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HOK Sports presented its designs for St. Paul's new $130M arena yesterday, "trumpeting the glass-encased, suite- filled facility as a symbol of the city's downtown turnaround and a place tailor-made for hockey aficionados," according to Curt Brown of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The 18,632-seat arena will feature a glass exterior, lending it a "transparent feeling," and will have a "wide-open" main concourse that circles around the rink. Brown adds that the "steep, opera-house-like" upper deck is "reminiscent of" Maple Leaf Gardens. The arena's lower-bowl will include 22 rows totaling 9,000 seats, all accessible from the main concourse. The facility will feature 74 luxury suites and an club-seat level with 3,000 seats (STAR TRIBUNE, 6/18).
The Hurricanes want "some control over the naming rights" in return for paying a $20M cost overrun "that threatens timely completion" of the Raleigh downtown arena, according to Steve Politi of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. The current arena contract gives control of the naming rights to NC State Univ., which will share the arena with the Hurricanes. Other concessions the Hurricanes want include: "additional money from concessions, ticket sales, advertising and other arena revenue sources;" "greater participation in the proceedings of the Centennial Authority;" and "control of property around the arena." Local officials "are debating whether they can accept" the Hurricanes' offer (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/18).
The Astros signed a 30-year lease yesterday to play in the new downtown ballpark starting in 2000, according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The signing "ends what at times has been tumultuous bargaining by the Astros." Under the lease agreement, the Astros will pay the Houston- Harris County Sports Authority $4.6M annual rent and put $2.5M each year in a fund for capital improvements. In return, the team will keep all revenues from the ballpark, which team Owner Drayton McLane has estimated could mean an additional $20M annually. Williams writes that officials "took great caution to strike a tough lease with McLane" and negotiated a deal that would "heavily penalize the Astros if they leave during the lease" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/18).
Reds Owner Marge Schott's "latest appearance" in Cincinnati's ballpark debate "has accelerated" MLB's scrutiny and "could lead to an extension of her suspension in the next few weeks, preventing her from ever running the Reds again," according to Geoff Hobson of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. A source close to MLB said the league doesn't want her involvement putting a deal for a Reds ballpark in "jeopardy." Another lengthy suspension of Schott could run through the expiration of the team's general partnership, which expires at the end of 2000. Last week, Schott said that she preferred the city's Broadway Common spot for a new park, while discussions with the team and Hamilton County were centered on the site known as the Wedge. But a source close to the ballpark talks said a deal on the Wedge site could come "as soon as next week." The county is reportedly "confident" that Schott would sign the MOU, but it is "unsure it can move forward with the project if she doesn't sign" it (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/17). County Commissioner Tom Neyer: "I know our attorneys are discussing with (Reds') attorneys the nature of the participating signatories. We expect Mrs. Schott to be an enthusiastic participant" (Geoff Hobson, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/18).