Winnipeg taxpayers are paying the interest on a $5-million loan the owners of the Jets took out in '79. The WINNIPEG SUN reported yesterday that sources also said the team has not paid back the $5M it received 16 years ago for as a franchise fee. Annual interest payments by the team are reportedly over $660,000 (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/9).
Orioles Owner Peter Angelos made his long-awaited offer to buy the Buccaneers and move them to Baltimore by reportedly offering over $200M last night to the trust in charge of selling the team. The offer came as trustees face a 5:00pm deadline today on a $160M offer from Tommy Shannon and Outback Steakhouse Execs Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan. Details of the Angelos offer were not available, but a source familiar said it was worth more than the $200M that he had offered during '94. It had been reported over the weekend that the Bucs "may be inclined" to accept the offer from the local Shannon group, and that the trustees had "discounted a bid" from Angelos out of "concerns that the NFL would not approve the Bucs relocation." But last night's lofty offer by Angelos could change that, as the trustees have "a fiduciary duty to strike the best deal" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/9). In Tampa, Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, who may make an offer today, did not rule out Angelos. Steinbrenner: "Everyone is eliminating Peter Angelos. I do not. I know the guy. I know his people. They are not just talkers." This morning, team trustees are expected to meet at Hugh Culverhouse's Tampa law office to discuss the bid, and it "appears certain" that trustees have decided not to continue owning and operating the club (Topkin & Stroud, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/9). Although trustee Steve Story had told reporters "Monday will be the day" for a deal, one source close to the negotiations said "We probably won't even emerge with a winner today. The men and the boys will be separated and then we'll see who wants to bargain" (Pugliese & Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/9). In Baltimore, Jon Morgan writes that Angelos has become "Public Enemy No. 1" in Tampa. Angelos' response: "It would be nice if people got this excited about the movement of a manufacturing plant or an entire industry out of the country" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/8). OTHER BIDDERS: A "mystery" group was added to the mix on Friday as a group led by Jacksonville attorney Terry Moore and Baltimore attorney Robert Schulman met with Bucs officials (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/8). Steinbrenner has been "quiet about his pursuit of the team," with some suggesting he is waiting for the final hour to make a bid, or will make an offer if it appears the team would be sold to out-of-town buyers (Stroud & Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/9). Possibly increasing pressure on the trust to sell the team was the fact that 72 potential creditors preserved their "rights to claim more than $170 million in loans and promises" made by the late owner of the Bucs, Hugh Culverhouse, Sr. (Gruss & Stidham, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/7). HAWKS NEXT? NBC's Will McDonough noted on "NFL Live" that the Seahawks are for sale ("NFL Live," NBC, 1/8).
Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas is still awaiting approval from MLB to start negotiations with the Pirates to buy the team. Rigas was the personal choice of Pittsburgh Mayor Murphy on November 19 to buy the team and keep them in the city. Under an agreement, if no deal is reached by January 29, the team could be sold to the highest bidder, "free of any lease obligations binding the team to Three Rivers Stadium." At a news conference with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Rigas called MLB's delay "frustrating": "We're a little impatient and we've got to get going." Pirates President Mark Sauer said baseball owners have been "preoccupied" with other issues, but that the team "was doing everything it can to expedite the approval process." Specter said he would take the matter up with acting Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf (Jon Schmitz, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/6).
Former Oakland Raider Ken Stabler will team with singer Jimmy Buffett and move the CFL Las Vegas Posse to Birmingham, AL, for '95, according to the Baltimore CFL's owner Jim Speros. Speros says he is "advising the group": "Adding well-known people like Kenny Stabler and Jimmy Buffett is exactly what our league needs to do. ... The team would draw 50,000 people just to hear Buffett sing the national anthem before the games there" (Marty York, Toronto GLOBE AND MAIL, 1/6). Milwaukee investor Marvin Fishman said his bid to land the Posse failed because a proposed lease at Milwaukee County Stadium was never finalized. Fishman did not rule out a future bid to move a CFL team to Milwaukee (Charles Gardner, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 1/7). EXPANSION NOTES: Speros calls Salt Lake City a "strong" candidate for '96 expansion and that Connecticut is "just about a shoo-in" to join the league in '96. The team will play in the Yale Bowl. San Antonio, Orlando and Portland were also mentioned as candidates for expansion (Marty York, Toronto GLOBE AND MAIL, 1/6).