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A's CEO & Chair Walter Haas said he was "very pleased" that two serious prospective purchasers will step forward with offers to buy the team and keep it in Oakland (Athletics). Today is the date set by the Hass family as a deadline for local buyers to come forward, and "as an inducement" the team was offered to local buyers for $85M, $15-$35M "under market value." The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum board had been actively trying to find a local buyer to keep the A's playing in the facility, and board member Jim Vohs said, "I'm very optimistic that we will have the A's continue to play in Oakland." One of the potential buyers is the Sacramento partnership of Kevin McClatchy, McClatchy Newspapers heir, and Fred Anderson, minority owner of the Sacramento Kings and owner of the CFL Sacramento Gold Miners. The other offer for the A's comes from an anonymous group. The team has 90 days to consider the offers and inform MLB which one they prefer (George Raine, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, 12/2).
Dixon Ticonderoga Chair Gino Pala said he is "convinced" Bucs trustees are sincere about wanting to keep the team in Tampa. He also confirmed that he has spoken directly with Jimmy Johnson about becoming the team's head coach. Pala said he left his meeting with the Bucs trust "much more encouraged" about his potential ownership of the team. Pala: "Mr. Donlan and Mr. Story (Bucs trustees) were both very forthcoming. The Bucs needs some data from us, and we need some things from them. ... There are a lot of numbers that have to be studied by both sides." On Johnson, he said "we did contact Jimmy Johnson and we plan to get together" (Ira Kaufman, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/2). HOK STUDIES TAMPA STADIUM: "A simple thing like more restrooms at Tampa Stadium could help keep the Buccaneers from moving out of Tampa Stadium." That is part of a three- week study by the architects from HOK, the sports facilities group, who are studying possible renovations to the 27-year old stadium. Ronald Labinski, Senior VP of HOK: "We're trying to determine to what extent premium seating and revenue enhancements can be accomplished within the existing stadium facility" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/2). TAMPA CHAMBER PUTS BUCS ON WISH LIST: Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's incoming chair Joseph House told the group that keeping the Bucs in Tampa should be their top priority. At the group's annual luncheon, House said, "Make sure the Bucs stop here" (Jean Gruss, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/2).
In Vancouver this morning, there are reports that Grizzlies Owner Arthur Griffiths is looking for investors to share in the "staggering" $112.5M franchise fee that is due at NBA headquarters on March 1. Northwest Entertainment Group, the parent group of the Grizzlies and Canucks, is reporting a loss of $431,870, or $.43/share, for the three months ending September 30, and is spending $160M to build General Motor Place. Griffiths and his sister own 70% of the team with the McCaw brothers of Seattle "holding the rest." Griffiths said he would "like to see 10-15% of the ownership in the local businesses community," but added that he will go it alone if "no one steps forward." The difficulty with operating a franchise in Canada is the "disparity between the value of currencies." Griffiths: "The franchise fee costs about $35 million to $40 million on exchange. That is a big hit to take basically for nothing in return." But he did believe that once the team begins operating, "it won't be so bad," citing that the $13.5M in broadcasting and merchandise revenue will be in U.S. dollars (Neil Campbell, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/2). TORONTO: Raptors ownership has long heard "whispers" that they "simply don't have the cash" to start and maintain a NBA franchise. The group tried to "enact a cash grabbing seat- license scheme, and still has not committed to plans for an arena. Also, the much-ballyhooed ownership role of VP Isiah Thomas still has not materialized. One source at another club says the former NBA superstar has yet trigger an option that would see him sink in some cash to buy a share of the club" (Neil Campbell, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/2). "Expect the Raptors to announce a major corporate sponsorship tomorrow" (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 12/2). For news on the Raptors' SkyDome deal. LABATT'S SPONSOR'S MAGIC EVENT: For Magic Johnson's appearance for the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Labatt's "picked up the tab for rental of a huge downtown hotel ballroom and provided food and beverage for the party" (Campbell, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/2). Grizzlies spokesperson Tod Leiweke: "Labatt's wanted to get involved if we could deliver Magic" (Archie McDonald, VANCOUVER SUN, 12/2).