Financing terms reached for new Falcons stadium
ATLANTA — Atlanta’s mayor and Falcons owner Arthur Blank have agreed to financing terms for a new $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium to replace the 20-year-old Georgia Dome and keep the team’s home games in the city’s downtown, the two men said Thursday.
Mayor Kasim Reed said the city would provide $200 million of construction costs through bonds backed by the city’s hotel-motel tax. The Falcons franchise, owned by Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank, would provide $800 million and be responsible for construction cost overruns.
The Falcons would pay for up to $50 million in infrastructure costs not included in the construction budget and help retire the last few years of debt on the Georgia Dome, which was publicly financed entirely using the hotel-motel tax.
Also, Blank’s private foundation and the city each would spend $15 million on surrounding neighborhood development.
Blank — who has built his football franchise into a perennial playoff contender — still must negotiate a detailed lease and operating agreement with the Georgia World Congress Center. That’s the state agency that owns the existing dome and would own the replacement. Reed also must get the blessing of the Atlanta City Council, though several members attended the announcement in the mayor’s office, as did Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
Cavs coach Scott considering shutting down Irving
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers won’t risk losing Kyrie Irving for any more games.
On Thursday, Cleveland coach Byron Scott said he will consider shutting down his All-Star point guard, who recently missed three games with a hyperextended right knee and said after Wednesday’s comeback win over Utah that the injury was still bothering him.
“If Ky is hurting, I have no problem sitting him down,” Scott said.
Playing his second straight game after resting for a week, Irving scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Cavs overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter and beat the Jazz 104-101. Irving scored 11 points in the final 4:21, but after the game said his knee still wasn’t 100 percent.
“The only way I would get better is if I sit out for the rest of the season, and I’m not doing that,” Irving said.
The comment surprised Scott, who said he will talk to Irving and trainer Max Benton before any decisions are made.
“If there is any way of doing more damage by continuing to play, then I’ll find that out and we’ll go from there,” Scott said.
Broncos look to Dumervil for cap relief
DENVER — The Broncos are asking defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut so they can create more salary cap room for free agency.
Dumervil signed a six-year, $61.5 million contract in 2010 when Josh McDaniels was coaching the team and before John Elway joined the Denver front office. The seven-year veteran is scheduled to make $12 million in 2013.
The team wants Dumervil to take a cut or restructure his contract, according to a person familiar with the situation, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the negotiations were not public.
The Denver Post first reported about the team’s request.
Dumervil had 11 sacks last season, second on the team behind Von Miller. Dumervil led the league with 17 sacks in 2009.
The Broncos need more cap space while trying to shore up their interior defensive line, cornerback and running back positions. Peyton Manning will earn $20 million in 2013 and if the Broncos had Dumervil play at his current number, those two would account for more than a quarter of their cap space.
Blackhawks’ Sharp to miss game at Colorado
CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks say injured forward Patrick Sharp will miss Friday’s game at Colorado.
Sharp left Wednesday’s 3-2 home win over the Avalanche with what looked like a shoulder injury after being checked along the boards by Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne. Coach Joel Quenneville said afterward Sharp might miss some time.
The Blackhawks also said Marian Hossa was traveling with the team after being scratched from Wednesday’s game with an upper body injury, as was Andrew Shaw after taking an elbow to the chin from Paul Stastny.
Michael Frolik (illness) was expected to meet the team in Denver before Friday’s game.
The Blackhawks also recalled forward Brandon Bollig from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
Hamlin fined $25k by NASCAR for criticizing car
LAS VEGAS — Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 by NASCAR on Thursday for criticizing the new Gen-6 race car after last week’s race at Phoenix.
NASCAR deemed Hamlin’s remarks as detrimental to stock car racing and said while drivers get “ample leeway in voicing their opinions when it comes to a wide range of aspects about the sport, the sanctioning body will not tolerate publicly made comments by its drivers that denigrate the racing product.”
Hamlin finished third on Sunday in the second race for NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car. He was asked on pit road after how he liked the car, and said: “I don’t want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our generation five cars. This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning.”
The Gen-6 car was developed by NASCAR last year with heavy input from the manufacturers to improve the on-track product.
Titans, kicker Bironas agree on new deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms keeping kicker Rob Bironas off the free agent market and with the team he has spent the past eight seasons.
The Titans announced the deal Thursday. NFL.com and The Tennessean both report the deal is for two years.
Bironas, 35, ranks as the third most accurate kicker in NFL history, connecting on 85.6 percent of his attempts. He trails only Al Del Greco as the franchise’s leading scorer with 916 points.
He has 11 game-winning field goals. He also has the NFL records for most field goals made in a game with eight and most consecutive games with a field goal 40 yards or longer at 10.
Bironas scored 110 points and was 25 of 31 on field goals last season.
Suns’ Gortat season probably over after injury
PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat probably is out for the rest of the season after spraining his foot during Wednesday night’s loss to Toronto.
The Suns say an MRI revealed a midfoot sprain to his right foot. Gortat will be sidelined three to four weeks, much of that time in a cast.
That timetable would mean Gortat might be back for a handful of games. But with the need for conditioning and the Suns out of playoff contention there is little urgency for a quick return.
The Polish center is averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds. He has appeared in 182 consecutive games for Phoenix — every game since he came to the Suns on Dec. 18, 2010.
Ex-Chicago Bear, ND star faces tax charges
CHICAGO — Former Chicago Bear and Notre Dame All-American Chris Zorich faces federal tax offenses.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago announced Thursday that Zorich has been charged with four misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income tax returns between 2006 and 2009. During that period, the 43-year-old former defensive tackle allegedly had a gross income totaling more than $1 million.
A message left for Zorich’s attorney Thursday afternoon wasn’t immediately returned.
Failure to file a federal income tax return carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison on each count.
Zorich played for the Bears from 1991 through 1996 and for the Washington Redskins in 1997. He played at Notre Dame until 1991.
Jockey Calvin Borel claims career win No. 5,000
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Jockey Calvin Borel has claimed career win No. 5,000 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.
Borel picked up the win Thursday aboard Hezunusal in the sixth race.
The Oaklawn racing season began in January with Borel at 4,999 wins, but the rider broke his wrist days before the meet opened. He returned in February, but couldn’t come up with a winner until Thursday.
A three-time Kentucky Derby winner, Borel becomes the 26th North American jockey with 5,000 wins.
From wire sources