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              The Astros and the Harris County-Houston Sports
         Authority are close to signing a lease and two other
         agreements on Wednesday that will make it "virtually
         impossible for the Astros to leave Houston for 32 years,"
         according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  The
         deal includes "stiff penalties" should the team try to move
         from the new ballpark under construction downtown.  The
         agreements allow the Astros to keep all revenues generated
         at the ballpark in return for paying the authority $7.1M
         annually for 30 years after it opens in 2000.  The team can
         also use it for events other than baseball.  The authority
         is expected to spend $9.5M annually in tax dollars to
         subsidize building the park.  The authority "put a strict
         performance lease in the contract saying home games must be
         played there" in exchange for a $3.4M annual lease payment. 
         The deal states that the only "way out of a performance
         lease is if the franchise were to go into bankruptcy."  To
         get around that possibility, the authority has crafted a
         license agreement allowing the Astros to keep all revenues
         from naming, advertising, telecom and broadcast rights in
         exchange for a $1.2M annual payment, and a nonrelocation
         agreement that says the team must pay $75-250M to the
         authority "if it wants to leave, depending on how much of
         the lease is left" (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/16).
              BIG MAC HITS HOUSTON: Tickets for the Astros' first
         home series against the Cardinals "were selling at a brisk
         pace" as of late yesterday afternoon, and the Astros were
         projecting at least 100,000 in attendance for the three-game
         series that begins tonight (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/16).  

    Print | Tags: Facilities, Houston Astros

              NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani took a private tour of Oriole
         Park at Camden Yards yesterday (N.Y. POST, 6/16)....In
         Baltimore, about half of the 100,000 square feet of
         SportGrass being laid at the Ravens' new stadium yesterday
         was transported by tractor trailers from Memorial Stadium
         (Baltimore SUN, 6/16).  With two months remaining before the
         Ravens' stadium opens, the SUN's Jon Morgan writes an
         extensive report on the construction efforts (SUN, 6/15).
         ...In Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick & Barnes wrote that Steelers
         President Dan Rooney's offer to contribute $50M toward a new
         football stadium "makes other teams in the Steelers'
         division look cheap by comparison."  The Jaguars, Ravens,
         Bengals and Browns "contributed less, percentage-wise to the
         construction of projects in their cities."  Only the Oilers
         will contribute more.  If the Plan B project stays on
         budget, Rooney's ownership group will pay 21.5% of the total
         price for a new stadium (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/15). 

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Edmonton Oilers, Facilities, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers

              While the old Boston Garden "is cleared away for good,
         the still-infant FleetCenter is now poised to grow fully
         into the modern image of the American sports complex,"
         according to Cosmo Macero of the BOSTON HERALD.  Delaware
         North Cos. is looking to put in sports-themed restaurants
         and a "trendy" retail end to join the "massive office, hotel
         and apartment complex" that will occupy the old Garden.  The
         project also gives Delaware North the ability to add luxury
         suites to the FleetCenter.  By "retaining the rights to at
         least 150,000 square feet of retail space in the planned
         development, Delaware North could create a seamless link
         between the Fleet and its new amenities."  One person
         familiar with plans said that Delaware North is "going to
         merge the south side of the (arena) into the retail
         component.  By doing that, you can open up a new concourse
         level."  That would give enough room to add 10 to 12 luxury
         suites, which could mean up to $1.25-1.5M in additional
         revenue per year.  While FleetCenter President Richard
         Krezwick is "mum on specific plans," he will tour sports-
         themed restaurants this summer.  Macero said the possible
         options include Disney's ESPN Zone with a retail component,
         or one of the planned NBA-themed eateries that will be
         developed with Hard Rock Cafe (BOSTON HERALD, 6/15).   

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Facilities, NBA, Walt Disney

              A proposed East Valley convention complex, including a 
         new domed stadium for the NFL Cardinals, "will include more
         pieces and perhaps less controversy when details are
         unveiled later this week," according to Lisa Gonderinger of
         the ARIZONA REPUBLIC.  A source who has seen the plans said
         that "enough private-sector funds have been rounded up to
         cover the football stadium."  The complex is backed by a
         group called NEXTSTEP, which will unveil the complete plans
         Friday at a meeting of the East Valley Partnership (EVP). 
         NEXTSTEP, an offshoot of the EVP, won't reveal its private
         investors until Friday, but Cardinals VP & General Counsel
         Michael Bidwill has said that the team likely would kick in
         a "substantial amount."  Cardinals officials declined
         comment on Monday (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/16).

    Print | Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Facilities

              Final spending reports for the NC MLB ballpark
         referendum last month in the Triad area showed that ballpark
         proponents spent $899,000 on the campaign, "while the
         opponents -- and victors -- raised $33,000," according to
         Robert Lamme of the Greensboro NEWS & RECORD.  Ballpark
         supporters spent about $16.26 for each vote cast in support
         of the tax, while opponents of the tax spent "approximately"
         $.34 cents per vote.  The ballpark initiative failed by a
         "nearly" 2-to-1 margin on May 5.  The ballpark supporters,
         Vote Yes For MLB, received two contributions of $50,000 from
         NC Major League Baseball (NC MLB) in the last few days
         before the election.  NC MLB is led by NC business exec Don
         Beaver, who heads an ownership group looking to bring an MLB
         team to the state.  NC MLB contributed "at least" $200,000
         during the campaign.  Vote Yes For MLB received 99% of its
         contributions from corporations (NEWS & RECORD, 6/16).

    Print | Tags: Facilities, MLB
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