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Bears President Michael McCaskey, who has stated he opposes the idea of his team playing in a domed stadium, urged IL Gov. Jim Edgar to "quickly get the ball moving" on talks to build a dome in downtown Chicago, according to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Aides for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who has said he will not support a taxpayer-financed stadium, say the Mayor "will consider" a dome that "doesn't burden taxpayer wallets." The TRIB's Kiley and Pearson write that "effectively" means Daley is "giving up his push for an open-air stadium" tied to the Univ. of IL-Chicago. The "McDome" project would be tied to the McCormick Place Convention Center and is being touted by developer Richard Stein and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA). "The key to the plan" is the MPEA's ability to issue bonds to cover the project's cost, with few taxpayer dollars required. Under the plan, the MPEA would issue at least $285M in bonds to build the project. Revenues from tickets, PSLs, skyboxes, advertising, concessions and parking from Bears games and other events would pay back the bonds. Taxpayers would fund related public works, similar to the $30M the state put up for improvements around the privately-financed United Center. One possible obstacle, raised by McCaskey, is how much the team would get from stadium revenues versus how much would be needed to retire the construction debt (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/21). EARLY REAX: An editorial in this week's CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS urges all sides to "focus on McDome." CRAIN'S calls for Daley to "throw his weight" behind the plan and "overcome his anger over Mr. McCaskey's threats." The editorial calls for a "modest" contribution from the city and state. "If Mr. McCaskey doesn't bite at that, we'll gladly bid the Bears farewell" (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 8/21 issue). A dome in Chicago "would change the face" of the city "and alter the character of its sports," writes the TRIB's Andrew Gottesman. A dome could create a huge economic boost to the city, with events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/22). GREEN GRASS, NO SKY: Developer Stein is exploring the option of placing grass in any McDome project, according to this morning's CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Stein has reportedly talked with researchers at Michigan State who placed grass in the Silverdome for the '94 World Cup. Designers say McDome could be the first dome built with a grass field in mind, with a roof that would allow in more light and facilities to maintain the turf (CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 8/22).
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino yesterday suggested "that if the Red Sox eventually leave Fenway Park, the ballpark might serve as the location for the corporate headquarters of Reebok," according to this morning's BOSTON GLOBE. Menino said Fenway "would make a great campus" for the company, which is currently based in Stoughton, MA. Menino, who said he had not discussed the idea with Reebok officials, said a Reebok-Fenway deal would give the company "a great showcase," while "maintaining the agricultural integrity" of Fenway. However, Menino "signaled" that keeping the Sox at Fenway could be his first priority. Don Aucoin writes that the Mayor "may urge the Red Sox to take another look at an earlier city proposal -- already spurned by the club -- to expand Fenway Park in its existing location." The team is in favor of replacing Fenway with a ballpark in South Boston (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22).
Washington, DC's financial control board is reportedly upset with Mayor Marion Barry over a $47M plan to rent office space from a friend, saying "it is full of hidden costs and apparently violates city procurement laws." The leases are key since to the plan for a new downtown arena since the city needs to move about 720 office workers from two buildings on the arena site (Philip Pan, WASHINGTON POST, 8/20). The WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL reports that two DC street closings, required to construct the downtown arena, "could pose major problems to completing the project." The issue goes before the National Capital Planning Commission (WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/24). REDSKINS LAND: The POST examines the $72M in public funds necessary for Jack Kent Cooke's new Redskins Stadium in Prince George's County, MD. The money primarily will be used for infrastructure improvements. The consensus of economists surveyed by the POST: "If Cooke's assumptions bear out, and many of them are rational assumptions, the project would be a net financial gain for the public (Leonhardt & Gillis, WASHINGTON POST, 8/20).
The Tampa Sports Authority began assembling a team of experts yesterday to help build a new stadium for the Buccaneers. They are currently searching for an expert on stadium construction costs, an accounting firm and a financial adviser (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 8/22)....In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli reports that "odds now appear favorable" that repairs to the Georgia Dome "will be adequate enough" so that the Falcons can play their regular season home opener on September 3 (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/22)....The NJSEA has acknowledged that it had "other reasons -- besides messy fans -- to justify the 67 percent increase" in parking fees for Giants games. The authority plans to use some of the money to study an off-site parking and shuttle bus plan to relieve parking lot congestion (Bergen RECORD, 8/22)....In Milwaukee, state negotiators "drove a hard bargain" in the recently-released deal to build a $250M stadium "sources involved in the negotiations" told the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The team originally pushed for an escape clause from the deal if attendance fell to a certain level, but did not get it. Also, the team "choked initially" at a state demand for a $100M contribution, but eventually agreed to kick in $90M (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/22)....Central FL is being considered as the site for a $50M bass-fishing theme park planned by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. Volusia and Brevard counties are among 200 potential locations for the facility that is to be called B.A.S.S. Outdoor America (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/22).