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As construction on a new downtown Tampa arena for the Lightning continues, cost estimates for the new structure have gone up, according to today's TAMPA TRIBUNE. The latest estimate puts the price at $144.3M, nearly $10M more than the team predicted in a finance plan released three months ago. In '93, team officials said the arena could be built for $110M. Despite the rise, the taxpayers' portion of the bill -- about $84M -- is not increasing, according to Hillsborough County's Mike Merrill. Merrill said any cost increases will be paid by the team (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/27). BEHIND THE FINANCING: Construction costs are projected to run $70.9M. Other expenses: $11.1M for land purchases, $7M for architects and engineers and $846,000 for marketing and p.r, and an $8M contingency fund. The team's plan indicates they have secured a $55.9M construction loan from Shawmut and First Union Banks. Two institutional lenders -- New York Life Insurance and Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America -- have agreed to purchase about $60M in bonds once the project is done that will cover the Lightning's debt (Jim Kenyon, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/27).
A tax on parking spaces in the City of Cleveland is the recommended option for financing the renovation of Cleveland Stadium, sources tell the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Stephen Phillips reports that unnamed members of a task force appointed by Cleveland Mayor Michael White to determine the best way to pay for renovations, have said that a citywide parking tax "is the most feasible of the revenue producers under consideration." Several members say that the parking tax must be supplemented with other revenue-producers to pay for the $130M renovations, including contributions from the team or fans. Gov. George Voinovich has said the state would contribute up to 12% of the renovation costs through OH's capital improvements budget. Officials hope the renovations can be completed by '99; the Browns lease at the Stadium expires in '98 (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/26). POLITICAL MOVEMENT: Faced with the "threat of Ohio losing" its two NFL teams, state Sen. Stanley Aronoff urged a statewide task force studying stadium improvements for the Bengals and Browns to speed up its work. Aronoff called the situation "close to becoming a crisis" and said that the governor's willingness for the state to contribute up to 12% of the cost of renovating Cleveland Stadium should mean equal treatment in Cincinnati (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/27).