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The DC council voted unanimously yesterday to approve an agreement between Bullets/Capitals owner Abe Pollin and Mayor Marion Barry to build a downtown arena. The vote came after Pollin refused to conditions that would require him to generate more money for the city. Pollin has agreed to pay $180M for the construction of the facility, while DC will pay an estimated $50M for site preparation, including land sale. The Council's Committee on Economic Development recommended that Pollin's teams be required to play all pre-and post-season games at the facility, be responsible for filling 290 days of events, and arena concessionaires to pay a real estate tax. But Pollin's objections, and the fact MD "still is pushing him to keep his teams in Prince George's County -- prompted the council to back down" (Michael Fletcher, WASHINGTON POST, 2/8).
MA residents want the Patriots to stay in the state, "but they are firmly opposed to spending public dollars to upgrade Foxboro Stadium or to build the team a Boston megaplex home," according to a poll in this morning's BOSTON GLOBE. The poll, conducted by KRC Communications for the BOSTON GLOBE from February 5-6, surveyed 400 MA residents on the issue of public assistance in the wake of comments by Patriots Owner Bob Kraft that he was promised financial aid by the state when he bought the team. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5%. Pollster Gerry Chervinsky: "The majority says 'build a convention center but don't send state money on a football facility'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/8). QUESTION: Should the state pay to make improvements to Foxboro Stadium? 68% No, 20% Yes. QUESTION: Should the state pay to make improvements to roads near Foxboro Stadium? 57% Yes, 34% No. QUESTION: Should the state pay to construct a convention center/stadium megaplex, or should the state construct a convention center and let the Patriots pay for a new stadium if they want one, or should the state spend no money on any kind of facility like this?
Convention Center/Stadium33% No facility31% Convention Center only28%
Just making threats53% He means it28%
QUESTION: How important is it to the image of Massachusetts to have a pro football team?
Very important37% Somewhat important38% Not important at all24%
ON THE OWNER: 59% called Kraft a "savvy businessman who purchased a valuable NFL franchise and should not expect state help." Only 23% said Kraft was a "civic-minded leader who deserved state aid for keeping the team here when there were fears the Patriots would move" (Scot Lehigh, BOSTON GLOBE, 2/8).
The Raptors are in "delicate" negotiations with Marathon Realty over a parcel of land for their new 22,500-seat arena previously slated toward an open space and a community service building. The Raptors now are trying to determine where that building and open space, required by the city, will be relocated. Until the issue is resolved, the deal to buy the land from Canada Post, "is in limbo." (Doug Smith, CP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL).
Tigers President John McHale says the team "is no longer in a financial position" to build a new ballpark without state funding, according to the DETROIT NEWS. In the past, team owner Mike Ilitch has said he would fund the $175M park with the expectation state and local governments would pay for roads, sewers, environmental cleanup and associated costs. State legislative leaders did not react enthusiastically to the new plan. House Appropriations Committee Chair Don Gilmer: "It just went from a tough sell to an impossible sell....I get as excited as anyone when Cecil Fielder towers one out of the park, but I don't feel a strong urge to provide Cecil, or the other players, with a new stadium at taxpayer expense so they can make another million in salary." Gov. John Engler says the Tigers would have to "bring the state of Michigan on as a business partner" in exchange for help on a new ballpark. Engler's press secretary, John Truscott: "If there's to be state money involved (for the stadium itself), we have to get some of the benefits, get a cut of the profits or be paid back in some way." State Rep. Maxine Berman doubts the team would get help from the state, and thinks even a metropolitan-wide referendum to decide to help pay for a ballpark would fail (Charlie Cain, DETROIT NEWS, 2/7). A DETROIT FREE-PRESS editorial states the Tigers announcement "makes it tougher to envision a politically defensible, economically sound plan for a new stadium" (2/7).
Gov. Tommy Thompson has refused to push for more Indian gaming in exchange for money that could help build a new stadium for the Brewers. However, Thompson "propped the door open" for discussions on "revenue sharing" -- having the tribes give up a share of their growing profits to the state (Steve Schultze, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 2/7). NO PROPERTY TAX: Milwaukee Common Council President John Kalwitz predicts any stadium financing plan that includes sizeable contributions from the city thorough increased property taxes would be "dead-on-arrival" (Nichols & Enriquez, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, 2/7).