Mavs held hostage

Did Ross Perot Jr. strike out when Tom Hicks bought the Rangers?

A month after Hicks submitted his proposal, Perot told the city he wanted an agreement that allowed for considerable real estate development around the arena--50 acres all told, 10 of which would go to the arena. His Hillwood Development Corp. would own every square inch. Plus, he not only wanted all revenue generated by the arena, but all monies generated by the surrounding land. And, of course, he wanted the city to finance the entire project: fixing roads, cleaning up the land, building his precious new building. He estimated the cost of building a new arena at $220 million and demanded that the city pay half.

When Hicks and Perot couldn't come to an agreement, Perot became so angry, the two parties didn't talk till last fall. During that time, Perot started taking all those helicopter trips with mayors of neighboring suburbs, scaring all hell out of Kirk and Ware.

By October, Perot got his deal.
And now he could lose it to Hicks, the man he screwed over--twice.
Perot has one more problem: The Mavericks have a contract with Dallas that demands the team stay in Reunion until September 30, 2008. The Stars' deal with the city expires five years earlier--about the time it will take to propose a new arena in Arlington, present it to the voters, and then build it. If the Dallas arena passes, then the teams' Reunion contracts are voided; if it fails and the teams opt to go elsewhere, they're stuck, and it will cost the Mavericks if they want out of the deal. How much is hard to say. Neither John Ware nor Assistant City Manager Ramon Miguez returned calls.

David Deniger says both the Mavericks and Stars are going to "fight like hell" to keep the arena in Dallas; he points to the $1.9 million the teams contributed to the Vote Yes! campaign as proof of that. But, he says, if Dallas says it doesn't want the arena, then the teams will have no choice but to move.

"We have had no discussions about the scenario in which this thing loses," he says. "But if it does, we're going to be very disappointed."

No one more than Ross Perot Jr. After all, Deniger reminds us, if the arena vote fails Saturday, "everything is up for grabs." Including, he says like a man making a grab for everything, "real estate development."

And in the end, that's what Saturday's vote is really all about.

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