The Raptors' "complicated land deal" to build their new
arena has been completed, according to David Israelson in today's
TORONTO STAR. Raptors President John Bitove: "The lawyers have
finished negotiating and we expect to receive the executed copies
this week." Bitove says the ball is now in "city council's
court"(TORONTO STAR, 2/28).
LONELY LEAFS? The TORONTO STAR's hockey notes section
speculates the Leafs "might have missed the boat" by not
announcing plans for a new Maple Leaf Gardens before the Raptors
unveiled their new home. By doing so, the Leafs could have
likely "induced the big lenders to shy away from the Raptors."
Now, however, the Raptors "will almost certainly bring" an IHL
team to the Air Canada Centre, leaving the Leafs "on their own"
(TORONTO STAR, 2/28).
The corporate consumption of the sports world -- "where
everything is for sale" -- is analyzed by Tom Farrey of the
SEATTLE TIMES. Farrey reports the NBA has been the most
aggressive in pursuing corporate sponsorship for arena
advertising and naming rights and "few franchises are doing it
with more precision that the SuperSonics, who have taken the rare
step of creating a separate company, Full House Sports &
Entertainment, that specializes in corporate sponsorship." Full
House is in the process of selling arena advertising for the
renovated Key Center, through which the Sonics could make more
than $5M. Each corner in the new arena will feature an 80-foot
high "media pole." Full House adds that the new arena "will have
fewer ad panels than other NBA facilities. But because of the
ability to get their message across amid less clutter, sponsors
are willing to pay more for the advertising" (SEATTLE TIMES,
The Stars "angrily refused" to sign a lease with the city
of Dallas yesterday, as the team's "contentious relationship"
with the city "took another turn for the worse." City officials
had given the team until yesterday to sign a "formal lease" to
continue playing at Reunion Arena. But Stars President Jim Lites
sent a letter to Dallas City Manager John Ware saying that "the
city's offer fell short of what the team had been promised" when
it moved city from Minneapolis in '93. According to Lites, the
city promised the team "the same rights and provisions held by
the Mavericks." But in the latest offer, the Stars "would have
far less favorable dates for nongame events; a smaller-than-
promised space for offices and a club; and would be forced to
install costly adjustable platforms" to alter the seating
configuration, which Lites said are unnecessary (Christopher Ave,
FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, 2/28).