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MN Gov. Arne Carlson "declared his confidence" Wednesday in the proposed funding plan for a St. Paul hockey arena and in the close association between the Minnesota Wild and the M.A. Mortenson Co. picked to oversee construction of the $130M arena, according to Robert Whereatt of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. But "several" legislators said "disclosures this week are a potential setback in St. Paul's efforts" to have the state pick up $65M of the arena's cost. New reports showed that M.A. Mortenson pledged $1M to become an investor in the team and "helped land" the NHL franchise by lending the owners $100,000 to pay the fee. The Wild "eventually rejected the investment offer." Also, former St. Paul City Council President Dave Thune, once an "opponent of the arena," was hired by Mortenson while he was serving on the council. He later voted to allow the Wild, not the city, to choose the construction manager, which turned out to be Mortenson. Carlson's Press Secretary, Jackie Renner, said that despite the reports, Carlson "does not see any way in which the public interest is not protected." Members of the MN Senate and House began meeting yesterday to work out differences in capital-improvement bills passed by each body. The House version includes $65M for the arena, while the Senate version has no arena funds (STAR TRIBUNE, 3/19).
For the "second time in as many years," a court has told NHL Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga to "pay higher wages to construction workers at the Broward County Arena site," according to Lebowitz & Fleshler of the Ft. Lauderdale SUN- SENTINEL. The team plans to appeal the decision, reached yesterday by the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which ruled that it must pay "so-called 'prevailing wages'," which are required by Broward County law but were not included in contracts between the county and the Panthers' Arena Development Corporation (PADC). PADC President Alex Mucho said that the decision, and the continuing legal process, "will have no impact on" the project, which is on schedule to open in October (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 3/19).
CT Governor John Rowland today will present an "ambitious" plan to "invigorate" downtown Hartford. The plan includes a convention center, "perhaps with an attached domed or outdoor stadium, representing a state investment of roughly" $150M (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/19)....In Denver, a new survey by Ciruli Associates polled 546 registered voters and found that 57% would vote for a stadium tax to help finance a new Broncos stadium, while 39% opposed the project (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/19). The survey, conducted this month, is an increase from 53% who supported the tax before the Broncos won the Super Bowl, but a "slight decrease" from numbers immediately after the Super Bowl, which showed support "running closer" to 60% (DENVER POST, 3/19)....The Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) has raised parking at Houlihan's Stadium from $5 to $6. The first such increase in six years will take effect with the MLS Mutiny's opening game. TSA does not control parking prices for Buccaneers games, and the team "is expected to announce its prices in the near future" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/19).