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Volume 24 No. 116

Facilities Venues

          Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander said Thursday he "will
     drop his lawsuit to get out of Compaq Center before his
     lease expires in 2003 because he is satisfied officials will
     have a new arena by then," according to John Williams of the
     HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  Alexander has spent "about three years"
     trying to get a new arena in Houston, arguing that the team
     can't stay competitive without luxury suites, club seats and
     "other revenue boosters."  Harris County-Houston Sports
     Authority member Michael Stevens said that the Authority had
     "started preliminary negotiations with Alexander."  In other
     news, Alexander said he will "renew efforts" to acquire 25%
     of the Vikings with a new investor group after Tom Clancy
     withdrew his bid on Wednesday (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/22).

          Hamilton County officials sold $273M in bonds on
     Tuesday, the "final financing instruments for the Bengals'
     new stadium," according to Lucy May of the CINCINNATI
     ENQUIRER.  The county received an "average" 5.16% interest
     rate on the bonds.  Earlier this year, the county issued
     $71.6M in bonds at a 4.87% interest rate, and in all, the
     county has sold $344.6M in bonds to pay for the stadium. 
     May wrote that is "considerably more" than the original
     estimate of $322.7M, but officials cite the rising land cost
     as one reason for the increase.  The bonds will be paid off
     by a half-cent county sales tax increase (CINCINNATI
     ENQUIRER, 5/20).  May reported yesterday that "even with the
     favorable interest rates," documents show that interest
     payments will total more than $353M over the 30-year debt. 
     Combined interest for the $273M in bonds sold Tuesday and
     the $71.6M bond issue in January "brings the total cost of
     the project," including the stadium complex plus financing
     costs, to more than $753M.  Hamilton County Commissioner Bob
     Bedinghaus "stressed" that the cost of the $400.3M football
     complex hasn't changed and said that county officials "plan
     to pay off the debt early" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/21).

          Boston city officials "downplayed" a report on "Inside
     Edition" about food safety violations at Fenway Park. 
     Inspectional Services Department's John Eade: "We're in the
     (television rating) sweeps.  That's their story.  I don't
     want to respond to that."  Aramark President of Stadiums and
     Arenas John Pistone said the company will offer "additional
     training" to employees (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/22)....Dallas
     officials "are putting final touches" on a plan to lease the
     Cotton Bowl to "a private group of business leaders that
     intends to dome" the stadium (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/22).
     ...Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke is asking City Council to
     approve a $450,000 study "to examine potential sites and the
     economic benefits" of building a newer, larger Baltimore
     Arena (Baltimore SUN, 5/22)....In Denver, the stadium board
     "recommended tearing down McNichols Sports Arena to make way
     for a new Broncos stadium."  Final decision is up to the
     Denver City Council (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/22)....With no
     roof at Olympic Stadium, the temperature at the Expos' game
     yesterday "was around" 15 degrees with a "brisk wind."  The
     announced crowd was 7,601, but there were "fewer than 1,000
     on hand" for the last two innings (GAZETTE, 5/22).