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MLB's ownership committee is scheduled to vote today on whether to give John Rigas, Chair of Adelphia Communications Corp., preliminary approval to buy the Pirates. Rigas needs such approval before he can negotiate with Pirates ownership, as it "signifies that the ownership committee believes Rigas would be a fit owner and has the financial resources to own and operate a ballclub." Once approved, Rigas has until January 29 to reach a deal, the date when a "180-day option that gives the city first crack at finding a buyer expires." After the 29th, owners of the Pirates can open up the sale to out-of-town buyers. Although Rigas could be approved today, neither he nor the Pirates would speculate on when talks between the two sides would commence (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/23). PIRATES GUARANTEE ENJOYMENT: The Pirates' "Guaranteed Offer" -- based on replacement players comprising the Pirates, and in effect through May 19 -- will allow any fan who purchases a ticket for games on May 20 and after and who is not satisfied with Pirates baseball through May 19 to receive a full refund for any remaining home games. The offer will be in effect through May 19 unless a CBA is reached, or a "representative number of striking major leaguers return to play by that date." Pirates VP Marketing Steve Greenberg said that 62% of full-season and 40% partial ticket holders have renewed so far: "We're doing OK. Not great. Not bad" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/22).
The Haas family is close to selling the A's for an estimated $85M to a pair of Bay Area developers, according to a weekend report in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. Stephen Schott, President of the Citation Homes of Santa Clara, and Kenneth Hoffman, a part owner of the Seahawks, could complete a deal as soon as Wednesday, but details still need to be worked out with the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. A's President Walter Haas: "Yes, we are getting close." One "stumbling block" is Schott and Hoffman's reported request that the city and county pay up to $25M in improvements to the Oakland Coliseum and give them more control over revenue from other events. They are also asking for a larger percentage of the profits from parking, concessions, etc. (Matier & Ross, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 1/21). A source close to negotiations said city and county officials are "not averse to financing Coliseum upgrades," but will insist improvements would also accommodate football -- in hopes of luring the Raiders back to Coliseum. The Haas family is also reportedly concerned about who would pay for expenses due to the baseball work stoppage. The team has been on the market since May and set an asking price of $85M -- which some analysts say is as "much as $30M below the team's worth -- to keep the team in Oakland" (Dennis Akizuki, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/22).
The Connecticut Development Authority, "seeking to protect its investment in the Connecticut Coyotes, has assumed ownership" of the Arena Football team from the Hartford Sports and Entertainment Group (HSEG). According to Joseph Cohen, a spokesperson for the Authority, the state will take over the franchise with "an intent" to sell the team, and "to preserve to value of the Coyotes and the franchise." Cohen said the Authority hopes to sell the team to Hartford investors, and plans on keeping the Coyotes in CT. The team is scheduled to being play in May at the Hartford Civic Center (Roy Hasty, HARTFORD COURANT, 1/23).
The Rams move may not be a "done deal," writes Will McDonough of the BOSTON GLOBE. McDonough quotes one anonymous owner who told him "there is no doubt the majority will vote in favor of the move," but that there are some team owners "who want to see and hear more before we give it a yea." The owner told McDonough: "The first thing some of us will want to know is if this move is within the rules of the league for moving. Then we want to know the financial deal. Are the rest of us getting what we are supposed to be getting out of the gate (as the visiting team in St. Louis) or is money being sidetracked somewhere else so they do not have to share it? If everything is on the up and up, they will get the vote" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/22). "THE RAMPAGE IS ON": D'Arcy, Masius Benton & Bowles is handling P.R. for the Rams' Personal Seat License campaign. Since the announcement of the move, "a major print and broadcast ad campaign" promoting the PSL sale under the theme, "The Rampage is On" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/23).