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FANS, Inc. spokesperson Tom Eagleton confirmed yesterday that the same three issues that separated the Rams and the St. Louis group before Christmas remain unresolved. The issues, guarantees on permanent seat licenses (PSLs), guarantees on club- seat and luxury box sales, and practice and office facility sites, continue to prevent a Rams move to St. Louis. Eagleton said he remains optimistic that a deal will be reached, but he was concerned that the "prime selling time for PSLs is all but gone." Eagleton: "We've already passed up the best sales season of the year. Pre-Christmas, and then this time that we're in right now -- the playoffs, the Super Bowl. These are football- intense times ... and that would have been a good time to sell stuff." FANS hopes to raise $60-$70M through sales of PSLs (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/4).
HOW'S IT PLAYING IN PEORIA? The Blues' minor league affiliation with the IHL Peoria Rivermen is in question, according to a report in the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. At the "urging" of new coach & GM Mike Keenan, the Blues have explored options with the AHL. Last week, the team sent a letter to Labatt Breweries, which is seeking to purchase a new AHL franchise for Moncton, New Brunswick. Rivermen Owner Bruce Saurs: "Nothing would surprise me. But I have to admit this is a shock." But Blues President Jack Quinn maintains that no move is planned. Still, several NHL teams have growing concerns that the IHL "has become a veteran-dominated operation unfit for player development" (Jeff Gordon, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/4). IS LOCKOUT CHILLING CHL ATTENDANCE IN TEXAS? Despite hopes to capitalize on the NHL work stoppage, two CHL teams in TX have seen their attendance decrease. The Dallas Freeze and the Fort Worth Fire "are playing to the smallest home crowds in their three-year history." The Freeze is averaging only 2,638 fans per game, last in the seven-team CHL, and the Fire is drawing 3,491, down from 4,017 of last year. Sean Heilbron, Dir of Media Relations for the Freeze: "We thought the NHL lockout would help us. ... It may have hurt us. The Stars created such a hockey fever in Dallas, and that fever has kind of waned." CHL spokesperson Jason Rothwell believed league attendance would improve in TX, but added: "It lost some recognition when the NHL went out" (Terry Egan, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/1).
Orlando pencil manufacturer Gino Pala will not be able to submit a bid for the Buccaneers until after January 9, the "day team trustees are to accept or reject a reported $150-million bid from Tampa developer Tom Shannon and two Outback Steakhouse executives." Bucs officials had hoped Pala would make an offer sometime this week, but Pala said he needed more time to "consult" members of his limited partnership. Pala: "We can't get it done by Monday. We still plan to make an offer, but it will be the later part of next week" (Rick Stroud, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/4). OTHER BUYERS, PLEASE STEP UP: Two other bidders willing to keep the team in Tampa may be ready to make a formal bid for the team this week. Palm Beach financier Malcolm Glazer's son, Bryan, said his father's group hopes to have a bid in by Monday, but that "the existing situation with the stadium does not make it an easy deal" (Rick Stroud, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/4). MA- based businessman Socrates Babacas arrived in Tampa on Monday, and "does not plan on leaving until he owns the team." He said he is prepared to make an offer in the $175M range to buy the team and is planning on building a $250M stadium with help of local government. There are questions concerning Babacas' "credibility," as he had previously expressed an interest in buying the Cowboys and the Patriots, but "never came close to a deal" (Pugliese & Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/4).
The sale of the Warriors will be delayed at least two weeks to "allow the NBA to complete its investigation" into prospective owner Christopher Cohan's financial background. Cohan, a cable TV "magnate," had been scheduled to take over the team today from the current group, led by Jim Fitzgerald and team President Dan Finnane. Finnane said the delay "should not be construed as a indication that Cohan does not have the financial backing to pay the $138M price tag." Cohan reportedly "structured the financing of the purchase so that it involves a variety of business interests," and the NBA, not "wanting its teams connected to anyone of ill repute," must check on everyone associated with those business interests. Finnane: "I'd bet heavily on the deal being approved. It is just a matter of finishing up the investigation" (Ric Bucher, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/4).