In Phoenix, D'Backs officials say that Bank One
Ballpark "is on schedule," and they "are confident" that the
retractable roof and "grow-in-the-dark grass" will be ready
for the first exhibition game on March 29, according to Bill
Muller of the AZ REPUBLIC. The $354M stadium "is scheduled
to be finished with at least three weeks to spare." The
roof and grass "present significant hurdles," as both are
the "first of their kind." D'Backs officials "are being
closemouthed" about when the roof will be tested, as they
"want to avoid" a "media circus" (AZ REPUBLIC, 11/23).
TAXING THOUGHTS: D'Backs CEO Jerry Colangelo "has
decided to install bulletproof glass" in the windows of his
Bank One Ballpark office, according to Eric Miller of the
ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Miller called this, and other security
measures, "grim echoes of a 3-year old political decision"
to approve a quarter-cent sales tax to build the ballpark.
The tax will sunset November 30, six months to a year ahead
of schedule, and "will end up harvesting more than its
allotted" $238M, with extra revenue being used for stadium
repairs or renovations. The 2 1/2-year tax, which cost the
average taxpayer "an estimated $25 a year," helped "cause
the defeat of two politicians and propel another into a race
for governor, and it has been blamed for the shooting" of a
county supervisor. AZ State Univ. Professor Dorothy Evans
said that at "the heart is anger" over the decision to enact
the tax without a public vote. Colangelo, on installing
bulletproof glass: "We live in a day and age where you have
to take a lot of precautions" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/23).
A Miami official confirmed that the city "is trying to
sell corporate naming rights to the Orange Bowl," hoping to
net more than $600,000 annually. Meanwhile, MLS is seeking
a corporate name for Lockhart Stadium, home of the expansion
Fusion (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 11/23).....On Saturday,
a MI Stadium record crowd of 106,982 attended the Ohio
State-MI football game (DETROIT NEWS, 11/23)....With the
Patriots stadium bill "canned" until the next session of the
MA State Senate, Will McDonough wrote to "look for Rhode
Island to heat up again as the next home for the team"
(BOSTON GLOBE, 11/23)....In San Diego, Don Bauder reported
that a county grand jury is "probing" the city's stadium
deal with the Chargers (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/22).
The MCI Center, which opens next Tuesday, was reviewed
by architectural writer Benjamin Forgey of the WASHINGTON
POST, who called it "an unusually attractive, welcoming
sports arena. ... This is one of the most inviting athletic
buildings anywhere because it is not just an arena.
Impressive stores, restaurants and even a sports museum --
all saturated with video images and interactive displays --
surround" its entrance. Forgey added that the "seating bowl
is a handsome, commodious affair. Arranged in three tiers,
it provides excellent sight lines to the playing floor even
from the highest seat in the third tier." More Forgey:
"[T]here are negatives. Foremost, to my mind, is the rigid
stratification of the seating arrangements." Also, parking
"is certain to be a temporary problem. ... And it could
become a long-term headache." Forgey's conclusion: "All
parties involved ... deserve sizable credit for the jobs
they did on the MCI Center. The efforts to make it a
welcoming urban neighbor are significant and largely
successful" (Benjamin Forgey, WASHINGTON POST, 11/22).
Maple Leafs President Ken Dryden "is leaving the door
open to a joint-arena deal" with the Raptors, but said that
the team "is committed to a full investigation of a new,
proposed arena at Exhibition Place," according to Jim Byers
of the TORONTO STAR. Dryden's comment comes "amid reports
of what one source called a battle royal amongst Maple Leaf
Gardens shareholders." A source said Minority Owners,
including Larry Tanenbaum, are "engaged in a battle" with
Majority Owner Steve Stavro "to try to convince him to join
the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre" (TORONTO STAR, 11/24).
Leafs VP/Project Dir Tom Anselmi said that the team "will go
to the Canadian National Exhibition board" today with plans
for a sports, retail and entertainment complex that would
include the new Maple Leaf Gardens" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22).