The Wayne County Commission is moving to center field on the proposed financing of a new stadium for the Detroit Tigers baseball team.
In a public meeting held by the commission last week, about 350 attendees had mostly negative comments about a plan to possibly use revenues from a new 5% hotel-motel tax to help finance the ball-park, according to Arthur B. Blackwell, the commission's chairman.
County Executive Edward McNamara, who has been spearheading plans for a new stadium, and his staff have linked a 1971 state law that gave the county the ability to levy the tax to backing the tax-exempt portion of a $150 million to $200 million bond issue for the stadium.
But Mr. Blackwell said the commission would not wait to receive an official proposal from the executive's office. Instead, he said the 15-member board would begin exploring other financing options to back either taxable or tax-exempt bonds for the project, including a 1-cent sales tax.
Mr. Blackwell said he has already begun lobbying other counties to ask for legislation to allow counties to levy a sales tax as long as it is approved by local voters.
He pointed out that despite the fact Mr. McNamara and Detroit Mayor Coleman Young have presented a joint recommendation to the Tigers on where and how the stadium could be built, the commission, which favors keeping the team in Detroit, had yet to approve any proposal.
"I think the commission will play a very large role, but will not play an expedient role," he explained. "We're the final line of defense for the people."