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MN legislative leaders announced yesterday they will put a new Twins stadium to a public referendum, according to the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Leaders are unsure when the question will come up, but polls done for the Twins show the best time to get a Yes vote could be the September 10 primary. Some fear the issue would face a closer vote in a more crowded November general election. The vote is non-binding, and even with voter approval, legislators would still need to back some public financing. A bill to authorize a referendum asks voters "if they favor construction of an open-air, retractable-canopy stadium, financed by contributions from the Twins, private sources, a hotel-motel and liquor tax and a surcharge on admissions to the stadium." The question does not mention cost or location (Robert Whereatt, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/18).
The Nets yesterday reportedly dropped a lawsuit against the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority which challenged the name change from Brendan Byrne to Continental Airlines Arena. The deal would reportedly give the Nets a "piece of the" $29M naming rights deal and other ad revenue. A source told AP that some the revenue includes "some that Coca-Cola pays for a sign right outside the arena" (N.Y. POST, 1/18). The deal reportedly brings the Nets' lease closer to the "better terms enjoyed" by the Devils (Bergen RECORD, 1/18).
The start of construction on a new stadium for the Brewers could be delayed because of problems with the team's finances, according to the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Although groundbreaking is scheduled for March 17 or 18, a "delay of a few weeks is almost inevitable," and one source said groundbreaking "could be put off by three or four months." The "elements in doubt" appear to be the team's $90M share of the stadium's cost, including a $50M loan from the WI Housing and Economic Development Authority and $40M that they agreed to raise themselves. WHEDA Exec Dir Frank Ruf said the process was running behind and said they are "very concerned. There are a lot of hurdles if we're going to meet the March 17 deadline." One problem complicating the WHEDA loan is the "fact that three major financial institutions have liens on Brewers revenue sources that could take precedence over the Brewers' obligation to WHEDA bond-holders." The team also has not "nailed down their direct" $40M funding -- $25M is to come from naming rights, but the team just hired a new Vice President to sell those rights on January 5 (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/18).
The Giants will kick off their campaign for a new, privately financed stadium on Saturday by holding "Opening Day of the Yes on B Campaign." The event will consist of newly-elected Mayor Willie Brown and Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays opening the campaign headquarters (Giants).