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In recommending South Boston/Summer Street as the location for a proposed convention center-sports complex costing $800M-1B, the MA special megaplex commission "chose the site with the biggest potential payoff -- but also the most daunting challenges," according to Richard Kindleberger in this morning's BOSTON GLOBE. While the 10-3 vote for Summer Street over the competing CrossTown project was a "major step forward for megaplex boosters, commissioner said it was only a beginning. The group still has to devise a plan to finance the project, overcome potentially strong opposition from South Boston residents and politicians and persuade the Legislature and Gov. Weld to approve it." On the issue of financing, the commission's fiscal subcommittee was to meet today with the question of possible fees and taxes on the agenda. The commission is also trying to convince companies -- ITT and Gillette are mentioned -- to invest in the project (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/25). MONEY, MONEY: MA Senate President William Bulger said a hotel tax should be considered, if even for just the convention center. Gov. Weld has opposed all taxes for the project. Commission members said the Patriots' contribution, $5M a year for 25 years, would cover 30-40% of incremental stadium financing costs. Weld: "The way out of the woods on (financing the stadium) is to bring in partners from the private sector either for naming rights or for other sorts of relationships with the professional sports teams involved" (Phil Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 5/25). FROM THE TEAMS: The plan includes new stadiums for both the Patriots and Red Sox. While Patriots Owner Robert Kraft had no preference between sites, Red Sox CEO John Harrington was "thrilled" with the choice. Harrington: "That's where we want it to be, whether they go through with the megaplex or not. This would be perfect." As for the Patriots, Kraft received confirmation from NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue that he would recommend Boston get the Super Bowl in 2001. Will McDonough notes, "In his five years in office, Tagliabue has seldom been so aggressive on an issue like this" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/25). While Red Sox officials and commission members felt they could reach "a conceptual deal" by June 1, other key issues, including financing, must be cleared first. The Red Sox have agreed to pay $150M for their own stadium, but "they want land and infrastructure to be provided" (Phil Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 5/25). OTHER REACTION: A BOSTON GLOBE editorial notes: "Site selection is easy compared with the difficult matter of finance" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/25). Senate President Bulger and U.S. Rep. Joe Moakley, both from South Boston, withheld judgment. Bulger: "I want to know what the impact is on the community" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/25). Columnist Rachelle Cohen calls the site a "romantic vision" and floats the possibility that some "powerful people in town" wouldn't mind losing the football stadium portion of the project (BOSTON HERALD, 5/25). Community leaders in Roxbury, home to CrossTown, "vowed a fight until the ground was broken to bring the megaplex to Roxbury" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/25).
TX House Speaker Pete Laney ruled on Tuesday that legislation to provide tax subsidies to erect new sports venues in Texas cities could not be considered, which "effectively killed the bill," according to the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Laney's move came after State Rep. Kenneth Brimer raised a point of order on the bill charging that the House State Affairs Committee did not meet in the "announced" location when it considered the bill and thus prevented the public from having the chance to attend the committee discussion, as required by law (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/24). Brimer, who resides in Kennedale, near Arlington, apparently was motivated to defeat the bill because the final version "forbid the Mavericks from moving to Arlington." The bill was sponsored by Dallas State Rep. Royce West, and was called "typical Dallas arrogance," by Arlington Mayor Richard Greene, who is also upset about a letter from Dallas that threatens to sue Arlington if they negotiate with the Mavericks. Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett says Brimer's dismissal of the bill on a technicality was "a sneak attack. Mr. Brimer, for reasons known only to him, essentially declared war on his neighbors." Mavericks GM Norm Sonju said that the death of the bill could perhaps lead "to the exodus of other professional sports teams in the state" (Christopher Ave, FT. WORTH STAR- TELEGRAM, 5/25). KING JERRY: Irving officials said the defeat of the bill "doesn't have any material effect" on the city's potential cooperation with Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones for improvements to Texas Stadium. Jones is seeking partial funding for a $180M renovation of the stadium, including sealing the roof, adding several thousand more seats and an interactive theme park (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/25).