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Voters in the NC Triad area yesterday "hollered a loud 'No!' to a tax to build a baseball stadium," according to Jay Weiner of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The "resounding" defeat in both Guilford and Forsyth counties "leaves the Twins with no place to go for now, pushes nearby Charlotte into line as the next possible site for a Twins move and increases the prospect that the team may have to play in the Metrodome for the 1999 season." Twins Owner Carl Pohlad, after the ballpark defeat: "I don't know what we're going to do. We'll regroup. We're going to consider all alternatives. We know Charlotte wants the team, and we'll go from there" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/6). THE VOTE: The initiative, which included a 1% sales tax increase on prepared food and a $.50 ticket surcharge, was soundly defeated in both counties, losing in Guilford by a margin of 67.2% to 32.8%, and in Forsyth by a margin of 59.2% to 40.8%. The referendum drew a "strong" turnout rate of 32% in Guilford County (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 5/6). THE DON SPEAKS: In Winston-Salem, David Rice reports that prospective Twins Owner Don Beaver was "disappointed" by the results, but "made it clear that he will look elsewhere in the state -- presumably Charlotte -- to find a home for a team." Beaver: "I think this vote means baseball won't be coming to the Triad area. That makes me very sad." Beaver added that the outcome "won't affect" his negotiations with Pohlad. Rice reports that while Beaver "did not make a definite commitment last night to make Charlotte the team's permanent home," he did "made it clear" that public money would "be required" for a Charlotte ballpark to "demonstrate that city's commitment to a team." Beaver: "You need public money in baseball. Charlotte's not any different" (David Rice, WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 5/6). WHAT WENT WRONG? In Winston-Salem, Scott Maxwell writes that although stadium proponents outspent opponents 28-1, the opposition "had a campaign strategy that resounded with voters and was easy to follow." UNC-Greensboro Communications Professor Craig Allen Smith said that park supporters' "biggest flaw" was that they "simplified their effort down to one issue: asking residents to 'Vote yes' if they support baseball." Smith said that instead of focusing on that one theme, the "Vote Yes For Baseball" group "should have touted the nonbaseball benefits that a stadium would have provided." Vote Yes organizer Walt Klein: "I don't think there's any one thing you can put your finger on when your side of the issue gets beat as heavily as we did" (Scott Maxwell, WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 5/6).
NJ Gov. Christie Whitman yesterday put her state "back in the hunt for Yankee Stadium." Whitman said that her administration will "help prepare a plan for moving the Yankees" to NJ if Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner's "soon- to-be-named advisory panel requests it." However, Whitman "repeated her promise" not to offer the team any benefits not offered to "all employers who move jobs to New Jersey." (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/6)....MA-based Arnold Communications has developed a pro bono advocacy campaign for the Save Fenway Park organization. The effort will include TV, radio and print ads, along with other material. TV spots feature interviews with Yankees fans in NYC on why Fenway is special, while print ads focus on the park's history (ADWEEK, 5/4)....In Houston, Dale Robertson writes that IHL Aeros Owner/Compaq Center manager Chuck Watson's decision to pull out of his NFL partnership with Bob McNair "bodes badly" for any compromise solution regarding the Rockets' Compaq Center lease. Now removed from the football mix, Watson will be "disinclined to discuss football stadium tax breaks as a tradeoff for [Rockets Owner Les] Alexander's lease becoming less airtight" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/6).
Expos President Claude Brochu told a House of Commons subcommittee yesterday that the team would need financial assistance in funding a $250M facility or the team may have to be sold to U.S. interests, according to Wills, Myles & Clark of the Montreal GAZETTE. Brochu said that after $100M is raised from local corporations, the remaining $150M "required for construction requires the involvement of government in a yet-to-be determined form." Wills, Myles & Clark write that "most" committee members "appeared sympathetic" to Brochu's request. Brochu added that funding would have to be in place by June. Later, Brochu said, "By the year 2002, we expect the (players') salaries to double. We know this is something very frustrating, but this is something you have to live with." Brochu: "We are willing to assume the risk and stay in Montreal, but there have to be certain conditions." Wills, Myles & Clark report that while members of the committee "gave Brochu tentative assurances of tax breaks, they have only the power to recommend" (GAZETTE, 5/6). Afterward Brochu told reporters: "It has nothing to do with subsidy. It has everything to do with investment" (Bruce Cheadle, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/6).
The Spurs' plan for a new arena on a Northeast Side of the city is "not winning strong support from City Hall," according to Williams & Anderson of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS- NEWS. Yesterday it was reported that team officials were eyeing a proposed arena at Longhorn quarry and were hoping for city support by the end of the year. But on Tuesday, Spurs Chair Peter Holt said, "We have a long way to go. ... This 'by the end of the year' stuff is ... what I want to emphasize is, that we're here to stay. We're in no rush" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/6). Yesterday, Travis Poling reported that Holt and other team execs met with Bitterblue Inc. principals Gene Powell and Laddie Denton on Monday to discuss the proposed site, which would have an arena be "a city-owned facility paid for by tax increment financing backed bonds." Poling wrote that the project still has "many hurdles to clear," including City Council approval to establish a reinvestment zone and the financing mechanism" (Travis Poling, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/5).