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         Despite saying he is the front-runner to buy the Buccaneers,
    Orioles Owner Peter Angelos would still "have a major hurdle to
    clear" if he wants to buy the team and move it to Baltimore.  The
    Bucs three-man trust told Angelos that they would not accept an
    offer for the team that was "conditional on the NFL allowing the
    team to relocate."  Because of that, Angelos could face millions
    of dollars in "additional costs in attempting to buy and move the
    Bucs."  Angelos would have to pay roughly $9.5M to buy the team
    out of its current lease at Tampa Stadium, but he also could be
    assessed $15M by the NFL in relocation fees and face millions
    more in legal fees if the league seeks a court-ordered injunction
    to block the move.  Bucs trustee Steve Story said Angelos could
    buy the Bucs and operate the team in Tampa while trying to seek
    league approval for the franchise to be moved.  Story: "That's a
    possibility.  Clearly, that is not his preference" (Rick Stroud,
    ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/21).  Angelos: "We don't know what kind
    of fight the NFL might put up to keep the team from moving.  At
    this point, making the deal is not the tough part" (Henderson &
    Stebbins, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/21).
         WILL HE OR WON'T HE?  ESPN's Chris Mortensen said Angelos is
    "confident" he can buy the Bucs.  Mortensen: "He is willing to
    fight the NFL (about moving) and even consider selling the
    Orioles if the cross-ownership issue gets too sticky."  The
    "roadblock" is the "unconditional sale.  In other words if
    Angelos fails legally to move the franchise, he'd still be stuck
    with the team" ("SportsCenter," 12/20).  MD Gov. William Donald
    Schaefer believes the NFL will block a move to Baltimore.
    Schaefer put odds on the Bucs moving at "less than 50/50" (Jon
    Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 12/21).
         TAXES GUARANTEES SEATS:  During a press conference today,
    scheduled to be held at the 50-yard line in Tampa Stadium, local
    leaders are expected to announce a proposal to have taxpayers and
    businesses paying for unsold seats at home games.  The city of
    Tampa, Hillsborough County, and Tampa Bay businesses would
    "guarantee the sale of at least 55,000 tickets for each home game
    for one or two years."  Enthusiasm for the idea by elected
    officials who might be asked to vote on a ticket guarantee was
    mixed.  Hillsborough County Commissioner Joe Chillura was not
    "terribly excited" about public money being used to guarantee
    sales, but he would favor guaranteeing public support if the Bucs
    made the Super Bowl during the next five years.  Chillura: "If
    you want to obligate the county to $150 million in debt, there
    has to be more than just having an NFL team in town.  We want a
    winning team" (Koehn & Kenyon, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/21).

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, ESPN, Franchises, NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Walt Disney

         After months of waiting and wondering, it was official
    yesterday -- the Grizzlies announced sales of 12,624 season-
    tickets, meeting the NBA's requirement of 12,500 before the
    December 31 deadline.  The Raptors hold a press conference today
    at which they are expected to announce that they have also
    surpassed the goal.  The key to both franchises was help from the
    Shoppers Drug Mart chain.  Shoppers, which has 700 stores in
    Canada, bought 2,500 of the 12,624 season tickets sold by the
    Grizzlies, all in either the $21 or $28 range.  It is reported
    that Shoppers purchased a "whopping" 4,500 for the Raptors, all
    of them in the SkyDome cheap seats that won't be available when
    the team moves into a new arena (Neil Campbell, Toronto GLOBE &
    MAIL, 12/21).
         GRIZZLIES: Shoppers Drug "pumped about $1.4M into the
    Grizzlies coffers for the bulk purchase."  They were given a 10%
    discount on their order, and tickets will be sold at Shoppers
    stores on a per-game basis.  Shoppers Drug VP Terry Morrison: "We
    see this as good for our youth, good for our economy, and good
    for our business. ... We will be offering the tickets for sale to
    customers through special promotion in our 42 Lower Mainland
    stores."  The team announced that the general public had
    purchased over 8,000 tickets while 4,500 were sold to the
    corporate community.  Grizzlies VP/GM Stu Jackson said the team
    hit "every fan base.  We've hit the corporations, the general
    public, and we've hit the casual game goer with the Shoppers Drug
    Deal" (Howard Tsumura, Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/21).  Jackson:
    "The dream is now a reality."  Owner Arthur Griffiths called the
    ticket drive "a struggle," adding that "the league was very
    careful to watch us, to make sure our numbers were real."
    Jackson took a shot at the Raptors: "We've got the first victory.
    We kicked Toronto's butt" (Gary Kingston, VANCOUVER SUN, 12/21).
    NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik congratulated the team:
    "This demonstrates great support on the part of the community and
    it will help ensure a successful launch of the franchise" (Jim
    Byers, TORONTO STAR, 12/21).
              RAPTORS:  The Raptors had hoped to make a simultaneous
         announcement on their ticket success and the finalization of
    an arena deal, but the arena deal was still in doubt as of
    yesterday.  The team has increased its offer for a Canada Post
    building in downtown Toronto, but Andrew Gaddell, a spokesperson
    for Canada Post, said "the situation is still pretty fluid, but
    there will be no announcement today."  The team must have an
    "agreement in principal" on an arena site by the end of the year,
    and they are confident details can be worked out soon (Bill
    Harrin, TORONTO SUN, 12/21).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NBA, Toronto Raptors

         ITT "insisted" that displeasure from the NHL and NBA over
    the company's acquisition of Caesars World would not prevent them
    from closing the $1.08B deal for Madison Square Garden.  ITT and
    Cablevision are partners in a pending deal for the the Knicks and
    Rangers.  Each league expressed concern over ITT's $1.7B offer
    for Caesars World yesterday, as both bar team owners from owning
    businesses that take bets on sporting events.  ITT spokesperson
    James Gallagher said the company has discussed the issue with the
    commissioners of both leagues.  Gallagher:  "We are confident
    that we are going to be able to do the deals" (BLOOMBERG BUSINESS
    NEWS/N.Y. POST, 12/21).  ESPN's Steve Levy:  "ITT is feverishly
    working on concessions to O.K. the MSG purchase which could
    include separating its holdings and not taking action on games in
    either the NBA or NHL" ("SportsCenter," 12/20).  Sources say ITT
    could drop hockey and basketball betting, if necessary, but the
    company "didn't plan on selling either of the sports teams."
    Caesars' sports book is estimated to generate less than 5% of the
    company's total gambling revenue.  John Rochs, an analyst with
    Wertheim Schroder & Co., says a settlement restricting sports
    gambling would have a "minuscule impact" on profits (Eben
    Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/21).  However, Ron Pearlstein,
    an analyst at Loomis Sayles & Co., says "sport-betting salons are
    much too profitable":  "My guess is the Knicks and the Rangers
    have got to go. ... The leagues might insist on it"
    (BLOOMBERG/N.Y. POST, 12/21).  Both analysts agree that
    eliminating some sports betting could hurt overall profits.
    Rochs:  "There is an unquantifiable aspect to it:  How many
    people won't walk in the door in the first place?" (WALL STREET
    JOURNAL, 12/21).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, ESPN, Franchises, Madison Square Garden, NBA, New York Knicks, NHL, Walt Disney

         ESPN's Mark Schwarz examined the Rams' troubles in Orange
    County as well as their declining popularity among fans.  L.A.
    TIMES reporter T.J. Simers: "It's a bad team, it's not attracting
    anybody, there's no excitement.  What do you get excited about
    with this team? -- Which quarter Chris Miller is going to get his
    concussion in?"  Leigh Steinberg, who has organized a group to
    keep the Rams in Anaheim, said rumors of a move has exaggerated
    the team's lack of appeal:  "The worst thing to do in Southern
    California, which is an area that appreciates the concept of
    something is hot, exciting, and the place to be, is to do what
    the Rams have done for the last two years, which is to say we
    really, probably won't be here."  Another issue discussed was the
    declining amount of Rams merchandise being sold.  Rams safety
    Anthony Newman spoke of how he once needed a couple of Rams caps
    for his football camp:  "I went to every mall in Orange County
    almost, and I couldn't find a Rams hat.  I couldn't believe it.
    I think you have to take some responsibility to do something like
    to market the Los Angeles Rams" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/20).
         SHAW PROFILED:  Rams President John Shaw, the architect of
    the Rams move, is the focus of an extensive profile in this
    morning's ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.  Shaw, who was put in charge
    of the organization at the age 31, is praised for "his shrewd,
    indefatigable negotiating skills" (Bernie Miklasz, ST. LOUIS
    POST-DISPATCH, 12/21).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Franchises, LA Rams, Walt Disney
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