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To date, a total of 70.86% of major league season ticket holders have renewed their tickets for '95, according to a release by MLB's office of the Commissioner. The figures reflect renewals through January 13, 1995. It is the first time MLB has tracked season ticket renewals while sales were in progress. Of the 28 clubs, 10 have a renewal rate of 80% or higher; four teams had at least 90% (MLB). EXPANSION UPDATE: "Confident their recommendation to add teams is headed for prompt approval by the owners," members of MLB's expansion committee are now planning to discuss specifics such as price and league assignments for the new franchises, according to this morning's ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. The committee, which hired a consultant to help determine the fee, reportedly is considering a price range of $125-150M. Tampa Bay expansion head Vince Naimoli said if the price exceeded what he considered to be fair, he would ask community leaders for financial assistance. While some had speculated that a Tampa Bay franchise would most likely be placed in the AL so as not to give the NL a monopoly on FL, Phillies President Bill Giles said that "theory might not be well-founded." Some in the league see a Tampa Bay-Florida- Atlanta rivalry as appealing (Marc Topkin, ST. PETE TIMES, 1/24). In No. VA, Bart Fisher who heads what is perceived as the weaker of the two Northern Virginia, claimed that the fact his group has a majority of African-American investors affected the committee's attitude toward his presentation. Currently, none of the 28 clubs is minority-owned (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/24). THE ANGELOS FIGHT: AL President Gene Budig and Orioles Owner Peter Angelos spoke by phone yesterday. Angelos said the conversation was "cordial," but he declined to "elaborate on very much" of it (WASHINGTON POST, 1/24). MELTDOWN: According to agents of two large player representation firms, the MLBPA will lift the player signing freeze by February 1 (Nick Cafardo, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/24). REPLACEMENTS: The Dodgers and Angels will permit their managers and coaches to work with replacements during spring training and, if necessary, the regular season (Bob Nightengale, L.A. TIMES, 1/24). GMs are reportedly floating a proposal to ask the MLBPA for an exemption to allow teams to use minor leaguers that are presently on 40-man rosters at the minor league level this season. Blue Jays GM Gord Ash, "doesn't believe it will fly" (TORONTO STAR, 1/24).
After crowds of just 12,038 and 12,558 for the team's first two home games, "there is considerable concern" among Canucks management over an apparent backlash to the team's ticket increases and the 103-day work stoppage. Because of the slow sales, the team will reduce prices approximately $15 on about 1,500 tickets for the "maximum number of games possible this season." The Canucks hope to announce the details of a deal with Shoppers Drug Mart sometime this week. The reduction would be on $54.50 tickets, down to $39 (Jack Keating, Vancouver PROVINCE, 1/24). But in Toronto, Bob McKenzie writes that "all in all, given the length and bitterness of the lockout there's nothing too negative to report from the first weekend" (TORONTO STAR, 1/24). $1 DOGS: The Leafs will feature special offers for opening night, dubbed fan appreciation night -- snack food for $1, Sony TV and compact disc giveaways, and autographed team jerseys. Bob Stellick, Leafs Dir of Business Operations: "We want to make sure we let the fans know how much we appreciate them" (Mary Ormsby, TORONTO STAR, 1/24). Leafs Player Rep Kent Manderville: "It's no secret people here look at hockey as part of the fabric of Canadian culture and not just as a sport that shut down the way people in the States do" (Paul Hunter, TORONTO STAR, 1/24).