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LEADERSHIP IN ALBANY EXPECTED TO GIVE CROSSROADS ARENA LOAN FINAL APPROVAL

State leaders said Wednesday they expect to give final approval today to a $25 million loan to Buffalo's Crossroads Arena.

The agreement was announced after two months of wrangling over stadium projects throughout the state.

Negotiations were particularly stormy in the past week and threatened to delay, and possibly kill, the $122.5 million project.

But Republicans, including Gov. Pataki, and Democrats agreed to approve the Crossroads loan during a meeting Wednesday of the Public Authorities Control Board. They said the Crossroads loan probably will not be affected by the continuing controversy over other stadium proposals.

The control board's approval is necessary before the state Urban Development Corp. approves the Crossroads loan. Without it, private loans totaling nearly $70 million were in jeopardy, officials of the Buffalo Sabres recently warned state legislators.

The meeting of the control board was postponed twice because Republicans and Democrats could not agree on a $488,150 grant to refurbish a hockey arena in Binghamton.

Pataki said Democrats were holding the Broome County arena hostage in order to win funding for a new baseball stadium in Syracuse.

Until Wednesday, however, the Republicans refused to allow the loan for Crossroads Arena to go forward without also approving the Binghamton project. Both projects will be considered in separate resolutions today.

Pataki said he will support the Crossroads loan even if Democrats block the Binghamton project.

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