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The Harris County Houston Authority took "two major steps" Wednesday toward ensuring that the cost of a new downtown ballpark will not exceed $250M, according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The authority "unanimously approved" a contract for "up to" $17.85M with K.C-based architects HOK and others to design the retractable roof stadium. The authority also unanimously approved a "tentative" deal with Houston-based Brown & Root to build the park for "no more than" $229.5M, with the firm and the authority to "share any savings equally." Brown & Root will get a "guaranteed" $7.5M to manage construction of the facility and, "in return, will guarantee any cost overruns." A final contract with Brown & Root is "likely to be approved" by December 15 (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/4).
The city of Dallas has agreed to "kick in an extra" $20M for "road and sewer projects" around the proposed new arena for the Mavericks and Stars, prompting complaints that "subsidies are mushrooming," according to Todd Gillman of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. A 44-page master agreement, which calls for a 20,500-seat facility with 2,500 club seats and 120 luxury boxes, was presented to the City Council. It includes a provision that $10M of the facility's $230M price tag go back to the team owners as "fees for managing and financing the deal." Gillman writes that "critics" say the "growing costs, payments to team owners and lack of guaranteed development around the arena" make the deal "unacceptable." But Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk said, "Our costs on the arena are $125 million, and they're not going to go a penny higher" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/4). In Ft. Worth, Mede Nix reports that Mavs Owner Ross Perot Jr.'s Hillwood Development Corp. will be paid $8.4M as "developer" of the project, while Stars Owner Tom Hicks' firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst will be paid $1.58M as a "financial fee" (Mede Nix, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/4).
On the eve of groundbreaking for their new Pac Bell Ballpark, the MLB Giants announced a minority hiring and job program yesterday which includes a proposal to pay "apprenticeship costs for disadvantaged young people who go into construction trades," according to Ramon McLeod of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Giants VP Larry Baer also said that the team is setting aside 20% of the project work for minority- owned businesses and 10% for female-owned businesses. The ballpark project is expected to create "more than" 2,500 construction jobs. Under the minority hiring plan, the club will pay for the "apprenticeship costs of 100 poor people who will enter job training programs" aimed at getting them jobs on the ballpark project (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4).
The day after the MCI Center officially opened, officials met "to see what needed adjusting," according to Montgomery & Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Traffic inside the building was at the "top of the list," after "choke points" developed at various spots in the arena, and some fans reached "places they weren't supposed to, such as the carpeted club level. As for outside traffic, "[h]eavy use" of Metro made "getting to and from the arena easy." The 10,200 people who reportedly took the Metro was a "near bull's-eye" on city Metro and Washington Sports Chair Abe Pollin's target figure (WASHINGTON POST, 12/4). Pollin appeared on NBC's "Today" with Willard Scott, with Scott giving Pollin a kiss on the cheek for his birthday, which was yesterday. Scott, on the MCI Center: "It is not just beautiful, it's a tourist attraction" (NBC, 12/4).