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The Maple Leafs' proposal for a new arena at Exhibition Place won approval from the Metropolitan Toronto Council yesterday "with ease," according to David Shoalts of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. But the approval "doesn't mean the Leafs have committed themselves" to the $250M project, as it now moves into an 80-day due diligence period during which both the team and the council "will consider various questions." On February 28, the Leafs will have to decide "whether to commit" financially to the site. Leafs Chair Steve Stavro said that he will not use the due diligence period to force the Raptors and Owner Allan Slaight into an arena partnership (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/11). EMPTY GARDEN: Stavro added that Maple Leaf Gardens "definitely will not" be torn down. Stavro: "We're looking to preserve [MLG] as it was built and rent it out for different sports and charities" (TORONTO STAR, 12/11).
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the MLB Giants' new Pac Bell Park are scheduled for today at 12:00pm PT and in S.F., Gerald Adams reports that Giants stars "past and present," including Willie Mays, Dusty Baker and Barry Bonds will attend the ceremony for the $262M park. In addition, those who have already bought PSLs park have been invited to a reception before the groundbreaking (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/11). CAN'T BE TOO CAREFUL: In S.F., Eric Brazil reported that Giants ownership is buying insurance for $5-6M "against virtually every imaginable construction risk" that could delay Pac Bell's scheduled 2000 opening. In addition to losses from natural disasters and labor strife, the policy also covers "dumb mistakes," such "as architectural design and engineering blunders" (S.F. EXAMINER, 12/10).
The Dallas City Council voted 12-2 to send the $230M downtown arena plan "to the voters" on January 17, according to Todd Gillman of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The deal calls for the city to put up $125M towards the facility, while the Mavericks and Stars will pay $105M "and cover cost overruns." Also, in a "change from the deal signed two months ago," both teams "agreed to share any savings with the city" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/11). MEDIA BLITZ: Arena boosters, touting the arena in newspaper ads, a new one-minute radio spot, and a full-color brochure mailed to 65,000 Dallas homes, are saying the arena deal "will reduce homeowners' tax burden" and strengthen the local economy. The pro-arena radio spot features Roger Staubach, while the brochure lists "dozens of prominent supporters," including Staubach, Rolando Blackman, Nancy Lieberman-Cline and Michael Johnson. Critics, however, contend that promised development around the arena "is not guaranteed," and note that the deal calls for the first $7.3M in new tax revenue generated to be used to "repay the teams for street improvements" (MORNING NEWS, 12/11).