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         Reports last week of Pirate ownership taking offers from
    out-of-state buyers has further fueled "the acrimony" between the
    administration of Mayor Tom Murphy and team ownership.  The
    animosity "isn't contrived," according to Ron Cook in this
    morning's PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, and "it could derail the sale"
    of the team to Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas.  Murphy,
    with Pirates Chair Vincent Sarni's approval, endorsed Rigas as
    the city's best potential buyer, but after months of
    negotiations, "there is still no sale."  Cook writes that "the
    more [Murphy] tries to pressure the Pirates' board into a deal
    for Rigas, the more damage he might be doing."  Now Murphy is
    afraid Rigas may walk away from the sale.  Cook:  "Could you
    blame Rigas?  Who needs a baseball team that badly?"  Members of
    the Pirates board claim that Rigas will not pull out, and that he
    "has a vision of the franchise's value skyrocketing" if the
    owners win the strike and a new stadium is built.  Cook writes
    Sarni "appears to have the same vision, which is why he is so
    hesitant to do a deal with Rigas that could short-change the
    current owners" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/21).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Pittsburgh Pirates

         Despite offers to join the AHL, the Charlotte Checkers will
    reportedly stay in the East Coast Hockey League, according to
    this morning's CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  Checkers Owner Felix Sabatas
    and team President Carl Scheer met with ECHL officials Monday and
    afterward said they were "ambivalent" about moving up to the AHL.
    The AHL is recruiting a number of ECHL franchises in an attempt
    to form a Southern Division.  Scheer said there was "very little
    interest" from other ECHL teams about a move, as the added cost
    estimate of at least $500,000 per year would make it difficult.
    The IHL has "informed Checkers management it wants to either
    absorb the franchise or move an expansion team to Charlotte to
    compete with the Checkers."  That could force Scheer to move from
    Independence Arena (about 9,500 capacity) to the Coliseum
    (23,000) to "head off another minor-league team looking for a
    home."  Scheer: "We're trying to find a way to protect our
    market. ... The AHL is not an automatic slam-dunk, like moving
    from the ABA to the NBA.  There are four Canadian (AHL)
    franchises in trouble" (Rick Bonnell, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/21).

    Print | Tags: AHL, ECHL, Franchises, NBA

         Lions VP Bill Ford, Jr. made a strong effort to save the
    Lions Thanksgiving Day game after Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt floated
    a proposal at the winter meetings to rotate the high-profile
    contest, according to Vartan Kupelain & Mike O'Hara of the
    DETROIT NEWS.  It was Ford's first appearance at the NFL meetings
    and he "didn't fumble the ball with a strong presentation on the
    holiday game begun by the Lions in 1934."  If Hunt's move was
    based on jealousy of the Cowboys, who also host a Thanksgiving
    game, "then look for the Lions to cut any ties with Dallas and go
    their own way."  With the franchise, Ford "believes in marketing
    and promotional programs designed to enhance the team's image and
    popularity" in Detroit, and he will try to make the Thanksgiving
    game a "bigger attraction than it already is" (Kupelian & O'Hara,
    DETROIT NEWS, 3/19).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Franchises, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
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