City: We’ll pay off Cowboys Stadium bonds early

Posted Nov. 22, 2012, at 8:07 p.m.

DALLAS — Arlington officials say the 30-year, $325 million bond package voters approved to lure the new Cowboys Stadium is on track to be paid off three years early.

Arlington made $50.5 million in sales tax revenue during the 2011-12 fiscal year, The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday. That figure doesn’t include proceeds of a half-cent of sales tax for Cowboys Stadium or a quarter-cent for street maintenance and repairs.

Mike Finley, the city’s assistant director of fiscal policy, said the higher revenue has allowed Arlington — located between Dallas and Fort Worth — to cut three years from the end of its 30-year payment plan. If growth continues, the city could shorten that time frame even further, Finley said.

“We would think we’re done somewhere around 2024, 2025 at our current growth (rate),” Finley told the newspaper. “Now, there’s a long time between now and then, but that’s what we believe.”

Voters in 2004 approved the bonds, which enticed the Cowboys to move to Arlington from nearby Irving. The new stadium, built at a total cost of more than $1 billion, opened in 2009.

Critics have questioned whether Arlington should have offered tax incentives to the Cowboys — or whether local governments should finance stadiums for privately-owned teams at all. Arlington also used $135 million in city bonds to pay for Rangers Ballpark next to the new football stadium.

“Yes, I had concerns about everything,” said Robert Rivera, a city council member who supported bond elections for both the Cowboys and Rangers’ stadiums. “But at the same time, I had faith and confidence in the direction of where we were going. I wasn’t afraid.”

Terry Witt, an accounting professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Arlington, pushed hard against city money going to both stadiums.

“Maybe I’m myopic, but I don’t see how that stadium ever benefited me personally,” Witt told the newspaper. “I don’t see that I would be any worse off if that stadium wasn’t here.”

Witt hasn’t changed his mind, but says paying the bonds early will help drive public support for similar future projects. Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said future opportunities would likely come up, but didn’t say what he had in mind.

“We’ve proven that public-private partnerships have worked every single time; at least they have with us,” Cluck said.

Lions list Backus inactive, ending 186-game streak

DETROIT — Detroit Lions offensive tackle Jeff Backus was inactive against the Houston Texans, ending his 186-game starting streak.

Rookie Riley Reiff replaced Backus at left tackle Thursday. Backus is out with a hamstring injury after starting every game of his 12-year career.

Doctor: Puerto Rican boxer Camacho is brain dead

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Famed Puerto Rican boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho is clinically brain dead, doctors said Thursday, though they said family members were disagreeing on whether to take him off life support.

Dr. Ernesto Torres said doctors have finished performing all medical tests on Camacho, who was shot in the face Tuesday night. He said at a news conference that the family expects to say by Friday if Camacho should remain on life support.

The 50-year-old Camacho was shot as he and a friend sat in a Ford Mustang parked outside a bar Tuesday night. Police spokesman Alex Diaz said officers found nine small bags of cocaine in the friend’s pocket, and a 10th bag open inside the car. Camacho’s friend, identified as 49-year-old Adrian Mojica Moreno, was killed in the attack.

Camacho has a career record of 79-6-3.

Bills’ McKelvin fined for flight disruption

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The next time a flight attendant asks Leodis McKelvin to turn off his cellphone on a plane, the Buffalo Bills cornerback says he’s going to listen.

McKelvin apologized on Thursday after confirming he had been ticketed $75 for refusing to follow a crew member’s order during a flight from New York to Buffalo on Tuesday.

“Yeah, you’ve got to know what you’re doing and who you are. You’ve got to do what you’re basically told,” McKelvin said. “It was a misunderstanding. I apologized for it, and I’m going to pay the fine, pay my dues for what I did.”

Buffalo’s WIVB-TV first reported McKelvin had been fined on Wednesday.

According to a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police report, McKelvin refused to comply with a request to turn off his cellphone and place the bag that was under his seat into an overhead compartment. He was fined upon arriving in Buffalo.

Soccer referee cleared of racism allegations

LONDON — Referee Mark Clattenburg has been cleared by the English Football Association of using racist language toward a Chelsea player.

Chelsea midfielder Ramires said he heard Clattenburg tell teammate John Obi Mikel “shut up you monkey” during the Oct. 28 match against Manchester United.

The FA says it has “concluded its investigation into alleged misconduct by Mark Clattenburg … No disciplinary action will follow against Mr. Clattenburg.”

The FA says in a statement that Mikel did not hear the comment.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, wife welcome son

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his wife Ashley are giving thanks for their new bundle of joy.

Benjamin Roethlisberger Jr. arrived Wednesday at 10:06 p.m., according to the athlete’s website. The couple’s first child weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and was just over 19 inches long.

The quarterback posted Thursday that mother and baby boy were doing well.

Roethlisberger made an appearance Thursday at a team facility in Pittsburgh, smiling and waving to a well-wisher who congratulated him as he left practice about 30 minutes early. He had previously been scratched from Sunday’s game against Cleveland because of rib injuries.

Third try at women’s pro soccer league to launch

CHICAGO — Another pro women’s soccer league will try to succeed where two previous attempts have failed.

The currently unnamed eight-team league will launch in the spring, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday. The clubs will be located in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle, western New York and Washington.

The sport has repeatedly shown it can draw large numbers of fans in the stands and on TV for the World Cup and Olympics, but women’s soccer has yet to find a foothold as a pro sport in the U.S.

WUSA folded in 2003 after three seasons, failing to capitalize on the success of the 1999 World Cup. More recently, Women’s Professional Soccer folded this year, also after three seasons.

With a vested interest in ensuring national team players have somewhere to play in the years leading up to the 2015 World Cup, U.S. Soccer is stepping in this time to seek to create a viable economic model. The teams will still be privately owned, but the federation will pay for the salaries of 24 national team players.

U.S. Soccer also will fund the league’s front offices.

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