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Volume 24 No. 117

Facilities Venues

     Crestar and NationsBank, who have offered the cash-strapped
DC government $53M to buy the land and make improvements on the
site of a proposed new arena, have asked Congress for assurances
the city will be able to repay the loans.  Bullets/Capitals owner
Abe Pollin will finance construction if DC makes improvements and
donates the land.  Congress must approve an amendment in the DC
Charter to allow the city to levy a tax on hotel and retail sales
to pay back the loans.  That tax is expected to generate $9M a
year, but the banks are "concerned" that projection may be too
high.  The banks will ask Congress for provisions that may
include an automatic increase if the tax doesn't produce enough
income, or a claim on the rent Pollin will pay the city.
Financing must be in place in May for construction to begin this
fall (Lorraine Woellert, WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/19).

     Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer says this year's version of a
new Tiger Stadium will be "smaller, less costly and better
defined than last year's."  When it is unveiled before the end of
May, the plan will feature a ballpark and a parking lot -- no
bridges, shops or other sports venues as in previous plans.
Archer said the city, state and team will share the costs, with
the city paying for part of the infrastructure, defined as buying
the land, putting in new roads and tearing down buildings on the
site.  Last June, talks on a stadium plan stalled after
legislators complained that they were being asked to approve a
plan without details on costs, design and financing.  Archer
would not divulge new financing details, but he did say the cost
would be "dramatically less" than the $400M discussed last year.
Legislative leaders caution any plan with state funding may face
trouble (Tina Lam, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/19).

     The 13-member MA Convention Center Commission will vote
today to include a 70,000-seat domed stadium for the Patriots
with a downtown convention center, according to reports in Boston
this morning.  The city had recommended a convention hall-only
plan earlier in the year, and a domed stadium was "once thought
all but politically dead."  However, the commission faces a "big
if" -- whether the complex will be "financially viable."
Commission members met yesterday with Patriots Owner Robert
Kraft, and the group "plans to soon hire a special consultant"
with NFL experience to negotiate a draft lease.  Commission Co-
Chair Robert Travaglini said a full facility "will pass
legislative muster" only if the Patriots, Boston hoteliers, and
other "private players are financially involved."  A commission
subcommittee will also meet with Red Sox officials about a new
ballpark, as panel members toured Fenway Park yesterday (Phil
Primack, BOSTON HERALD, 4/19).

     The latest issue of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS examines Bears
Owner Michael McCaskey's desire for $185M in state funding for a
new $285M home for the team in suburban Chicago.  Jeff Borden
reports that the team "could build the stadium with much less
public money -- and possibly none."  Borden writes that
McCaskey's price tag for the new park is too high -- experts say
$200M "would be plenty" to pay for a new stadium -- and that
through methods such as advance payment on skyboxes and sale of a
new stadium's naming rights, McCaskey "could pull in almost $160
million before the doors open."  Also, the value of the franchise
"is expected to jump" $40M-200M once a stadium opens, "which
would make it easier to obtain bank financing, if necessary"
(CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 4/17 issue).  An editorial in CRAIN'S
calls McCaskey's plan "unrealistic, out of step with modern
sports economics and an affront to the ... Illinois General
Assembly" (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 4/17 issue).

     Pinellas County commissioners met with Devil Rays Owner
Vince Namoli about his request for $20M to reconfigure the
Thunderdome for baseball.  Namoli said approximately $50M in Dome
improvements is required by MLB to bring the Dome up to
standards.  Namoli and St. Petersburg officials want the county
to raise the tax on hotel guests by 1%, which would generate
$20M.  The city is applying for state sales tax money to pay
$27.5M, and Naimoli said ownership will pay the additional $8-
10M.  The meeting "grew testy at times" as Namoli was accused "of
creating a crisis by not telling officials about the Dome
improvements sooner."  But Namoli countered that officials knew
of the needed improvements "for years," but that he didn't
"release a specific list" because it would have been used against
Tampa Bay in their effort to gain a team.  MLB has set an April
30 deadline for arranging financing (Ned Seaton, ST. PETE TIMES,
4/19).

     Palace Sports and Entertainment President Tom Wilson said
yesterday they will spend $15M to build a new entrance for The
Palace at Auburn Hills.  The plan features a 100,000-square-foot,
glass-walled addition, to be finished by November, that will
"completely remake" the west entrance.  Inside, a new two-level
atrium lobby will feature video displays, a virtual reality
arcade, interactive music areas, and a Walk of Fame honoring
entertainers.  With the expansion, Palace owners "resolved to
capture a greater share of the entertainment dollar" as families
will be able to arrive early and spend time in the entertainment
center.  The plans will be designed by Rossetti & Associates, the
Birmingham, MI, architectural firm that did The Palace's original
design (John Gallagher, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/19).