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NEW LEAFS ARENA PROPOSAL BRINGS MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
Published November 25, 1997
In Toronto, the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place approved the Maple Leafs' "proposal for an arena and related development with record speed, but many questions surround the matter," according to David Shoalts of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The board passed the team's plans for a $200-250M investment in a 19,200-seat arena and a 1,400-space parking garage. In addition, the team has "been granted" a five- year option to develop another 12.5 acres of property around the site. If the plan is approved by Toronto's Metro Council on December 10, an 80-day period of due diligence will follow, with "neither side being bound to the deal financially or contractually." Shoalts writes that the latter part of the deal "raises ... questions," since it allows the Leafs to "walk away" from Exhibition Place "at any time up to" the end of February. Shoalts writes that speculation persists that the proposal is being used by the Leafs to force a "favourable partnership" with the Raptors at Air Canada Centre (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/25). REAX: In Toronto, Damien Cox: "Don't read too much into the latest Maple Leaf arena scheme ... [T]he probability that all these bits and pieces can come together over the next 80 days ... seems somewhat far-fetched" (TORONTO STAR, 11/25). Also in Toronto, Craig Daniels reports that Leafs Minority Owner Larry Tanenbaum sat "four seats to the right" of Raptors Owner Allan Slaight at courtside during last night's Raptors game. Although "neither side is admitting so," a "new dialogue" between the two teams "appears to be under way." One source said that the Leafs are "using their interest" in the site at Exhibition Place as "leverage to ... negotiate a buy-in at Air Canada Centre, which naturally they would want to control" (TORONTO SUN, 11/25).