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Volume 24 No. 117

Facilities Venues

          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).