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The CFL announced that an agreement to buy the Ottawa Rough Riders had been reached with Chicago businessman Horn Chen. The deal is still subject to approval by the league's Board of Governors, which will vote within the next two days (Rough Riders). Tentatively, the deal includes a $335,000 payment to former owner Bruce Firestone, which will go towards paying off Firestone's list of creditors (Campbell & Hill, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/9). Chen, an owner of several Central Hockey League franchises, "specializes in turnaround play, finding investment bargains in the dregs" (Wayne Scanlan, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/9). MORE EXPANSION? Bruce Frey, the leader of the Miami group attempting to bring a CFL team to the Orange Bowl, said his group has "decided to seek an expansion franchise" instead of luring the defunct Las Vegas Posse. Frey says he is "confident" his group can lure the CFL to Miami for the '96 season (MIAMI HERALD, 3/8).
The majority purchase of Northwest Entertainment Group (NEG) by U.S. billionaire John McCaw, Jr. continues to be big news in Vancouver. "Ego, involvement, or investment, it's not exactly clear under which category 44-year old John Elroy McCaw, Jr. fits. But I have a hunch it is not ego," writes Mike Beamish in this morning's VANCOUVER SUN. The U.S. and Canadian Pacific Northwest -- "Cascadia" -- as Beamish writes, is "forging ever- increasing links in tourism, telecommunications and now sports." Beamish mention the Mariners wish to play at B.C. Stadium and the Canucks' more aggressive marketing in the U.S. A regional cable or pay per view network with hockey and basketball "seems inevitable," and with a new arena, NBA and NHL teams, a golf tournament, broadcasting and promotion, and possibly pro tennis, NEG "is being regarded as a powerful western equivalent of Madison Square Garden" (VANCOUVER SUN, 3/9). Canucks goalie Kay Whitmore on the "reclusive" McCaw: "Maybe he's like Charlie on Charlie's Angels" (Elliot Pap, VANCOUVER SUN, 3/9).
Just one week before NFL owners will meet in Phoenix to vote on the Rams move to St. Louis, the league confirmed yesterday that Fox is objecting to the team's move from Anaheim. Fox's move contradicts a "public statement" by News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch in January, and "could mean millions of dollars to each team in the league" (Himmelberg & Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/9). NFL VP of Communications Joe Browne said Fox officials issued a letter to the league in opposition to the move and sources told the L.A. TIMES the "letter demands a monetary rebate to compensate for Fox losing its 'home' team in the nation's second-ranked TV market in exchange for a team in the 18th market" (Bill Plaschke, L.A. TIMES, 3/9). Because of the "enormity" of Fox's investment in the NFL ($1.58B for NFC rights), their stance "is certain to be weighed." Fox officials told NFL owners of their opposition at the owners meeting in February (Jerry Magee, SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 3/9). Fox is also a partner in the revised World League. MOVE IN TROUBLE? Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he "will give the owners a real good understanding" of how the league views the Rams' move when the owners meet from March 12-17. Tagliabue: "I've said that two teams in L.A. is one question. One team in L.A. is the minimum" (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 3/9). 49ers President Carmen Policy said Tagliabue's recommendation "will be critical" on how owners will vote (Himmelberg & Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/9). Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere "could be guilty of the NFL's worst case of premature celebration since Leon Lett," writes Bill Plaschke of the L.A. TIMES. Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt: "You just can't have teams going different places willy-nilly" (L.A. TIMES, 3/9). Some "observers doubt the move (to St. Louis) will ever happen. Others are confident it will, though not without strife" (Ed Hinton, SI, 3/13 issue). Joe Alioto, the S.F. attorney who succesfully represented the Raiders against the NFL, predicts the Rams could win $300-400M in damages against the NFL should the league vote down a move (Vito Stellino, Baltimore SUN, 3/9). HOLLYWOOD PARK: The NFL's Browne also said that a proposal for private interest to construct a stadium near Hollywood Park for use by the Raiders "is still alive in the NFL's view" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 3/9).
There is a "senior management shuffle quietly under way in the Raptors offices." Instead of several "independent departments run by directors" reporting to team President John Bitove, the new changes create "several super-departments, giving key executives more internal clout." Dir of Corporate Sponsorships Steve Weber is likely to get a VP title and have Dir of Broadcasting Chris McCracken report to him. Dir of Ticketing Mark Lavaway will now report to VP/Finance Dan Durso. Brian Cooper is likely to be named VP in charge of Air Canada Centre, and Dir of Licensed Products Dave Strickland will report directly to team VP Isiah Thomas (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 3/8). CONSTRUCTION TO START ON TIME: A binding agreement has been signed for the Raptors to purchase the Canada Post property in downtown Toronto. Coupled with the team's recent agreement to purchase the lands surrounding the arena site, that deal will allow for construction of Air Canada Centre to begin on schedule in Fall '95. The team hopes to begin play there by '97-98 (TORONTO STAR, 3/9).