DENVER (AP) _ After three years of contentious talks, an agreement is to be announced today on a new sports venue for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, according to published reports.

Reports in The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News said a 2 p.m. MDT announcement will be made by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Charlie Lyons, president of sports team owner Ascent Entertainment.

``The mayor feels good about the deal,'' Denver city attorney Dan Muse said.

The deal reportedly locks Ascent into a 50-acre downtown parcel between Elitch Gardens and the Auraria Campus. Webb considers the arena a crucial piece of the development of the area.

The sticking point for some time has been what the city will lose in revenue because the facility, a private structure, will replace the publicly owned McNichols Arena, where Denver charges a seat tax.

McNichols currently brings in about $3.7 million a year in seat taxes.

Webb declined comment, except to say he would meet with other city officials in closed meetings today.

``The deal takes in the interest of the city and the civic value of these franchises,'' Webb spokesman Andrew Hudson said.

``We tried to reach middle ground on a lot of issues. The nature of these deals is that it takes a long time,'' Hudson said. ``It's a fair and reasonable deal.''

Ascent's proposal is a $160 million project with 675,000-square feet. It would have 95 luxury suites, 1,850 club seats and a 250-seat restaurant.

Lyons could not be reached immediately for comment.

Webb also has called for the demolition of McNichols when the new center is finished.