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The Raptors' "complicated land deal" to build their new arena has been completed, according to David Israelson in today's TORONTO STAR. Raptors President John Bitove: "The lawyers have finished negotiating and we expect to receive the executed copies this week." Bitove says the ball is now in "city council's court"(TORONTO STAR, 2/28). LONELY LEAFS? The TORONTO STAR's hockey notes section speculates the Leafs "might have missed the boat" by not announcing plans for a new Maple Leaf Gardens before the Raptors unveiled their new home. By doing so, the Leafs could have likely "induced the big lenders to shy away from the Raptors." Now, however, the Raptors "will almost certainly bring" an IHL team to the Air Canada Centre, leaving the Leafs "on their own" (TORONTO STAR, 2/28).
The corporate consumption of the sports world -- "where everything is for sale" -- is analyzed by Tom Farrey of the SEATTLE TIMES. Farrey reports the NBA has been the most aggressive in pursuing corporate sponsorship for arena advertising and naming rights and "few franchises are doing it with more precision that the SuperSonics, who have taken the rare step of creating a separate company, Full House Sports & Entertainment, that specializes in corporate sponsorship." Full House is in the process of selling arena advertising for the renovated Key Center, through which the Sonics could make more than $5M. Each corner in the new arena will feature an 80-foot high "media pole." Full House adds that the new arena "will have fewer ad panels than other NBA facilities. But because of the ability to get their message across amid less clutter, sponsors are willing to pay more for the advertising" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/27).
The Stars "angrily refused" to sign a lease with the city of Dallas yesterday, as the team's "contentious relationship" with the city "took another turn for the worse." City officials had given the team until yesterday to sign a "formal lease" to continue playing at Reunion Arena. But Stars President Jim Lites sent a letter to Dallas City Manager John Ware saying that "the city's offer fell short of what the team had been promised" when it moved city from Minneapolis in '93. According to Lites, the city promised the team "the same rights and provisions held by the Mavericks." But in the latest offer, the Stars "would have far less favorable dates for nongame events; a smaller-than- promised space for offices and a club; and would be forced to install costly adjustable platforms" to alter the seating configuration, which Lites said are unnecessary (Christopher Ave, FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, 2/28).