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L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan said Wednesday he will fight an effort to lure the Raiders to a new 65,000-seat stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, CA, and concentrate on improving the L.A. Coliseum. While acknowledging that the possibility of a new stadium in L.A. is not likely, Riordan thinks the Coliseum can be a competitive venue: "I'm not going to give up on the Coliseum. ... With all of the environmental and other problems, it's hard to think of another really good site in the City of Los Angeles." Riordan said the city could improve the Coliseum site with "renovation, the addition of luxury boxes and improved safety in Exposition Park." Riordan brokered the deal to keep the Raiders at the Coliseum in 1991, and thinks the Coliseum Commission needs to prove to the NFL and Al Davis that the promised upgrades will be delivered: "They have an open mind. They haven't said no. But they effectively keep saying 'show me.' And we think we can show them." NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello said the league thinks "their is still a chance the Coliseum can be improved," but is still looking at possibilities for a new stadium. Aiello: "We haven't ruled out anything and we'll continue to talk to Mayor Riordan on these issues as we continue to try to see a new stadium built in Los Angeles or a stadium that meets the needs of the teams." Hollywood Park Inc. board member Harry Ornest: "The mayor and other politicians aligned with the Coliseum are desperate. ... The whole world knows that Raiders attendance is adversely affected because of the outmodeled, ill-placed Coliseum" (Mark Katches, L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/22).
MA Gov. William Weld told reporters yesterday that a possible $700M megaplex in Boston with both a convention center and sports stadium is "stronger than ever before now that you have the possibility of the Patriots and Red Sox playing in the same facility being actively discussed" (Richard Kindleberger, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/22). Weld said a convention center should be the top priority when the MA Legislature reconvenes in January (Phil Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 12/22). However, Weld said he would sacrifice the stadium being a part of that complex if that was the only way to reach an agreement on a convention center. Weld: "I am in favor of anything at this point, anything." Supporters of the megaplex might have a hard time pushing through a stadium as part convention center as both MA House Speaker Charles Flaherty and MA House Ways and Means Committee Chair Thomas Finneran have opposed spending money on a sports stadium (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/22). Flaherty led the opposition to a failed bill last year that proposed a stadium study (Primack, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/22). SUMMIT? Weld and Boston Mayor Tom Menino are discussing a possible summit between state and local officials in January to help get an agreement on the megaplex. Flaherty supports the idea: "I think it is time to bring all the parties together and hash it out" (Richard Kindleberger, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/22).
Fairfax County, VA, residents who discovered that a proposed ballpark for a possible MLB expansion team could be in their backyards weren't overly enthusiastic. On Tuesday, county officials identified 12 locations where a stadium might be built if the area is awarded an expansion team. The reaction from neighbors and even owners of those sites ranged from entrepreneurialy optimistic to angry. Mike Davini, who sits on 18 acres nearby a proposed site, would welcome a stadium if there is something in it for him: "It would be fine as long as they pay us for the inconvenience." Areas included in the proposal include an area adjacent to the large shopping mall complex at Tysons's Corner. County officials want a stadium to be near current or planned public transportation lines and will try and avoid sites with wetland or pollution problems. The county is expected to narrow the search to two or three sites within a month (Bates & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 12/22). VA resident groups have successfully opposed other major developments in the past, including a new Redskins stadium in Alexandria and Disney's America theme-park in Haymarket.
The area around Yankee Stadium was included as part of one of six "empowerment zones" across the country that will receive a $100M federal development grant for neighborhood improvement. Officials hope the grant, along with tax breaks, will lure business to the area and create economic development. Both the city and state have agreed to match the funding (Christopher Policiano, N.Y. POST, 12/22).