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Fearing the Browns could move if Cleveland Stadium is not renovated, a group of civic and business leaders "vowed" to develop a plan by mid-January to keep the team in Cleveland. The task force will be formed to "determine the costs of renovating the stadium vs. building a new one" and report on ways to pay for both options. Cleveland Mayor Michael White has repeatedly said the team needs a new or improved facility to remain competitive, and Browns Owner Art Modell said he will give the city until the end of '95 to develop a plan. Although no "funding plan has been decided," options include raising millions from local corporations, seeking state funds, or raising taxes on Cuyahoga County residents. An estimated cost of renovating is $130M. The Browns' lease with the city expires in '98 (Stephen Phillips, CLEVELAND PLAIN-DEALER, 12/13).
An official of Anne Arundel County, MD, offered Redskins Owner Jack Kent Cooke a property tax break of more than $1M a year on its proposed stadium near Laurel. County Executive John Gary said he would "support the tax break" if the team revised its stadium plans in Laurel, MD, to meet "zoning concerns and show that the stadium will generate revenue for the county." Gary would propose assessing property taxes based on the current value of the land, not on what it would be if the 75,000 facility is constructed, allowing the team to pay for road construction and other improvements (Justin Blum, WASHINGTON POST, 12/14).
When Orlando makes its presentation to MLB's expansion committee on Wednesday in Chicago, it will carry with them funding for a $150M outdoor facility. The Orange County Commission voted 6-1 in favor of adding one cent to the resort tax on February 1. They then voted 7-0 to commit $8.1M of that money each year to building a $150M -- 45,000 seat stadium (Mark Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14). Commission Chair Linda Chapin: "We're going to Chicago with a great, great package to sell Orlando to Major League Baseball, and we're going to bring home a team" (Bill Fay, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/14). Construction of the stadium is contingent on being awarded a team. If an interim facility is needed, Orlando officials plan to renovate the Citrus Bowl (Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14).
PA Gov.-elect Tom Ridge (R) and Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said Monday they are willing to talk about financing a new park for the Pirates as soon as MLB approves a new team owner. Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas, the city's "preferred buyer" said he expected to receive MLB's preliminary approval this week and is "optimistic" he can have a sales agreement with the Pirates' current owners by January 29. The city has until that date to find a buyer willing to keep the Pirates in Pittsburgh and to assume more than $100M in debts and obligations. Both Murphy and Ridge agreed that building a traditional-style ballpark "was necessary to turn around the money-losing franchise." Murphy envisions an entertainment complex aimed at tourists, but Ridge said not to expect the state to pay for the whole project (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE, 12/13).