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CLEVELAND OFFICIALS PREP FOR EXPECTED "GRILLING" TODAY
Published January 4, 1996
Accompanied by local business leaders "prepared to guarantee the sale of loge and club seats in a refurbished stadium," Cleveland Mayor Michael White arrives in Atlanta today to make his case before NFL owners on the city's proposed Cleveland Stadium renovation. According to Len Pasquarelli of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, "How sympathetic an audience White encounters, however, remains to be seen." Pasquarelli notes of the 14 owners on the league's Finance and Stadium Committees, "eight either face stadium crises similar to those cited by Browns Owner Art Modell or have already announced that they are moving their teams to new cities" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/4). The owners are "eager" for White to present specifics of his $175M renovation plan, with much of the focus expected on Cleveland's corporate community and its willingness to purchase luxury suites and club seats. In response, White will have Harry Howell III, who was responsible for the successful marketing of Gund Arena and Jacobs Field boxes, outline his sales strategy. As for details, Nancy Lesic, White's press secretary, said they will keep specifics of the plan and the revenue projections secret until after the meeting of NFL owners on January 17 (Bart Hubbuch, Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 1/4). EARLY PEEK: Yesterday's Cleveland PLAIN DEALER notes the plan includes changes from the proposal offered the Browns days after the team's move announcement -- including an additional $6- 13M in costs to provide club seating. Frederick Nance, White's counsel on the stadium issue, said the added costs would be paid by club seat holders. The revenue breakdown: $140M from city sin and parking taxes; $26M from the state (although the state's 15% could mean more money under an expanded plan); $6M from the city Utilities Dept.; $3M from the Regional Transit Authority. Pre-renovations, the plan would guarantee the Browns $16.3M in new revenues in '96 and an average of $19M per year over 30 years (Heider & Koff, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/3). DOUBTERS: According to several experts surveyed by the Baltimore SUN on the city's November 8 proposal to the Browns, it will not be an "easy sell." One source familiar with the new plan said it is "better" than the earlier proposal, but still follows "many of the same guidelines and assumptions." The SUN does note revenue estimates now could be as high as $200M (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/4).