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The four-member management committee that has run the Islanders since 1992 announced that it has bought 10% of the team from majority owner John Pickett, Jr. Committee Co-Chair & CEO Stephen Walsh: "Our group had previously made a loan to the team. In exchange for that, we converted the loan to equity, which makes the team a lot stronger financially." While there has been "confusion" as to who runs the team, the new agreement calls for the committee "to have operating control of the franchise for the next decade, beginning immediately" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16).
Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy announced that city reached an agreement with Adelphia Cable TV President John Rigas "on terms relative to the purchase" of the Pirates. Murphy said he would ask the city to formally submit Rigas' name to the team. Murphy: "We are excited about this because it means major league baseball will be in Pittsburgh for a long time to come." The city faced a deadline of January 29 to find a buyer to keep the team in Pittsburgh. Rigas will now have to negotiate the purchase of the team with the "10-member consortium of companies and individuals who own the Pirates," and then get it approved by MLB (Mark Hyman, Baltimore SUN, 11/16). Baseball owners "have frowned on additional television based companies from owning teams, twice rejecting the sale of the Rangers to broadcast interest." The price tag for the Pirates is estimated at $95-100M, with most going to pay off the team's current debt. The deal with the city includes a new stadium lease, and a promise of "good faith" by the city to build a "Forbes Field-like baseball-only stadium" (AP, 11/16). Former Orioles President Larry Lucchino, an "early favorite" to buy the Pirates, "put his bid on hold" and turned his full attention toward a deal for the Padres (Baltimore SUN, 11/16). Lucchino and Houston businessman John Moores are reportedly in the final stages to buy the Padres. Lucchino: "Because the exceptional San Diego baseball opportunity I have been offered is now nearing consummation, it's unreasonable, if not impossible for me to continue to participate in the Pirates process" (City of Pittsburgh).
FLORIDA: Marlins President Don Smiley said that ticket- price reductions "will not be limited to season-ticket holders, and that 'the Marlins intend to lower prices for individual game- day tickets in at least one' of the two categories that already have been reduced: terrace box and mezzanine reserved." Smiley: "We know we're going to have to reach out and get aggressive in the marketing of this ballclub, especially in light of the shortened 1994 season" (Susan Miller Degnan, MIAMI HERALD, 11/16). BALTIMORE: In Washington, Thomas Boswell reprimands the Orioles for their ticket-hike announcement. "The Orioles say the strike cost them $15 million. Notice the Orioles said 'cost,' not 'lost.' ... You may have noticed that the Orioles have had a slightly reduced costs of doing business. They haven't had to pay their players a cent" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/16).
Hillsborough County Commission Chair Joe Chillura said the "county could provide more than $40 million worth of renovations to Tampa Stadium to induce the next owners" of the Bucs to keep the team in Tampa. Chillura's comments went "further than other elected officials" in promising tax dollars to keep the team. He said funds could come from excess surplus hotel taxes collected to help pay for a downtown hockey arena, but those funds would "only cover a fraction" of $40M (Larry Dougherty, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/16). The threat of a move by the team is consuming the local media. Steelers Owner Dan Rooney feels a move by the Bucs could be "the first real test" of the nine guidelines for relocation implemented in '84 by former Commissioner Pete Rozelle following the Colts move to Indianapolis. NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello: "The league only wants teams to move when it is absolutely necessary. That is why we have the guidelines." When the guidelines -- such as stadium lease and financial conditions -- are applied to the Bucs, the team "appears to be in good shape" (Pat Yasinkas, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/16). Local investors willing to purchase the team will do so only under the following conditions, according to TAMPA TRIBUNE columnist Tom McEwen. 1) If the financial numbers work; 2) Tampa Stadium can be renovated; 3) New Buc facilities are worked out; 4) Community support via ticket and luxury box sales (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/16).