SBD/29/Franchises

PIRATE OWNERS TAKEN TO TASK BY LOCAL COLUMNIST

     The Pirates ownership, which bought the team in 1985, has
"gone from the men who saved baseball for Pittsburgh to the men
who might ruin it," writes Bob Smizik in this morning's
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE.  The team has recently begun to
entertain offers from out-of-state buyers, and Smizik writes that
the owners' "intentions, once seemingly so noble, look
significantly darker today."  He criticizes the group for taking
on too much debt and for their slow sale of the team -- "no one
is even certain they still want to sell," as they have become
"excessively slow to come to agreement" with prospective buyer,
Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas.  Smizik: "These men
have outlived their usefulness with the Pirates.  They should
have gone quietly long ago" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/29).
     TICKETS, WHO NEEDS TICKETS?  The Pirates have sold 27,000
tickets for Monday's opener against the Expos, close to 60% of
capacity at Three Rivers Stadium.  Because of the strike, the
team has "all but eliminated most off-season advertising," and
did not run TV and radio ads describing their reduced ticket
policy -- half price for their first 20 games -- until ten days
ago (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/29).  Pittsburgh City Council
President Jim Ferlo is calling on fans to boycott Pirates games
as a protest to ownership's delay in selling to local buyer Rigas
(AP, 3/29).
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Franchises, Pittsburgh Pirates

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