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Stadium Could Be Called Motordome If Big Three Put Up $40 Million

October 6, 1996

DETROIT (AP) _ The Detroit Lions want to call the stadium they hope to build downtown the Motordome and they are asking the major automakers to contribute a combined $40 million to help build it, The Detroit News reported Sunday.

``The plan was outlined to all three of the automakers,″ a senior auto executive briefed on the Motordome plan told the newspaper on Saturday. ``They want to name a stadium gate after each company.″

The Lions have proposed building a stadium near a new Detroit Tigers open-air stadium in a $485 million complex that would stretch over about 40 acres.

The Lions need to acquire the land and persuade private industry to kick in $50 million, all by Nov. 1. The Lions are contributing $70 million, Wayne County adds $20 million from the sale of surplus land, and $45 million comes from the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, which would sublease the stadiums to the teams.

Wayne County voters on Nov. 5 will decide the fate of a proposal that asks for excise taxes of 1 percent on hotel rooms for stays less than 30 days and 2 percent on car rentals to raise $80 million over 30 years.

The biggest question facing the funding proposal is whether Chrysler and GM can set aside competitive differences to finance a project closely tied to the Ford family.

A senior Chrysler official confirmed that Chairman Robert J. Eaton received a briefing on the stadium sponsorship plan. Chrysler sources told the newspaper they were not sure how Eaton views the Lions’ proposal.

The newspaper reported that GM executives are concerned that the company not appear to be favoring Detroit over other southeast Michigan cities in which it operates. The Detroit News said of particular concern is Pontiac, a key center for GM manufacturing and the home the Lions would abandon in a move downtown.

Still, GM executives said the automaker has not dismissed the Lions’ proposal, the paper reported.

The newspaper said the negotiations could be further complicated by GM’s offer to buy out the final seven years of Ford’s Renaissance Center lease as well as the surface parking lots and other property that Ford owns around the riverfront complex.

``It’s going to end up being a political deal,″ a source told the newspaper. ``You’ve got Ford Motor Co. involved, General Motors Corp. involved, the city of Detroit involved, and you’ve got two stadiums involved.″

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