Only the state's contribution would be left to complete the financing mix of local, state and private sources that a governor's task force has said would be necessary to fund stadium construction in Pennsylvania.
Since the November defeat in Allegheny and 10 other Western Pennsylvania counties of a referendum to authorize a one-half percent county sales tax increase to pay in part for new stadiums, Ridge has said that he would provide state money if a local plan was developed.
``The governor has said, in both the cases of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, that if the community can generate the support for the project, then the state should be there for the final third,'' Ridge press secretary Tim Reeves said yesterday.
In addition to the stadium funding, the Pittsburgh plan would provide for an expansion of the downtown David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
The money is expected to be raised from existing county sources, municipal bonds and added charges to ticket-buyers. Those funds would be pooled together with money contributed to the project by the two teams. No new taxes would be necessary.
Right now, there is no known plan to generate a local contribution for stadium development in Philadelphia. But Mayor Rendell has said that he is in favor of the construction of at least one new stadium and the renovation of Veterans Stadium.
Rendell, however, has maintained that a state plan must be in place before any project could begin.
While most stadium observers believed that there would be no movement on stadium construction until after the fall election, local forces in Pittsburgh have been meeting since the failure of the November referendum.
Ridge, for his part, has always maintained that he would prefer to see the state's contribution come from the sale of the state liquor stores, but has said that existing state money could be made available from the capital budget.
Using money from that fund would require approval by the state Legislature. ``Either way, the state store or the capital budget funding needs, the state will be there,'' Reeves said. ``That's the next piece of work in Harrisburg.''
Phillies chairman Bill Giles, who was in Harrisburg yesterday afternoon to meet with the governor's staff on the stadium issue, said that the news from Pittsburgh was a positive move toward resolving the funding problem for the Phillies.
However, Giles said the Pirates' threatened move gives the talks there a pressure lacking in Philadelphia. The Steelers' lease with the city is nearing its end, as well, and there is a belief in Pittsburgh that, without a new stadium, they would move, too.
``The biggest difference between the cities is the triggering events with the Pirates and Steelers,'' Giles said. ``I think it's positive for sure. But we're a long way from making it happen in Philadelphia.
``The Eagles and the Phillies are locked into a lease with the city through 2011 and we don't have any intention to break that lease. I don't know how the Eagles feel, but we won't play that game.''
Giles said that, regardless, he hopes Pittsburgh can stand as an example.
``I think, hopefully, the city of Philadelphia, the Eagles and ourselves can get to a similar point where we are all on the same page and go to the state with a partnership arrangement where we can all share in the investment and the rewards from the investment.''
Eagles senior vice president Joseph Banner and owner Jeff Lurie were unavailable for comment yesterday.
``We are all at the table working together,'' said Karen Hochberg, spokeswomen for Allegheny County commissioner Mike Dawida. ``A detailed plan will be forthcoming, certainly within the next month.''
City Council president Bob O'Connor yesterday confirmed that the discussions were under way and said he was confident that the funding issue would be settled within two weeks.
``I believe that, if everything shakes out, the blueprint is there. It's just a case of working the numbers,'' O'Connor said. ``The mayor [Pittsburgh's Tom Murphy] has a task force, and he and the commissioners are looking. The pressure is on and the timing is right because [Pirates owner Kevin] McClatchy has an option that he could be looking at.''
McClatchy has said since he bought the team that he will begin looking to either sell the Pirates or relocate the team unless funding for a new stadium is in place by Feb. 1.
Sources close to the situation in Pittsburgh have said that McClatchy was hurt by the defeat of the stadium referendum, and they have been taking the threat of sale or relocation seriously.
The specifics of the local financing plan are being kept under wraps and Hochberg said that Dawida would not be available to discuss the details of the proposal.
However, sources have said that at least part of the local funding will come from a 1 percent county sales tax in existence since 1993 that is used for the maintenance of current public facilities.
Sources added that money also will be generated by creating a ticket surcharge of $1 per ticket for Pirates games, and $2 for Steelers games.
In addition, Dawida confirmed additional portions of what is being discussed among the county commissioners, Murphy and the Pittsburgh City Council to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last Friday.
According to the published report, the plan would raise $700 million, close to 80 percent of the cost of the three projects, and would be financed in different ways.
Among those mentioned in the report would be:
The sale of personal-seat licenses for the Steelers' stadium.
The sale of long-term municipal bonds, possibly with maturities of 20 years.
The use of part or all of the existing 7 percent county hotel-motel room tax.
Contributions of $50 million from the Steelers and $35 million from the Pirates.
The plans under discussion include a new stadium for the Pirates, probably located near the Sixth Street Bridge, and the expansion of the existing downtown convention center.
Undecided is whether to build a new stadium for the Steelers or renovate Three Rivers Stadium.