Kevin Vaughn, an investment advisor who "struck out" in an attempt to buy the team last fall, has reportedly talked with officials from Wertheim Schroeder, the New York investment bank which is handling the Pirates' sale. Vaughn, the CEO of Sterling Acquisitions, said he is "still working on assembling a group of investors." Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas, who had offered $85.15M for the team, is "still weighing changes" to his offer to make it more acceptable to Pirates ownership. Vaughn is among "three known prospective buyers" to join the process since Rigas' bid came into question. Other suitors include Penguins owner Howard Baldwin and Capital Baseball Inc., a Northern VA group that is bidding for an expansion team (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE, 3/1).
The Ottawa Rough Riders lost their most promising ownership candidate yesterday when AL-based businessman Elliot Maisel reconsidered a tentative deal to buy the club after looking at a league audit, according to this morning's OTTAWA CITIZEN. A CFL source told the paper Maisel backed out after and finding "the financial picture of the team is worse than Maisel and the league first imagined." The team, which owes about C$1M to "unsecured" creditors and C$500,000 to the league, has already spent another C$500,000 from funds earned through season ticket sales for next season. The team also has committed to C$500,000 in sponsorship deals for the '95 and '96 seasons. A meeting scheduled for this week between Maisel and CFL Commissioner Larry Smith has apparently been cancelled. While the deadline for the sale of the team was yesterday, the team "really has until March 9-10," when the CFL's Board of Governors meets in Saskatoon, Sask. Before the CFL meetings next week, The league "will likely" approach Chicago restauranteur Horn Chen and FL developer Norton Herrick. "If an owner can't be found by next week, it is likely the 119-year-old franchise will fold, or, at least, have operations suspended for the 1995 season" (Don Campbell, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/1).
The average price for Senators tickets will drop once the team moves into its new arena next January, the team announced yesterday. Ottawa fans will pay from C$15 to C$97 a ticket to see a game after the team moves from its current Civic Centre home to the 18,500-seat Palladium. While the high end tickets will be costlier at the new facility and the low-end tickets cheeper, average prices will drop. The average ticket price for seats in the new facility will be C$43.56, compared to the C$48.62 average fans will pay for next season's games in the 10,500-seat Civic Centre. This year, the Senators' average ticket price is C$46.20. Only 430 seats at the Palladium will be available for C$15; after that, the next lowest price will be C$23.99 a ticket. Senators' Owner Rod Bryden points out that the team's prices at the new facility are lower than 16 of the 26 NHL teams' prices this season. Bryden stressed that Senators tickets include a C$2 surcharge to repay the Ontario Government for building access to the new arena. Bryden: "Our objective is to deliver a wining NHL hockey team in a world-class facility, at a price our fans feel is fair and that they can afford" (Michael Prentice, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/1).
"One of the worst-kept secrets in Twin Cities sports was made official" yesterday when Timberwolves GM Jack McCloskey announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Speculation had existed for months that McCloskey, nearing the end of a 3-year contract, would not return next season. Assistant GM Kevin McHale has been considered the "heir apparent." But last night, McHale "deflected talk of a promotion": "Being a general manager in the NBA was never a goal of mine. When you say it, it's not like bells and whistles go off in my head. It's way too premature to discuss it." McHale reportedly turned down recent "feelers" from Raptors GM Isiah Thomas to become Toronto's first head coach (Steve Aschburner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/1).