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Volume 24 No. 178

Facilities Venues

     Hamilton County voters yesterday "overwhelmingly ratified" a
half-cent sales tax increase to build two new stadiums for the
Reds and Bengals, according to Michaud & Green of the CINCINNATI
ENQUIRER.  Despite poor weather, turnout was a record in a
primary election.  With close to all precincts reporting, Issue I
on the stadium tax led, 61% to 39%.  Bengals GM Mike Brown hugged
Reds Owner Marge Schott before addressing a pro-stadium rally and
called it the "greatest moment in my life."  OH Gov. George
Voinovich said citizens voted to "maintain Cincinnati as a major
league city."  The vote will raise the sales tax in Hamilton
County from 5.5% to 6% beginning June 1.  The tax would raise
around $50M each year, of which Hamilton County would use $35M a
year to build the stadiums.  The rest would fund property tax
relief.  The Bengals will pay $25-30M toward the estimated $170M
football stadium, while Schott is in discussions with officials
on their contribution.  Proponents say the total cost of the
project will hit $700M when interest payments are included, up
from preliminary estimates of $544.2M.  Hamilton County
Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus said work to complete the financing
for the stadium will begin immediately (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,
3/20).
     TIGER BY THE TAIL?  As election day approached, "speculation
increased" the Bengals might move to Cleveland if the tax failed
(Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/20).  After the vote, Brown admitted
filling a 70,000-seat stadium and selling over 70 boxes will be
difficult.  Local economists are also "skeptical" the city's
corporate community will support both teams (Akron BEACON
JOURNAL, 3/20).

     Voters in Detroit yesterday voted a "resounding" yes on
allowing the city to use public money for a new ballpark,
according to this morning's DETROIT NEWS.  Early returns showed
Proposal B, a non-binding measure which would allow public funds
be spent on a new facility, leading by more than a 2-1 margin.
Proposal A, which would have "barred the use of public money for
a new stadium," was being rejected by about the same margin.
Team and city officials were pleased, and the Tigers could be
playing in the new park as early as '98.  Voters were asked
whether they would permit $40M in Downtown Development Authority
bonds to help finance the $240M facility.  Tigers Owner Mike
Ilitch has pledged $145M, while $55M would come through the
quasi-public Michigan Strategic Fund.  Voters said they "were
swayed by the promises of economic rebirth and a revitalized
downtown" (Basheda, Lewis, & Linsalata, DETROIT NEWS, 3/20).
     WHAT'S NEXT?  The opposition Tiger Stadium Fan Club has "one
more weapon in their arsenal" -- a lawsuit challenging the $55M
grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund (Basheda, Lewis, &
Linsalata, DETROIT NEWS, 3/20).

     The city of Oakland may ask a Superior Court judge for an
injunction forcing the A's to play their first six home games at
the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, according to this morning's
OAKLAND TRIBUNE.  The announcement, which came after a City
Council meeting last night, "significantly escalated the war"
between the Coliseum and A's over stadium renovations.  Council
Member Ignacio De La Fuente said the A's decision to move their
home opener was an insult and that they will "do whatever has to
be done to protect our reputation and make sure they follow their
agreement."  Robert Salladay writes the injunction could "affect
the already-strained-relationship" the city has with the team
(OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 3/20).  Most reports have the team playing its
first two home series in Las Vegas at the 10,000-seat Cashman
Field, but talks have gotten off to "a poor start," according to
the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS.  Sources say the A's asked for a
guarantee of $1.05M for six games, while Las Vegas' initial offer
was for about $300,000 -- later upped to about $500,000.  A's GM
Sandy Alderson expects a deal today, but one cannot be reached,
the team would likely open in New Orleans (Robert Kuwada SAN JOSE
MERCURY NEWS, 3/20).

     The Palladium Corp. and its general contractor, PCL
Constructors Eastern Inc, have been named in a lawsuit brought by
a sub-contractor over a $5M unpaid construction bill for the
recently completed Corel Centre (TORONTO SUN, 3/19)....Officials
with Astrodome USA withdrew their request that Harris County
reimburse them nearly $500,000 for emergency fire-code repairs
made to the county-owned Astrodome (HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
3/20)....Maricopa County Supervisors are expected to approve
today a series of agreements with the Diamondbacks governing the
use and management of Bank One Ballpark for the next 30 years.
The deals could increase taxpayers' share of annual stadium
revenues to $5.5M.  In return, the team would avoid potential
exposure to taxes normally charged to businesses leasing public
space (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/20)....The Minneapolis Sports
Facilities Commission preliminary approved allowing the Twins to
sell Metrodome ads to the Lottery.  A left-center field wall ad
would generate $100,000 for the Twins (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE,
3/19).