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A citizens task force organized by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce met yesterday to discuss a new stadium for the Bucs. The task force discussed ways to encourage local businesses to purchase season tickets and luxury boxes and the need for a public relations campaign if a referendum to raise taxes for stadium funding occurs. Committee chair Leonard Levy: "If we have to go to a voter referendum, we have to be prepared to sell the community on the idea." Bucs Trustee Steve Story said he met with NFL President Neil Austrian and believes the sale to Malcom Glzer is "proceeding smoothly" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/25).
NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani presented Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner with a plan to create a "theme park" atmosphere at Yankee Stadium, surrounding a renovated ballpark with restaurants, parking garages and new roads. The project's cost estimates run as high as $600M, compared with a $250M estimate for a plan to overhaul the stadium and neighborhood presented less than one year ago. Officials who attended the meeting said Steinbrenner "indicated that the proposal was more to his liking." Improvements inside the stadium call for about 100 luxury boxes and a new outer wall "that would copy the original facade of Yankee Stadium." The "most striking" differences between the current plan and those Steinbrenner has rejected in the past are the roads and garages "that would allow fans to drive from the suburbs directly to the stadium without sitting in traffic on the streets of the South Bronx" (Matthew Purdy, N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). Steinbrenner: "I can't say whether I'm optimistic or not. ... What I will tell you is this was our second meeting and this is obviously a priority for Giuliani" (Long & Guart, N.Y. POST, 1/25). THE YONKERS YANKEES? This morning's N.Y. DAILY NEWS reports the team has received an offer to move to the Meadowlands Complex in NJ, where the state of NJ would build a $350M "Camden Yards- style stadium" that the team could lease "long term for short money." The NJ offer also includes a guarantee on yearly attendance and a clause in which the NJ Sports Authority would defend the Yankees against any lawsuit by New York City over breaking their Bronx lease which expires in 2003. Also in the DAILY NEWS piece: A source close to NY Governor George Pataki says "he is waiting for Giuliani 'to fall on his face' in negotiations with Steinbrenner 'so he can save the day and the Yankees for New York, but not necessarily the city.'" The source says Pataki's aides have "made some preliminary investigation" into building a stadium next to the Yonkers Raceway (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/25).
Herbert Belgrad, Chair of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he "has been told by prospective ownership groups seeking a team for Baltimore that they are in contact with three" NFL franchises interested in relocating to the city, according to this morning's Baltimore SUN. Belgrad, appearing before a State Senate Committee, asked the committee not to deauthorize bonds appropriated for the construction of a new NFL facility, saying there is still "serious interest in bringing a team here." Belgrad said Orioles Owner Peter Angelos is "actively engaged" with three teams that have contacted him, and attorney Robert Schulman is talking with two teams. By deauthorizing the bonding authority, Beglrad said the city "would send the wrong message" to the NFL, adding: "It would convey to our opponents that they have succeeded." Projected costs for a new stadium run close to $181M, and Belgrad said the state would pay another $10M on property acquisition, as well as a $1M "temporary modification" to Oriole Park for an NFL team to play there while a new stadium is built. Action to kill the authorizing legislation is not expected to pass (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/25).
In Boston, a meeting of MA political and business leaders concluded with "an agreement that a state-financed convention center should be built in Boston" and that a study should be completed by June 1 "to review a half-dozen recommended Boston sites for the $500 million convention center along with the feasibility of fitting an add-on stadium at each location." Legislative authorization is necessary before the study can begin. Included in the proposal is $35M for "highway improvements outside Foxboro Stadium" as well as possible improvements to the Springfield Civic Center. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who attended the meetings: "I think it's a real advance. Finally we've got a plan in place" (Ackerman & Kindleberger, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/24). In today's BOSTON HERALD, MA House Republican Leader Edward Teague questions the need for the convention center. Teague: "It is almost universally true that every city that has built a large convention center has done so with very rosy forecasts and projections that far too often have failed to pan out" (Phil Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 1/25).
MN Gov. Arne Carlson Monday told legislative leaders that "if Minneapolis cannot solve the Target Center financing puzzle on its own, he wants the state to step in and double its financial commitment." Carlson outlined a plan to increase the state's commitment from $750,000 a year for 15 years to 750,000 for 30 years. That would leave the state with a total commitment of $22.5M. The Minneapolis City Council is expected to submit a new finance plan to Glen Taylor by today. Taylor is attempting to buy the Wolves, but the deal hinges on the buyout of the Target Center. In addition to state help, the possibility of a loan from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to the city of Minneapolis has been mentioned. MSFC Chair Henry Savelkoul says the legislature must act quickly because of the NBA's March 1 deadline to allow teams to relocate. Savelkoul: "I can't see this going on for very long. ...The NBA isn't going to sit by" (Whereatt, McGrath & Weiner, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 1/24).
The Jaguars, who will play next season in the $125M renovated Gator Bowl, have one of the best lease deals in the NFL. The city of Jacksonville will pay over $11M annually to cover expense, including maintenance and repairs. The team will collect virtually all revenues and pay one of the lowest rents in the NFL over their 30-year lease. This is No. 27 in our series of 29 profiles.
STADIUM: Formerly the Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Florida
NAMING RIGHTS: Naming rights to cost a reported $300,000-$1M per year, to be split Between city and team. AGE: Facility to be completed in mid-August '95. CAPACITY: 73,000 -- 11th highest in the league. OWNERSHIP: Facility owned by city of Jacksonville. MANAGEMENT: Spectacor Management Group operates the facility. LUXURY SEATS: 74 luxury suites -- team will operate luxury suites and receive all revenue. CONCESSIONS: No concession contract presently. Team will receive all revenue from concession sales. ADVERTISING: Team will receive all revenue. PARKING: Details with parking not complete. Team will receive all parking revenue. MAINTENANCE: All maintenance handled by the city -- average cost $1.1M annually. GAME-DAY: All personnel paid for by city. LEASE: Jaguars signed 30-year lease. RENT: $875,000 -- 8th lowest in the league.