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In an announcement described as "amazing and remarkable," the Manitoba Entertainment Complex (MEC) has commitments by the city's corporate community to buy 40 luxury boxes and 1,200 premium seats for a new hockey rink for the Jets. MEC spokesperson Bob Silver: "We've sold air. We have no site, we have no building. ... We don't even have a hockey season." The new rink, if its built at all, won't open until '97, but arena builders are "optimistic" by the marketing effort. Jets President Barry Shenkarow said a reason for the success is that the NHL labour dispute has boosted the confidence of "Winnipeggers" that a league wide salary cap will be realized and that a small market franchises such as the Jets will draw fans to a new building still on the driving board. The team has said it will move if it does not get a new facility. The MEC has generated C$5.8M for the project and C$8.2M in annual revenues. Their target is to raise C$10M toward the cost of the C$110M facility (David Roberts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/9).
A day after Bullets/Caps Owner Abe Pollin's proposal for a new downtown arena in DC "cleared an important hurdle," Bob Johnson, president of Black Entertainment Television, reiterated his plan to build the arena with his own funds and try to buy a share of the teams from Pollin. Johnson will now take his fight to Congress which must approve the project and funding. He has hired Republican lobbyist Tom Korologos to "press his case with the incoming GOP leadership." Johnson has generated a letter with 17 signatures from GOP Senators who will not support using city bonds when a private investor is ready to "assume the risk." Johnson: "Am I going away? I go away when the process is complete" (Howard Schneider, WASHINGTON POST, 12/9).
According to Jack Nease in Ft. Lauderdale, Viacom execs "still won't say how they feel about the sports and entertainment complex" that Blockbuster Entertainment Chair Wayne Huizenga planned for a 3,000-acre site on the Dade-Broward county line. A Viacom spokesperson in New York: "It is not killed. But it is not a certainty. It's still under review, and these things take time." Nease notes that "all systems were go" until the Blockbuster-Viacom merger, but because of the amount of debt Viacom has accumulated, "the prospect of developing a South Florida theme park and sports complex is obviously much less appealing" to Viacom Chair Sumner Redstone than to Huizenga (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 12/8).