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The Charlotte City Council received two letters yesterday, which said that if the city plans to sell the Coliseum, "others besides [Hornets Owner George] Shinn are interested" (Mary Elizabeth Deangelis, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/1). Interviews with Shinn and others have indicated that Shinn "will negotiate for a lot more than just the building," including 155 city-owned acres at the Coliseum site, 18 additional acres nearby, a property tax break for "several years," and a lease on Independence Arena "that will allow him to reduce competition" with the Coliseum (Ames Alexander, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER 3/28). Citizens groups calling for a referendum on an uptown arena "credited" their efforts in leading to Shinn's decision to drop the plan. An OBSERVER poll showed 81% of Charlotteans favored a referendum. Shinn: "The referendum didn't scare me. The only thing that bothered me is that it was going to take time to do it" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/28).
A "key" WA State Senate committee passed WA Gov. Gary Locke's "embattled" plan to build a new Seahawks stadium, and Locke said he has "finally clinched" the votes he needs to move the bill out of the Senate and to the House, according to Zimmerman & Penhale of the SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER. Locke "said he has the 25 votes he needs to get the bill out of the full Senate tomorrow," but the plan to build a $425M open-air stadium and exhibition hall "still would face a battery of new conditions in the House." Zimmerman & Penhale call the vote by the Senate Ways and Means Committee "the first tangible step forward in the battle to keep" the team in Seattle for prospective buyer Paul Allen (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/1). LARGE TAB: Allen has spent "about" $750,000 on "grass roots lobbying" to help persuade lawmakers to put the tax- funded stadium plan on the June ballot. The money was spent on consultants, polling and TV commercials, including a new round of ads that launch this week. Allen's Football Northwest had spent $519,990 by the end of last month, which does not include an additional $240,000 spent on the new ads. The group is also spending "at least" $17,000 a month on a group of "veteran lobbyists" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/28).
The opening of the "under-construction" Anaheim Stadium was examined by Barbara Kingsley in the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. As ushers wore "cute red hard hats," Kingsley wrote, "except for some complaints about missing bathrooms and misplaced seats," fans who attended an exhibition game Saturday night gave the unfinished ballpark a "thumbs-up." The fans with the "biggest complaints" were those who were "bumped" to make room for the Diamond Club, on the stadium's lower-level, which won't be ready until '98. Thirty-year season-ticket holder Nina Rogers, whose seat was moved from near home plate to near first base: "I love the Angels, but I hate Disney" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/30).
Braves Owner Ted Turner spoke to the media before the first game at Turner Field, according to Tony Fabrizio in the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Turner, on the new ballpark: "It's like a biblical story. You're supposed to be humble. Ask and you'll receive and all that sort of thing. Don't gripe about it. But we never threatened to leave or anything, and we ended up with the best stadium around. So I don't know, there might be a lesson there somewhere." Turner, on the high cost of food and drink at Turner Field: "It is outrageous. I'm not sure I won't eat before I come" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/31). Braves Dir of Ticket Sales Paul Adams said the team had sold "about" 25,000 season packages, down from last year's figure of 26,000 (AP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/31).