The Supreme Court yesterday "let stand without comment"
an appeals court ruling which required the MCI Center to
provide wheelchair-bound patrons with "seating that allows
them to view events over the heads of standing spectators,"
according to Maryann Haggerty of the WASHINGTON POST. The
Court's action is the "final say" in a dispute which began
in '96 when the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), a DC-
based group, sued Washington Sports Owner Abe Pollin over
the arena design. PVA's suit "pushed to make certain" that
handicapped seating was distributed around the building and
that "users could see the action if other patrons stood up."
After losing in federal court, Pollin and the PVA "agreed on
a plan to provide up to" 180 seats for the handicapped at
the arena, which has proceeded while Pollin "went through
unsuccessful appeals." But PVA Deputy General Counsel
Lawrence Hagel said that the PVA "is not yet satisfied" that
Pollin has complied with the plan. Hagel, on Pollin's
adherence to the plan: "The question is to what degree do
they not meet it and how important that is." Hagel said
that he hoped the rulings regarding MCI Center have "set a
precedent to a certain degree" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/10).
The city of Denver is "lobbying to remove" the $100M
cap on the Broncos' contribution to the team's proposed new
stadium. City Projects Dir Liz Orr said that the city wants
the Broncos to "share responsibility for cost overruns with
the public" (DENVER POST, 3/10). The Broncos announced that
they would not raise ticket prices next season. Owner Pat
Bowlen: "A ticket increase is not going to solve our
financial problems. A new stadium is going to solve our
financial problems" (DENVER POST, 3/10)....Beginning today,
the Padres will hold a series of monthly workshops at
Qualcomm Stadium, where "as many as" 30 members of the
public can make suggestions about features for the team's
proposed new ballpark (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/8).
Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch "wants to call the team's new
ballpark either The Tiger Ballpark or Tiger Stadium," but he
"might not get his wish," according to John Lowe of the
DETROIT FREE PRESS. Yesterday, for the first time, Ilitch
said he might sell the naming rights to the ballpark, saying
such a move "might be the price" for having a "state-of-the-
art" stadium. Lowe writes that with Ford already acquiring
naming rights to the Lions' stadium, Detroit-based GM and
Chrysler are the "most obvious candidates" for the Tigers.
The "feeling in the Tigers organization" is that it can get
"at least" $40M for the naming rights. Ilitch "downplayed
recent indications" that he and "several" banks can't agree
on collateral for a $145M loan for the ballpark, and said
that he's "ready to invest an extra" $20M in the facility.
He added that he "doesn't know if he can get more" financing
from the banks, which may lead to the naming rights sale.
Ilitch said he could resist selling naming rights if the
team is "within budget" on the park (FREE PRESS, 3/10).
Allegheny County and Pittsburgh city leaders yesterday
proposed an $803M plan to finance new stadiums for the
Pirates and Steelers along with expansion of the city's
convention center, according to Rich Lord of the Pittsburgh
TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The so-called "Plan B" would have
"taxpayers bearing more than" 75% of the cost. While both
teams have offered $85M toward facility financing, "city and
county leaders have made it clear that the $85 million was
not enough." Allegheny County Commissioner Bob Cranmer said
that "the team contributions must increase if the package is
to work" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/10).
DETAILS: The package, announced by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom
Murphy, would include $633M in public funds, "relying on
such traditional methods as tax revenue and bond income."
It would also tax pro athletes who play in the city but
don't live in PA. Private financing would bring in "at
least" $170M, including the team's contributions and the
possible selling of portions of the stadiums -- such as
billboards/scoreboards -- to private investors. The selling
of naming rights could also be included. Cranmer: "There's
been a lot of talk about naming the new football stadium
after Mr. Art Rooney. If that's the case, that's going to
cost (the Rooney family) money." The Steelers said part of
their contribution would include PSL sales, while the
Pirates "would not say how they intend to finance their
contribution" (TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/10). Pirates Owner Kevin
McClatchy: "[T]his is a historic day for Pittsburgh and the
region. We're excited about signing a lease for 25 or 30
years and being a member of the Pittsburgh community for a
long time" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/10).