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Jim Speros, the owner of Baltimore's CFL franchise, has hired a lobbyist that will "seek legislation to provide state funds" for a renovation of Memorial Stadium. Speros wants a long-term commitment from the state, and "in excess" of $5M "to make the desired improvements." Approximately $1M was spent to renovate the facility before the team's first season last year, $500,000 from Speros and a $500,000 loan from the city. A new grass field, another scoreboard and upgraded sound system along with repairs to elevators and escalators top Speros' wish list. The city will host the 1997 Grey Cup (Ken Murray, Baltimore SUN, 1/20). DON'T GIVE UP THE FIGHT: An editorial in today's Baltimore SUN says the state of MD should not "deauthorize" its stadium bond authority. The SUN says the nearly $200M currently designated for a football stadium pending the arrival of an NFL team "would not send torrents of money flowing to other needs" (Baltimore SUN, 1/20). Robert Schulman, a potential investor in an NFL team for Baltimore, says he "already has heard from some teams interested in Baltimore and is pursuing the opportunities." Schulman represented the non-Angelos group from Baltimore that was pursuing the Bucs (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/20).
There may not be enough corporate support in Tampa to fill the additional club seats and sky suites that would accompany a new Tampa Stadium, according to a study by KPMG Peat Marwick. The study analyzed the 27 markets that have an NFL team. According to the analysis: the Tampa Bay area ranked 20th in total number of companies, 24th in number of companies with more than 500 employees, 26th in median household income and 17th in population. As far as the market for suites: a new downtown arena will have 71 suites; if a MLB expansion team is granted, the 48 suites in the ThunderDome will be filled; and, it's estimated that over 100 suites would be built in a new football stadium. These factors "might hinder efforts to lease the 100 or so suites estimated to be built in a new stadium," says Ron Barton, senior manager with KPMG's sports consulting group. The study, conducted in 1992, says the nearly 220 suites on the market from new football and baseball stadiums would be available, with only 97 "large companies in the area," -- the typical tenants of a suite. Local leaders are optimistic that medium-size companies will participate and help fill the suites. Florida Progress CEO Jack Critchfield notes "at least half" of the area's 12-15 largest companies do not participate now (John Stebbins, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/20).
The new GM Place "wants to host the 1997 Canadian Figure Skating Championships and intends to bid on hosting a world championship as early as 2001," according to Terry Bell in this morning's Vancouver PROVINCE. The facility, which next year will be home to the Canucks and the Grizzlies, also wants to attract an ATP indoor event, major curling championships and the Canadian Open, a World Grand Prix badminton tour stop. GM Place Dir of Sales and Event Marketing Sue Griffin: "It's definitely part of our mandate -- we want these events for the city of Vancouver." Griffin says they have a "50-50" chance of attracting the ATP -- for sometime in Fall '96 (Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/20).
The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to tell the Stars they will face a lawsuit if they fail to sign a long-term lease to play at Reunion Arena or any future site owned by the city. The Stars, who have been playing in Reunion under a letter of agreement since their move to Dallas before last season, want the same lease terms as the Mavericks, which the city refuses. Council Member Glenn Box says the $65M the Mavs have promised to invest in a new arena gives them "most-favored nation status": "You cannot have two prime tenants. ... It's a fundamental conflict." Stars President Jim Lites says it was the city that "changed terms" on the initial agreement: "We signed a letter of agreement when we came here in March, very detailed on what the Stars' relationship would be with the Dallas Mavericks and the city of Dallas. ... And we're not giving anything back." Lites added the Mavericks' deal to pay the same rent in a new building as they do in Reunion is not something the Stars enjoy: "We could be forced to be a tenant on very bad terms." Council member Don Hicks has threatened the Stars with his own ultimatum: "Either they sign the lease or we're going to kick them out of here." Lites' response: "When a council member says 'We're out of here,' that's totally irresponsible. It creates an atmosphere that's not conducive to selling tickets." The city attorney's office is expected to deliver "final" proposed lease to the team next week (Barry Shlachter, FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/20).