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Volume 24 No. 132


Spurred by record sales tax revenue, the city of Arlington, Texas, is “poised to pay off a significant portion of its $325 million Cowboys Stadium debt years early, a move that is expected to save taxpayers at least $64.5 million,” according to Susan Schrock of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Arlington voters in ’04 “approved a 30-year, $325 million bond package to help build the $1.15 billion stadium.” The bonds are “being repaid with a half-cent sales tax, a 2 percent hotel occupancy tax and a 5 percent car rental tax.” That revenue is "coming in higher than expected.” Arlington Assistant Dir of Fiscal Policy Mike Finley said that the city at a minimum is “required to pay about $21 million on the debt every year, but the half-cent sales tax alone is generating about $25 million a year.” From ’05-11, Arlington “collected $35.2 million more in stadium revenue than what was required.” City Mayor Robert Cluck said that the city’s economy is “doing so well that he expects the entire stadium debt to be paid off 12 to 15 years early” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/1).

BIRD SEED MONEY: In Atlanta, Leon Stafford cited financial disclosures showing that in its bid to land the Falcons a new stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority since '09 has "spent $1.6 million on lawyers, land surveys, sports facilities consultants and $17,000 for trips to arenas across the country that could be the template for a new stadium." GWCCA leaders "argue the expenditures ... are necessary to ensure they procure the best possible deal for the state" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 12/2).

When the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority “sought applications for legal help in the construction of a new $975 million stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, it was not surprising to see 16 law firms toss their hats into the ring for a project that's likely to yield several million dollars or more in legal fees,” according to David Phelps of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Legal consultant Roy Ginsburg said, “It's reasonably steady work and a great high-profile project to tell prospective clients about.” For the “complex construction issues, the authority hired Fabyanske, Westra, Hart & Thomson, a relatively small Minneapolis law firm.” For its other legal needs, including “issues involving labor and employment, intellectual property and real estate, the authority chose Dorsey & Whitney, a venerable Minneapolis firm with a broad range of legal capabilities.” The Vikings have “assigned their legal work to the Minneapolis firm of Briggs & Morgan, which was also retained by the Pohlad organization on behalf of the Minnesota Twins in the Target Field project.” The Vikings also are using N.Y.-based firm Proskauer Rose," which has a close relationship” with the NFL and other pro leagues and teams. The Vikings' choice of firms “surprised some in the Minnesota legal community because Faegre Baker Daniels, formerly known as Faegre & Benson, did not make the cut for the stadium legal team.” Faegre has “done legal work for the football team for many years.” Vikings VP/Legal Affairs & Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren said that the team “remains a client of Faegre on nonstadium matters.” Warren said, “We believe in Minnesota firms. Faegre still does legal work for us and we have an ongoing relationship with a multitude of Minnesota firms" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/2).

Tensions are "increasing behind the scenes" between the MLB Giants and the Warriors "over the NBA team's proposed waterfront arena," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The big issue is the "effect a 17,000-seat arena at Piers 30-32 will have on traffic along the Embarcadero when the Giants are playing down the road at AT&T Park." With as many as 200 Warriors games, concerts and other events per year possible at the arena, there "could be a lot of instances in which tens of thousands of people are trying to get to the two venues." The Giants "think the Warriors are trying to steamroll their project through City Hall without adequate vetting to meet their self-imposed deadline of having an arena open for business" by '17. Giants President & CEO Larry Baer on KCBS-AM said, "You need for traffic to work for 41,000 people at our games." The team privately has "made no secret that it would rather see the arena built at Pier 50, south of AT&T Park." The Warriors think the Giants are "using the traffic issue to slow the approval process and push the arena down to their preferred spot." They also think Baer is "still miffed that the Warriors decided to go it alone on an arena plan rather than hook up with the Giants." And "make no mistake, the Warriors are sensitive about this." Shortly after Baer's comments aired, the arena project's spokesperson P.J. Johnston called KCBS and said that "it would have been nice had the Warriors been given a chance to respond." Johnston said, "It's a little ironic for the Giants to be using the clarion call of traffic problems, given the enormous help with infrastructure the team got when they built AT&T Park" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/1).