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The Supreme Court yesterday "let stand without comment" an appeals court ruling which required the MCI Center to provide wheelchair-bound patrons with "seating that allows them to view events over the heads of standing spectators," according to Maryann Haggerty of the WASHINGTON POST. The Court's action is the "final say" in a dispute which began in '96 when the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), a DC- based group, sued Washington Sports Owner Abe Pollin over the arena design. PVA's suit "pushed to make certain" that handicapped seating was distributed around the building and that "users could see the action if other patrons stood up." After losing in federal court, Pollin and the PVA "agreed on a plan to provide up to" 180 seats for the handicapped at the arena, which has proceeded while Pollin "went through unsuccessful appeals." But PVA Deputy General Counsel Lawrence Hagel said that the PVA "is not yet satisfied" that Pollin has complied with the plan. Hagel, on Pollin's adherence to the plan: "The question is to what degree do they not meet it and how important that is." Hagel said that he hoped the rulings regarding MCI Center have "set a precedent to a certain degree" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/10).
The city of Denver is "lobbying to remove" the $100M cap on the Broncos' contribution to the team's proposed new stadium. City Projects Dir Liz Orr said that the city wants the Broncos to "share responsibility for cost overruns with the public" (DENVER POST, 3/10). The Broncos announced that they would not raise ticket prices next season. Owner Pat Bowlen: "A ticket increase is not going to solve our financial problems. A new stadium is going to solve our financial problems" (DENVER POST, 3/10)....Beginning today, the Padres will hold a series of monthly workshops at Qualcomm Stadium, where "as many as" 30 members of the public can make suggestions about features for the team's proposed new ballpark (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/8).
Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch "wants to call the team's new ballpark either The Tiger Ballpark or Tiger Stadium," but he "might not get his wish," according to John Lowe of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Yesterday, for the first time, Ilitch said he might sell the naming rights to the ballpark, saying such a move "might be the price" for having a "state-of-the- art" stadium. Lowe writes that with Ford already acquiring naming rights to the Lions' stadium, Detroit-based GM and Chrysler are the "most obvious candidates" for the Tigers. The "feeling in the Tigers organization" is that it can get "at least" $40M for the naming rights. Ilitch "downplayed recent indications" that he and "several" banks can't agree on collateral for a $145M loan for the ballpark, and said that he's "ready to invest an extra" $20M in the facility. He added that he "doesn't know if he can get more" financing from the banks, which may lead to the naming rights sale. Ilitch said he could resist selling naming rights if the team is "within budget" on the park (FREE PRESS, 3/10).
Allegheny County and Pittsburgh city leaders yesterday proposed an $803M plan to finance new stadiums for the Pirates and Steelers along with expansion of the city's convention center, according to Rich Lord of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The so-called "Plan B" would have "taxpayers bearing more than" 75% of the cost. While both teams have offered $85M toward facility financing, "city and county leaders have made it clear that the $85 million was not enough." Allegheny County Commissioner Bob Cranmer said that "the team contributions must increase if the package is to work" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/10). DETAILS: The package, announced by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, would include $633M in public funds, "relying on such traditional methods as tax revenue and bond income." It would also tax pro athletes who play in the city but don't live in PA. Private financing would bring in "at least" $170M, including the team's contributions and the possible selling of portions of the stadiums -- such as billboards/scoreboards -- to private investors. The selling of naming rights could also be included. Cranmer: "There's been a lot of talk about naming the new football stadium after Mr. Art Rooney. If that's the case, that's going to cost (the Rooney family) money." The Steelers said part of their contribution would include PSL sales, while the Pirates "would not say how they intend to finance their contribution" (TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/10). Pirates Owner Kevin McClatchy: "[T]his is a historic day for Pittsburgh and the region. We're excited about signing a lease for 25 or 30 years and being a member of the Pittsburgh community for a long time" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/10).