Keeping Score

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Williams and Macey are watching this fight from the sidelines. Williams is trying to win a seat again in the Statehouse, which she left in 1990, while Macey is focusing on his real estate business. Still avid scorekeepers of political games, they're predicting that the three-way negotiations now under way on a new Broncos lease will be difficult.

"It will be a really tough negotiation," says Macey. "Bowlen has to have enough on his plate to make it worthwhile. You may see all three groups at one time or other standing up and saying, 'We can't go any further.'"

As negotiations shift into high gear, the groups may form strategic alliances. "Any two parties could gang up on the other," Williams says.

And even after the Broncos have gotten their lease, they'll still have to win over voters. Williams thinks that will be a tougher job. For one thing, hardly anyone actively campaigned against the baseball proposal.

"We didn't have an organized opposition group," says Williams.
By contrast, the Broncos already have a vocal group of opponents: Citizens Opposing the Stadium Tax, or COST. While Broncos boosters may spend millions pushing the stadium proposal and will undoubtedly outspend opponents of the plan by as much as 100 to 1--their campaign committee raised more than $250,000 in June alone, including $100,000 from Bill Daniels--COST has managed to get its message out.

Bill Schley, president of COST, predicts the Broncos' new lease will pad the team's profits with public dollars. "When Mr. Bowlen's people negotiate the lease, they'll refer to other leases in the NFL," says Schley. "The last five NFL leases gave almost everything to the teams. Pat Bowlen looks at Dallas and says, 'Why should I give any parking revenues to the stadium district?' The taxpayers build the parking lots, and the team gets all the revenue--and it's called a public-private partnership."

The rhetoric will grow more harsh as the election nears. Whether the euphoria over Denver's Super Bowl win will carry over into the voting booth is anybody's guess, but Williams sees trouble ahead for the proposal.

"Baseball," she says, "was easy compared to what this will be."

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Stuart Steers
Contact: Stuart Steers