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The Houston City Council unanimously approved the agreement that would rename The Summitt as the Compaq Center. Compaq will pay the Arena Operating Company, managers of the city-owned arena, $5.4M over the next six years to upgrade the facility (Compaq). The vote had been delayed as Rockets officials "had been concerned" how the Compaq deal would affect the team's advertising "contract inside the facility." But the Rockets "dropped their request for further delay" after Compaq agreed to negotiate a separate ad deal with the team (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/30).
MN Gov. Arne Carlson "proposed a comprehensive, albeit sketchy, 'global' approach to the public funding of pro sports in Minnesota," according to Weiner & Whereatt of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. While Carlson offered no new financing ideas, he said that the futures of the Twins, Vikings and the new St. Paul NHL team "should be linked." Carlson: "We're going to have to approach it with a much more global solution." But Weiner & Whereatt write that Carlson's comments "generally ran counter to legislative sentiment," and that some saw his bringing the Vikings into the picture "as another problem for the Twins effort." Carlson said the state legislature should consider a $250M investment in s Twins ballpark; $125M to refurbish the Metrodome and $65M towards the arena for St. Paul's NHL expansion team. Carlson, referring to state legislators: "Stop making silly promises of no public money. Of course, it's going to have public money" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/30). Carlson also floated the possibility of moving the NHL expansion team to the Target Center and building a Twins ballpark in St. Paul. But the NHL team owners "discounted such speculation" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/30). IT'S NOTHING PERSONAL, IT'S ONLY BUSINESS: In MN, Phelps & Tevlin write that after the legislature asked the Twin Cities business and labor communities to support a new Twins ballpark, a survey found "mostly lukewarm response" among union and business execs. Other than luxury suite commitments, the business community "indicated that it would stay largely on the sidelines. And unions said their rank and file reflect the general population's hesitancy to use state money for pro sports" (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/30).
The Rams, Blues and MLB Cardinals are "opposing an effort" by St. Louis License Collector Thomas Nash to apply the city's 5% amusement tax to the full price of luxury suites and other exclusive seats at their games, according to Mark Schlinkmann of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The teams have been paying the tax "only on a portion" of what they charge companies and individual fans for those seats -- the portion "they say admits fans to the game itself." The teams "contend that the tax shouldn't apply to other parts of the charges because those go for special amenities" such as waiter/waitress service, access to special restaurants & bars, valet parking, private restrooms, telephones and closed-circuit TVs. Nash said that the city "could get ... at least several hundred thousand dollars a year" from the new interpretation. A POST-DISPATCH analysis "shows the amount could be higher," as the city would take in an "additional $320,000 or so" just from the TWA Dome's 118 luxury suites leased for Rams games. Schlinkmann writes that Nash "hopes to resolve the issue in private meetings with the teams but that it was possible that the matter could end up in court" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/28).
The Tigers held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new ballpark yesterday, according to Charlie Vincent of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch: "It will not be a stadium or a field, it will be a ballpark." The Tigers plan to be in the new stadium by Opening Day 2000, but one official guest, who requested anonymity, said, "I still don't know if it's going to happen." Vincent: "For the record, no one else voiced even the slightest sign of doubt" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/30). Also in Detroit, Patricia Montemurri reports that approximately 1,000 people attended the groundbreaking. Montemurri also writes that a consortium of 12 U.S. and Canadian banks have "a binding agreement" for a $145M loan package with the Tigers and Ilitch. But Michael Monahan, President of Comerica Inc. & Comerica Bank, the consortium's lead bank, said that the final deal "hasn't been signed," and he declined to say how long before it would be finalized (FREE PRESS, 10/30).