VANCOUVER: The Grizzlies have "about 8,500 seats spoken for" in their quest to meet the NBA-imposed quota of 15,000 by December 31. What "concerns" Grizzlies VP/GM Stu Jackson is that the team hasn't "made appreciable gains in ticket sales since an early flourish" last spring. Jackson said that the people of Vancouver "don't necessarily share our sense of urgency." Some question how fair the NBA mandate of 15,000 season ticket sales is for an expansion team, as "only a handful of teams -- Suns, Bulls, Knicks, and Hornets -- exceed 15,000 in sales. More typically, NBA teams have sales between 10,000-12,000." Jackson: "It is probably not appropriate for me to comment on what's reasonable or unreasonable. It is a figure that has been handed to us and we've got to meet it" (Dan Stinson, VANCOUVER SUN, 10/7). TORONTO: The Raptors officially kicked off their season ticket campaign yesterday. Although they have yet to sell a ticket, Raptors President John Bitove does not "anticipate any problem" meeting the NBA deadline. The team will sell tickets with a license fee -- a first for a Canadian franchise -- which gives a ticket buyer ownership of the seat. The fee will be mandatory for all five seating levels in the lower bowl of Skydome. During the first two years of play at SkyDome, the Raptors will offer a $5 ticket, the lowest price in the NBA. Ticket plans and licenses sold will be transferrable when the team moves to its new arena (James Christie, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/7).
Pittsburgh city officials "flatly" denied requests for a two-week extension on today's deadline for Pirates bids. Bill Craig, GM of KBL Sports Network, a susidiary of TCI's Liberty Sports, will still submit a bid, but said, "It's not going to be as good as we would like." Craig maintained KBL would buy the team only if all other bids fell through. Robert Caporale, attorney for Penguins Owner Howard Baldwin, said he would file papers "in an attempt to keep his client's name alive" -- but he would not call it a formal bid. Baldwin had argued for an extension, citing the NHL labor negotiations and charging city officials with "unilaterally" setting a deadline. Former Orioles President Larry Lucchino declined to say whether he would bid. But Craig said there may be room for Lucchino to join the KBL group. Cleveland investment banker Jeffrey Moffie is no longer on the city's list, but he may tell the city he has lined up two more investors with Pittsburgh ties. Moffie is not submitting a proposal today but said his group would "make it impossible" to be outbid. Other groups working on bids include the Steelers' Rooney family, Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas and Florida financier Malcolm Glazer (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH GAZETTE, 10/7).
St. Louis' NFL franchise group, FANS Inc., announced commitments for 86 of 100 luxury suites as of yesterday. The list includes suites withheld for the Rams as part of the team's "wish list." FANS point man Tom Eagleton said FANS "would like nothing better" than to have a sell-out in time for the formal proposal in L.A. next week. 13 more companies have reserved suites than did for the 85 boxes sold during St. Louis '93 expansion drive. Next week, volunteers will call club seat holders from the expansion drive about renewing commitments for a portion of the 6,300 club seats (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 10/7). "YES OR NO": Orioles Owner Peter Angelos is "pressing for a decision" about the possibility of moving the Rams to Baltimore. Angelos thinks the decision will be made "before the end of the month" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 10/7).