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The new 72,000-seat Browns stadium is "about" $14.8M over budget, and could reach $23.5M by the time the stadium opens in '99 (Karl Turner, Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER, 3/27).... Disney Wide World of Sports VP Reggie Williams is profiled by Javier Solano of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Williams, on the complex: "People are here to be entertained. And because of our sports authenticity, the script changes weekly of what is being offered here. One of our top goals in Year Two is to continue to build bridges into the Central Florida community" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/27)....Devil Rays Owner Vince Naimoli on Tropicana Field: "You'd be amazed at how much progress we've made." Rays VP of Stadium Operations Rick Nafe: "I think we're in very good shape for baseball" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/27)....Pro Player Stadium has upped parking from $5 to $7 at Marlins games this season (SUN- SENTINEL, 3/27)....In MN, Robert Whereatt writes that MN Governor Arne Carlson "scrambled key staff members Thursday, ordering them to explore alternative financing plans for a new hockey arena in St. Paul" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27). The AP's Bill Wareham wrote that even if St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman secures money to build a new hockey arena, "a victory in the battle may cost him the war in the gubernatorial campaign" (AP/STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27).
Ravens Exec VP David Modell said yesterday that "he doubts a 40-foot raven sculpture will be perched atop the club's new stadium when it opens this fall," according to Vito Stellino of the Baltimore SUN. The proposed sculpture "has become a point of dispute" between the team and MD Stadium Authority Chair John Moag, who believes it would be a signature look for blimp TV shots during games. Modell said that he's not against the idea, but other fan amenities are more important. The Ravens "have the call because funds for the sculpture aren't in the stadium authority's budget." Moag's original projected cost was $250,000, but Modell believes that it will cost $500,000. Meanwhile, Modell said that the stadium's brick exterior will be a signature in itself, without the sculpture (Baltimore SUN, 3/27).
"Taking a cue from amusement parks, the newest stadiums in pro sports are touting all sorts of distractions -- allowing people to spend extra cash without ever having to watch the game," according to Sam Walker of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Team owners say that "the added attractions will lure new groups to the stadiums and prompt them to spend all day." Braves President Stan Kasten: "I want teens, women and senior citizens, and I want them to stay longer. If there's nothing here for them but baseball, I lose." Tropicana Field, home of the expansion Devil Rays, will offer an area behind the center-field grandstands that features a hair salon, a brew pub, a climbing wall for kids and showroom space for car dealerships. Walker writes, though, that "what troubles some people ... about these stadiums of the future centers on a fundamental issue: The excitement these places generate has less and less to do with sports." Rick Burton, Dir of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the Univ. of OR, said that expensive new facilities "may backfire on teams that fail to produce a winner." Walker concludes that it's "too early to judge the success of most of these flashy new digs, but there are some indicators." For example, four of the five MLB teams with the highest payroll "all moved into new stadiums within the past six years" (Sam Walker, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/27).