30 January 2013Visitors to the South Africa’s Western Cape province can now experience the picturesque Franschhoek Wine Valley, the country’s premier culinary destination and one of its leading wine producing regions, in a unique way with the launch of the Franschhoek Wine Tram.The hop-on hop-off tour offers its passengers a leisurely way to see the Franschhoek Valley as they journey through rolling vineyards in a combination of open-side tram and open-air tram-bus, stopping in at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates.The combination allows passengers to experience the activities on offer at each stop – wine tasting, cellar tours, lunches, or simply a stroll through the vineyards – and to continue the tour when they are ready.The tour takes passengers into the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, with guided commentary and unparalleled views of the valley and vineyards.Wine tourism is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors of the global tourism market, and contributes in excess of R5-billion to South Africa’s tourism revenue.Benefits for the local community“This project is a success story,” Franschhoek Wine Tram general manager Duncan Gordon said in a statement on Monday. “The benefits to the local community are already being felt with the creation of 13 full-time jobs, with the expectation to further increase that number in the near future.“We believe the Franschhoek Wine Tram will give local tourism the boost it needs and create further opportunities in our own community.”According to Gordon, it took the developers several years to realise the goal of creating a world-class wine tourism experience.The newly constructed tram is modelled after the open-sided Brill Trams of circa 1890 and was built by Prof Engineering, a South African specialist engineering firm.Environmentally friendlyAs a green initiative, it uses the latest in bio-diesel engine technology to reduce greenhouse gases and other environmentally hazardous emissions. It seats 32 passengers on eight benches, with six of the benches having flip-over, tram-style seat-backs that allow passengers to enjoy the breathtaking view in both directions.The tram-bus design is based on the open-sided road trams commonly seen in the US which are used to transport tourists on sightseeing excursions.“Tourists are continually looking for new ways of experiencing a location, whether by foot, road or rail, and no other wine growing area in the world can boast its own rail and road based tram system giving tourists direct access to wine estates,” said Duncan.Tickets and pricesThe hop-on, hop-off tour departs from the Franschhoek Wine Tram ticket office, located in the centre of Franschhoek Village, and includes six stops: Grande Provence, Rickety Bridge, Dieu Donne, Haute Cabriere, Chamonix and the Huguenot Museum.A commentary guided tour, focusing on the history of Franschhoek and wine cultivation in the valley, and a complimentary wine tasting, are included.The Franschhoek Wine Tram operates daily from 10:00am to 3:20pm, with departures every 40 minutes.Tickets can be purchased at the Franschhoek Wine Tram ticket office at Bijoux Square, 60 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek (on the Franschhoek main road), or at www.winetram.co.za.Ticket prices are R130 for adults, R65 for children 5 to 17 years of age, and no charge for children four years of age and under.SAinfo reporter
Roosevelt Island is technically part of the borough of Manhattan, but it has a distinct identity. Some of that has to do with its 19th-century history, when it was home to a lockup for convicts and institutions such as the Smallpox Hospital and New York City Lunatic Asylum.But in contemporary life, that identity is more about the island’s spectacular location on the East River, between Manhattan and Queens, its status as a residential community of about 13,000 people, and, more recently, as the potential home of Cornell University’s New York City Tech Campus, a 10-acre project that would include a 150,000-sq.-ft. core academic building designed and built to perform at net zero energy. Cornell is bidding against proposals being presented to the city by Columbia University, New York University, and Stanford University for the contract to build a tech campus in town, with, in Columbia’s case, an extension in nearby Westchester County. (Mayor Michael Bloomberg has indicated there might be more than one winner among the bidders.)In Cornell’s proposal, the main academic building would be one of the four largest NZE buildings in the U.S., the school says.“Forget the cliché ‘game-changer,’” Kent Kleinman, Cornell’s Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art and Planning, said in a news item about the proposal. “This New York City campus is more than that. It is the ideal plan for creating an educational environment to train future engineers and designers in the science of sustainability for decades to come. And it will make New York City home to one of the nation’s premier green buildings.”A living labAs currently envisioned, the campus residences, corporate facilities, and main building will sit just south of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, which passes over the island at Manhattan’s East 59th Street. (The island is a narrow stretch of turf that runs from East 46th Street to East 85th Street. Direct access to the island is provided via subway and tramway, rather than the bridge.) The main building will serve as a home for an academic partnership between Cornell and Technion / Israel Institute of Technology.Construction of campus structures other than the main building is expected to be to the LEED Silver or Gold standard and yield about 30% greater energy efficiency than comparably sized buildings built to code. The design-and-planning team, which includes architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and solar energy development specialist Distributed Sun, is aiming for LEED Platinum certification for the main building and the above-mentioned net-zero-energy performance goal, which would be achieved through a combination of photovoltaic, geothermal, and fuel-cell systems. The geothermal system, for example, is designed to include 400 wells spread out over four acres. Each well will be about 500 ft. deep. Peak generation by the Tech Campus photovoltaic system is expected to be 1.8 megawatts.The campus landscaping plan features rain gardens and bioswales, green walls and roofs, reforestation to create a small, new urban forest, and about 500,000 sq. ft. of open space overall.Other collaborators on the proposal include the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
MLS Media Microscope: MLS TV ratings experience slight uptick in 2017 Seth Vertelney 00:55 11/16/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Vincent Carchietta MLS In an industry that is struggling to retain viewers, the league is encouraged by its growth in recent seasons Major League Soccer’s television ratings still don’t exactly leap off the page.In comparison with North America’s other four major professional sports leagues, MLS lags far behind the NFL, MLB and the NBA in average viewership, and trails the NHL by a more modest amount.But while MLS is lacking in terms of raw figures, it does have one accomplishment in recent season to hang its hat on: growth. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player In an industry that’s rapidly hemorrhaging viewers from broadcast to digital platforms – or sometimes just losing them entirely, MLS saw its overall TV ratings increase, if only modestly, in the 2017 season.Here’s a look at the numbers for the 2017 MLS regular season on the league’s three U.S. television partners:ESPN: Viewership on ESPN and ESPN2 combined was slightly down in 2017. MLS matches on ESPN and ESPN2 averaged 272,000 viewers in 2017, compared to 274,000 in 2016.Fox: Fox and Fox Sports 1 combined to average a five percent increase in viewership in 2017 (236,000 average viewers in 2017 versus 224,000 in 2016).Univision: The league’s Spanish-language partner showed a five percent growth on numbers from matches on Univision and UniMas combined (265,000 in 2017 versus 252,000 in 2016).Overall, the 2017 MLS regular season delivered 26.3 million gross viewers across all U.S. networks, up four percent versus 2016.Again, these numbers in and of themselves are nothing to write home about. But MLS is a unique case in the professional sports TV landscape, with many other North American leagues losing viewers year-over-year.The NHL, which is the major North American league closest to MLS in terms of viewership, averaged 467,000 viewers across NBC and NBCSN last season. That figure is roughly double what MLS games bring in, but it was also down seven percent from the previous season.The NHL isn’t the only league to see a decline in its viewership. The NBA experienced a similar drop last season, and the NFL continues to make headlines with its TV numbers dropping over the last two seasons after a decade of seemingly unstoppable increases. “We have year-over-year growth. That’s not a story that everyone in the industry is able to tell right now,” MLS senior vice president of media Seth Bacon told Goal.“[TV numbers going] up in this day and age is something that we’re very proud of and very bullish on because we’ve done a lot of work with our partners internally at the league to make sure that every year we have the story of continued growth.”That growth can be attributed to any number of factors, but a major reason overall MLS TV ratings have increased every year since 2014 is that matches are simply available to more people now than ever before.For example, in 2015 there were just eight MLS matches broadcast on ESPN, with 26 games on the less-distributed ESPN2. In 2016 and 2017, though, those numbers flipped, with a large majority of ESPN’s MLS matches now broadcast on its flagship network.Last season, Fox began showing games on its broadcast network for the first time, with four matches on over-the-air Fox. That trend continued with five matches in 2017 and will likely carry over to 2018 as well.And Univision broadcasted six matches on its over-the-air channel in 2017, when it had only featured games on its cable networks in recent seasons.Shifting matches to channels with higher distribution has been key for MLS in recent seasons, and Bacon, who joined the league in 2014, has been given credit for helping get broadcast partners on board with this change.“We’re continuing to be very smart and data-driven with how we build our schedule,” Bacon said. “Making sure that we’re looking at the right lead-in opportunities, the right programming windows, the right marketing opportunities, where the right audiences will be.”There have been some successes in recent seasons, but how will MLS ensure its numbers continue to grow in 2018?It’s a World Cup year, which has the potential to bring huge viewership totals if MLS can utilize its Fox partnership to schedule World Cup-MLS doubleheaders.“There will be more Fox broadcast events next year, and we’re hoping to take advantage of some World Cup lead-ins,” Bacon said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us to schedule in a very smart way and that will hopefully continue to build the audience.”Of course, there is one big caveat for MLS next summer: For the first time since the league existed, the U.S. won’t be at the World Cup.Recent World Cups have provided a boost for MLS, but will the absence of the U.S. stifle that potential growth next summer? Bacon remains optimistic.“The World Cup is the most relevant soccer tournament in the world, we know it’s going to be a huge event,” Bacon said.“Onward for us and we think it’s going to be a great year because more people are going to be talking about the sport of soccer in the United States and Canada.”