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RAPTORS HAVE INCREASED THEIR OFFER FOR DOWNTOWN ARENA SITE

     The Raptors "are so hungry for a prime downtown site" for
their planned arena "that they have upped their offer
substantially, making a deal possible as early as this week,
sources say."  The team, facing a deadline to start construction,
has "apparently added millions to their bid" for the downtown
site.  Raptors Chair David Peterson notes that the property is
"extraordinarily attractive for a lot of obvious reasons."  The
new proposal, like the original offer, would likely be a mixture
of some cash up front, more payments by regular installments and
some sort of "marketing rights" for present owner Canada Post.
"Marketing rights" could range from inside or outside arena
signage to full naming rights.  Raptors Owner John Bitove has
said he hopes naming rights of the new arena gain the team C$30M.
The site, now occupied by an empty warehouse, was worth as much
as C$200M in '90, before the crash of the "then-booming real
estate market."  The Raptors' original offer for the site was
estimated to be about C$14M.  The property is reportedly on
Canada Post's books at about C$65M.  Canada Post "is still queasy
about any deal because it's worried about giving the taxpayer-
owned site away for too little."  If groundbreaking on an arena
is not done before October 1, the Raptors must pay the Ontario
government C$1M.  The team will play its first two seasons at
SkyDome (David Israelson, TORONTO STAR, 11/29).
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