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The planned October 1 start date for construction of the Raptors' Air Canada Centre "will be delayed if politicians continue to insist on major changes," project manager Jay Cross said after a city committee turned down the team's latest proposal yesterday. If the committee's rejection is upheld by the Toronto City Council next week, construction will not start on time. Committee members rejected the plan because of the possibility of construction of high-rise residential developments planned by the Raptors and Canada Post near the arena. Cross: "The more the delay drags on, the less enchanted our fans will be playing in the SkyDome and the more we'll have to start considering our other alternatives." Cross said that could mean another site. The NBA "would not be thrilled" by such a move, according to Cross: "They've granted a franchise which was conditional on a new stadium. If you don't deliver a new stadium, you're at risk" (Paul Moloney, TORONTO STAR, 4/21).
The Packers, who will play all games at Green Bay's Lambeau Field next year, have had a 96% renewal rate from ticket-holders for those games formerly played at Milwaukee County Stadium. The team expected only a 75% rate from those Milwaukee fans, many of whom face a long drive to Green Bay. The team is currently adding 90 more luxury boxes and a new, 46-seat auxiliary press box as part of a $8M Lambeau renovation. The waiting list for Packer season tickets is now 19,000 (Mike O'Hara, DETROIT NEWS, 4/21). LIONS WANT MORE TO ROAR: The Lions plan to reduce prices on about 5,000 tickets in the upper level of the Silverdome from $30 to around $20. The team will also keep end zone bleacher seats priced at $12.50. Lions Vice Chair Bill Ford Jr. said the team, locked into their lease until 2004, is limited in what they can do "regarding ticket prices and 'fan-friendly' improvements." Ford: "We're going to take a look at the whole approach to tickets, with the goal of getting as close to a sellout as we can every week" (Mike O'Hara, DETROIT NEWS, 4/21).
Arthur Griffiths, chair of Northwest Entertainment Group, unveiled a model of the new state-of-the-art scoreboard for GM Place. The arena will be home to the Canucks and the expansion Grizzlies. The Mitsubishi "Diamond Vision," an eight-sided scoreboard, will cost $6M. The 62,000-pound video scoreboard has four 9-foot-by-12-foot full color screens, four monochrome message boards and will be controlled from a miniature TV studio. Only the Madison Square Garden, the new United Center, and Kiel Center have eight-sided video scoreboards. As part of the sponsorship arrangement, Mitsubishi will also provide 499 TVs throughout GM Place. NEG also announced a deal with sound system supplier Bose Corp., who will install 400 loudspeakers (Gary Kingston, VANCOUVER SUN, 4/21). Griffiths, who recently endured a corporate restructuring, admitted yesterday it has been a tough year. Griffiths: "The most difficult emotion was realizing that in 24 months we had started the building, been awarded the franchise and then gone to the Cup final and all the incredible stress of keeping it together was so tough" (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver PROVINCE, 4/21).