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SBD/18/Facilities VenuesPrint All
The Gund Arena opened its doors in Cleveland over the weekend, and over 30,000 people toured the new facility. "If arenas competed for championships, the fans at yesterday's open house would have picked the $130M Gund to go all the way" (Grant Segall, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17). An editorial in the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER calls the arena "spectacular" and "worth it" (PLAIN DEALER, 10/17). On Sunday, THE PLAIN DEALER had a special 20-page supplement featuring the new stadium, complete with a detailed floor plan, arena menu, stadium facts and public transportation information (10/16).
The Seahawks announced a "grand plan" for renovating the Kingdome, but team President David Behring said they do not yet have a "clear-cut, concise" plan for financing the $120M, four- phase project. King County officials "cautioned" that the proposal would be weighed against efforts to build a new ballpark for the Mariners and "rising" repair costs at the Kingdome. Behring noted there is a "strong possibility" that the financing would be "some form of a public/private partnership." King County Executive Gary Locke agreed to that, but that any financing scheme will be measured against "competing needs" such as human services. County Council member Pete von Reichbauer said the "emphasis" would have to be on private financing and include a new long-term lease with the Seahawks. Behring and Seahawks Exec VP Mickey Loomis will attend a stadium seminar in Milwaukee this week to discuss a "whole myriad of different financing mechanisms." The Seahawks are willing to use profits from 1,100 additional club seats "to defer the debt" but Behring "said the team does not intend to supply any other money." Instead, the team suggests selling naming rights to the dome and exploring ways to allocate state funds from the WA lottery for the project (Clare Farnsworth, SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER, 10/18). THE PHASES: HOK sports facilities group devised the plan, which could be completed by May '98 if begun in the next year. The project includes a park and party pavilions serving as a "gateway" to the dome and generates immediate rental revenue. The plan also increases football seating from 66,122 to 67,817 and adds a 90,000 square foot exhibition hall and glass facade to the stadium (Clare Farnsworth, SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER, 10/18).
Although Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy "says it's premature" to discuss sites for a new Pirates ballpark, he has asked the city Planning Dept. to analyze possible sites. Pittsburgh Planning Dir Eloise Hirsh says the city's geographic information system will take a ballpark outline and "manipulate it around to see where it might fit." Murphy has said a ballpark should be part of an entertainment package, but would not specify specifics. Riverboat gambling has been one suggested attraction of such a package. The complex would be near public transportation, and include parking in a half-mile radius to provide several stadium routes. The PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reviewed seven areas of the city with potential ballpark sites. Larry Lucchino, a former Orioles exec and "one of several prospective buyers" for the Pirates, said his memories of Pittsburgh's Forbes Field helped influence Camden Yards' design. Lucchino added: "The ballpark should fit the tradition, the history, and the architecture of Pittsburgh" (Patricia Lowry, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/16).
"In practical terms," the Sabres' $122.5M, 20,000 seat Crossroads Arena will begin construction before the ground freezes this year. Buffalo Common Council Majority Leader James Pitts said that $2.7M in early entry money sought by the Sabres has the votes needed for approval at today's Council session. The Sabres were concerned that private financing for the arena would be "doomed" if construction was delayed until spring. The "breakthrough" from city officials was prompted by three "key" agreements reached last week, including: the Sabres' guarantee that the $2.7M will be repaid "if the project fails"; an affirmative action plan for minorities and women in construction as well as arena operations; and, the Sabres' agreement, with the NHL's endorsement, not to relocate the team "for at least" 30 years. The affirmative action plan will contract $24.5M of the work to minority businesses and $6.1M to women-owned businesses. One-quarter of Crossroads jobs will be filled by women and minorities. Also, the Sabres have agreed to cover $1.5M of $22M in infrastructure costs which were not included in the $10M bond that Buffalo sold for the project. The Sabres want the city to explore other sources, such as county and state, to help with infrastructure costs (Kevin Collison, BUFFALO NEWS, 10/17).