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Hoteliers in Boston said yesterday that they will "reluctantly back a hotel tax hike to help finance a new convention center, but not if a stadium is part of the plan," according to this morning's BOSTON HERALD. The group prefers a "shelf tax" -- which would go into effect only if the convention center failed to generate enough new revenue to cover costs -- rather than a direct increase. Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau President Patrick Moscaritolo: "The industry wants to be responsive and is willing to talk about alternative financing plans, but they all believe the domed stadium element benefits the sports and entertainment industries, not the convention industry" (Phil Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 5/3). MEGAPLEX NOT SO LUCRATIVE? Price Waterhouse consultant David Peterson has offered state megaplex commission officials evidence that the facility would "break even at best and would more likely fall substantially short of paying for itself." The report indicates that the convention center linked to a domed stadium would cost between $51-74M a year in debt service, yet would only generate $53M a year in increased tax revenue. Commission Co-chair Kevin Fitzgerald said Peterson did nothing to cause the panel to abandon its efforts on behalf of the megaplex, but others have concerns. Marisa Lago, chief of economic development for Boston Mayor Tom Menino: "Today's information was certainly sobering." While it appears likely that plans for a "stand-alone" convention center will proceed, the future for the megaplex is less certain because most of the football revenue would be generated by local residents who don't bring new money to the state (Richard Kindleberger, BOSTON GLOBE, 5/2). COMMISSION SEEKS PR FIRM: The megaplex commission is looking for a public relations firm to promote it. The four reportedly being considered: Rasky & Co., Regan Communications, Burnieika, Bearfield and Emerson, and Copley Communications (Joan Vennochi, BOSTON GLOBE, 5/3).
Officials from Pinellas County and St. Petersburg are still "far apart" on how to come up with $20M of the $50M needed to renovate the ThunderDome. County commissioners, who are facing a Tuesday deadline to decide how to pay the $20M, met yesterday to try to agree on as many as eight financing options proposed by county and city leaders. Nothing was agreed upon, however, and the commissioners will meet again on Friday (Carlos Moncada, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/3). PSL'S COULD BE COMING TO TAMPA: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's stadium task force said yesterday that it is "seriously considering" using permanent seat licenses to help pay for stadium improvements. According to Tampa Sports Authority Chair Chuck Davis, the "major advantage" of using PSL's would be be to decreases taxpayers' share of stadium improvements. Costs for renovations are estimated at $100M (Jim Kenyon, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/3). In wanting to use PSL's, the task force also expressed interest in hiring sports marketing consultant Max Muhleman to implement the plan. According to Muhleman, the "key" question would be "not whether the stadium is new or improved, but whether fans can get a 'seat and entertainment opportunity superior to what they have' now." Other key considerations are the cost of the improvements and the community's ability to sign Bucs owner Glazer to a long-term lease. According to the TSA's Davis, Glazer "might be more willing to commit himself to a 30- year lease at a new stadium than at a renovated facility" (Richard Danielson, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/3).
Oilers owner Bud Adams, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Rockets minority owner Gary Bradley were all in Austin Monday to show support for a measure sceheduled to ge before the Senate that would allow cities to designate enterprise zones that would direct tax revenues toward building a new stadium or arena. TX State Sen. Royce West, the sponsor of the bill, withheld it from consideration Monday as he was concerned about getting enough support for a floor vote. West: "It allows us to expand out sports venues, and more people will attend them. ... Take the Oilers and the Cowboys, they don't have sufficient capacity to host a Super Bowl. If you look at the last Super Bowl in Florida, that state gained benefits of $264 million. Those are dollars I want to see in Texas." In addition, officials of the Rangers and Astros have voiced opposition to the measure. West hoped to see it before the Senate this week. State Rep. Curtis Seidlits is sponsoring a similar bill which is still pending before the House (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/2).