As construction on a new downtown Tampa arena for the
Lightning continues, cost estimates for the new structure have
gone up, according to today's TAMPA TRIBUNE. The latest estimate
puts the price at $144.3M, nearly $10M more than the team
predicted in a finance plan released three months ago. In '93,
team officials said the arena could be built for $110M. Despite
the rise, the taxpayers' portion of the bill -- about $84M -- is
not increasing, according to Hillsborough County's Mike Merrill.
Merrill said any cost increases will be paid by the team (TAMPA
BEHIND THE FINANCING: Construction costs are projected to
run $70.9M. Other expenses: $11.1M for land purchases, $7M for
architects and engineers and $846,000 for marketing and p.r, and
an $8M contingency fund. The team's plan indicates they have
secured a $55.9M construction loan from Shawmut and First Union
Banks. Two institutional lenders -- New York Life Insurance and
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America -- have
agreed to purchase about $60M in bonds once the project is done
that will cover the Lightning's debt (Jim Kenyon, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
A tax on parking spaces in the City of Cleveland is the
recommended option for financing the renovation of Cleveland
Stadium, sources tell the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Stephen
Phillips reports that unnamed members of a task force appointed
by Cleveland Mayor Michael White to determine the best way to pay
for renovations, have said that a citywide parking tax "is the
most feasible of the revenue producers under consideration."
Several members say that the parking tax must be supplemented
with other revenue-producers to pay for the $130M renovations,
including contributions from the team or fans. Gov. George
Voinovich has said the state would contribute up to 12% of the
renovation costs through OH's capital improvements budget.
Officials hope the renovations can be completed by '99; the
Browns lease at the Stadium expires in '98 (Cleveland PLAIN
POLITICAL MOVEMENT: Faced with the "threat of Ohio losing"
its two NFL teams, state Sen. Stanley Aronoff urged a statewide
task force studying stadium improvements for the Bengals and
Browns to speed up its work. Aronoff called the situation "close
to becoming a crisis" and said that the governor's willingness
for the state to contribute up to 12% of the cost of renovating
Cleveland Stadium should mean equal treatment in Cincinnati
(CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/27).