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Volume 24 No. 115
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     "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).