Magic paid critic not to oppose new arena

Published October 14, 2006

ORLANDO - The Magic paid a political consultant and frequent tax critic $200,000 not to oppose plans for a recently announced new arena, the club has disclosed.

The payments were made at two different times to Doug Guetzloe, who also hosts a local radio show. The Magic gave him $100,000 to support a similar stadium push in 2001 and another $100,000 this year.

The payments were handled through the Magic's law firm, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, which has been tied to hundreds of thousands in payments to Guetzloe for unspecified purposes. The team says it is re-evaluating its relationship with one of the firm's lawyers, and the firm did not return calls.

The Magic's payments were made in support of a $1-billion downtown overhaul - delivering a new arena, renovated Citrus Bowl and new performing arts center.

"We were told that there was an offer by those in the minority that oppose the three community venues to hire him if we did not," Magic chief operating officer Alex Martins said in a statement. "He has been publicly involved in many major projects in central Florida for more than a decade. In hindsight, it was an error in judgment."

Guetzloe declined comment.

Pacers: A man driving a vehicle owned by forward Jermaine O'Neal was arrested in Indianapolis on a marijuana possession charge, police said. O'Neal was not in the vehicle, and police said he was not involved. O'Neal said bought the SUV five years ago and gave it to a friend.


Blake perfect in Sweden

Defending champion James Blake, a Tampa resident, regrouped after a difficult first set, using his big serve to defeat Olivier Rochus 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2 and reach the semifinals of the Stockholm Open in Sweden.

Blake, seeded second, won the tournament in his first appearance last year and now is undefeated in eight matches. Today, Blake faces Robin Soderling, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2.

In doubles, 47-year-old John McEnroe and Jonas Bjorkman lost to Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-2).

BA-CA Trophy: Andy Roddick served 11 aces in beating Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-3 to reach the semifinals in Vienna, Austria. Roddick plays Fernando Gonzalez, who beat David Nalbandian 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Kremlin Cup: Amelie Mauresmo was upset by teenager Nicole Vaidisova 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), and Maria Sharapova pulled out with a foot injury before her match against Anna Chakvetadze in Moscow.

WTA changes? Top women's players have pulled out of WTA events at a record rate this season. In an effort to address the issue, tour CEO Larry Scott called for rules changes in 2007 that would double fines for withdrawals and reduce the number of events players must enter to reduce some of the wear of a long season. The tour said withdrawals from Tier I events - the 10 most important WTA tournaments - by players ranked in the top 10 more than doubled from 13 in 2005 to a record 31 in 2006. Scott expects his proposal for next season to be approved no later than November.


Officials seek Chinaglia

Former Italy and Cosmos star Giorgio Chinaglia is being sought by Italian authorities, who issued an arrest warrant for him and eight others on charges of extortion and insider trading at the Italian league club Lazio.

Chinaglia, the former Lazio president who now lives in the United States, is accused of trying to oust current club president Claudio Lotito by falsely claiming that there was a Hungarian group interested in buying a controlling stake in the club.

"I don't know where (the charge) has come from," Chinaglia said.

Compiled from Times wires.