Republican legislative leaders said one of the reasons they
do not want to take up a Milwaukee stadium financing package now
is the Brewers' "poor win-loss record," writes Amy Rinard in this
morning's MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Senate Majority Leader
Michael Ellis: "Wrapping old cheese in a new box is still old
cheese." WI Gov. Tommy Thompson has proposed taking up the
matter after the state budget bill is approved in early July.
Assembly Speaker David Prosser: "If they won six games in a row,
I'd say let's have a special session right away." Stadium Task
Force Chair Robert Kahlor said it would be "very unfortunate" if
legislators only looked at the team's won-loss record. Kahlor:
"We're probably not going to get a competitive team until we get
a new stadium." Rinard notes Ellis is opposed to state funds
going to the effort, but would be willing to authorize the City
of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to levy local taxes. Ellis:
"We are not going to build a stadium for Bud Selig using state
dollars" (Amy Rinard, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/15).
FL Gov. Lawton Chiles agreed to spend $60M in state sales
tax money to held build a new stadium for the Bucs, according to
Robert Chepak in the TAMPA TRIBUNE. Despite "concerns the team
will leave Florida," the move by Chiles is "crucial to
Hillsborough County's proposal to build a new stadium for the
Bucs." Bucs GM Rich McKay: "It is a vital piece of the puzzle.
This means the process is underway to begin to finance this
stadium." Chepak reports the subsidy is only a portion of the
expected $168M needed to build the stadium and the Tampa Stadium
Authority will now turn to raising private money for the balance.
State Rep. Jim Davis: "Without this bill, I think there are some
serious problems with keeping the Bucs in the Tampa Bay area.
With it, you have more of a fighting chance, but there are no
guarantees" (Robert Chepak, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/15). The bill
specifies that before the team can use the money, it will have to
sign a 20-year lease in Tampa (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 6/15).
FOUR WALK IN, ONE COMES OUT: Architects Lescher & Mahoney
Sports of Tampa and Criswell, Blizzard & Blouin of St. Petersburg
were the groups selected by a six-member committee of St.
Petersburg officials and representatives of the Devil Rays to
plan the estimated $50M improvements to the ThunderDome, reports
Rob Shaw in the TAMPA TRIBUNE. Shaw notes the fact that the
group was local "did not go unnoticed by the panel as Devil Rays
Owner Vince Naimoli said he would rather see a local company get
the contract" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/15). Kansas City's HOK, the firm
that designed the ThunderDome, as well as Baltimore's Camden
Yards and Denver's Coors Field, came in last in the bidding
(David Rogers, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 6/15).
The Massachusetts Port Authority is trying to edge out the
state's Convention Center Authority and be named lead developer
of the proposed megaplex, according to Meg Vaillancourt and
Richard Kindleberger of the BOSTON GLOBE. Massport said it would
form a public-private partnership to secure at least $90M in
private investment for the project. The GLOBE reports that while
Massport Exec Dir Stephen Tocco declined to discuss corporate
partners, one leading candidate is reportedly London-based
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which owns the
Boston Wharf Co., a major property holder in the South Boston
area designated for the megaplex. ITT Corp. has been identified
as the best corporate sponsor, but "sources differed" on whether
ITT was still interested in the project. Massport's bonding
authority and ownership of 26 acres of the proposed 135-acre
megaplex site could give the it an advantage in helping speed the
project's development. House Ways and Means Chair Thomas
Finneran, after meeting with Tocco: "I'm not ruling it out, but
I'm not sure their charter includes such real estate development
and financing activities" (Vaillancourt & Kindleberger, BOSTON
Any financing plan for the renovation of Cleveland Stadium
"will probably be paired with a financial package to help city
schools," according to the PLAIN DEALER. Stephen Koff reports
that such a plan, "trashed immediately" after it was suggested by
Mayor Michael White two weeks ago, "has since gained support."
White suggested a 10% tax on paid, off-street parking for the
stadium, plus a 2% tax on parking to pay for extracurricular
school activities. At a council meeting Monday, many members
"said they would not support Stadium improvements unless the city
also finds money for its struggling schools." Councilman Bill
Patmon: "I cannot vote for any proposal that takes care of
Cleveland's Browns and does not take care of Cleveland's kids"
(Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/14). A CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS
editorial calls on Browns Owner Art Modell to extend his '99
deadline for a new stadium, if he really a solution "without
debate and rancor": "If the consensus building effort is to go
on hiatus -- or at least underground -- for seven months so that
the Browns can work to put fannies in the seats without a
divisive issue complicating that job, Mr. Modell must be willing
to push back the target date" (CRAIN'S, 6/12 issue).
In the current issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Tim Crothers
examines the plight of the Devils and their possible move to
Nashville along with "at least 38 other franchises across North
America" who are "the latest victims" of owners trying to
"blackmail communities" into new stadiums. Among the cities
mentioned as being manipulated by "plutocratic extortioners":
Cincinnati, Seattle and San Diego. Crothers, on Al Davis -- "the
patron saint of stadium extortion": "For a few dozen skyboxes
Davis would pledge a move to Mogadishu." Crothers writes,
"What's going on here? Well, in recent years, the owners of pro
sports franchises have discovered that one way money can most
readily be saved and earned is with sweetheart stadium deals."
Crothers reports that at least 14 NFL teams "are seeking new
stadiums, better leases or major renovations." However, Crothers
notes that "several economists, including Stanford's Roger Noll
and Lake Forest [IL] College's Robert Baade, point out that the
$200 million sunk into a stadium could be spent on an industrial
park that would generate many more jobs and much more revenue
than a new ballpark would." Crothers concludes, "Unfortunately,
when business intersects with sports these days, reason often
seems to fly out the window" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 6/19 issue).
Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes said
yesterday that she is willing to open negotiations to rework the
final 16 years of the Vikings' lease at the Metrodome, according
to Jay Weiner of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Weiner also
reports that Cherryhomes is "eager to explore the financial
problems" of the Twins, who have a Metrodome escape clause in
'97. Her statements comes as she is seeking to avoid "continual
threats" from the city's sports franchises and avoid the "crisis
negotiations" such as those that marked the North Stars'
departure in '93 and the near-move of the Timberwolves in '94.
Vikings President Roger Headrick: "That's probably the first
official positive news that we've had from any government
official on this subject after almost two years of discussing it"
(Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/15).