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Volume 24 No. 159

Facilities Venues

          The city of Denver has paid $1.5M in legal, financing
     and engineering consultants to handle issues concerning
     replacing Mile High Stadium and McNichols Arena since '91,
     according to Alan Snel of the DENVER POST.  Snel: "Hiring
     sports consultants poses an age-old dilemma for cities. 
     Faced with local professional teams seeking new taxpayer-
     subsidized stadiums, municipalities nationwide have to
     decide whether it's more cost-effective to create in-house
     positions to handle complicated stadium negotiations or hire
     private-sector consultants for those jobs."  Denver has
     "gone the consultant route" and its top money-makers have
     been local development lawyer Tom Ragonetti and MN sports
     finance consultant Craig Skiem (DENVER POST, 11/23).   
          IS IT WORTH IT? Snel listed all sports facility-related
     expenditures, which included $255,866 to Coopers & Lybrand
     from '91-95 for financing advice on "sports trends" and the
     arena issue.  The city has also paid Skiem's MN-based CSL
     Entertainment $215,605 over six years.  City Council
     President Cathy Reynolds: "Yeah, the city spent a lot of
     money on consultants.  But it's worth it."  Mayoral staffer
     Liz Orr said having people work in-house on sports "is a
     waste of taxpayer money."  Skiem added that he "doesn't know
     one city that has a full-time staff person that performs"
     his type of consulting duties (DENVER POST, 11/23).

          The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority "acquired
     the final piece of land needed" to build the Astros new
     downtown ballpark when it completed the last of five eminent
     domain proceedings Monday, according to John Williams of the
     HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  In all five hearings, property owners
     received "substantially less than what they had sought"
     (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/25)....Abe Pollin, NFL facility
     consultant Rick Horrow and economist Roger Noll were
     participants at a stadium and arena financing forum at DC's
     Brookings Institute.  Noll, on proposed legislation by U.S.
     Senator Pat Moynihan (D-NY) that would take away the tax-
     exempt status of municipal bonds used to finance facilities:
     "If Congress eliminated the tax exemption on state and
     municipal bonds used to finance sports arenas and stadiums,
     the interest rates would go up and cause the public to think
     twice about each project" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/24).

          In Toronto, the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place
     approved the Maple Leafs' "proposal for an arena and related
     development with record speed, but many questions surround
     the matter," according to David Shoalts of the Toronto GLOBE
     & MAIL.  The board passed the team's plans for a $200-250M
     investment in a 19,200-seat arena and a 1,400-space parking
     garage.  In addition, the team has "been granted" a five-
     year option to develop another 12.5 acres of property around
     the site.  If the plan is approved by Toronto's Metro
     Council on December 10, an 80-day period of due diligence
     will follow, with "neither side being bound to the deal
     financially or contractually."  Shoalts writes that the
     latter part of the deal "raises ... questions," since it
     allows the Leafs to "walk away" from Exhibition Place "at
     any time up to" the end of February.  Shoalts writes that
     speculation persists that the proposal is being used by the
     Leafs to force a "favourable partnership" with the Raptors
     at Air Canada Centre (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/25).  
          REAX: In Toronto, Damien Cox: "Don't read too much into
     the latest Maple Leaf arena scheme ... [T]he probability
     that all these bits and pieces can come together over the
     next 80 days ... seems somewhat far-fetched" (TORONTO STAR,
     11/25).  Also in Toronto, Craig Daniels reports that Leafs
     Minority Owner Larry Tanenbaum sat "four seats to the right"
     of Raptors Owner Allan Slaight at courtside during last
     night's Raptors game.  Although "neither side is admitting
     so," a "new dialogue" between the two teams "appears to be
     under way."  One source said that the Leafs are "using their
     interest" in the site at Exhibition Place as "leverage to
     ... negotiate a buy-in at Air Canada Centre, which naturally
     they would want to control" (TORONTO SUN, 11/25).  

          The Penguins "apologized Monday for shutting public
     officials out of negotiations" to sell the Civic Arena
     naming rights to MD-based Allegheny Energy, but team
     officials "said that doesn't mean the deal is off,"
     according to Michael Coleman of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-
     REVIEW.  Penguins President Donn Patton said "he hopes to
     convince public officials" that the team's six-year, $5M
     deal to rename the Civic Arena the Allegheny Energy Dome "is
     good for the public."  Coleman: "Patton faces a tough sell. 
     The city-county Public Auditorium Authority, which owns the
     arena, unanimously approved a resolution yesterday
     authorizing its attorney to 'take all action necessary' to
     halt the agreement.  The resolution also said the public
     must be included in any future discussions about renaming
     the arena."  Councilmember Dan Cohen "questioned the
     relatively short term and low price of the deal," and said
     that the naming rights "could have been sold to the highest
     bidder."  An Allegheny Energy spokesperson said that the
     company "is still interested in a naming rights deal" at the
     Civic Arena, "regardless of how the current controversy
     plays out" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 11/25).