SBD/22/Franchises

RAPTORS GO 2 FOR 2: FRESH OFF TICKET SALES, ARENA DEAL DONE

     The Raptors announced yesterday that not only did they
surpass the NBA minimum of 12,500 season-tickets, but also that
they "firmed up" their plans for a new arena.  The team reached
an agreement "in principal on basic business terms" with Canada
Post on a downtown site, just blocks away from SkyDome.  The
Raptors will reportedly pay $30M up front, and $1.5M per year for
the next 20 years to develop a four-acre parcel of land for their
22,000 seat stadium.  Payments would increase if the Raptors
bring in new tenants, such as a hockey team.  The team faced a
league-mandated deadline of December 31 to finalize its arena
plans, and the annoucements yesterday marked a big day for the
Raptors.  Raptors Stadium Director Jay Cross said many obstacles
remained, but he was hopeful that "arrangements should be in
place by next summer, with construction to start in the fall"
(Bill Harris, TORONTO SUN, 12/22).  The site, "nestled beside the
heavily travelled Gardiner Expressway, has high billboard value."
The team is expected to sell name rights to a corporate buyer who
could become a "fixture on the skyline" (James Christie, Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 12/22).
     TICKETS:  Raptors President John Bitove announced that the
team received deposits on 15,127 season-tickets, well over the
12,500 mark.  As reported yesterday, the team received a large
boost for Shoppers Drug Mart who purchased up to 4,250 tickets
(Chris Young, TORONTO STAR, 12/22).
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