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The Patriots could sign a "tentative deal" to move the team to RI "as early as today," according to Tina Cassidy of the BOSTON GLOBE. Sources close to the deal tell Cassidy that RI's proposed contribution to help the team build a new stadium has increased to "as much as" $157M, "far above" the $80-120M first projected. Cassidy's sources also say that the deal "would prohibit" team Owner Robert Kraft "from negotiating with any other community, including" Foxboro, although "it was not clear" whether there was a time limit on the exclusivity clause. Cassidy adds that a bill being put together by Foxboro officials "now includes only" $50M in infrastructure improvements around Foxboro Stadium (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/23). In Providence, Scott MacKay reports that RI Gov. Lincoln Almond "will likely decide sometime this afternoon" whether to go ahead with the negotiations or "conclude that the stadium deal asks too much of state taxpayers and opt out." MacKay also reports that Kraft has asked that a deal with Foxboro "be sweetened by about" $20M, with the extra money being used by the state to purchase land around Foxboro stadium. The state would then "lease it back" to the team (Providence JOURNAL-BULLETIN, 9/23). DOUBLE TAKE? Almond's administration "acknowledged yesterday" that the annual payments on the state's reported $135M share of the deal "would come from" its general fund, according to Christopher Rowland of the Providence JOURNAL- BULLETIN. RI State Senate Majority Leader Paul Kelly "is calling for a nonbinding referendum" on the stadium, while State House Finance Committee Chair Antonio Pires said the deal seems to "fly in the face" of Almond's pledge not to expose taxpayers to risk (JOURNAL-BULLETIN, 9/23).
A S.F. CHRONICLE editorial commenting on the Raiders holding out on the Coliseum Authority's naming-rights deal with UMAX: "The Raiders' extortion ploy is all the more ridiculous because they are blowing a chance to get a nice windfall of cash and public relations. Why do they insist on treating public officials as the enemy, when all parties have a common stake in making this deal work?" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/22)....Parking at Tropicana Field on game days when the Devil Rays begin play in '98 will likely cost $10 (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/22)....The NJ Sports & Exposition Authority approved the first phase of an upgrade to the Continental Airlines Arena. Plans call for a new sports bar and expanded restaurant, new bathrooms, and other amenities at the arena (Bergen RECORD, 9/20)....Arlington International Racetrack Owner Richard Duchossois, said his track, which is closing October 10, could possibly be home to the Bears. Duchossois: "We're leaving our options open until after we close" (SUN-TIMES, 9/21).
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) "has offered a guarantee maximum price" to prospective facility contractor Brown & Root to build a retractable roof for a new baseball park in Houston, according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The structure would be "similar" to the one which Mitsubishi is scheduled to build for Miller Park in Milwaukee. The roof is the construction "variable causing the most concern" in Houston, due to the cost and the "uncertainty that one will work as well in 20 years as it does when new." While Mitsubishi is keeping its Houston offer "private," it is considered "a major development" as Brown & Root aims to "ensure" that the ballpark costs no more than $250M (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/23).