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Manitoba Entertainment Complex Inc. was "granted the rights" by the Winnipeg city council to build a new $110M arena, but with a "few conditions." MEC must come up with a plan to frees taxpayers from the 50-50 loss sharing deal between the province and the city, that expires in '97. Those losses could be more than $40M over two years. Some council members were concerned that by approving the business plan guidelines, the council "was in effect handing over the $12 million parcel of land" and "committing itself to servicing it for another $12 million." And, because the city and the province already own 36% of the Jets, "they warned that wouldn't be the end of public contributions." A spokesperson for MEC said "the deal is far from done" (Scott Edmonds, CP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/2). Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow "says there's only one thing that can kill the arena deal in Winnipeg. Revenue sharing. Or lack of same." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the WINNIPEG SUN: "It makes it too political when you say it's a revenue-sharing issue. It may be and it may not be. I think what we have to do is figure out what the problem is, figure out how to address it, then address it. ... But this is a front-burner issue" (Ed Willes, WINNIPEG SUN, 2/2).
This week the Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER ran a four-part series on the future on the Browns, called "A Big League Town: The Cost of Staying in the NFL." SUNDAY: Part I examined the value of the Browns to the city and area in light of Owner Art Modell's comments that he may have to sell the Browns if he doesn't receive a new or renovated stadium. On the question of whether the investment is "worth it in terms of community prestige and return on the dollar," economists "see it as part boon, part boondoggle" (Bonnie DeSimone, Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER, 1/29). MONDAY: Part II examined the ways municipalities have handled stadium construction, noting that for some cities "being competitive can be expensive." Renovation successes in Jacksonville, Seattle and Tampa, along with new stadium projects in Miami, St. Louis and Charlotte, are featured. (Steven Koff, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/30). TUESDAY: Part III compared Municipal Stadium to other "state of the art" stadiums around the NFL. Due to the fact that it "falls short in dozens of ways," renovations will cost an estimated $130M for a "massive internal makeover" (Steven Litt, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/31). WEDNESDAY: Part IV examines potential sources of money to pay for a new stadium. The Task Force, which hopes to deliver a recommendation to Cleveland Mayor Michael White by mid-February, has "declined to say whether they have any favorite financing plans." Some options the Task Force is considering: A regional stadium authority that could levy sales taxes; a Cleveland parking lot tax; a surcharge on Browns home game tickets; a statewide "soda pop tax"; and a capital improvements appropriation from the state. The chosen revenue source "will likely be used to support issuance of economic development revenue bonds" (Stephen Phillips, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/1). ADDENDUM: A proposal for a "Sports Mart" attached to the renovated Municipal Stadium is now "in the hands" of the Task Force, according to Stan Bullard of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. The Mart would include a sports mall, a hotel, and a sports medicine clinic. It "would make the stadium more than just a home for football games" and could produce profits to help repay bonds sold to finance the stadium renovations (CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 1/30-2/5 issue).
Oilers Owner Bud Adams had discussed the idea of a new publicly-financed, state-of-the-art domed facility for his team in downtown Houston or in the surrounding area. But lack of public support killed the proposal in late September. Today, we look at the Astrodome and their lease with the Oilers -- No. 29 in our series of 30 profiles.
STADIUM:Astrodome, Houston, TX
AGE: Completed in 1965 COST: Original cost of $31.6M. Approximately $100M additional has been spent on the Astrodome and accompanying Astrohall and Astro areana improvements. MANAGEMENT: Astrodome is operated by Astrodome USA, a sister company of the Astros, which manages the facility under a lease with Harris County, TX. CAPACITY: 59,905 -- 3rd lowest in the NFL. LUXURY SEATS: 65 "Columbia" Suites, 52 Sky boxes. Columbia Suites and Sky Boxes are controlled for football by the Oilers who operate and retain all revenues. PARKING: Parking for 25,000 cars -- $4-5 a car. Oilersretain 6,500 spaces and receive all revenue. Astrodome USA retains 18,500 spaces and all revenue. CONCESSIONS: Handled by ARA. Team receives 46.5% of Astrodome USA's net revenues for all football games. ADVERTISING: Astrodome USA retains all revenues from fixed advertising. Oilers receive 50% of Diamond Vision Video revenue. GAME-DAY: Astrodome pays for utilities, parking and traffic personnel. Oilers pay all other game-day expenses. MAINTENANCE: County pays all capital maintenance/improvements. RENT: Maximum rent at current prices and capacity is $1,650,000.00 LEASE: Expires in '97. PUBLIC $: Team receives no governmental subsidies.
Howard Rawlings, chair of the MD House Committee on Appropriations, has offered public funding for a "Jack Kent Cooke Harbordome" if the Redskins Owner were to move his team to Baltimore. Cooke apparently is not interested. Rawlings' offer includes the Maryland Stadium Authority building a domed stadium adjacent to Oriole Park. Cooke responded that although Rawlings made a "very persuasive case," he is "virtually committed" to another location in the Baltimore-DC corridor (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 2/2).