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New Canadian stadiums

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Can you actually grow grass inside the Rogers Centre?
cbc.ca April 01, 2016

This weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays will begin another season's quest to reach the World Series.

But for several years, they've also been on another quest: trying to figure out how to get rid of the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre and replace it with real grass.

Currently, there is only one other stadium in Major League Baseball that has artificial turf: Tropicana Field in Tampa, where the Jays will start their season on Sunday.

The Jays have taken the first step towards transforming their stadium. It now features an all-dirt infield, which players say makes balls bounce more predictably.

But real grass remains the holy grail.

Eric Lyons, an associate professor of turf grass science at the University of Guelph has been commissioned by the Blue Jays to study whether it's possible to grow real grass at the stadium.

Lyons says the biggest issue when it comes to growing real grass at the Rogers Centre is humidity. "It can be a dealbreaker. We don't know how much humidity these grasses will create in the giant stadium," he tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury.

Then there's the issue of natural light. "If they could open the roof up, it's actually a very good stadium for growing grass," he says, noting that the amount of sunshine it gets -- with the roof open -- is ideal. So is airflow, he adds.

"But when the roof is closed, these things are no longer provided. They're going to be at 100 per cent artificial light. And there isn't a stadium in the world that's working in that way," Lyons says.

Working in labs funded by the Canadian and European space agencies -- with the ultimate goal of growing plants extra-terrestrially, Lyons is excited about working on the project. He got interested in the subject while playing college football on artificial turf in a domed stadium (UNI-Dome University of Northern Iowa).

Asked directly whether there will ever be real grass at the Rogers Centre, he's circumspect.

"I don't know. It's not about the grass. It's about the building. We have the technology, it's just never been engineered because there's never been a stadium that needed it."

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CalgaryNext proposal torpedoed by city report that pegs total cost at $1.8B
Actual price tag would be twice what Calgary Flames owners claimed last summer, city staff say
Robson Fletcher, CBC News Apr 20, 2016

The actual cost of the CalgaryNext arena-and-stadium project would likely reach $1.8 billion, with Calgary taxpayers on the hook for at least $1.2 billion, according to a new city report that effectively scuttles the proposal as it stands.

That's double the $890-million total price tag put forward last August, when the Calgary Flames and Calgary Stampeders ownership group first revealed their proposal to build a new professional sports complex on the west end of downtown.

Given those costs, the report recommends looking at alternatives for replacing the aging Saddledome and McMahon Stadium, in conjunction with the Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders and the city-owned Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

"Administration has come to the conclusion that CalgaryNext is not feasible in its present form or location," the report reads.

The best alternative, according to the report, is to build a new arena at Stampede Park and a new football stadium and field house at the existing McMahon Stadium/Foothills Stadium site at the University of Calgary.

Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation — which owns the Flames and Stampeders in addition to the Calgary Hitmen junior hockey team and Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team — said last summer it was willing to put up $200 million of its own money for the $890-million project.

The company proposed finding the other $690 million through a $250-million ticket tax, a $240-million community revitalization levy (CRL), and $200 million direct from city taxpayers, in exchange for public use of a field house that would be included as part of the stadium component of the facility.

But the city report concludes the actual cost — including financing, related infrastructure and creosote clean-up of the contaminated land on the identified site — would be much higher.

Of the $1.8-billion total, the report estimates the total city contribution would be between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

The estimate of the city's share includes direct contributions, the cost of the creosote cleanup, and the CRL, which is a sort of loan to be paid back by anticipated growth in property-tax revenues resulting from the project and related development.

The report cost the city $375,000 to do, not including the price of an environmental study the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation carried out to examine the creosote contamination, specifically.

City council is set to discuss the report at its meeting on Monday.

Time for an 'Option B'

Coun. Andre Chabot said the city needs to start looking for an "option B" because he sees no way the current CalgaryNext proposal can work.

"We might want to consider looking at a second option, which might be something of a scaled-back version of what was envisioned," he said.

"I don't think taxpayers are prepared to foot the bill on for-profit organizations," Chabot added.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, highlighting the "significant challenges" identified in the report.

"I know many Calgarians are looking for a better arena space, but this is just one option," the mayor said of the CalgaryNext proposal.

"I've always said: public money must be used for public benefit and council will have a robust discussion about this on Monday," Nenshi added.

"City administration has also identified a potential alternative for council's consideration that may accomplish the same objectives, but at a lower cost."

Start of a conversation

Coun. Druh Farrell said the report validates the concerns she has had all along.

"The vast majority of it would be covered by Calgarians and we've got other priorities," Farrell said.

"I think it's just the start of a conversation."

She said in the current economic environment, public funding would be a tough sell to taxpayers.

"The principle of public dollars going to public benefit of course is a fundamental one so they will have to look at sharpening their pencil," Farrell said.

"I can't imagine, especially during this economy, that Calgarians would welcome paying for an arena for a private organization, a for-profit organization, so there are other mechanisms to pay for this, I hope they explore them."

Executive Summary of City of Calgary's report on CalgaryNext

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I was wondering why they were digging that hole at TD Place, now we know

West End Zone Club
TD Place Ottawa

The West End Zone Experience

Picture yourself with your buddies at a stand-up bar in the west end zone at TD Place watching the REDBLACKS defend their Eastern Conference Championship. Get your game-face on. It’s happening. The West End Zone Experience is now under construction.

Located only 10-feet from the end line, the End Zone Experience features a private bar, high-top tables and a casual lumberjack décor. It’s our new party zone for groups of all sizes and it could be YOUR new party zone too.

2hyv5p4.jpg

F.A.Q.’s

Why are you removing the grassy area at the west end of the stadium?

To create a new gathering space for large groups fans where they can be together and have a great view of the game.

Why couldn’t you just leave the area alone and let people sit on the grass?

The grassy hill was too steep for safe seating.  By removing it, we’ll have room for another 150 or more fans in a great new club environment.

Is that was this is about?  Another high-priced club area?

Not at all.  It’ll be an affordable club area for large groups of fans.

What’s the price point?

To be determined.  We haven’t finalized it just yet.

What will this new club area look like?

We’ll have renderings for you in the coming weeks.  We can say it’ll be almost the entire width of the field, accessible to all and it’ll have its own bar/refreshment area.  It’s going to be a great place to watch the game with a large group of friends.

When will large groups be able to reserve seats in the new club?

We need a final design to confirm the exact number of available seats but anyone looking for a large group experience is encouraged to email us at fan@OttawaREDBLACKS.com and we’ll make sure their name is on  the waiting list.

Is the area only for large groups?  What if season ticket holders want to relocate to the new end zone club?

Then we’ll do our best to accommodate them.  Season ticket holders simply need to talk to their team representative and he or she will look after them.

What happens to the grass and soil that’s removed?  Wasn’t that contaminated soil from way back when Lansdowne was an industrial site?

Not at all. The soil that formed that west berm area was clean.  It’ll be used in another project somewhere else in the region.

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City council asks Flames, Stamps to consider other stadium locations
TSN/The Canadian Press April 25/2016

CALGARY - The City of Calgary batted the ball back to the Calgary Flames in asking the NHL team to consider other locations and options for a new arena and football stadium.

Council has invited Calgary Flames Sports and Entertainment, who also own the CFL's Stampeders, to respond to a city manager's report stating the proposed location on the west side of downtown was too much money.

Without completely slamming the door shut on constructing a 20,000-seat arena, a 30,000-seat football stadium and fieldhouse all in the yet-to-be-developed West Village, the Flames were asked to work with the city and Calgary Stampede in investigating an arena build at the Stampede Park, as well as a renovation of McMahon Stadium.

"It really is not just punting the ball further down the field, but really trying to keep options open to see if there's anything possible there if the CalgaryNext proposal in the West Village proves completely unfeasible," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

"The report did say it was not feasible in its current forms. The question is do you make it feasible or do you have to think of something else?"

An alternative location for the multi-purpose fieldhouse was also debated.

The initial estimate of the proposed CalgaryNext project was $890 million when announced last August.

But a city report released late week pegged the bill at $1.8 billion — with taxpayers bearing as much as $1.3 billion — when costs of land, municipal infrastructure, environmental remediation and financing are incorporated.

The Flames have offered $200 million of their money for the project and proposed a $250-million loan be repaid through a ticket surcharge.

Calgary Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King felt encouraged after council's debate Monday because the West Village option wasn't off the table. The door was still open to address council's concerns with it, he said.

"I'm thrilled, frankly," King said. "We now know specifically and precisely some of the issues they're concerned about so we can hone in on those and deal with them on a direct basis.

"We've always known the contentious issues, but I think this was a level of clarity that came out of this report, which is something to focus on."

While the West Village was clearly still the Flames' preferred option, King said they were open to exploring a Plan B of the arena at Stampede Park and a McMahon reno.

"We will see how palatable that is," King said. "We were asked to contemplate that when we were briefed on this report. We would be somewhat hypocritical not to keep an open mind about that."

The Flames will be invited to a city strategic planning meeting in June to give their response.

The Scotiabank Saddledome, built on the Stampede grounds in 1983, will be the oldest NHL arena next season. McMahon Stadium was built in 1960.

One of the major costs of the CalgaryNext project is decontaminating the proposed site south of the Bow River, which was once a creosote wood-treatment plant.

The report said a quick remediation of three years would cost $140 million, while a slower pace of five years dropped the cost considerably to $85 million. But add construction to the latter option and it could take up to a decade to complete the project.

"Yes it's cheaper than we thought to do the cleanup, but it's going to take a lot of years, on the outside even 10 years," Nenshi said. "You can't start building anything subsurface until that's done.

"I think what council said today is to look around Stampede Park and see if there's anything there and I think that's something well-worth doing."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman urged the city to get moving on a new arena during a stop in Calgary in January, saying the city could fall out of consideration for hosting major hockey events like the draft and the all-star game.

"The longer it takes, the harder the task becomes," Bettman said. "CalgaryNext needs to happen and as part of the broader project, the Flames need a new arena."

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27 minutes ago, Macksam said:

This particular stadium project is dead though right?

Just like every other stadium proposal, to be negotiated.  Give and take and there are other options.  I'm sure if the CalgaryNEXT group came up with a better cash proposal, you'd see this being talked about again.  Nothing is ever dead in this type of deal.

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BMO Field ready for Toronto FC home opener with new canopy, lights and sound system
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press 05/3/2016

TORONTO - Thanks to the co-operation of Mother Nature and a lot of hard labour, BMO Field will be open for business as planned Saturday.

A new canopy, sound and lighting system, the final parts of a $150-million two-year renovation, will greet a sellout crowd of 30,000 at Toronto FC's long-awaited home opener against FC Dallas.

Stage 1, which took place after the 2014 MLS season, saw a 8,400-seat second tier as well additional washrooms and concessions added to the east stand. A new video board was installed while the east and west stands were linked by a concourse above the south stand. Luxury dining/drinking options were also added.

Stage 2 was more heavy lifting. Big cranes, heavy roof panels. Lots of steel and tractor-trailers.

"The complexity of the job was much more heavy construction than it was finishing-type construction," said Bob Hunter, chief project development officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

A mild winter has meant the project is finishing on schedule, save the final touches to a second elevator in the west stand. But Hunter says that too is nearing completion.

More work is needed on the Argonauts' dressing room but Hunter says it will be done ahead of the CFL team's opening pre-season game June 11.

Hunter says recent rain slowed installation of the artificial turf in the endzones because drier conditions are needed to lay the surface immediately below the turf. The new grass field is down, however, and being regularly fed by giant growlights.

The stadium lights have been tested in the evening. Toronto FC will likely practise at BMO on Thursday evening to get accustomed to them.

While the new canopy, lights and sound will no doubt enhance the stadium experience, Hunter says TFC fans will see a lot of familiar sights. One change will come in the north end which will be more festive thanks to some 500 fans willing to watch the game standing in a patio zone.

There will be movable rows of seats at both ends to cover the CFL endzones.

It's worth noting that MLSE calls the cover atop the east, west and south stands a canopy rather than a roof. And because of structural demands, there are gaps between the canopy and the top of the stands. Just how much cover the canopy will provide will likely hinge on the nature of the rain and wind and where you are seated.

There is a 40 per cent chance of precipitation Saturday so fans will likely soon find out what it all means.

"Each experience, as we go through it, will define to people what they should and shouldn't be expecting," said Hunter.

Still any cover will be welcome at the lakefront stadium.

As at last season's home opener, Saturday's crowd will include the PCL workers who rebuilt the stadium.

BMO Field, whose construction was linked to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup and getting an MLS expansion team, was originally built on a shoestring budget of $62.9 million.

Capacity will be just under 27,000 for the Argonauts, whose regular-season home opener is June 23. BMO Field should be able to accommodate 35,000 to 38,000 for the Grey Cup and Winter Classic with the addition of temporary stands.

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The new BMO Field culmination of Tim Leiweke's dream
Toronto FC opens its home slate on Saturday vs. FC Dallas
Kurtis Larson, Toronto Sun May 04, 2016

Supporters were skeptical of Tim Leiweke’s dream.

The ex-MLSE CEO was unabashed about turning Toronto FC into something resembling respectability.

On Saturday — three years after Leiweke asked fans to “dream big” — his vision will be on full display when TFC hosts FC Dallas at the newly renovated, 30,000-seat BMO Field.

The anti-MLSE pessimists have gone quiet since MLSE announced said renovations, their flames and pitchforks set aside.

After all, this weekend, with a capacity crowd on hand, it will be impossible to ignore the positive impact MLSE’s investment has had on Toronto FC and the city.

Reaching this point was arduous to say the least. “Financial suicide,” even, according to Leiweke.

In retrospect, though, MLSE couldn’t have afforded to not embark on a three-year journey that culminated with TFC’s early-season competency — all of which had, in many ways, to do with expanding BMO Field.

Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, arguably the best player in MLS history, wouldn’t be here without stadium upgrades.

The estimated increase in revenue was needed to justify spending a truckload of cash to lure the trio to Toronto.

Whether it works remains to be seen. The Reds have to host and win playoff games in order to show marked improvement.

That’s why Leiweke’s dream, MLSE’s vision, largely hinges on this campaign — the principle reason why Saturday’s match is so anticipated.

This weekend is the culmination of a process that began with a culture shift within the organization. As was the case in 2011 and 2012, Toronto FC is no longer an entity whose fans have disdain for ownership.

Municipal and provincial politics were played before MLSE’s board had an epiphany: “Let’s treat Toronto FC with respect and dignity.” Disillusioned fans needed new reasons to dream.

Getting the anti-Argonauts crowd to remove their tin-foil hats is an ongoing process that will diminish further when supporters enter BMO on Saturday.

The stadium’s breathtaking canopy will kill off all remaining pessimism associated with sharing a venue with the Canadian Football League.

Argos and CFL signage will be limited to a few exterior elements on Major League Soccer game days — well worth Toronto FC’s transformation from 2013 lightweight to big spender in 2016.

For fans who haven’t been to BMO Field since last October, prepare to feel like you’re entering a new stadium for the first time since TFC’s inaugural season.

“When we built BMO Field in 2007, we knew we’d have to reinvest over time, but never thought we’d be able to convince our owners to make the type of long-term investment that they have,” said Bob Hunter, MLSE’s chief project development officer.

“It’s a whole new stadium. We paid $62 million back in 2007. With the Argonauts, we’re reinvesting almost $150 million.”

Throw in the roughly $100 million in contracts doled out to three DPs and MLSE has invested around a quarter-billion dollars in TFC players and facilities.

“Everyone was motivated,” Hunter added during a guided tour with the Sun on Wednesday afternoon. “The City of Toronto was motivated because they want to see the big events. The City and province were motivated because they wanted to find a long-term solution for the Argos. Everyone saw that the potential for bigger and larger events, which have the potential for a big economic impact for Toronto, could only be achieved by doing that level of investment.”

In the end, the only arguments against transforming BMO Field from erector-set stadium into big-time soccer stadium come from original TFC supporters who would rather see their club stay niche.

In truth, without Leiweke’s dream, the excitement ahead of Saturday’s home opener would be nowhere close to where it is.

LEIWEKE KEEPING TABS ON TFC’S HOME OPENER

On the seventh day, Tim Leiweke rested. Somewhere.

The ex-MLSE CEO isn’t in town to see the official unveiling of the stadium he pushed for.

The Toronto Sun did, however, reach him by email.

“I am very proud of the development team and the commitment to fight through all the obstacles to get this done,” Leiweke told the Sun. “Had a couple of dozen reasons why people thought this was a bad idea.”

The main one being the preservation of TFC’s pitch.

Concerns won’t be put to bed until after there’s proof the Argonauts won’t negatively impact TFC’s all-grass field.

“Toronto has one of the best homes in all of MLS now,” Leiweke added. “They are for real and I couldn’t be happier for MLSE, the owners, the team and the fans.”

YOUR BMO QUESTIONS ANSWERED

1) Will BMO Field be 100% completed by Saturday’s TFC opener?

No. Close, though. A pair of end suites on the west side of the stadium are still under renovation. Some areas atop the roof are also still being completed. Furthermore, the Argos’ dressing room is still under renovation ahead of the CFL season.

2) Why does the north end look so empty?

It’s going to remain fairly empty. TFC is selling standing-room-only tickets where the CFL endzone will be. Plastic squares have been laid over top of the Argos’ artificial turf end zone. Truth be told, MLSE ran out of time to improve the north end. They’ll likely add party decks in the coming seasons and more amenities. There are also two sets of temporary premium seats near the corner flags.

3) The south-end roof, why is it so darn high?

To accommodate 8,000 temporary seats that will be installed for Grey Cups, MLS Cups, World Cups and outdoor hockey games. If you sit in the south end, the canopy might not do much for you if it rains. But, hey, it looks cool.

4) How is the grass?

It was installed two weeks ago. We walked on it Wednesday afternoon. It felt fine. Groundskeepers appear to have grow lights operating on it around the clock. TFC will train on it for the first time Thursday night.

5) How much Argos signage will there be?

Not much on MLS game days. An area beneath Section 104 — where the Argos dressing room is housed — is painted blue. Also, an Argos banner will sit atop the northwest super column, facing the Gardiner Expressway. While it won’t happen this season, Argos signage might also adorn the southeast corner of the stadium, facing the south parking lot.

6) Does the canopy roof go all the way to the touch line?

No. It covers all “fixed” seats on all sides.

7) What don’t you like about it, Larson?

The north end will look empty at times this year, a poor visual for TV. We think MLSE should strive to make the north end look akin to what the Blue Jays have done in centre field. Needs to be a fun atmosphere. We’ll have to wait and see what they do with it next season.

8) Will south-end seating change at all due to the CFL end zone?

No. I’m told the first six rows of seats will be removable, but will be within an inch of original placement prior to renovations.

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11 hours ago, Joe MacCarthy said:

The new BMO Field culmination of Tim Leiweke's dream
Toronto FC opens its home slate on Saturday vs. FC Dallas
Kurtis Larson, Toronto Sun May 04, 2016

In the end, the only arguments against transforming BMO Field from erector-set stadium into big-time soccer stadium come from original TFC supporters who would rather see their club stay niche.

Whaaaaaa....?

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On ‎04‎/‎05‎/‎2016 at 10:37 PM, Macksam said:

This particular stadium project is dead though right?

It's 99.999% dead, yes. No way the Flames have public buy in on this one.

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I'm hearing that there is a potential issue brewing with regards to soccer games being held at the new Mosaic Stadium. Some folks on the ground in Regina have applied to the CSA to potentially host national team games in Regina. However, the stadium builders are planning to stitch the football lines into the turf. If this happens, I'm told that it's very unlikely that the CSA will agree to host a game here. 

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Why would they put permanent football lines on the turf when they can put the "washable" ones on so that the stadium can be used for other sporting events like mainly soccer,. The only thing I can think of by putting the permanent ones in would be that in the long run it's cheaper than having to line the field every so often because I would imagine the temporary lines probably wear out after awhile, I don't know, seems strange because that's a lot of potential revenue they are giving up by not being able to play soccer there, woman's national team and mens's national team plus I can see them hosting some international club  team exhibition games also. Therefore, you would be giving up a lot of potential money coming in, I know the stadium will be used for other non sporting events that should keep the stadium profitable but right away cutting out a potential revenue stream seems crazy. I know it's Saskatchewan and I can't remember any national or even club exhibition games ever played there, however, in this day at age soccer has to also be on the mind when your building any new stadium in Canada, one would think. The only other thing they might be thinking of with permanent football lines would be to invest in another turf to put over the football lined turf if ever soccer is played there.

Edited by 1996

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44 minutes ago, 1996 said:

The only other thing they might be thinking of with permanent football lines would be to invest in another turf to put over the football lined turf if ever soccer is played there.

That is highly doubtful and most unlikely.  Let's also hold off on the inlaid line comment before we see some proof.  That also seems highly unlikely, going against just about every other new/upgraded build in the country.

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4 hours ago, Joe MacCarthy said:

Do you have some confirmation on that?

No I have no confirmation either on the 'sewn CFL turf lines' end nor on the 'CSA won't accept sewn CFL lines' end. I have a few people's say so, that's all. I'm working on confirmation. I'll post anything I find out. There might be good reasons to highly publicized this anyway if it's confirmed as, in my opinion, it is a poor decision for a facility that is intended to be multi-use. 

I completely agree that it is strange that they would want sewn CFL lines as Hamilton, Ottawa, Winnipeg new stadia and BC Place upgrade do not have CFL lines, and look what's happened in those stadia recently ... WWC, PanAms, CanMNT WCQ, CanWNT friendlies. If what I've heard is true, we could be saying bye bye to any of those possibilities.

Not to mention if the rumours are true about a CanPL team, but perhaps none of these things are on the stadium folks radar  

More to come ... hopefully. 

Edited by rob.notenboom

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4 hours ago, rob.notenboom said:

If what I've heard is true, we could be saying bye bye to any of those possibilities.

Not to mention if the rumours are true about a CanPL team, but perhaps none of these things are on the stadium folks radar

Where are you getting your information because it doesn't make much sense. To think that the first large stadium in the country to have the latest lighting system they do and hasn't thought of this is beyond comprehension.  I am highly skeptical.

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1 hour ago, Joe MacCarthy said:

Where are you getting your information because it doesn't make much sense. To think that the first large stadium in the country to have the latest lighting system they do and hasn't thought of this is beyond comprehension.  I am highly skeptical.

I am getting my info from one of the TDs of a local club. They are based in the same centre as the Evraz Place authority (who will manage the exhibition/stadium site), have been in constant discussion with the contractors who are building the stadium, and have made formal applications (or at least this is what I've been told) to the CSA to have the stadium considered for national team games. I first heard the idea that the lines be stitched in 6 months ago, but at the time I thought, much like painting white lines then removing them, that the stitched in lines could simply be painted over. These folks are concerned enough that they've suggested a petition be started to get the stadium builders to change their mind about the lines. 

I'm hoping to chat with them directly tomorrow and will hopefully find out more detail. Be skeptical if you want, but it's not like I go running my mouth off about stuff I don't know about on here. 

Edited by rob.notenboom

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1 hour ago, Joe MacCarthy said:

To think that the first large stadium in the country to have the latest lighting system they do and hasn't thought of this is beyond comprehension.

It's not beyond comprehension. It just means in some areas they've done their homework, in others not so much. 

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