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TEMPE, AZ-A closed-door meeting, characterized as positive, could lead to a resolution about a $335-million football stadium in Tempe. Mayors from Tempe and Phoenix and Arizona Sen. John McCain met with the plan’s chief opposition, the FAA.

Participants emerged with more optimism than they’ve shown in recent weeks. “We had a good meeting, a free exchange of ideas,” McCain says. Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano says the meeting was full of “positive cooperation.” Representing the FAA was top official Jane Garvey.

The FAA and Phoenix aviation officials claim the stadium, which is to start coming out of the ground Aug. 1, poses a flight navigation hazard to jets landing at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. The Arizona Cardinals stadium is to be built at the southwest corner of Priest Drive and Washington Street, about two miles east of the end of Sky Harbor’s runway. The stadium would be built to a height of 198 feet.

In recent weeks, Phoenix threatened a lawsuit to halt construction if the issue is not addressed by the Tourism and Sport Authority, the entity that is building and will own the stadium. A lawsuit might not result in a Phoenix victory, but could throw off the tight construction deadline. The stadium is on a development fast track for the 2004 football season.

Last week, McCain intervened, asking for a series of meetings. He specifically requested the FAA, city officials and the Tourism and Sports Authority sit down to discuss technical issues. The meetings will continue in the coming days to address specific issues and possible solutions.

Tempe insists the stadium poses no real danger and chides Phoenix for pumping up the issue to protect its ability to expand the airport capacity. Late last week, the FAA agreed to delay its final report on the stadium site until it heard from Tempe and the stadium authority, which hired an aviation consultant to study the site and determine if its location truly creates a safety hazard or if it just affects airport operations, which can then be adjusted. Ted Ferris, authority president, has agreed to sign a noise waiver for Sky Harbor, but claims Phoenix aviation officials have not responded. The TVA also offered to reduce potential visual distractions and are providing design information to the FAA as well.

Tempe doesn’t believe the FAA has the authority to stop the stadium construction. “They can’t stop a construction project,” Mary Fowler, a Tempe spokeswoman, tells GlobeSt.com. Site preparation work on the site was completed in anticipation of the construction start date. Tempe has no plans to change its timeline for the project, she says.

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