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RAPTORS FINALLY GET APPROVAL TO BUILD THEIR NEST

     The Raptors received "overwhelming approval" from the
Toronto City Council yesterday for their $200M arena project by a
13-3 margin (Don Wanagas, TORONTO SUN, 7/25).  According to
Raptors Stadium Project Manager Jay Cross, "If all goes according
to plan," construction will begin around October 1.  Robert
MacLeod reports that the most "contentious part of the deal"
involved a half-acre near the site that is owned by the city.
The city estimates that the property is worth between C3.8-$4.5M,
but, according to the deal, the Raptors "will not have to pay
cash for that property."  Rather, the team, which intends to turn
the land over to a developer in exchange for another piece of
property that the arena will be built on, will pay "in kind
compensation."  The Raptors will give the city 450 tickets per
year for 20 years and free use of the stadium six days annually
over the same period.  The team will also provide C$80,000 a year
for 20 years for a midnight basketball league for youths and to
help establish anti-drug programs.  Although the deal was
"overwhelmingly approved," not all involved were pleased.
Councilor Kay Gardner:  "It's just like Caesar came in with his
legions and all the peasants just lay down on the ground"
(Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 7/25).
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