SBD/4/Facilities Venues


     When Tampa Bay was awarded an expansion franchise last
month, MLB owners gave the city a deadline of April 30 to submit
a signed lease to MLB.  With that deadline 25 days away, Devil
Rays Managing General Partner Vince Naimoli is "upset that
elected officials have not worked out a deal to make improvements
to the ThunderDome."  It is estimated that the Dome needs about
$20M to prepare it for the Rays' '98 season -- which would cover
dugouts, clubhouses, scoreboards and artificial turf.  But the
problem is an "additional" $20M, which came up during recent
lease negotiations between the city and the team.  Naimoli, who
would "not explain" what the extra money would go towards, said
local officials "have known of these costs for at least a month."
Naimoli was unsure of what will happen if the deadline is not
met:  "If you don't have a stadium that conforms to baseball
specifications, what's the alternative?" (Seaton, Topkin & Davey,
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/4).  According to St. Petersburg city
attorney Mike Davis, the city plans to file an application for
state money tomorrow.  If granted, the "special state sales tax
fund" would "guarantee" $2M a year for 30 years or the city
"probably" could receive $20-25M "all at once" (Bill Chastain,
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Facilities, MLB, Tampa Bay Rays

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