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Volume 24 No. 158

Facilities Venues

          The Houston City Council unanimously approved the
     agreement that would rename The Summitt as the Compaq
     Center.  Compaq will pay the Arena Operating Company,
     managers of the city-owned arena, $5.4M over the next six
     years to upgrade the facility (Compaq).  The vote had been
     delayed as Rockets officials "had been concerned" how the
     Compaq deal would affect the team's advertising "contract
     inside the facility."  But the Rockets "dropped their
     request for further delay" after Compaq agreed to negotiate
     a separate ad deal with the team (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/30).

          MN Gov. Arne Carlson "proposed a comprehensive, albeit
     sketchy, 'global' approach to the public funding of pro
     sports in Minnesota," according to Weiner & Whereatt of the
     Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  While Carlson offered no new
     financing ideas, he said that the futures of the Twins,
     Vikings and the new St. Paul NHL team "should be linked." 
     Carlson: "We're going to have to approach it with a much
     more global solution."  But Weiner & Whereatt write that
     Carlson's comments "generally ran counter to legislative
     sentiment," and that some saw his bringing the Vikings into
     the picture "as another problem for the Twins effort." 
     Carlson said the state legislature should consider a $250M
     investment in s Twins ballpark; $125M to refurbish the
     Metrodome and $65M towards the arena for St. Paul's NHL
     expansion team.  Carlson, referring to state legislators:
     "Stop making silly promises of no public money.  Of course,
     it's going to have public money" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE,
     10/30).  Carlson also floated the possibility of moving the
     NHL expansion team to the Target Center and building a Twins
     ballpark in St. Paul.  But the NHL team owners "discounted
     such speculation" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/30).
     Phelps & Tevlin write that after the legislature asked the
     Twin Cities business and labor communities to support a new
     Twins ballpark, a survey found "mostly lukewarm response"
     among union and business execs.  Other than luxury suite
     commitments, the business community "indicated that it would
     stay largely on the sidelines.  And unions said their rank
     and file reflect the general population's hesitancy to use
     state money for pro sports" (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/30).

          The Rams, Blues and MLB Cardinals are "opposing an     effort" by St. Louis License Collector Thomas Nash to apply     the city's 5% amusement tax to the full price of luxury     suites and other exclusive seats at their games, according     to Mark Schlinkmann of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.  The     teams have been paying the tax "only on a portion" of what     they charge companies and individual fans for those seats --     the portion "they say admits fans to the game itself."  The     teams "contend that the tax shouldn't apply to other parts     of the charges because those go for special amenities" such     as waiter/waitress service, access to special restaurants &     bars, valet parking, private restrooms, telephones and     closed-circuit TVs.  Nash said that the city "could get ...     at least several hundred thousand dollars a year" from the     new interpretation.  A POST-DISPATCH analysis "shows the     amount could be higher," as the city would take in an     "additional $320,000 or so" just from the TWA Dome's 118     luxury suites leased for Rams games.  Schlinkmann writes     that Nash "hopes to resolve the issue in private meetings     with the teams but that it was possible that the matter     could end up in court" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/28).

          The Tigers held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new
     ballpark yesterday, according to Charlie Vincent of the
     DETROIT FREE PRESS.  Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch: "It will not
     be a stadium or a field, it will be a ballpark."  The Tigers
     plan to be in the new stadium by Opening Day 2000, but one
     official guest, who requested anonymity, said, "I still
     don't know if it's going to happen."  Vincent: "For the
     record, no one else voiced even the slightest sign of doubt"
     (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/30). Also in Detroit, Patricia
     Montemurri reports that approximately 1,000 people attended
     the groundbreaking.  Montemurri also writes that a
     consortium of 12 U.S. and Canadian banks have "a binding
     agreement" for a $145M loan package with the Tigers and
     Ilitch.  But Michael Monahan, President of Comerica Inc. &
     Comerica Bank, the consortium's lead bank, said that the
     final deal "hasn't been signed," and he declined to say how
     long before it would be finalized (FREE PRESS, 10/30).