SBD/18/Franchises

MINNESOTA PREPARES AS WINNIPEG'S JETS DEADLINE APPROACHES

     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).
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