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MINNESOTA PREPARES AS WINNIPEG'S JETS DEADLINE APPROACHES
Published April 18, 1995
As the May 1 deadline approaches for Manitoba Entertainment Complex to purchase Barry Shenkarow's shares of the NHL Jets and for the Winnipeg City Council to approve a new arena site approaches, the Twin Cities are preparing for a possible return of the NHL. In Sunday's Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, Jay Weiner examines the struggle to keep the Jets in Manitoba, and the possibility of moving the team South. MEC Chair John Loewen says the chances of a deal being worked out are "65-35," in favor of Winnipeg. In a sidebar, Weiner breaks down the issue. If the Jets are sold to a Canadian buyer rather than American interests, "they could lose out" on $21M because of the devalued Canadian currency and higher demand for the team in the U.S. The value of the franchise was set at C$50M in '92, which is the basis of what Shenkarow will receive for his 64%, should he sell to MEC. In Minneapolis, it is estimated a deal for the Jets could bring a total of US$70M (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 4/16). NHL General Counsel Jeff Pash, who was in Winnipeg to meet with the interested parties last week: "We want to keep the Canadian teams in Canada." Pash says U.S. interest in teams "can be addressed through expansion at the appropriate time" (Tim Campbell, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/15). JET WASH: In Toronto, Greg Reekie writes the chances of a Jets move to MN "are in the 80% range. ... The accepted wisdom had been that the league wanted to keep franchises where they are in order to leave all potential expansion sites open." But since no group in MN seems willing to pay the likely $75M expansion fee, it makes sense to move the Jets. Meanwhile, Atlanta and Denver would remain open for $75M expansion franchises, "both of which are very likely" (TORONTO SUN, 4/16)....MN officials want the $20M or more reaped from the sale of the land that held the old Met Center to be applied to the purchase of a new hockey team (Sid Hartman, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 4/15)....Former NBA Nuggets President Tim Lieweke, who was heading Denver's Pepsi Center project for Comsat before he resigned last month, is reportedly interested in being involved in a MN ownership group (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 4/15)....Fans in Winnipeg have created a drive to save the Jets that features a page on the internet. The address: http://www.infoman.mb. ca/infoman/savejets.html (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 4/16).