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THE ROOF IS LEAKING: A section of the roof at Olympic Stadium in Montreal came "crashing down yesterday," slightly injuring two workers. Officials blamed "heavy snow, weighed down by unseasonable rain." But the C$37M roof is "brand new" and the work of U.S.-based engineering company Birdair (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/19). Former Canadiens GM Serge Savard, on possibly replacing outgoing Expos President Claude Brochu: "I don't pretend to be a baseball guy. I like the sport as a simple fan. If the Expos need help in any project to keep baseball in Montreal, I'll help" (Montreal GAZETTE, 1/19). MINNESOTA FACTS: Vikings President Gary Woods said for the "first time publicly" on Monday that the team would prefer a new stadium to a renovated Metrodome. Woods: "As long as the Twins are playing in the Dome, it really can't be renovated because there's no down time." Woods is looking to resolve the issue this year. In related news, Charley Walters reports that the Vikings grossed $2.5M in merchandise and souvenir sales for their 12-game Metrodome schedule this year. In Sunday's loss alone, they grossed $325,000. During the '97 regular-season schedule, the Vikings earned $875,000 in merchandise sales (PIONEER PRESS, 1/19). Walters added that talks "continue" between the NHL Wild and US West on a naming rights deal expected to be worth at least $2M a year (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/17). OTHER NOTES: Hillsborough County and the Tampa Sports Authority have sued the Bucs after the team "refused to hand over copies of leases" for the 168 skyboxes at Raymond James Stadium. The county wants the leases to see whether the Bucs or suite holders should pay real estate taxes (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/16)....The Dallas-based Arena Group said that 4,000 residents took part in a arena survey for the Mavs' and Stars' proposed new facility. Of the participants, 40% were from Dallas, 11% from Arlington, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth and 38% from the Dallas suburbs. The remaining 11% were from other areas (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/16).
PA Gov. Tom Ridge continues to "pitch" for new stadiums in the state to "what has proven to be one of his toughest audiences -- members of the House Republican caucus," according to Reeves & Shelly of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Ridge met with about 70 GOP members last week and was "well- received," but when he made his bid for up to $325M in new stadium funding, observers said, "No one clapped." One lawmaker: "He talked up stadiums, and it just isn't happening." Ridge is hoping for a vote by February 10, and several Ridge staffers say that stadium-funding backers "may actually have lost ground, since the bill failed to pass the House in November (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/17). TEAM BUILDING: In Pittsburgh, Peter Shelly reported on the "impressive lineup of lobbyists" that will aid PA's teams on the stadium legislation. While the teams "have built a balanced lineup, with lobbyists from the east and west," they still face "tough odds in the House ... where lobbyists have not fared well" (POST-GAZETTE, 1/16).