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Volume 24 No. 156

Facilities Venues

          In Minneapolis, Jay Weiner writes an open letter to
     Vikings Owner Red McCombs offering advice on pursuing a new
     publicly-funded stadium: "Please, as you crank up the volume
     on the Vikings stadium debate, address specifics.  Please
     don't insult the intelligence of Minnesota's public and
     sports fans.  We've seen it all, Red" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/10). 
     Meanwhile, fallout continued from the departure of Vikings
     VP/Football Ops Jeff Diamond, and in Houston, John McClain
     called McCombs' action in Diamond's exit "a foolish decision
     at such a crucial time to build support and good will with
     the media and fans" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/8).  One day after
     Diamond left, the team "fired" his secretary and 32-year
     franchise employee Roz Sorenson.  In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere
     wrote that McCombs "might be a competent businessman, but he
     sure isn't a compassionate one" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/9).  
          OTHER NOTES: NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made his
     "pitch" for Patriots stadium luxury seat sales at Citizens
     Bank's Boston office on Friday (BOSTON HERALD, 5/8).  

          Five security guards at Lowe's Motor Speedway were
     fired Friday for "roughing up" a Charlotte Observer
     photographer and "seizing" his cameras and film after last
     week's accident in which three spectators were killed at the
     VisionAire 500, according to Foon Rhee of the CHARLOTTE
     OBSERVER.  LMS President Humpy Wheeler said the track
     employs "approximately" 200 part-time security staffers and
     that they "will get trained in new policies" before NASCAR
     races later this month "to prevent this from happening
     again."  Videotape shows about a half-dozen security guards
     "surrounding" Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, pushing him
     and grabbing cameras from around his neck.  The cameras were
     later returned, but a roll of film was "destroyed." 
     Wheeler: "It was an unfortunate situation for everyone
     involved.  While no one from speedway management directed or
     instructed the action taken during the incident, we still
     deeply regret it happened" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/8).       
          WILL SPONSORS RETURN? The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Bill
     King examines Lowe's association with the tragedy through
     its naming rights deal at the Charlotte speedway.  Lowe's
     execs said they had "not begun to assess the impact of the
     association on their business."  Lowe's Senior VP/Marketing
     Gregory Bridgeford: "We really haven't focused on anything
     but the personal aspects of this tragedy."  But David Paro,
     VP/ProServ's consulting division, said of the tragic
     incident at Lowe's: "I hate to admit it, but it will hurt
     the naming-rights situation in motorsports" (SPORTSBUSINESS
     JOURNAL, 5/10 issue).  VisionAire has not decided whether it
     will remain as title sponsor of the IRL event, even if the
     race returns to Charlotte.  VisionAire Chair Jim Rice:
     "Whether you keep the race or not, I don't know." 
     Communications Concepts and Sports Media Challenge President
     Kathleen Hessert said that VisionAire and other sponsors
     "were saved" by LMS management's decision to cancel the race
     after the severity of the accident was determined.  Hessert:
     "If they had kept racing here, VisionAire would have been
     bombarded" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/10 issue).  

          A new poll shows that the Rio Salado Crossing campaign
     is "so close" that the last vote cast on May 18 "might
     literally decide the race," according to Robbie Sherwood of
     the ARIZONA REPUBLIC.  Voters in Mesa, Gilbert and Queen
     Creek "remain almost evenly split" on the $1.8B development,
     which would include a new stadium for the Cardinals.  The
     closest race is in Mesa, where 45% of the voters support the
     project, 45% oppose it and 10% remain undecided.  The poll
     numbers "hardly budged" from an Arizona Republic poll taken
     in January.  The development project would be funded by a
     quarter-cent sales tax "increase" in Mesa to help pay for
     the $497M stadium and convention center.  The other $1.3B is
     for retail, commercial and office development that will come
     from "private monies."  Analytical Research surveyed 407
     registered voters in Mesa, 203 in Gilbert and 141 in Queen
     Creek, from May 1-4 (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/9).  The AZ REPUBLIC has
     endorsed the Rio Salado Crossing project (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/9).
     In Phoenix, Robbie Sherwood writes that voter turnout is
     expected to be low next Tuesday (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/10).