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PHOENIX-City officials here have offered to chip in millions of dollars toward the cost of building a new stadium for football’s Arizona Cardinals in exchange for state funding of expansion of the Downtown Phoenix convention center.

A $500 million expansion of Phoenix Civic Plaza would bring in enough new business that the proceeds—as much as $5 million annually–could be spent to help pay off the cost of building a new football stadium, says Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza.

A number of Valley cities are exploring the possibility of having the new stadium in their boundaries, but few have the funding to cover the estimated $125 million in infrastructure costs that would go with it.

A proposition on the November ballot, Prop. 302, would authorize a 30-year, $1.8 billion funding plan that includes money for tourism promotion and the stadium. Money raised would go toward building a $331-million stadium. The estimated $100 million in infrastructure costs would be born by the city or cities in which the stadium lies.

“It makes a ton of sense,” Rimsza says. “If we lose the franchise, we will spend the next decade trying to get another one.”

Phoenix officials have been trying to get a major expansion and upgrade for the 28-year-old Phoenix Civic Plaza for years, saying that it’s too small to attract significant convention traffic. But critics questions whether the few million dollars from Phoenix would be enough to even begin to cover the debt service on a $125-million loan.

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