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Minnesota United video promoting the new stadium.

Continuing the development process of its future Major League Soccer (MLS) home, Minnesota United FC announced Populous as the lead architect for the new soccer stadium at the Snelling and I-94 site generally known as the Midway.

Nick Rogers, president of Minnesota United FC said:

We are very pleased to formalise our relationship with Populous, a global leader in stadium design.

We have been having conversations with Bruce Miller and his team over the past two years and have every confidence that they are the right group to help us realise our vision of a world-class soccer stadium in the Twin Cities.

The Kansas City-based sports architecture firm – recognised for its focus on environmentally sustainable projects – is a world leader in stadium design and event- based projects. Populous has created world-class soccer stadiums for top-tier clubs throughout the world, including Sporting KC (MLS), Olympique Lyonnais (FRA), Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), Arsenal (ENG), C.F. Monterrey (MEX), and the 2010 World Cup Final stadium in Johannesburg.

Populous was the lead architect on local several local stadium projects – including Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium – which have received national recognition for enhancing sporting events by creating environments that draw people and communities together. Some of their other impressive projects include Wimbledon’s Main Stadium, the stadiums for the 2000 Sydney and 2012 London Olympic Games, the new Yankee Stadium in New York City, and renovation projects for Texas A&M’s Kyle Field, Camden Yards in Baltimore, and Wembley Stadium in London.

Bruce Miller, Senior Principal at Populous and lead architect for Minnesota United’s new stadium said:

It’s an honour to have the opportunity to design another memorable sports experience for the Twin Cities. Major League Soccer has found a great home in St. Paul and our design team is excited about the opportunities to create a mixed-use entertainment destination that will thrive year-round.  The site’s central location, access to public transit and exposure on I-94 make it a model site for a Major League Soccer venue. As a building block in growing the Minnesota United brand, the stadium will become the heart and soul of soccer in the northern Midwest.

Populous is currently in the process of designing the new stadium for Orlando City SC (MLS).

Minnesota United was awarded an MLS franchise earlier this year in a highly competitive process that put Minneapolis – St. Paul ahead of other major markets in the United States. The club later announced its commitment to building a new, privately-financed soccer stadium at the Snelling-Midway site in St. Paul. The stadium is scheduled to be completed in early 2018.

Sporting KC has agreed a naming rights deal with Children's Mercy.

Sporting Kansas City has a new name for its home ground, and a new community partner for the next decade and beyond. The club has announced a long-term partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, a deal that grants the nationally-respected pediatric medical center exclusive naming rights to Sporting’s home stadium – now dubbed Children’s Mercy Park – and training center. The arrangement also promotes health and fitness among Kansas City-area school children and will provide specialised sports medicine to a youth athlete market that has experienced a substantial increase in sports-related injuries.

In addition, Children’s Mercy will become the official healthcare and sports medicine partner of the National Training Center, a joint project with US Soccer which will break ground in Kansas City, Kansas, in the spring of 2016. The facility will serve Sporting KC Academy players and offer a full range of sports medicine services, resources and programming for youth athletes from all types of sports, not just soccer.

Chris Wyche, the General Manager of Children’s Mercy Park will be speaking at the ESSMA Summit in Bilbao in January.

Cliff Illig, principal owner of Sporting KC along with fellow Cerner cofounder Neal Patterson, said:

Partnering with Children’s Mercy to impact youth health and fitness aligns perfectly with our mission at Sporting Kansas City. Neal and I have worked with health care organisations all over the world, and we have the deepest respect for the world-class vision, values, leadership and capabilities Children’s Mercy brings to pediatric clinical care, research and education in Kansas City.

Healthier kids lead to healthier communities, and we’re thrilled that the stadium will bear the Children’s Mercy name as we work together to prevent pediatric sports injuries.

The 10-year partnership, which will kick off with Sporting Kansas City’s 2016 training camp/preseason, focuses on three components: Improving access to pediatric-trained sports medicine; strengthening community; and protecting youth athletes and educating parents and coaches.

The arrangement will enhance Sporting Kansas City’s Victory Project, which helps area children – especially those with cancer – obtain the support and resources they need to survive and thrive. It will develop and promote Sporting Moves, a grassroots outreach program that educates and inspires elementary kids on the importance of physical activity in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

The partnership will develop soccer-specific curriculum for the Sporting Club Network, which includes approximately 200,000 players, parents, coaches, managers and administrators, including those with SKC’s academy. Also included: sports training, rehabilitation and conditioning programs for Sporting’s academy teams at Swope Soccer Village, the club’s official training facility that hosts year-round marquee youth tournaments and enjoys 525,000-plus visitors annually.

Randall O’Donnell, PhD, President and CEO of Children’s Mercy said:

It’s not every day that an opportunity like this comes along, to partner with an organization like Sporting Kansas City whose passion and commitment to improving the health of our region’s youth is beyond question. We’ve maintained that same commitment for 118 years and look forward to partnering with the Sporting Kansas City network to further our mission.

Beckham presses forward with Miami stadium project

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MIAMI (AP) – Two months have passed since David Beckham announced his plans to start a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in Miami. The plans, and Beckham, have been almost universally accepted by every sector of the city.

 

What his international fame has not been able to attract is agreement on where to put the stadium, as Beckham himself has commented:

Until a few weeks ago, it was very smooth. And nothing that wants to be – in my eyes, has to be – successful, was ever going to be that smooth.

 

Beckham and his team have set their sights on the Port of Miami, 520 acres (210 hectares) known as the ‘Cruise Ship Capital of the World’ and the ‘Cargo Gateway to the Americas’. Nearly every portion of the port has been developed, with one notable exception; the southwest corner with a spectacular Miami skyline view.

 

The plan’s chief opponent is the Miami Seaport Alliance, a coalition of business and political leaders including Royal Caribbean Cruises, one of the world’s largest cruise operators. Its offices are next to the proposed site. The alliance contends the stadium would threaten cruise and cargo operations, creating increased traffic and security risks – concerns Beckham’s partners insist are unfounded. The coalition also argues a stadium would ultimately endanger the 207,000 jobs the port supports, while creating less-lucrative positions like concession stand employees.

 

There is much at stake for the port. The county is spending more than US$2bn on capital improvements to make Miami a global logistics hub. The port is being deepened to accommodate the larger ships that will traverse the expanded Panama Canal, set to open in 2015. The port is about US$1bn in debt, making it one of the nation’s most indebted. Moody’s recently cut its credit rating.

 

One option mentioned to improve the port’s finances is the commercial development of the port’s southwest corner. The port’s master plan notes commercial real estate income generates revenue for other ports, but opponents say Beckham’s plan won’t provide that.

 

Norman Braman, a billionaire car dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner supporting the Miami Seaport Alliance – who unsuccessfully opposed the Miami Marlins baseball stadium but then led the successful 2011 recall of the county mayor who pushed it through without holding an election – said of the plans:

The port and tourism are the two engine drivers of Miami and the stadium and commercial development that’s been proposed just doesn’t belong there.

 

Beckham’s consultant, John Alschuler, a real estate adviser who has led waterfront development projects in New York City, Hong Kong, and other metropolises, said development of a stadium and other commercial property would likely generate US$6-$10m in annual revenue. He said fewer than 100 jobs would be created directly by the franchise, but thousands more would result indirectly at restaurants and nearby businesses. Alschuler also denied traffic congestion would worsen, noting fans wouldn’t arrive until around 6:30 p.m., hours after the cruise ships have sailed.

 

Alschuler said of the alliance’s claims:

It’s sheer, deliberate, willful misinformation.

 

South Florida’s last football team, the Miami Fusion, played 30 miles (50km) north of the port and lasted only three years until 2001 because of low attendance. That history, perhaps, led Beckham and associates to two conclusions; the stadium must be downtown, and the team must win.

 

Ultimately, the decision rests with the mayor and county commission. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has asked Beckham to consider an alternative site near the NBA Heat’s arena. But he said he could potentially support a Port of Miami stadium. Beckham, for his part, came back to Miami on Tuesday, holding private meetings with commissioners and weighing Gimenez’s suggested site.

 

Beckham commented:

We want to be a positive for people. This part of America has not had a soccer team for quite a few years, and they deserve one.

New York City FC to make debut at Yankee Stadium

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Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced that new franchise, New York City FC, will kick-off their debut 2015/16 season at Yankee Stadium, which is ‘home’ to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) New York Yankees, who co-own the MLS franchise with the English Premier League’s Manchester City FC.

Claudio Reyna, Sporting Director at New York City FC, said: “By having our home facility at Yankee Stadium, we feel even more confident that we’ll be able to attract top-level talent from around the world to our organisation. Top athletes want the opportunity to showcase their talents at the world’s most famous sports venues, and Yankee Stadium is just such a venue.”

The capacity of the stadium will be reduced to 33,444 for New York City FC’s matches; the venue’s 49,642-capacity for baseball being too large for MLS games. The size reduction will be achieved by the upper tiers being closed off.

Plans for a soccer-specific stadium are ongoing, although no time frame has been announced for a new stadium or for how long Yankee Stadium will be ‘home’ to the MLS side.

Manchester City FC will play Liverpool FC in a friendly at Yankee Stadium on July 30, 2014.

MLS confirms Atlanta as the home of its 22nd team

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Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed Atlanta in Georgia as the home of its 22nd team, which will be owned by The Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank.

The team will make its MLS debut in 2017 and will play at a new US$1.2bn retractable-roof stadium currently being built in downtown Atlanta. The 65,000-capacity venue will host the new franchise alongside its main tenants, the Atlanta Falcons NFL side, also owned by Blank, in a model similar to that seen in Seattle, with the Seahawks and Sounders, as well as in New England, with the Patriots and Revolution.

According to an MLS statement released on Wednesday, Blank and his associates first contacted the league about a potential franchise in Atlanta in 2008. The 71-year-old businessman and his group then visited six MLS stadiums and cities as part of their research, before agreeing to pay the reported US$70m expansion fee for the franchise.

MLS said the team’s name and logo, along with the coaching and administrative staff, will be announced at a later date, with fans set to be invited to suggest names for the team.

“We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team,” said MLS commissioner, Don Garber. “Atlanta is one of the largest and most diverse markets in North America, and has a rich tradition in sports and culture.

“With Arthur Blank joining our ownership group, we are adding one of the most respected owners in professional sports. Arthur is deeply passionate about soccer and our quest to become one of the top professional soccer leagues in the world. We look forward to working with him and the entire Falcons organisation on achieving this important goal.”

Though Atlanta is the ninth-biggest metropolitan area in the United States, it is also one of the most competitive markets in the country, with the NFL, NBA and MLB all already established in the city through the Falcons, Hawks and Braves respectively.

Atlanta also currently hosts the Atlanta Silverbacks, a second-tier North American Soccer League (NASL) team, founded in 1994 as the Atlanta Ruckus.

“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” said Blank, who co-founded The Home Depot in 1978 and has owned the Falcons since 2002.

“We are going to build a first-class organisation on and off the field that will be a source of pride for the entire community, and we believe our downtown stadium will become a destination for soccer fans throughout the Southeast for many years to come.”

The addition of the Atlanta franchise comes as part of a long-term plan to expand MLS to 24 teams by 2020. In the past year, MLS has confirmed that New York City FC, to be co-owned by the New York Yankees and Manchester City, and Orlando City SC will join the league in 2015. A further franchise in Miami, owned by soccer icon David Beckham, is expected to join Atlanta in debuting in 2017.

The new Atlanta stadium. Further images online at: http://newstadium.atlantafalcons.com/design-concepts-oct-25-2013/

The new US$1.2bn, 65,000-capacity, retractable-roof stadium is currently being built in downtown Atlanta. The venue will host the new MLS franchise alongside its main tenants, the Atlanta Falcons NFL side. Further images are available online at: http://newstadium.atlantafalcons.com/design-concepts-oct-25-2013/

Design unveiled for Stadium Port Miami

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Stadium-Port-Miami-by-Arquitectonica-sponsored-by-David-Beckham-03

David Beckham’s proposed Miami MLS team will be playing in a new, hi-tech, 25,000-capacity stadium located on the city’s exclusive waterfront if the group, of which he is the managing partner, behind the venture gets its way.

The renderings, produced by Miami-based architecural firm, Arquitectonica, also show a hotel, retail space, a tiered plaza, and a new public park built on an unused drawbridge. The group also wants to build a public plaza in the stadium’s shadow with shops, restaurants, a nightclub, and an outdoor venue for film/sports screenings and concerts, as well as a potential soccer museum.

Beckham said in a statement: “I asked my team to develop ideas for a stadium that embraces the best of the destination. Even though we are in the early stages of building the franchise, I believe we have a vision that not only Miami would be proud of, but one that will resonate around the world.”

The investors and advisors, who have pledged to privately fund the building of the stadium and its ancillary elements, hope to have the works completed in time for the 2018 MLS season.

Soccer-specific stadium looks likely in Orlando, Florida

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The Orlando Lions soccer team is one Orange County Commission vote away from having its own stadium suitable for Major League Soccer (MLS). The Orlando City Council approved the use of Tourist Development Tax funds for multiple venues, including $20 million towards the proposed downtown soccer stadium. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told Orlando Business Journal:

We are really a soccer community. There’s not a MLS franchise in the south east United States and we would be the first. With the stadium, the renovated Citrus Bowl and the Amway Center, we can host almost any event you can possibly think of. We are going to be the sports entertainment capital of the United States.

The Lions play in the Citrus Bowl in the USL Pro league and the new $84 million soccer-specific stadium would help them become a MLS team for 2015. The team would be a tenant, paying $30 million towards construction and an annual rental for 25 years.

Picture (courtesy of Populous): Amway Center, Orlando.