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How they scored: A timeline

Wednesday, April 07, 1999

The play-by-play:

1993

Dec. 14 - Mayor-elect Tom Murphy, finishing his chores as a state legislator, is informed privately the Pirates are for sale and the team's finances are in critical shape.

1994

Aug. 4 - Public announcement that the Pirates are looking for a new buyer is made. At the same time, current owners raise issue that a new ballpark is needed if they are to survive in Pittsburgh. During sale process, Major League Baseball makes a new ballpark a requirement.

Aug. 11 - Players' strike stops baseball season and cancels World Series. Key issues of salary cap and revenue sharing plan are unresolved when play resumes in 1995.

1995

Sept. 7 - Kevin McClatchy emerges as the front man putting together a package of investors to buy the Pirates. A preliminary deal is reached with the city within a week.

Oct. 9 - Steelers president Dan Rooney makes first public pronouncement that an upgraded Three Rivers Stadium or a new football stadium is needed if the team is to remain competitive. Intitial estimate is $75 million to install luxury suites, club seats and replace the field at Three Rivers.

Oct. 25 - National League president Len Coleman informs the city that baseball will reject the McClatchy bid without a pledge for a new ballpark.

Nov. 7 - Larry Dunn and Bob Cranmer elected as first Republican majority on Allegheny County Commission in 60 years. Both have vowed no public money for stadiums.

Nov. 8 - Baseball gives preliminary approval to the McClatchy bid but is still unhappy with the timetable for a new ballpark.

1996

Feb. 14 - Final approval given to McClatchy and a group of 28 investors. Pirates are promised that funding for a new ballpark must be in place within two years and the new park must open by 2001.

June 25 - Forbes Field II task force recommends ballpark site on North Shore, adjacent to Sixth Street Bridge and just several hundred yards away from Three Rivers.

July 2 - NFL officials visit Murphy to press case for new or improved football facility.

Sept. 4 - A blue-ribbon panel appointed by Gov. Ridge recommends that the state pay for up to one-third the costs of new stadiums. He suggests selling off state stores but ultimately settles on state loans.

1997

April 28 - A $98,000 study sets the costs at $121 million for fixing up Three Rivers for football. Study also suggests possibility of a new stadium for about $80 million more.

June 18 - Ridge signs legislation that lets voters in 11 counties decide whether to boost the sales tax 0.5 percent to finance economic development projects, including money for two new stadiums and a tripling of the size of Pittsburgh's convention center. The same legislation raised the Allegheny County hotel tax from five percent to seven percent.

June 30 - The first mention of an alternative plan to finance projects surfaces at an informal breakfast meeting at the Concordia Club in Oakland.

Aug. 14 - In a shakeup of county government, Cranmer splits with fellow Republican Larry Dunn and teams with Democratic Commissioner Mike Dawida. Dunn is ousted as chairman of the first Republican administration to rule the county in six decades.

Sept. 19 - Steelers make it official. They prefer a new 65,000-seat stadium rather than a refurbished Three Rivers.

Oct. 30 - In a reversal of his earlier views, Cranmer comes out in favor of the Regional Renaissance Initiative. When campaigning for office, Cranmer opposed using tax dollars to finance stadiums.

Nov. 3 - With opinion polls and public sentiment saying the Regional Renaissance Initiative is doomed, Dawida calls Murphy and Cranmer and suggests having a fallback position for the day after.

Nov. 4 - The initiative is soundly rejected with 530,706 votes against and 281,336 votes in favor. The Pirates' deadline for having funding in place is only four months away.

Nov. 5 - Murphy, Dawida and Cranmer meet in mayor's office, agreeing to find a backup plan. Their staffs are instructed to find financing that won't involve a tax increase.

Nov. 11 - A Plan B framework emerges. The local sources of money include: the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD), which manages money from a 1 percent county sales tax that is over and above the 6 percent state sales tax; the county hotel tax, a surcharge of 7 percent for each hotel/motel room rented; ticket surcharges; parking revenue; and a payroll tax on non-resident athletes.

1998

Jan. 24 - At a breakfast meeting in Brentwood, Cranmer tells Murphy he can't go along unless more private money is thrown into the pot to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Feb. 1 - Told that a backup plan for stadium financing is in the works, McClatchy does not trigger his escape clause.

March 9 - Plan B is announced. Formally known as the regional destination development plan, it is heralded as an $803 million economic development package to triple the size of the convention center, build two stadiums, pay off and tear down Three Rivers Stadium and build a destination point attraction.

March 17 - Pirates unveil plans for 38,000-seat, baseball-only ballpark that will be the most intimate park in America and have a view of the city skyline.

April 30 - Ridge, seeking re-election to a second four-year term, announces state contribution of $150 million, or about half of the costs, for the convention center expansion. "Our sunniest days are ahead," the governor says.

May 9 - The Pennsylvania Poll of 812 Allegheny County residents shows that a majority of them oppose the use of existing tax revenues to pay for the three major projects. The opinion poll shows 55 percent are opposed to Plan B, 32 percent are in favor and 13 percent are unsure.

June 1 - Frederick Baker, Cranmer's appointee to the seven-member RAD board, resigns because he is philosophically opposed to Plan B. He is replaced by David Christopher, former chairman of the county Republican Party.

June 20 - Marathon meetings at DoubleTree Hotel produce agreements with local teams. Pirates will pay $40 million toward cost of a new ballpark; Steelers agree to pay $76.5 million for a new stadium.

July 9 - RAD board votes 6-1, the bare minimum required for passage, to allocate $13.4 million over 30 years toward Plan B. RAD had been allocating $10 million a year since 1994 for operations and debt at Three Rivers. Battle for the ballpark is two-thirds over.

Aug. 6 - PNC Bank Corp. acquires naming rights to new baseball park for $30 million over 20 years. Sixth Street Bridge to be renamed for Roberto Clemente.

Sept. 29 - A wrecking ball painted like a baseball smashes into a former Westinghouse warehouse to begin process of clearing the site for a new ballpark.

Oct. 14 - Steelers select site adjacent to Three Rivers for a new stadium to open in August of 2001. Stadium will be open on one end to provide view of Golden Triangle.

Nov. 3 - Ridge re-elected by 56 percent of the vote in a three-way race. He says his top priority in his new term is winning state funding for stadiums.

Nov. 5 - Murphy and team owners begin lobbying effort for Plan B, visiting Philadelphia and Harrisburg. They find no sense of urgency for state funding.

Nov. 9 - Steelers start selling seat licenses _ called a stadium building fund. Although some fans grumble, those fees are paid within a month, faster than they have been in any other city. Steelers actually get money for 47,000 seats, 2,000 more than they wanted to peddle.

Nov. 16 - Lobbying effort for state share heats up in Harrisburg, but legislative leaders say the effort is on life support, if not dead, because of anti-stadium sentiments.

Nov. 24 - By 29-19 vote, state Senate passes measure to raise debt ceiling to pay state's portion of stadiums for Pirates, Steelers, Eagles, and Phillies. But measure dies in House without a vote being taken.

Nov. 25 - Murphy announces Pittsburgh stadiums can be funded because Legislature inadvertently created a loophole by passing House Bill 907, which deleted language in another bill. He's off-base, and his comments create a furor.

Nov. 30 - Ridge kills H.B. 970, saying he wants the stadiums funded "straight up, fair and square." The Legislative Reference Bureau says it did not did what supporters hoped anyway. The same day, McClatchy imposes a Dec. 21 to come up with interium funding and the guarantee of another stadium vote or ballpark site work will come to an end on Dec. 21.

Dec. 1 - Murphy removes himself from the game, saying there's "grave jeopardy" that the Pirates, Steelers and convention center expansion are history. He says he was "double crossed" by Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell on the stadium plan.

Dec. 4 - Ridge meets with architects of Plan B and owners of the two Pittsburgh franchises to say Plan B is back on track.

1999

Jan. 27 - With the Pirates and Steelers having set a Feb. 10 deadline for a vote, House Majority Leader John Perzel suggests a straight-up loan to teams. Teams reject loan concept but Perzel's proposal triggers interest.

Jan. 28 - Representatives of state's four baseball and football franchises meet in Harrisburg with Ridge's chief counsel, Paul Tufano, who has the breakthrough remedy. The idea: teams guarantee they will generate additional state taxes or make up the difference on the principal of state share.

Feb. 3 - By a 136-62 vote in the House and 34-15 vote in the Senate, state share of $325 million is approved. The vote saves the Pirates and anchors the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Feb. 9 - Ridge signs state share into law.

March 24 - State Supreme Court rejects legal challenges to Plan B, eliminating the final hurdle to moving forward.

April 7 - Pirates break ground on PNC Park with day-long ceremonies and usher in new era.



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