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The Buccaneers "are for sale." Bucs GM Richard McKay said "an announcement will be forthwith," and team officials confirmed that the club will be put on the market immediately by the Board of Trustees running the estate of the late Hugh Culverhouse (Rick Stroud, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/10). The club, heading towards its 12th consecutive losing season and "saddled by a dwindling fan base," has been valued at $142M and could be sold before the end of '94. Local names who may be interested: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, Outback Steakhouse CEO Chris Sullivan and a group headed by Dixon Ticonderoga pencil magnate Gino Pala and ESPN analyst Lee Corso. But the impending sale also gives hope to many out-of-state buyers who would move the team, most notably Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, who reportedly offered $200M in February to move the Bucs to Baltimore, and investors in St. Louis, who are courting the Rams (Nick Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/10). SUIT MAY IMPEDE SALE: Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. has filed suit against Steve Story, "the point man for the three-man trust" set up by Hugh Culverhouse in January of '93 to run the team after his death. The suit claims that Culverhouse, Jr. was slandered by a sign posted on Story's order, barring him and his sister from entering the late Hugh Culverhouse's apartment. Since the trust must act in the best interest of the family, the suit "raises the possibilty of future suits against the trust, especially if Story ordered the sign placed in the window while acting as a member of the trust" (Nick Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/10). PLEASE STAY: In Tampa, Tom McEwen writes that new ownership "would be good for Tampa Bay and long-suffering Bucs fans, so long as the sale is made to vibrant owners who will keep the team in Tampa, at a vastly improved Tampa Stadium." Calling St. Louis the "biggest threat" to "ambush" the Bucs, McEwen writes the NFL may do everything it can to prevent the Rams or Raiders from leaving the L.A. market, "which is now home base to its latest big-time beneficiary, FOX television." McEwen: "Some think the NFL might sacrifice Tampa Bay ... to keep a Los Angeles team out of St. Louis" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/10).
Texas Governor-elect George W. Bush wants to keep his minority interest in the Texas Rangers. However, he would "sell if ownership gives rise to potential conflict of interest with his duties as governor." Karen Hughes, Bush's campaign press secretary, said Bush has asked his lawyers whether he needs to put that interest in a trust, but added Bush would "eliminate his duties as managing partner." MLB Dir of Public Relations Jim Small said there is "nothing that prohibits" a politician from owning a team (Simon Gonzalez, FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/10).
Grizzlies Owner Arthur Griffiths and Exec VP Stu Jackson launched "The Drive For Five" -- "a ticket campaign they hope will rescue the Grizzlies from their current shaky foundation." In an unprecedented ticket offer, any season ticket holder not satisfied with the product after the new team's first exhibition game at GM Palace can get a full refund. Griffiths said they are "so confident in the end product, that once they [fans] see it, the last thing in the world they will be doing is turning the tickets back." On display yesterday was the future home of the team, where ticket buyers can actually see where they will be sitting --"one big edge" the Grizzlies have over the Raptors. A radio, TV and billboard ad blitz is planned, but has been delayed due to a newspaper strike (Randy Starkman, TORONTO STAR, 11/10). Griffiths said ticket sales so far have been "a little frustrating." Both expansion teams need to have 12,500 season tickets sold by the league-imposed Dec. 31 deadline (CP/OTTAWA CITIZEN, 11/10). RAPTORS: In Toronto, Stephen Brunt focuses his column on the Raptors' season-ticket sales effort. Brunt writes, "What was purported to be a cakewalk has turned out to be a struggle. ... Coming up with enough dough to pay for the team and pay for a building is going to be a stretch." He says the early ticket returns can "hardly be considered encouraging," and their recent decision to make license fees behind the basket optional could cost them about $11M. "That, from an organization that needs every nickel it can get its hands on, would seem to be a significant deviation from business as usual" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/10). Baton Broadcasting and CTV will carry most of the Raptors games next season. Baton will carry up to 41 games and the CTV deal will cover about 15 games, which includes the Raptors and the Grizzlies (Rob Grant, TORONTO STAR, 11/10).
Rams President John Shaw will meet once more with groups interested in the Rams. Shaw said the meetings are an attempt to find out "what's real and what's not real about each of the offers." Shaw: "So far, we've heard a lot of promises from everybody." From the Anaheim group, Save the Rams, Shaw wants to see if they can deliver a "renovated Anaheim Stadium, ticket sale guarantees, and a minority investment offer of up to $50 million." With St. Louis' FANS, Inc., the "sticking point is the lease." Shaw also said he is willing to meet with Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, who postponed a meeting with the Rams on Wednesday, but Shaw believes Angelos wants to meet with the Raiders' Al Davis. (Himmelberg & Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/10). KROENKE TALKS HEAT UP: MO businessman Stan Kroenke met with Shaw on Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Angeles. Sources say Kroenke is "poised to buy up to 40% of the Rams should they decide to move to St. Louis." The sides have agreed on an overall price, and are close to a final resolution on the buyout option with team owner Georgia Frontiere (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/10). THE OSWALD FILE: Rams Dir of Operations John Oswald and Rick Nichols of Marketing Associates Int'l, were in St. Louis on Monday and Tuesday. Oswald is "thought to be the first 'football' employee of the Rams to visit St. Louis." The two visited potential sites for an office and practice facility, and toured the domed-stadium site, before touring the city (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/10).