SBD/9/Facilities Venues

PUBLIC BUYOUT PLAN OF MINNEAPOLIS ARENA IS OFF-TARGET

     A proposed change in federal law has "knocked the foundation
out from under the elaborate financial plans for a public
purchase" of the Target Center arena.  A way may be found to
restructure a buyout plan that works "financially and
politically, but for now the proposal put in place" by the MN
Legislature last spring "is dead."  The new federal law says that
a public body may not use tax-free bonds to buy a facility --
such as the Target Center -- if the building is used for the
benefit of a private tenant, such as the Timberwolves.  For more
than a year, the officials planning the arena purchase thought
that tax-free bonds could be used if the money to repay the bonds
came from new admission taxes and surcharges rather than from
direct lease payments by the Wolves.  Henry Savelkoul, Chair of
the MN Sports Facilities Commission: "If we follow the rules and
the state law, the deal just doesn't work, and we can't make it
work."  The latest development in the "tortuous buyout
negotiations has the potential to kill Glen Taylor's purchase of
the T-Wolves -- a purchase that is still contingent on a public
takeover of the arena" (Patrick Sweeney, St. Paul PIONEER PRESS,
1/9).
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