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Volume 24 No. 159


Pacific Gas & Electric and S.F. city officials said that they are "taking no chances that another embarrassing power outage will mar Sunday's NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park," according to a front-page piece by Mike Taugher of the CONTRA COSTA TIMES. The city of S.F. and PG&E have "spent close to a million dollars to ensure there will be no repeat of a darkened field when the 49ers host" the Giants on Sunday. More than a mile of wire has been "replaced, an in-stadium switch has been repaired and software has been upgraded." The pair of outages during the Dec. 19 Monday night game against the Steelers "began when a spliced wire leading to the stadium failed and problems with computer software and a faulty switch inside the stadium made the power failure worse." City and PG&E reps said that the "equipment has all been fixed, and it all worked perfectly when the lights were on during last weekend's divisional playoff game against the" Saints. It is "possible that Sunday's game could draw more electricity than recent home games," but PG&E spokesperson Joe Molica said that the new circuit can "handle more than three times the load served during recent games" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 1/19).

PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME: In San Jose, Mike Rosenberg in a front-page piece writes the timing "couldn't be better" for owner Jed York "monumental pursuit: finally building his team a $1 billion stadium palace in the South Bay." The 49ers' playoff run has "coincided with the start of season ticket sales for the Santa Clara stadium." The team's run "also comes as the city auctions off a naming-rights deal rumored to reach up to a record $20 million a year for the stadium." Former 49ers President Carmen Policy said, "I think this is the most fortuitous situation that could befall the 49ers because the timing is so critical and important for them." The team said that it has "already seen a spike in season tickets for next year." Sources said that Santa Clara has "recently received offers from firms for significant corporate sponsorships" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/19).

HAVING TO RECONSIDER? In San Jose, Lisa Fernandez notes a group of Santa Clara residents "opposed to a new 49ers stadium said Wednesday that they have collected enough signatures needed to force a referendum on an $850 million construction loan for the project." The group "submitted signatures to the city clerk's office Wednesday and needed about 4,500 valid names." City officials "counted about 5,500 signatures, but county elections officials will spend up to the next month and a half trying to determine whether they are valid." However, City Attorney Ren Nosky has "already said the Santa Clara Stadium Authority's vote on the loan is not subject to a referendum" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/19).

The Browns want the city of Cleveland to "give the team seven years of football stadium repair money -- $5.8 million -- right now," according to Thomas Ott of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The team "contends the work is necessary to maintain a 12-year-old stadium battered by a sometimes harsh northern climate, and it has asked for an exception to a 30-year lease that calls for the city to set aside $850,000 a year for major repairs." Under the "complicated proposal, the Browns would get this year's $850,000 plus $5 million from the next six years of repair money drawn from the tax revenue collected countywide on alcohol and tobacco sales and administered by the city." In exchange, the city would "not have to make its annual contributions from the tax money to a stadium repair fund for the next six years." The Browns' request "requires approval from the City Council." Councilman Michael Polensek, a "frequent critic of public subsidies for professional sports teams, said he hopes the team will shoulder all of the burden if it needs more money." The sin tax, which "expires in 2015, currently raises $13 million a year." Starting this spring, the city "must begin putting the sin tax money aside for stadium repairs" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/19).

FUNDING PLEDGE: In Buffalo, Tom Precious notes despite one administration budget document claiming New York "was setting aside money in an $84 million pot to help keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York, it turns out the money -- $2.94 million -- is merely the final year of a state funding pledge made in 1998 by former Gov. George E. Pataki when the team renovated its stadium." The budget contains "no indication as to whether the state will commit any new money to keeping the team in Buffalo when the stadium lease expires in July 2013" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/19).

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said that he is "holding off on pitching new downtown arena funding schemes until learning whether it can be built under budget," according to Michelle Thompson of the EDMONTON SUN. Mandel has repeatedly said that he believes the Oilers arena "can be built for less than" C$450M. But "if it can’t, the city will find itself looking for a way to cover" a C$100M funding shortfall since just C$350M in arena cash has been identified. Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith has recently "called for an Oilers branded lottery to bridge the funding gap." But Tory legislative assembly member Thomas Lukaszuk said that Alberta is "not about to set up a new lottery for the cause." Meanwhile, the Edmonton City Council yesterday heard that "taking on a professional entertainment operator to handle bookings could ... help the facility’s bottom line." A report "describing how other NHL arenas book concerts was discussed" at the council meeting ( EDMONTON SUN, 1/19).

DAY PLANNER: In Edmonton, John MacKinnon noted the city council "has been savvy enough to include a clause in the framework of agreement with the Katz Group that stipulates the city have access to the new arena for up to four weeks a year, at its discretion." City Council member Kim Krushell believes that the "imperative to make maximum use of those days is top of mind with ICON Venue Group, the newly announced project manager for the arena." Krushell said that ICON "wants to build the arena to reflect the uniqueness of Edmonton, its needs and history." The city "has yet to identify a point person, or create an office to program those 28 days." But since the expected opening date of the arena is fall '15, programming those dates "can't be put off too far into the future, depending upon how ambitious the city is about making the most of its arena dates" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/19).