If the NHL strikes a deal with its players, Manitoba
Entertainment Complex "will quickly unveil" its plan to save the
Jets and build a new arena, according to a report on this
morning's WINNIPEG SUN. MEC Chair John Loewen: "We're hopeful
we'll be ready (for a meeting with city council) sometime next
week." In the meeting, the MEC is "almost certain to ask the
city to donate land it owns north of The Forks for the new
arena." Any decision on the arena will have to be made as soon
as possible if it is to be ready for '97-98. Estimates for the
construction are at two years, if it is started by the summer.
Jets President Barry Shenkarow said Monday that construction can
wait until this fall, but Loewen believes "that's pushing it to
the limit" (Glenn Cheater, WINNIPEG SUN, 1/11). In related news,
Scott Taylor of the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS writes that taxpayers
"shouldn't be held responsible for the existence of such teams as
the Jets, Oilers, and Flames," that gambling profits should be
used to help "maintain their existence." Once "adamantly"
opposed to the idea, Winnipeg Mayor Susan Thompson "has changed
her tune on gaming revenues," saying that funds from gambling
should be used to help build a new entertainment complex.
Thompson: "If the new collective bargaining agreement with the
NHL doesn't make it possible for the Jets to stay here, it
doesn't mean we still don't need the new entertainment complex."
Aside from a place for the Jets to play, the arena could be used
for events in the 1999 Pan-Am Games (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 1/10).
"Last-ditch efforts to salvage the crippled Target Center
buyout are focused" on a plan whereby the Minneapolis Community
Development Agency (MCDA), the city's economic development arm,
would buy the arena. The plan was submitted to prospective
Timberwolves buyer Glen Taylor on Tuesday. Under this plan,
Taylor would increase his purchase price of the team, thereby
lowering the purchase price of the arena. Sources say that
although Taylor's upfront costs for the team would be higher, he
and Ogden Corp., the group that manages the arena, would benefit
from reduced arena operating costs from lower debt service and
reduced property taxes. If Taylor accepts the deal, the
Minneapolis City Council could vote on the buyout as early as
Friday (Kevin Diaz, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/11). In August,
Taylor agreed to buy the team for $88.5M, while the arena buyout
would have cost the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission
$54M. The public buyout of the Target Center failed due to a new
statute in the federal tax code.