SBD/21/Franchises

GRIZZLIES NAIL DEADLINE, RAPTORS EXPECTED TO FOLLOW TODAY

     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).
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