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Mavericks owner Don Carter is unhappy with the slow pace of negotiations with the City of Dallas to build a new arena. City Manager John Ware set a deadline, with the city council's approval, to have a proposed $142M arena completed by the start of the 1997-98 season. Carter: "After the holidays are over, we're going to have to get rid of our excuses. ... If we're going to do it in the timetable we set, we don't have a choice." Carter says several key issues remain that could be "deal killers" -- most important is the fate of Reunion Arena. Since the proposed arena will sit behind Reunion, Carter wants the Mavs' current home torn down. But Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett's staff is studying alternative uses for the 17-year-old building. Carter: "That's not open for negotiation. Either they put us in front or somewhere else downtown, but we will not sit behind it" (Sylvia Martinez, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/21).
The Raptors' new C$130M, 22,500-seat arena must still clear a few hurdles before the first shovel is turned at the downtown Toronto site. The team claims the taxpayers will not fund the project, but today's TORONTO STAR questions whether the project will turn into "another SkyDome" where "world-class bills" were paid by the taxpayer. Jay Cross, arena project manager for the Raptors: "Where we hope to be extremely different from SkyDome is that it's totally private-sector financed." Another problem the team faces is the land deal it recently agreed to with Canada Post for the arena site -- a "non-binding agreement in principle" with questions remaining over whether the team paid enough for the land. Analysts say the site was worth C$400M in a deal that fell through four years ago -- the Raptors paid C$50M. The STAR's Isrealson & Spears write, "What is the site worth? After all, even if the taxpayers aren't paying for the arena, Canada Post still belongs to us." The team still must also get approval from the city before the arena is built. Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall is said to be "cautious," but supportive of the plan (TORONTO STAR, 12/23).