SBD/16/Franchises

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  • DOWN ON THE FARM: MAJOR HAPPENINGS IN THE MINOR LEAGUES

         GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:  Nashville Sounds President & GM
    Larry Schmittou will go ahead with his Michael Jordan ads this
    season, even though Jordan has officially retired from baseball.
    Schmittou:  "Heck.  I paid too much money for those ads not to
    use them."  Schmittou hired an ad agency three weeks ago to
    produce four 30-second spots when Jordan was expected to play for
    the Sounds (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 3/15).
         BISONS SETTING NEW STANDARDS:  The AAA Buffalo Bisons this
    season will become the first professional baseball organization
    to use the "SportSoft/SQL" ticketing system.  The system,
    designed by HILL Arts & Entertainment, will bring all the team's
    ticket transactions and information in-house.  The team claims
    immediate benefits will be better customer service and lower
    rates, while long-term gains include direct mail and database
    marketing (Bisons).
         EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT:  The AHL Syracuse Crunch
    are sponsoring a program called "Newspapers In Education" this
    season.  With the program, the team donates over 20,000
    newspapers to area schools.  Teachers then use them to teach
    reading, math and current events.  Crunch players also go to the
    schools to talk with students about the rewards of working hard
    and staying in school (Crunch).
         HERSHEY DOESN'T TAKE AMERICAN EXPRESS:  Hersheypark Arena
    and the AHL Hershey Bears have announced the arrival of a new
    Hershey Bears VISA card.  The card features an aerial view of the
    arena and offers discounts on such things as season tickets and
    admission to Hersheypark (Bears).
         HERE'S A STORY, OF A TEAM NAMED AEROS ... The IHL Houston
    Aeros offered "Brady Night at the Aeros" last week.  Susan Olsen,
    who played the Cindy on the original TV show, was on hand.
    Anyone attending the game whose name was Mike, Carol, Greg,
    Marsha, Peter, Jan, Cindy, Bobby, Alice, or Brady received a
    ticket discount (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/10).
         HOW 'BOUT THEM GRIZZLIES:  The IHL Denver Grizzlies were on
    a pace to set a Denver pro hockey attendance record during their
    game last night against the Kansas City Blades.  The Grizzlies
    will surpass the NHL Colorado Rockies' previous record of 391,535
    in '79-80.  The team has also sold over $1 million in merchandise
    (IHL).
    

    Print | Tags: AHL, American Express, Chicago Bears, Colorado Rockies, Franchises, NHL, Visa
  • LURIE SELLS OFF COMPANY'S STOCK; SAYS IT WON'T AFFECT EAGLES

         Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie has recently sold $35M worth of
    stock he owns in Harcourt General Publishing Co., raising
    questions about his financial situation, according to the
    PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS.  Is "Lurie experiencing cash-flow
    problems that could affect his long-term operation of the
    franchise or is he simply seizing an opportunity to catch up on
    the huge debt he incurred with the purchase [of the team] and
    rising interest rates?"  Lurie says the sale has "had no effect
    on financial decisions related to the football operation" (Kevin
    Mulligan, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/15).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Philadelphia Eagles
  • NFL OWNERS PULL IN REIGNS ON GEORGIA'S MOVE TO ST. LOUIS

         NFL owners voted 21-3 to reject the Rams move to St. Louis.
    Only the Bucs and the Bengals voted with the Rams, with six teams
    abstaining.  The vote left the Rams "to contemplate legal action
    and another year of football somewhere in Southern California"
    (Simers & Plaschke, L.A. TIMES, 3/16).  The owners, "especially
    the old guard,"  voted to "seemingly and uncharacteristically
    defend such old fashioned principles as faith, loyalty, and
    ethics," feeling that they had to "draw a line" to prevent
    "poorly managed teams" from moving to new cities.  49ers VP
    Dwight Clark: "We didn't want to reward mediocrity" (Steve
    Bisheff, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/16).  NFL Commissioner Paul
    Tagliabue said opposition was based on three main issues:  The
    Rams' unwillingness to share a large percentage of the $74M in
    PSL money they raised in St. Louis; the objection of Fox to
    losing a team in the 2nd-largest TV market; and the Rams' refusal
    to contribute to a "non-profit trust fund" the league wanted to
    aid in stadium renovations (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST,
    3/16).  In what "sounded like the opening salvo for an
    anticipated court battle," Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere said,
    "I'm not going to forget what has gone on here" (Len Pasquarelli,
    ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/16).       NO DEAL:  The Rams offered to
    pay owners 24% of the PSL money, approximately $26M, but "failed
    to meet the other conditions" (Clark Judge, SAN JOSE MERCURY
    NEWS, 3/16).  Frontiere called the league's demands "arbitrary
    and capricious and not based on precedent" (Kent Pullian, KANSAS
    CITY STAR, 3/16).   Oilers Owner Bud Adams said after studying
    the Rams/St. Louis deal, "it became obvious that the Rams were
    not oppressed, but opportunists" (Plaschke, L.A. TIMES, 3/16).
    NFL officials went to Rams President John Shaw late Tuesday night
    "in a last-ditch effort to hammer out an amicable settlement,"
    but Shaw rejected their offer and told the league "he expected to
    have the move vetoed" (Len Pasquarelli, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
    3/16).  Yesterday, Shaw "sounded as though the league had
    mounted" a campaign to oppose the move, and used Fox's opposition
    as an example.  Shaw: "Fox had no opposition to this several
    weeks ago" (Dave Caldwell, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/16).  Shaw:
    "I don't think they (NFL) had any interest in negotiating"
    (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/16).  The move would have hit each NFL
    owner "deep in the pocket ... perhaps by two sources," a rebate
    to Fox and a higher salary cap based on St. Louis' PSL "windfall"
    (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 3/16).  LEGAL EAGLES:  Frontiere said
    she would consult with groups in St. Louis before making a
    decision on whether to file a lawsuit, but later, "in what may
    have been a slip of the tongue," she said, "I'm afraid you will
    have to wait and see what the court will decide" (KANSAS CITY
    STAR, 3/16).  Shaw described himself as "extremely confident" the
    team would win a lawsuit against the league (Ira Miller, SAN
    FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 3/16).  But ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported
    that NFL litigator Frank Rothman "told the owners that they now
    have some rulings that work in their favor.  Most recently, and
    critically in this case, the Minneapolis U.S. District Court
    blocked the Minnesota Timberwolves from moving to New Orleans"
    ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/16).  Tagliabue was hopeful to avoid
    litigation, saying the league was "not trying to be
    confrontational.  We are trying to be fair."  But "he was vague
    on the next step" (R.B. Fallstrom, WASHINGTON POST, 3/16).  The
    league is hoping the Rams will reopen negotiations, as "through
    conference calls and faxes, an outcome can be reached in days"
    (L.A. TIMES, 3/16).
         BEHIND THE VOTE:  Cardinals General Counsel Tom Guilfoil, on
    Tagliabue's recommendation to vote against: "I've always said the
    commissioner might not have enough votes to ensure a move, but
    he'll always have enough support to kill one" (Steve Schoenfeld,
    ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/16).  Save-the-Rams Chair Leigh Steinberg:
    "They're scared to death about leaving Los Angeles to the mercies
    of Al Davis" (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/16).  Bills
    Owner Ralph Wilson:  "We have rules and regulations and sometimes
    we have to live up to those" (ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER, 3/16).
    Browns Owner Art Modell:  "I'm a football man, No. 1, and No. 2,
    I'm a TV man.  Having an NFC team in Los Angeles is critical to
    the NFC package" (S.D. UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/16).
         WHAT TO DO IN ST. LOU?  Officials in St. Louis said "it was
    possible" that FANS, Inc. might have to return the $74M it raised
    in PSL sales "until a resolution is in sight" (KANSAS CITY STAR,
    3/16).  Frontiere to fans in St. Louis: "I need them to believe
    in me.  It will make me stronger" (Bernie Miklasz, ST. LOUIS
    POST-DISPATCH, 3/16).
         MEDIA REAX:  In L.A., Bill Plaschke calls on Frontiere to
    sell the team:  "All they (NFL) want you to do is leave something
    behind besides a stench. ... Shut up, Georgia.  Pay the money and
    get out" (L.A. TIMES, 3/16).  In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli writes
    that Tagliabue's "sudden empathy with Rams fans is ironic," as
    the club has not enjoyed much support over the last few years.
    Pasquarelli:  "Fox's concern is also dubious, since the network
    was forced last year to black out all of the Rams' home games
    locally" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/16).  In St. Louis, Bernie
    Miklasz writes, "The NFL recently sent a letter to Fox, asking
    the network if it wanted that rebate if the Rams moved!
    (Collusion, anyone?)" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/16).  Stephanie
    Huff, a marketing exec in St. Louis: "It's a good thing the NFL
    doesn't have an embassy in St. Louis.  We would burn it down"
    (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/16).
         CAN YOU GO HOME AGAIN?  Tagliabue admitted the problem the
    Rams would have in returning to Anaheim in '95:  "Once the
    bridges have been burned and people get turned off ... it is
    difficult to get it back" (NEW YORK TIMES, 3/16).
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Edmonton Oilers, ESPN, Franchises, Minnesota Timberwolves, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Walt Disney, Wilson Sporting Goods
  • PITTSBURGH MAYOR "OUTRAGED" OVER VIRGINIA INTERLOPERS

         Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said he is "outraged" by reports
    that Wertheim Schroeder, the investment bank handling the sale of
    the Pirates, is soliciting bids from groups interested in moving
    the team.  Murphy:  "Investment bankers from New York have no
    loyalty to Pittsburgh.  Their only allegiance is to the almighty
    dollar and making as large a fee as possible on the sale of our
    team."  Yesterday, the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reported that
    Wertheim Schroeder was delaying a decision on an offer by
    Pittsburgh-based Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas to
    allow other bidders to come forward, including Virginia Baseball,
    a group interested in moving the team to the DC suburbs
    (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/16).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • S.I. EXAMINES THE REGGIE LEWIS CASE

         Fallout from the WALL STREET JOURNAL article on the death of
    Reggie Lewis continues, as Jack McCallum of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
    examines the story's credibility.  Despite the attention given to
    allegations that Lewis was a drug-user, the "most serious"
    questions raised by the story are that the Celtics "may have
    allowed financial and public-relation concerns to take precedence
    over Lewis's medical care," and that the NBA's drug policy failed
    to display "an accurate assessment of his condition."  Donna
    Harris Lewis, the wife of the basketball star, was interviewed
    for SI's piece. Regarding the Journal's claims that Lewis refused
    drug testing, Harris Lewis says that if doctors would have "told
    us this was something that had to be done, Reggie would've
    complied."  Harris Lewis also states that he had submitted to a
    test when taking out a life insurance policy with Prudential
    Insurance Company in '90.  SI also spoke with other medical
    experts who support the diagnosis of a common cold virus leading
    to Lewis's death, and not cocaine abuse.  Nugget forward Reggie
    Williams, Lewis' high school teammate, said Lewis never thought
    about drugs and that "he wouldn't even drink a beer."   The
    Journal story could have consequences to the Celtics, as a
    "who's-in-charge-here atmosphere pervades the club, the
    consequences of which were evident in a disastrous press
    conference" held last week (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 3/20 issue).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Celtics, Franchises, NBA, Sports Illustrated, Time Warner
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