Low turnout is expected statewide in today's CA primary,
with San Francisco voters also deciding whether to give the
Giants approval to build a new downtown ballpark (Susan Yoachum,
S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/26).
LIONS ENCOURAGED: Lions officials believe last week's voter
approval of a new Tiger Stadium "could pave the way" for the NFL
team's return to Detroit, according to this morning's DETROIT
NEWS. Lions COO Chuck Schmidt sees last Tuesday's "overwhelming"
vote in favor of a new ballpark as a sign the city might pay for
a new football stadium as well. Schmidt: "Things are heating up
for us." The team's Silverdome lease with the city of Pontiac
expires in 2004, while that city has hired a law firm to "protect
its interests." Pontiac Stadium Authority Chair Bill McIntyre:
"The Lions are free to talk to Detroit about whatever they want
to do after 2004" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/26).
Milwaukee's Professional Baseball Park District Board gave
the Brewers three weeks to finalize the team's $90M contribution
toward financing of a new ballpark. The board also voted 9-4 to
suspend a five-county sales tax hike by May 1 if it is not
satisfied with the team's contributions. The board heard from
Brewers President Bud Selig and VP/ Legal Counsel Wendy Selig-
Prieb twice during a lengthy session yesterday (AP/ESPNET
SportsZone, 3/26). Board Chair Robert Trunzo concluded there was
"still a shortfall" in the Brewers' package. Problems centered
around the "present-day value" of part of the team's package,
which analysts said left the Brewers' proposal about $10-15M
short of its intended $40M goal. Included in that was the naming
rights deal with Miller Brewing, which had been expected to have
a present value of $20M. However, lender bank NationsBank placed
that value at only $15M. Another problem was the board's
estimate of concession contracts at $10-15M, not the $20M cited
(Amy Rinard, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/26).
Broward County has given the Heat and Panthers a Friday
deadline to commit to a new arena, threatening to halt financing
efforts and site selection if they don't. Karen Rafinski reports
in this morning's MIAMI HERALD that the county is asking the
teams to sign a binding letter -- unlike one signed earlier this
year -- and require that both teams sign leases by May 1.
Broward officials are concerned the teams are giving Dade County
leaders time to come up with an alternative plan and that the
teams ultimately do not want to share a facility (MIAMI HERALD,
Disney's recent decision not to buy the Angels coupled with
the unresolved nature of the Seahawks relocation has caused
debate to "intensify" over whether Anaheim's proposed Sportstown
complex is an "unrealistic dream" or the key to the city's goal
of becoming a "professional sports mecca," according to the L.A.
TIMES. Hernandez & Miller report Disney walked away the Angels
partly because the project has no known private investors, and
Owners Gene and Jackie Autry have threatened to move the club
when its Anaheim Stadium lease expires in five years. Disney
Sports Enterprises President Tony Tavares: "There are so many
unknowns about Sportstown and football, we didn't feel
comfortable locking into a lease not knowing what this would look
like at the end of the day." Meanwhile, many local officials
believe whether or not Disney emerges as a buyer, the city still
needs the Angels' cooperation to make Sportstown a reality.
Still, Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly says the city is "sticking to its
bold dream." Despite his difficulties, Seahawks Owner Ken
Behring would still invest in the project. And Daly has asked
agent Leigh Steinberg to head a committee to advise the city on
Sportstown (L.A. TIMES, 3/24).
Redskins Owner Jack Kent Cooke told the WASHINGTON POST that
he plans on selling naming rights to the team's new stadium in
suburban Maryland. Cooke, who is spending $170M on the facility,
says he has been contacted by companies interested in putting
their name on the stadium, but failed to give more details (Dave
Sell, WASHINGTON POST, 3/26).
The Maricopa County, AZ, Stadium District "may have violated
state law for two years" by using millions of dollars from Cactus
League spring training accounts to cover start-up expenses for
the Diamondbacks and construction of the Bank One Ballpark
(ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/26).