallas-based Pelton Marsh Kinsella, works with various professional and collegiate sports venues, including the Denver Broncos' Invesco Field at Mile High. Indoor systems tend to be more expensive than those for open-air facilities, so sound improvements in the Dome could cost as much as $2.25 million, Stearns said.

    Turf battle?

    The Dome and the Indianapolis Colts' RCA Dome are the only two NFL stadiums that still use a traditional AstroTurf surface. All others use natural grass or modern synthetics with sand and rubber infills that provide better shock absorption, experts said.

    "If they go with artificial turf, this infill is the kind they go to," said David Staines, director of marketing for Sportexe, a maker of infilled artificial surfaces based in Fonthill, Ontario. "There isn't another synthetic turf that would be considered an option."

    At about $4 a square foot, an infilled 85,000-square-foot football field would cost about $340,000, Staines said.

    Dalton, Ga.-based FieldTurf -- which in recent years has installed artificial infilled turf for the Atlanta Falcons' Georgia Dome, Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium, Detroit Lions' Ford Field and several other NFL facilities -- charges about $4.50 a square foot, said Darren Gill, marketing manager. FieldTurf would cost about $380,000 at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The problem with infilled playing surfaces is that they cannot be rolled up and stored when the Dome floor would be used for NCAA games, conventions or other events. The current AstroTurf can be rolled up.

    The Rams won't say yet whether they want an infilled turf. Bruce Sommer, who runs the Dome for the CVC and is the CVC's chief negotiator with the Rams, said team owners cannot call for a change to the playing field if the modification would restrict the Dome's non-football versatility.

    It's possible an infilled playing field could be covered instead of rolled up, but that would bring additional costs. Van Buren, Ark.-based Rola-Trac North America manufactures a heavy-duty cover system that could be snapped into place on top of the field. A system large enough for the Dome would cost as much as $650,000, said Heidi Davis, Rola-Trac marketing director.

    Video dreams

    Although not part of the initial four areas for upgrades, the Dome's video display boards -- often referred to by the trademarked name Jumbotron -- scoreboards and sound systems are obvious areas for potential improvement, industry experts said.

    "At the Edward Jones Dome, the display boards are about 550 square feet, while boards at newer facilities are maybe three or four times that," said Chris Williams, managing principal at Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams Inc. The Dallas-based media systems consultant designed the sound, broadcast, scoreboard and video control systems for the Dome in 1991.

    Stadium and Rams officials have not determined what type of replacement display boards to buy, when to buy them or how large they should be. Larger boards could interfere with sightlines and require some modifications to seating, Underwood said.

    Williams, who has consulted with new and renovated NFL stadiums in Seattle, Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit and Houston, estimated a new large-screen display for the Dome would cost about $3.5 million.

    Others said the price tag could be higher. Daktronics Inc. manufactures scoreboards and light-emitting diode, or LED, display boards. The Brookings, S.D.-based company counts 23 NFL teams and facilities among its customers. It designed and built display boards for newly renovated Soldier Field in Chicago and this fall will manufacture a new 2,200-square-foot video board for the Jacksonville Jaguars' ALLTEL Stadium, which like the Dome opened in 1995.

    "The trend is bigger and brighter, with greater resolution and split screening," said Mark Steinkamp, Daktronics' marketing manager for large sports venues. Football stadiums in Tampa Bay, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and the future stadium of the Arizona Cardinals all incorporate high-definition, wide-screen technology, he said. Many are also adding fascia strips, long displays that run the length of the field or completely around the inside of the stadium.

    The Jacksonville upgrade will cost about $4 million while the Arizona Cardinals' stadium, set to open in 2006, will have a $6 million system, he said.

    "The Dome would have to move to a super-wide screen and add inside fascia strips along the sidelines to be among the top eight stadiums," Steinkamp said. "That's what it takes to keep up with the Joneses."

    [email protected]

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams' Dome-Rehab Plan Includes Sliding Roof
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams' dome-rehab plan includes sliding roof, rebuilt Broadway side

    BY MATTHEW HATHAWAY
    Monday, May 14, 2012

    The St. Louis Rams’ vision for the Edward Jones Dome includes a significant expansion and the addition of an "operable roof panel" that could be opened to allow more natural light during game days, according to a renovation plan the franchise sent to the public agency that operates the Dome.

    Although the plan attaches no dollar amount to the improvements, sources familiar with the plans say the cost could range from $500 million to $750 million. The latest crop of new National Football League stadiums have costs close to $1 billion or more.

    The roof would not be fully retractable, at least not in the way that most fans understand the term. Instead, an angled portion of the new roof would slide away to reveal more daylight.

    A more significant change would require the eastern half of the Dome be demolished and rebuilt over an expanded footprint that would include what is now a section of Broadway and a nearby plaza.

    The new east section would include much larger concourses, as well enhanced seating, lobbies and entrances. Two so called "party platforms" — located close to the end zones — would allow for additional, temporary seating.

    Many of those areas would be open to natural light as well, thanks to a glass curtain wall that would make up much of the Dome's new east facade.

    Critics of the Dome have complained that the facility is too dark and that it can be difficult to enter and exit. The Rams' plan would address both concerns. The roof panel and the curtain wall would bring more bring more light inside, and the newly built half of the Dome would include larger entrances at the northeast and southeast corners.

    In addition, there would be an entrance in the middle of the eastern facade. Currently, only members of the media and special-needs customers are allowed to enter on the east Broadway side.

    The plan also would reconfigure existing seating to allow more flexibility for non-football events, including NCAA basketball games and international soccer matches. (Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owns an English soccer team, the London-based Arsenal Football Club.)

    Stadium capacity would remain the same -- about 66,000 -- but the Dome would include spaces where additional, temporary seats could be installed.

    "The facility design should allow the seating bowl to be economically expanded to accommodate a Super Bowl event," according to the plan. "A minimum of 6,000 additional seats will be required to meet the NFL requirements."

    The April 30 plan was a closely guarded secret until this morning, when it was made public by the office of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. The plan is a counter...
    -05-14-2012, 02:52 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams' Vision For Dome Could Cost $700 Million
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams' vision for Dome could cost $700 million

    BY MATTHEW HATHAWAY
    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    ST. LOUIS • When the Rams' plan for upgrading the Edward Jones Dome finally went public Monday, the gap between the team's vision and that of the agency in charge of the building became clear.

    The Rams, not surprisingly, are calling for a more drastic — and expensive — renovation of the Dome than the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. A top aide to Mayor Francis Slay left no doubt how the plan would be received.

    For starters, the Rams' proposal would cost more than $700 million, compared to the CVC's $124 million proposal, said Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff. And the construction involved would cost some big downtown conventions, bleeding an additional $500 million from the local economy, he said.

    The Rams' vision for the Dome — a 38-page renovation plan marked "confidential" several times — became public after it was released by the office of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

    The plan is a counteroffer to the CVC's proposal earlier this year, which the Rams have rejected. The CVC plan proposed capping the public subsidy for renovations at $60 million, calling for the team to cover the rest.

    The Rams' plan doesn't include a price tag, and it doesn't say how much, if any, the franchise is willing to contribute.

    To come up with its own cost estimate, the CVC hired a construction firm, which landed on $700 million, according to Rainford.

    The Rams' plan also does not spell out how long construction would take or where the team would play while the building is renovated. A source told the Post-Dispatch the team believes it would only miss one football season at the Dome.

    The plan would maintain the Dome's regular-game capacity of about 66,000, but little else would stay the same. Highlights include:

    • Tearing down the eastern half of the Dome and extending the building's footprint across Broadway and over Baer Plaza. The new eastern side would feature a large glass wall, similar to the glass wall at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The new dimensions would allow for wider concourses throughout the building.

    • Adding a new roof that includes an "operable roof panel" that could slide open to bring more natural light in the Dome. The panel would be about the size of the playing field.

    • Reconfiguring much of the existing seating to allow more flexibility for nonfootball events, including NCAA basketball games and pro soccer matches. (Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owns the Denver-based Colorado Rapids soccer team and the London-based Arsenal Football Club.)

    • Adding two so-called "party platforms" to the end zones, which could be used for temporary seating for a Super Bowl or other events....
    -05-16-2012, 12:52 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams want new turf, more suites at Dome
    by RamWraith
    By R.B. Fallstrom
    Associated Press Sportswriter
    Friday, Oct. 01 2004

    At the end of this season Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce will have played on
    the lightning-fast artificial turf at the Edward Jones Dome for a decade, and
    he has the unsightly turf burns to prove it.

    "They're not permanent," Bruce said, displaying various spots of discoloration
    on his arms. "They'll go away."

    So will the carpet-over-concrete field that most players hate, and soon, if the
    Rams have their way.

    The initial lease the Rams signed with the city, St. Louis County and the state
    of Missouri as part of their move from the West Coast in 1995 contained a
    provision that called for the deal to be revisited every 10 years. Each decade,
    the dome must be judged to be in the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums in several
    components, topped perhaps by the number and condition of suites and club
    seats, or else the lease reverts to a year-to-year proposition.

    Now is that time.

    The Convention and Visitors Commission, the landlord of the building, and the
    stadium authority are in the process of completing $4-5 million in improvements
    to the dome's 120 suites, according to Bruce Sommer, director of the America's
    Center. That's not enough for the Rams, who want perhaps 60 more suites in
    addition to a new playing surface.

    There's virtually no danger of the Rams leveraging the terms of the lease for
    another move. Both sides report no animosity in discussions. The Rams say
    simply that they want the best facility possible.

    "I don't think anybody has that interest," Sommer said of a possible departure.
    "I don't believe they have an interest in leaving and we sure don't have an
    interest in them leaving."

    The Rams have become entrenched in what has long been described as a baseball
    town. Since they arrived, every regular-season game has been sold out.

    "This is not an escape clause," said Bob Wallace, the Rams' executive vice
    president and general counsel.

    What it is, Wallace said, is smart business.

    "It's not that you dictate terms," Wallace said. "One of the things everybody
    was trying to do, and it was clearly the intention of the Rams and I think of
    the negotiating parties of St. Louis, was they didn't want to build a beautiful
    building and then have it fall into disrepair."

    Wallace said Busch Stadium, the Cardinals' 38-year-old well-maintained stadium
    just across downtown, is an example of forward-thinking stadium management.
    Busch was among a number of so-called cookie-cutter facilities opened in the
    1960s, and...
    -10-02-2004, 06:51 AM
  • Rambos
    Arbitrators rule in favor of Rams in Dome negotiations
    by Rambos
    FROM STAFF REPORTS

    ST. LOUIS • The Rams have won a clear victory in the negotiations over the Edward Jones Dome.

    A panel of three arbitrators sided with the team today, saying the Rams' plan for a dramatic renovation of the Dome -- estimated to cost at least $700 million -- is the only way to make the building a "first tier" football facility.

    The Convention and Visitors Commission, which runs the Dome, now has 30 days to decide if it will try to enact the Rams' plan. But one of its lead attorneys, Greg Smith, said this afternoon that is "unlikely."

    If the CVC indeed rejects the plan, the Rams' lease at the Dome will go on a year-to-year basis starting in March 2015.

    The talks between local leaders and the Rams are then expected to shift away from the Dome -- and towards the idea of building a new stadium, on a new site.

    The three arbitrators, from the American Arbitration Association, were: retired Colorado judge Federico C. Alvarez, from Denver; former Iowa judge David Blair, from Sioux City; and labor attorney Sinclair Kossoff, from Chicago.

    They were brought in to decide whether the CVC's proposal, or that of the Rams, would propel the Dome into "first tier" status, or top 25 percent of NFL stadiums, in several different categories. The Rams' lease at the Dome mandates that the building be a "first tier" facility by 2015.

    The CVC had proposed a $124 million plan, with the team picking up about half of the tab. The Rams countered with a much more expansive renovation that city leaders estimated would cost at least $700 million.

    Smith said the arbitrators found the Dome to be lacking in several areas, including a small footprint, narrow aisles, poor light, and an upper-level overhang that would prevent good views for a modern center-hung scoreboard.

    "It would be premature to comment on what the next steps are," Smith said. "We obviously have to have time to hold conversations among community leaders."
    -02-01-2013, 04:42 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Have Two Months To Prepare Dome Plan
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams have two months to prepare Dome plan

    BY MATTHEW HATHAWAY
    Friday, March 2, 2012

    ST. LOUIS • After months of keeping quiet about renovations to the Edward Jones Dome, it's time for the St. Louis Rams to go on offense.

    The team has two months to present its vision for the Dome, facing a May 1 deadline to make a counteroffer after turning down a $124 million plan from the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

    The CVC, which manages the Dome, on Thursday announced that the Rams had rejected the CVC plan to make the Dome "first tier" in 15 categories detailed in the lease for the building. If the Rams and CVC can't strike a deal, the team could walk away from the lease and leave St. Louis as early as 2015.

    Rams officials would not comment for this story.

    The CVC said Thursday that it would not release the Rams' rejection letter.

    Jeff Rainford, chief of staff to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said the letter was read to him over the phone and that it did not include any specific criticisms of the CVC plan. But the rejection, he said, wasn't much of a surprise.

    "It was what I expected in both tone and substance," Rainford said. "They rejected (the plan) in a very professional manner."

    The CVC had proposed adding new windows, club seats, a video scoreboard and a three-story structure on Baer Plaza that would serve as an entrance for fans in club seats and suites. It wanted the Rams to cover $64 million of the cost. The CVC plan did not specify exactly where the remaining $60 million would come from but listed higher fees for parking and tickets as one possibility.

    Taken as a whole, the CVC plan lacked the grand scale of several recent NFL stadium rehabs, like the $375 million overhaul of Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium or the $250 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

    The CVC plan also called for the Rams to pay for 52 percent of the $124 million project. That's a bigger share than what was paid by NFL teams in recent, more expensive rehab projects in Kansas City, Chicago or New Orleans.

    The CVC has said its proposed public-private split was determined by averaging the percentage of private funding for both new construction and major renovations at NFL stadiums since 2005.

    So far, Rams officials haven't said whether they believe the team should pay for any "first tier" improvements, although that issue is expected to be addressed in the team's counteroffer.

    The Rams must submit that plan to the CVC by May 1, according to the lease.

    "We look forward to receiving it," the CVC said in a statement announcing the Rams' rejection of the plan.

    The CVC will have until June 1 to consider the Rams' plan. If the CVC rejects it, the two sides would negotiate...
    -03-02-2012, 02:01 PM
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