SBJ/November 16 - 22, 1998/No Topic Name

Chicago group says it lacks seats for AFL

Financing delays and a shortage of seats are preventing developers of a planned $85 million arena in suburban Chicago from winning an Arena Football League team.

An arena plan proposed by the Prospect Development Corp. would have only 11,000 seats available for an Arena Football floor plan; the league prefers facilities that seat at least 12,000 to 13,000. Last month, league officials announced that a new franchise will be added in Los Angeles but bypassed Prospect's bid. League officials did not return calls for comment.

"The size of our building is one of the issues," said Brian Bradley, director of operations for Prospect. "But our application is still open and we're looking at alternatives."

The arena's financing has also been held up because of land issues. The city of Prospect Heights had agreed to buy 34 acres for the arena, and only now have the land issues been resolved, officials said.

"All the financing can't be signed until all the land contracts are in place," Bradley said. "But we hope to break ground in the first quarter of next year. We are on track."

Prospect and Cleveland-based IMG have agreed to a 30-year exclusive deal to market the arena.

"You can't get financing of an $85 million project when you don't have the land intact," said Gary Swain, IMG executive vice president. "Now that the everything is in place, we hope to open by the fall of 2000."

In addition to attracting an Arena Football franchise, developers said they expect to acquire a professional roller hockey franchise. IMG has already signed a deal to host Discover Stars On Ice shows.

The Arena Football League is based in Chicago, but the league hasn't had a team in its home market since the mid-1980s, when the Chicago Bruisers played at the Rosemont Horizon. The team folded in 1989.

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