News: Spags: Cowboys Target Fair Park For Stadium

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    Cowboys Target Fair Park For Stadium

    Mickey Spagnola Columnist
    April 30, 2004, 7:59 p.m. (CDT)

    IRVING, Texas - Saying they hope to continue the rich football tradition in and around the Cotton Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys are officially proposing Fair Park to be the location for their new $650 million domed stadium - the very spot where the franchise began playing its football back in 1960.

    The proposal has been presented to Dallas County officials, and now the negotiations will begin, the two sides hoping to reach an agreement that will allow the tax-increase referendum to help fund the stadium to be placed on the November ballot for approval by county voters. The Cowboys are committing $225 million to pay for the new stadium and asking for $425 million of public subsidy.

    "This starts the negotiation process," Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said. "This is the site we're focusing on and something we can put in front of our voters for Fair Park, and we want to be positive and hopeful this can happen. But if it doesn't, then we would have to look at all of our alternatives."

    The Cowboys primarily had three sites they were focusing on as locations for the new stadium: Fair Park, where the Cotton Bowl would be torn down and an 75,000-seat stadium would be built in its place; a downtown Dallas location, sandwiched between Industrial Boulevard and the Trinity River, just to the west of downtown; and a location in Irving, a few miles East of Texas Stadium.

    That negotiations begin immediately is important to the Cowboys. They would ideally like to complete the negotiations with county officials by June 30. Not only do they want the proposed referendum to raise car rental tax 3 percent and hotel tax 6 percent to be put to the voters in the November presidential election when voter turnout will be at its highest, but they also want to help Cotton Bowl officials' bid for that fifth BCS game this summer.

    "The Cowboys began as a franchise at the Cotton Bowl and now we have an opportunity to continue that tradition," Stephen Jones said.

    If approved, construction could begin as early at September of 2005, and completed by December of 2008.

    But again, the Cowboys would like to complete the negotiations by June 30. County officials say there is little new in the plan other than the deadline to commit.

    "They should have presented it probably a little bit earlier if they think we're going to do all this in two months,'' said Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher.

    The Cowboys' plans call for the location to house the new domed stadium, the team's offices, a franchise hall of fame, practice fields and all the facilities needed to hold summer training camp here in Dallas instead of having to travel to an out-of-town, and in this year's case, an out-of-state location (Oxnard, Calif.) for a month of practice. The Cowboys also want the facility to be capable of holding a Super Bowl, Final Four and any other national sporting event.

    Within that 75,000-seat stadium, the Cowboys' plan calls for 6,000 club seats, 380 luxury seats and room for 22,000 parking spaces.

    County commissioners stressed this is a "first site" proposal by the Cowboys, and there is no guarantee the two sides will be able to bat out an agreement so the tax increase can be presented to the voters. The Cowboys have other locations in mind if they can not strike a deal for the public subsidy in Dallas County.

    "These negotiations are a starting point," Stephen Jones said.

    If the two sides can't agree upon a financing deal, Stephen Jones said, "Then we'll look at other options, but obviously we want to focus all our energy and effort on this option."

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