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Sunday, October 17, 2004
Arlington voters will see referendum on Nov. 2

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- A new stadium could mean the first Super Bowl for the Dallas area.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue touted the Dallas Cowboys' stadium project Sunday before attending the Cowboys-Steelers game in day two of his three-day visit to the area, saying the Arlington facility would be a great place for the league's championship game.

"A multi-purpose facility like this could bring big things to the area," he said. "This stadium would be perfect for the Super Bowl."

On Saturday, Tagliabue toured the proposed site for the $650 million stadium that would be among the NFL's largest. He planned to speak to the Arlington Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

On Nov. 2, voters in Arlington will decide on a sales tax increase to pay for half of the 75,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium. Arlington, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, is the state's seventh-largest city with more than 355,000 residents,

Super Bowl sites have been decided through 2008, when the Arizona Cardinals will host. Their new stadium is scheduled to open in 2006.

Tagliabue said the earliest a Super Bowl could come to the Dallas area is 2011, because a stadium must be open for a year before hosting the event.

"I think it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for Arlington to put all the pieces together," he said. "It's a very balanced project that will be mutually beneficial for the team and the city."

He pointed to Houston's Reliant Stadium, which hosted the last Super Bowl, as a recent example of the success of a new facility.

The Cowboys want to replace Texas Stadium in Irving, which has been their home since 1971.

Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones has committed to pay $325 million of the cost of the stadium, which Tagliabue said is the "largest commitment that any owner has made for a stadium."

Arlington would pay no more than $325 million for the project. If approved by voters, the funding would come from a half-cent sales tax increase, a 2 percent increase in hotel-occupancy taxes and a 5 percent increase in car-rental taxes.

The Cowboys would play home games for 30 years in Arlington; pay $2 million in rent annually at the new stadium, with two 10-year lease extensions allowed; and give the city 5 percent of any naming-rights deal.

Arlington officials said revenue from user fees, including a 10 percent ticket tax and a $3 parking tax, would go to the team.

Two groups, Concerned Taxpayers of Arlington and No Jones Tax, say the deal would not foster economic growth or bring the benefits laid out by the city and team. They're encouraging voters to reject the project, saying it would be more beneficial to the team than the city.

Tagliabue said a facility such as this one could be used not only for football, but for other events like the NCAA Final Four and other college events.

Arlington officials announced in July that they had been negotiating with the Cowboys for a stadium. That was after the team's talks with the city and county of Dallas apparently fell apart.

The Arlington City Council approved the deal in August and placed a referendum on the ballot.

A group called Touchdown Arlington has raised almost $1 million for television and radio ads, as well as signs and mailouts with the "Vote Yes" slogan.

The Jones' family charities would give $16.4 million to youth sports programs over the next 30 years and supporters say the project would create 2,000 jobs and add $3 million a year for city services.