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EXPANSION: A SPORT BUSINESS DAILY STUDY ON THE NBA IN CANADA

     The NBA's venture into Canada was supposed the be the
league's bold first step into the international realm, laying the
precedent for a more ambitious move into Mexico and Europe.  But
the two expansion franchises, awarded to Toronto and Vancouver in
late '93 and early '94, are yet to reach the season-ticket sales
goals set by the league.  In an exclusive three-part series, THE
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY examines the start up franchises and their
quest to reach the NBA-mandated 12,500 season-ticket minimum by
December 31.  The league has warned both franchises that the
12,500 number is real, and if either the Vancouver Grizzlies or
the Toronto Raptors fail to reach that number, they will lose the
franchise.  Today, NBA Dir of Public Relations Jan Hubbard
discusses the league's role north of the border.
     THE DAILY:  How does the league feel as each team enters its
strech drive?  Are you optimistic they will met your minimum?
     HUBBARD:  We feel that both teams are picking up speed.  The
Raptors just announced a new program to sell tickets that we
think will be successful, and the Grizzlies have really reached
out into the corporate community and those sponsors are buying
tickets.  We feel that momentum is building for both franchises.
     THE DAILY:  Why the difficulty in selling season ticket
plans?
     HUBBARD:  There is a lot going on in Canada.  First, Canada
is a hockey country, and with no hockey, fans are depressed right
now and they are not excited about spending money on basketball.
Secondly, we are new up there.  They don't really know us, but
the excitement will grow once we get going.  But, with all of
this, there still has been tremendous excitement in Canada with
both new teams.
     THE DAILY:  Was the 12,500 season ticket-minimum fair?  Not
many established teams in the league have that many.
     HUBBARD:  There are some trade-offs to that.  They were
very, very aggressive in trying to gain an expansion franchise.
At that point, the NBA had no plans to expand, but they
guaranteed support and with that number, we basically asked them
to show us that excitement in ticket sales.  We want two healthy
members in the league, we have some teams struggling to sell
tickets now, we don't want any more, and with that 12,500 number
we asked them to demonstrate their health.
     THE DAILY: Has the league been working with the teams, and,
if so, what will happen if they fail to meet the quota?
     HUBBARD:  We won't even speculate on what will happen
because we think they are both going to make it.  The league and
the franchiese are in constant contact.  They coordinate with us
and we treat them as full partners even though we haven't done
the final papers.
     NEXT WEEK:  An inside look at the operations of the Toronto
Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies from media members and team execs
in both cities.
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