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RAPTORS DEAL STILL MUST CLEAR SOME HURDLES

     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).
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