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Volume 24 No. 117

Facilities Venues

          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).