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The MI Strategic Fund yesterday approved a $55M grant to help pay for a new ballpark for the Tigers in the Fox Theatre district near downtown, and they set a "strict timetable" for completion, according to today's DETROIT NEWS. The city reportedly "must approve" its $35M share of stadium financing by the year's end, and construction "must begin" by April 1, "or the state will pull its money back." The Tigers must also come up with $140M. Lynn Waldsmith notes, among other things, the city will refinance existing Downtown Development Authority bonds to raise its share of funding. James Tervo, an aide to Mayor Dennis Archer, predicted the city council will meet its deadline. Under terms of the grant: 1) No more than $25M would be allocated for land acquisition -- the remaining $30M must be spent on public infrastructure; 2) The Tigers must sign an occupancy agreement for not less than 15 years by December 31; 3) The Strategic Fund must be repaid if the public stadium is sold or transferred to a private entity (DETROIT NEWS, 9/21).
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has asked K.C.-based sports architectural firm, HOK, to draft an overhaul plan for Soldier Field similar to what was done for the Gator Bowl, according to in today's CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Park District Supt. Forrest Claypool said yesterday that a rehab, along with "more favorable terms for the Bears, could take place without raising property taxes or jeopardizing the park budget." HOK is expected to draft a renovation that does not include rotating the playing field 90 degrees, but closer to the plan that was scrapped in '93. That project included 4,000 premium-priced club seats, enlarged skyboxes, new washrooms, concessions and a high-tech scoreboard (Spielman & Drell, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/21).
A day after oilman Chuck Watson bought operating rights to The Summit and proposed $45M in improvements be financed with taxpayer and team funds, Houston Mayor Bob Lanier said his "longstanding opposition" to using public funds on a new football stadium also applies to improvements to the Summit. The mayor, however, did leave open the possibility of some form of public financing for renovations, "with a sanction from taxpayers" (Mason & Williams HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/21).
Proponents of a new baseball stadium in Seattle said yesterday that they "hope to propose at least one more financing plan" if voters reject the current effort (AP/Baltimore SUN, 9/21)....Local and state representatives from Racine County, WI, have said the county "is not part of the Milwaukee metro area." They oppose including the county in a taxing district needed to help pay for a new Brewers stadium (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/21)....Murray Chass reports NJ officials "have been careful not to initiate formal talks" about the Yankees moving there, lest they be viewed "as trying to steal the team." Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner said that the team "is interested in anyone who will talk to us" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/21).