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The 13-member MA Convention Center Commission unanimously voted yesterday to build a downtown Boston convention-sports complex that could include stadiums for the Patriots and the Red Sox and cost as much as $1B. Now the "real challenge" is in forming a financial plan that "brings in the private investment interest that everyone agrees is crucial and win legislative approval." The commission also eliminated two sites, leaving three sites in the running (Richard Kindleberger, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/20). According to records filed with the MA Secretary of State, Patriots owner Robert Kraft's Foxboro Stadium Associates has paid $8,500 to the lobbying firm of Joyce and Joyce during the megaplex debate. New Boston Garden Corp. paid $19,500 to lobbyist William Coyne in '94 and '95 to "monitor megaplex issues" (Phil Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 4/20).
The S.F. Giants and the developer of a possible ballpark in the city's Mission Bay area have been paying two "well-known" lobbyists "big bucks" to advance plans for a new ballpark, according to a report in the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER. According to financial disclosure statements filed by the lobbyists for the first three months of '95, the team and Catellus Devlopment Corp. have paid out a total of $21,500 to lobbyists Marcia Smolens and Jack Davis. San Francisco voters have twice voted against a new stadium, and according to the EXAMINER, some activists are "already vowing to fight any new plan, particularly if public financing is involved." Giants VP Larry Baer: "We need to work with people who understand the political and governmental side of the issue." Baer added that the team has hired different consultants to work on "a variety of angles," including, architecture, financing and political issues (Rachel Gordon, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, 4/20).
Hillsborough County Administrator Dan Kleman released a new $98M renovation plan for Tampa Stadium that calls for "local public dollars to pick up less than a third of the cost." Under Kleman's plan, $30M would be raised through the sale of Permanent Seat Licenses (Kevin Walker, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/19). The Glazer family, new owners of the Bucs, refused to say if Kleman's proposal was "adequate" for the team to stay. In this morning's ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Larry Dougherty writes that "the Glazers' position ultimately remains unchanged from the January day when they struck a deal to purchase the team -- the day Joel Glazer said 'this city needs a new stadium to make it work' -- the stage may be set for a stalemate" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/20). MORE DEADLINES: The City of St. Petersburg has asked Pinellas County Commissioners to raise the county's tourist tax to pay for their $20M obligation for improvements to make the Thunderdome baseball-ready. However, the commissioners will not be able to vote on the issue until May 9. MLB has set a April 30 deadline for the Devil Rays to submit a stadium lease; and local officials have asked Rays Owner Vince Naimoli to request more time. Naimoli will reportedly consider the request, "but might not agree" to honor it, according to team officials. Rays General Council John Higgins: "He still wants to see what path we're travelling down" (Neusner & Moncada, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/20).