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Volume 24 No. 160


The Falcons' plan for a $1B retractable-roof downtown stadium "cleared the final political hurdle Thursday, amid cheers from supporters but also acknowledgement that daunting work lies ahead," according to Greg Bluestein of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The 8-1 vote by the city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, to "approve issuing bonds marks the end of three years of dealmaking over how much public money will go into construction." It also is the "beginning of an equally challenging phase to shape the building -- and try to reshape the neighborhood around it." Falcons execs now must "select architects and contractors." They must work with government officials to "buy the property for their preferred site and build out the infrastructure around it." They also must decide "how to mete out as much as" $45M in assistance to "nearby struggling neighborhoods, wary of creating another isolated sports behemoth in a sea of parking lots." The vote enables Invest Atlanta to issue more than $200M in "bonds backed by city hotel-motel taxes for the project." The Falcons are responsible for "all construction costs beyond" the $200M in public construction bonds. However, under the law "extending the city’s hotel-motel tax, potentially hundreds of millions more will go to financing costs, as well as to maintenance and upgrades of the facility through 2050." Meanwhile, the Falcons also agreed to pay up to $70M "in infrastructure costs and another $15 million to support the troubled surrounding neighborhood." Invest Atlanta would "chip in another $15 million from a pool of property taxes it collects from a special taxing district, and it must craft a 'community benefits' plan for the area." An additional $15M for the community "could come from private businesses" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/5).

One of the "potential obstacles" standing in the way of the NBA Kings getting a new arena in Sacramento that will be examined by the league is "the ongoing threat by project opponents to place the issue before the voters," according to Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Sacramento attorneys Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson and a group of community activists have "threatened to collect signatures and force a referendum on the City Council's approval of a public subsidy for the arena." Qualifying a referendum for the ballot is "an expensive task." Sacramento's City Clerk's Office indicated that a group seeking to "reverse a council vote would need to collect a minimum of 22,000 signatures from registered city voters -- plus a buffer of at least another 10,000." The city that has the "more solid arena plan" between Sacramento and Seattle is what the "final stretch of the Kings saga will likely come down to." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson claimed the city's arena project "will be a model" for other cities. Seattle's plan is "further along in the process." Sacramento's nonbinding term sheet, which stipulates the city would contribute $145M out of a $490M plan, "calls for the arena to open in the fall of 2016." Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said that it is "clear the NBA is concerned about the facility opening on time." Dangberg: "It's going to come down to what could stand in the way of deliverability. I feel very confident about our ability to deliver." He added that the city is "waiting until the NBA decides the Kings' fate before plowing ahead with environmental site reviews," but it is "likely to begin early paperwork without waiting for the NBA" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/5).

Six weeks from a possible Miami-Dade countywide vote on a subsidized renovation of Sun Life Stadium, the Dolphins “still lack a crucial element for their pitch to the public: a deal,” according to Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. The team’s plan “to use local hotel taxes and state subsidies to fund part of a $390 million upgrade ... continued to move closer to state approval Wednesday, with a key Florida House committee endorsing a bill needed for the public dollars.” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s hard, but it’s doable.” One of the “biggest questions remaining is how much of the new hotel tax the Dolphins want annually.” County forecasts show that raising mainland hotel taxes “to 7 percent from 6 percent, as called for in the Dolphins’ bill, would generate about $690 million over 30 years.” The Dolphins and Gimenez “have been negotiating over how much of the tax should go to the team, with Miami-Dade’s largest hotel group advocating a portion go to tourism promotion.” Details could be “revealed at any moment.” Sources said that a deal with Gimenez “is close.” Dolphins lobbyist Ron Book on Wednesday “told lawmakers an agreement with the county would be announced ‘in the coming days.’” But Gimenez has “made no such prediction” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/4). In Miami, Hanks & Mazzei cite sources as saying that the “tentative plan is for a special County Commission meeting on Tuesday to schedule the countywide vote in May.” Gimenez said that he “wants commissioners to have at least two days to review any deal.” Crucial to that timeline is “a pending opinion from the Florida division of elections, whom Gimenez asked to weigh in on whether the Dolphins can reimburse the county for the special election.” The referendum is “expected to cost between $3 million and $5 million.” Without that “opinion in hand, Gimenez hinted the vote could be delayed past May 21” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/5).'s Owen Perkins reported the Rockies' $6M offseason upgrades at Coors Field were “primarily covered" by the team, but concessionaire Aramark, Coors Brewery and the Stadium District “all chipped in to some degree.” Among the upgrades is a “unique feature that isn't known to exist in any other ballpark is ‘The Garden,’ a sustainable garden created through a partnership with” The Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State Univ. The Garden will “provide Aramark with sustainably produced and managed vegetables and herbs, including peppers, tomatoes, chives, scallions, parsley, rosemary, and thyme, all of which will be incorporated into food items at the Mountain Ranch Club in right field” (, 4/4).

DELAY OF GAME? In St. Paul, Doug Belden notes Minnesota state Sen. Sean Nienow said that he will "introduce a bill that would delay the sale of bonds for a new Vikings stadium until a revenue stream to pay them off is secured." Nienow added that he and Rep. Mary Franson plan to "introduce the bill next week." Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen has said that debt service payments of around $34M per year would "need to be made starting in 2014" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/5).

SHORT SELL: USA TODAY's Nate Ryan writes there are "myriad reasons" why all 65,000 seats at the shortest track on the Sprint Cup circuit, Martinsville Speedway, "should be filled Sunday" for the STP Gas Booster 500. This is the "best track that NASCAR has to offer when the standard is the slam-bang style that causes NASCAR chairman Brian France to crow, 'This is a contact sport.'" Its "tight confines are the perfect setting for a season that already has been fraught with flared tempers." There is "no track that consistently produces better racing in NASCAR, though that doesn't always translate to a full house in one of the more economically depressed regions visited by Sprint Cup." It is "unlikely there will be a sellout Sunday at an oval that hasn't sold every one of its tickets in several years" (USA TODAY, 4/5).