SBD/2/Franchises

REPORTS INDICATE GRIFFITHS MAY NEED INVESTOR

     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).
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