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"A deal to wrest control of the Heat from partners Lewis Schaffel and Billy Cunningham is on the verge of being completed," according to this morning's MIAMI HERALD. The deal, brought together by Micky Arison, whose family owns the majority of the team, would allow the five remaining limited partners to buy out Schaffel and Cunningham. Arison's attempts to reach an agreement have been impeded by a lawsuit filed by Whit Hudson, who tried unsuccessfully to purchase managing control of the team for $60M. One source close to Hudson said that "Hudson's motivation now is to assist Micky Arison to straighten out the team's confused management structure." Hudson: "Our lawsuit is still in place, but we've been talking to the Arisons to try and get something settled" (Reed & Marvez, MIAMI HERALD, 1/27).
The Rams move to St. Louis is the focus of a front page piece in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL by John Helyar. Helyar writes the "economic underpinning of the league has long been its generous revenue-sharing arrangements: equal sharing of network television money and a 60-40 home visitor gate split. ... This egalitarian approach left NFL teams with basically equal resources." But Helyar notes the clubs now are becoming "economically stratified by their ability to extract -- or extort -- lucrative stadium deals. ... Suddenly, a stadium wasn't' considered just a game venue, but also a financial asset." Profits from improved facilities led to owners gaining from unshared income and moving to a different financial plane than their counterparts. Now, with the minimum salary in the NFL, the disparities between clubs has become more apparent. SportsCorp Ltd. Marc Ganis comments on the cap's effect: "Some people thought that would create more league parity. It has caused exactly the opposite. A low-revenue team now has spend very close to what the high revenue teams do for salaries" (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/27). NO TIME FOR SAVE THE RAMS: Save the Rams, the civic committee trying to block the Rams move to St. Louis, will not be able to address NFL owners at a special meeting on February 16 (ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER, 1/27).
Timberwolves Owner Harvey Ratner said he and his partner Marvin Wolfenson cannot afford to accept less money for their sale of the team. Ratner and Wolfenson have agreed to sell the team to Glen Taylor for $88.5M contingent on the buyout of the Target Center, which has been held up due to tax problems. Ratner called the problems "not our fault," adding "they should have done their homework before they made the proposal. ... We can't afford to accept (less). We still owe $76 million on the (Target Center). ... Somebody will pay it. I just don't know who or how" (Charley Walters, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 1/26).