SBD/28/Facilities Venues

WITHOUT MAJOR TENANT, NEW ARENA IN SAN DIEGO ON BACK BURNER

     The prospect of building a new arena in downtown San Diego
is "dubious at best," according to Barry Bloom of the SAN DIEGO
UNION-TRIBUNE.  Although the city has control of the project and
can offer full control to a franchise owner willing to move an
NBA or NHL team, the city does "not intend to dangle financial
giveaways similar to the huge sums recently awarded" NFL teams.
City Manager Jack McGrory said the city will not fully fund an
estimated $154.8M arena without a "substantial investment from a
team," adding "it is not realistic to expect a rent-free sports
arena."  Without a team, the city would be on the hook for close
to $7-8M a year to operate the building and service the debt.
Gaining an expansion franchise is not likely as the NBA does not
plan to expand until the turn of the century and the NHL will not
move there "without approval" of the Mighty Ducks, who claim San
Diego as part of their territory.  Therefore, arena plans have
"been placed on the city's back burner" and questions remain on
the city's ability to support pro sports.  McGrory:  "If the
business community wants to help come up with the money, we'll do
it.  But things like that don't happen in this town."  Mighty
Ducks President Tony Tavares:  "You've got the failure of two
basketball teams, the Padres' problem drawing people to baseball
games.  Even the IHL moved out. ... Those things are going to
impact whether anyone wants to go in there with an NBA or NHL
team" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 11/27).
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