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Paul Allen "warned" WA lawmakers in a letter that they "have just one shot -- the current session -- to approve a June vote on his plan to replace the Kingdome" with a $425M stadium and exhibition hall, according to Ed Penhale of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. WA Gov. Gary Locke supported Allen by adding there "would be no special session on the legislation." The POST-INTELLIGENCER's Penhale notes the stadium funding bill is "near death" in the House because of the proposed 2.5% tax on sports-licensed merchandise and some Members have called on Allen to contribute more to the stadium proposal than the $100M he has offered. WA State Rep. Paul Zellinksy had asked Allen to "make another run at the stadium next year," but Allen responded that if the current proposal fails in the House, he will not exercise his option to buy the team. Allen: "As to why I just don't pay for everything, I was asked to be a partner in this endeavor, not the only partner. We are convinced that fans want to be a part of the solution. If they don't, they will tell us at the polls" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/17).
The Maple Leafs will announce this morning that they want to "extend an olive branch" to the Raptors by becoming business partners in the construction of a new Maple Leaf Gardens, according to Marty York of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The Leafs are studying a site above Union Station, one block from the Raptors' Air Canada Centre, which has begun construction. Raptors President Richard Peddie: "We're a little amazed with the Leafs." Peddie said that the Leafs "never mentioned Union Station" during site negotiations before February. Peddie: "We have $80-million invested in this site. We have two months of construction behind us already" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/17). MLG VP & Project Dir Tom Anselmi says that he doesn't think the Raptors "were nearing the point of no return" on making a decision to join the Leafs (Lance Hornby, TORONTO SUN, 4/17).
MD officials say construction of the Ravens' new stadium is "on budget and on time" for the '98 season, according to Paul Valentine of the WASHINGTON POST. The stadium's financing plan has been "slightly altered," but MD Stadium Authority (MSA) Exec Dir Bruce Hoffman said that more public money will not be requested. Also "in the early stages of study" is an "urban entertainment center" between the stadiums which would include a hotel, movie theaters, restaurants and a sports museum. It would take some of the 4,000 parking spaces between the stadium and Oriole Park, but Hoffman said that "would be more than offset" by construction of a 2,000-car garage (WASHINGTON POST, 4/17). In Baltimore, Jon Morgan writes that the dispute over Orioles parking "has become the latest flash point in a rapidly deteriorating relationship" between the MSA and the Orioles. Morgan: "Each side accuses the other of dragging its feet and inconveniencing fans whose spaces were displaced by the construction of the Ravens' stadium. The rhetoric has become lively" (Baltimore SUN, 4/17).
In Tampa, Hillsborough County commissioners approved a loan to continue building a "scaled down" version of a new football stadium in case the Bucs' lease is overturned later this year by the FL Supreme Court. Former Mayor Bill Poe's challenge has kept officials from selling $204.5M in construction bonds, making a $9.7M loan necessary to continue stadium construction through July (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/17)....A MN House subcommittee approved a bill that authorizes the state to buy the Twins for as much as $100M. Also, the MN Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy will pay the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche $38,500 over the next month to analyze proposals for the legislature on the Twins issue. Deloitte & Touche was selected over a new consulting firm, the Sports Economics and Facility Financing Group, made up of Smith College baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist, IU Urban Economist Mark Rosentraub and Congressional Research Service Tax Economist Dennis Zimmerman (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/17)....In AZ, the state Senate approved a bill allowing two or more municipalities to develop stadium districts, which then could ask voters to approve a sales tax to fund a sports complex for the Cardinals. The bill also repeals a law that allowed Maricopa County to levy a sales tax to build the Bank One Ballpark without voter approval. The bill now goes to the House (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/17)....The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and ASU agreed on a new lease to keep the game at Sun Devil Stadium for at least the next ten years. The lease is subject to approval by the AZ Board of Regents (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/17).