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Volume 24 No. 116

Facilities Venues

     The Gund Arena opened its doors in Cleveland over the
weekend, and over 30,000 people toured the new facility. "If
arenas competed for championships, the fans at yesterday's open
house would have picked the $130M Gund to go all the way" (Grant
Segall, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/17).  An  editorial in the
Cleveland PLAIN DEALER calls the arena "spectacular" and "worth
it" (PLAIN DEALER, 10/17).  On Sunday, THE PLAIN DEALER had a
special 20-page supplement featuring the new stadium, complete
with a detailed floor plan, arena menu, stadium facts and public
transportation information (10/16).

     The Seahawks announced a "grand plan" for renovating the
Kingdome, but team President David Behring said they do not yet
have a "clear-cut, concise" plan for financing the $120M, four-
phase project.  King County officials "cautioned" that the
proposal would be weighed against efforts to build a new ballpark
for the Mariners and "rising" repair costs at the Kingdome.
Behring noted there is a "strong possibility" that the financing
would be "some form of a public/private partnership."  King
County Executive Gary Locke agreed to that, but that any
financing scheme will be measured against "competing needs" such
as human services.  County Council member Pete von Reichbauer
said the "emphasis" would have to be on private financing and
include a new long-term lease with the Seahawks.  Behring and
Seahawks Exec VP Mickey Loomis will attend a stadium seminar in
Milwaukee this week to discuss a "whole myriad of different
financing mechanisms."  The Seahawks are willing to use profits
from 1,100 additional club seats "to defer the debt" but Behring
"said the team does not intend to supply any other money."
Instead, the team suggests selling naming rights to the dome and
exploring ways to allocate state funds from the WA lottery for
the project (Clare Farnsworth, SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER,
10/18).
     THE PHASES:  HOK sports facilities group devised the plan,
which could be completed by May '98 if begun in the next year.
The project includes a park and party pavilions serving as a
"gateway" to the dome and generates immediate rental revenue.
The plan also increases football seating from 66,122 to 67,817
and adds a 90,000 square foot exhibition hall and glass facade to
the stadium (Clare Farnsworth, SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER,
10/18).

     Although Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy "says it's premature"
to discuss sites for a new Pirates ballpark, he has asked the
city Planning Dept. to analyze possible sites. Pittsburgh
Planning Dir Eloise Hirsh says the city's geographic information
system will take a ballpark outline and "manipulate it around to
see where it might fit."  Murphy has said a ballpark should be
part of an entertainment package, but would not specify
specifics.  Riverboat gambling has been one suggested attraction
of such a package.  The complex would be near public
transportation, and include parking in a half-mile radius to
provide several stadium routes.  The PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
reviewed seven areas of the city with potential ballpark sites.
Larry Lucchino, a former Orioles exec and "one of several
prospective buyers" for the Pirates, said his memories of
Pittsburgh's Forbes Field helped influence Camden Yards' design.
Lucchino added:  "The ballpark should fit the tradition, the
history, and the architecture of Pittsburgh" (Patricia Lowry,
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/16).

     "In practical terms," the Sabres' $122.5M, 20,000 seat
Crossroads Arena will begin construction before the ground
freezes this year.  Buffalo Common Council Majority Leader James
Pitts said that $2.7M in early entry money sought by the Sabres
has the votes needed for approval at today's Council session.
The Sabres were concerned that private financing for the arena
would be "doomed" if construction was delayed until spring.  The
"breakthrough" from city officials was prompted by three "key"
agreements reached last week, including:  the Sabres' guarantee
that the $2.7M will be repaid "if the project fails"; an
affirmative action plan for minorities and women in construction
as well as arena operations; and, the Sabres' agreement, with the
NHL's endorsement, not to relocate the team "for at least" 30
years.  The affirmative action plan will contract $24.5M of the
work to minority businesses and $6.1M to women-owned businesses.
One-quarter of Crossroads jobs will be filled by women and
minorities.  Also, the Sabres have agreed to cover $1.5M of $22M
in infrastructure costs which were not included in the $10M bond
that Buffalo sold for the project.  The Sabres want the city to
explore other sources, such as county and state, to help with
infrastructure costs (Kevin Collison, BUFFALO NEWS, 10/17).