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Volume 24 No. 117

Facilities Venues

          In Atlanta, local government bodies "must vote all over
     again" on the city's proposed $213M downtown sports arena
     "because a key element of the financing has changed,"
     according to Saporta & Unger of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. 
     If the Atlanta City Council, Fulton County Commission or the
     Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority votes it down,
     the entire "project would be in jeopardy."  The change in
     the plan "affects what had been an important taxpayer
     safeguard," as the team had pledged all of its revenues to
     repay arena construction bonds if the facility's income
     wasn't enough to cover them, which "virtually guaranteed
     taxpayers wouldn't have to pay for any shortfall."  But the
     NBA now says Hawks players "would have to be paid first." 
     With the salary cap at "about" $25M, that much less revenue
     would be available back to the arena bonds.  Fulton County
     Commission Chair Mitch Skandalakis: "It seems odd that you
     would go into this thing not knowing what the NBA's position
     would be.  I'm not happy at all.  I think (the new arena
     proposal) stands little chance of passage from my board." 
     But Michael Coleman, counsel representing the Hawks, said
     they "have presented to the city and county staff a proposal
     that we think offers even better protection to the
     taxpayers" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/29).

          The proposal to build a new stadium for the Seahawks
     "officially became Referendum Bill 48," as the ballot
     question for the June 17 election was posted and a new poll
     "suggested the measure would be defeated," according to Ed
     Penhale of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER.  The ballot
     reads: "Shall a public stadium authority be authorized to
     build and operate a professional football stadium and
     exhibition hall financed by tax revenues and private
     contributions?"  Chris Van Dyk, of the stadium opposition
     group Citizens for More Important Things, said as long as
     the ballot has "the word 'tax' in it, people will know what
     they are voting on."  Football Northwest campaign consultant
     Bob Gogerty "was uncomfortable with the way the ballot title
     refers to 'taxes,' but voiced no other complaint." 
     Meanwhile, the April edition of the independent Elway Poll
     released Monday showed 51% of voters statewide "are inclined
     to say no" towards a new stadium, with 43% "inclined to vote
     for it."  The Elway Poll surveyed 405 voters with a margin
     of error of +/- 5% (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/29).

          A protest "against tax breaks for the wealthy erupted
     suddenly" in the FL House on Monday as lawmakers denied
     Wayne Huizenga a "second helping of public money" to
     renovate Pro Player Stadium, according to Steve Bousquet of
     the MIAMI HERALD.  The 61-50 vote was a "rare, dramatic
     defeat for one of the most politically connected
     Floridians," and "ended Huizenga's hopes" of receiving $2M a
     year toward stadium improvements for 30 years.  House
     Majority Leader Jim King, a Huizenga backer, on the feeling
     of "momentum turning" against Huizenga: "I told him the
     debate was not going to be pretty.  No matter how you cut
     it, a lot of members perceive this as giving millions to a
     billionaire" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/29).  In St. Petersburg, Rado
     & Walsten writes that Huizenga's chief lobbyist, Ron Book
     "was crestfallen."  Stan Smith, a Huizenga spokesperson,
     said that Huizenga will now consider how to pay for the
     stadium improvements (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/29).