Over Here, Over There
Lost in the hoopla over last week's groundbreaking for the Bank One Ballpark was the steady rise in the cost of the domed stadium. A November 1 budget report puts the stadium's price tag at $292 million, up from a $279million estimate in June 1994.
Revisions in concession-stand design increased costs by more than $5 million, and further hikes in concession-related expenses are likely, the stadium district says.
Taxpayers are on the hook for the first $253 million of construction expenses--$238 million of that coming from a quarter-cent sales tax, $15 million from a county loan to the Arizona DiamondBanks. The balance of stadium costs are supposed to be paid by the DiamondBanks.
But already there are indications that the DiamondBanks are trying to pass on cost overruns to the county, including $1.1 million in higher-than-expected overhead for the stadium district--overhead that is supposed to be paid by the team.
The overall price tag of the stadium seems certain to rise further; the latest cost estimate was made even before the dome's foundation had been poured. An example of unforeseen expense: The DiamondBanks got bad news last week, one source says, when the low bid for the foundation and steel framework came in $8million over budget.
The project faces a tight schedule if it is to be completed by April 1998; delays will only force DiamondBanks managing partner Jerry Colangelo to dig deeper into his pocket.
Jerry should be able to come up with the money, though. Last week, ESPN's inestimable baseball analyst, Peter Gammons, reported what New Times disclosed in August: Soon after they begin play, the DiamondBanks are expected to be one of the richest franchises in Major League Baseball.
County taxpayers will no doubt swell with pride, knowing their subsidies helped!
$10 Million Man?
Paul Johnson, ex-Phoenix mayor and gubernatorial candidate, sees the information superhighway as his route to riches. Johnson and a brother have founded Comsites, a subsidiary to their construction company that will manage transmitter locations for high-tech companies sending signals through the air.
Most of the sites are located atop buildings. Comsites will find a company--Sprint, say--somewhere to place a transmitter, then make lease arrangements with the property owner. Comsites already represents 700 property owners and hopes to cut its first deal with a communications service soon, Johnson says.
When he isn't hustling the airwaves, Johnson, who resigned as Phoenix's mayor to make an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1994, spends time at his Stardust Foundation, a group that advocates children's issues and school reform.
"I don't think I'll ever get out of community service," Johnson says. "It would be impossible for me to walk away from it. Unfortunately, I have to feed my family as well."
Which leads us to the rumor that Johnson wants to make $10 million in ten years, then return to politics. He doesn't deny yearning for financial security.
"Making $10 million is an ambitious number. Is it in the cards? I don't know," he says.
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