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ITT Corp., owner of Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and the Rangers, posted a first quarter profits increase of 13%. Although the company's $1.09B acquisition of MSG was not completed in time to be included in first quarter results, the company's profit gains were led by "double-digit percentage gains from it's manufacturing, hotel and entertainment operations" (Paul Tharp, N.Y. POST, 4/20). According to this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, the company is "in the midst of an ambitious restructuring that analysts say will lead to the company being split into three separate companies," based on divisions of insurance, manufacturing and entertainment. Sources say that ITT is "likely to take such a step by midyear" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/20).
Nordiques Media Relations Dir Jean Martineau denied yesterday that the team has "already been sold to Denver interests." Martineau: "There is a lot of interest in the Nordiques by business groups in several American cities, but, as of this day, there is nothing signed." Martineau was responding to a story in Tuesday's ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS that Comsat Video Enterprises, owner of the NBA Nuggets, has negotiated a deal to buy the Nordiques if the team decides to leave Quebec (CP/OTTAWA CITIZEN, 4/20).
Adelphia Communication Chair John Rigas "threw the Pirates a curveball" yesterday, according to this morning's PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Rigas informed the team's investment bank that he would leave his "old offer" of $85M on the table after saying two weeks ago that he was going to "adjust his bid for the team." His move "perplexed" team owners who began to discuss taking the team off the market or selling it to someone else. That "someone else" may be FL-based developer Norton Herrick, who led an effort for the city of Orlando to land an expansion team. Herrick "is hot" after the Pirates with Orlando "threatening to withdraw" financing for a new baseball stadium unless a team is found. Herrick said he would pay up to $125M and would be willing to keep the team in Pittsburgh if the city promises to build a new stadium immediately. Herrick: "If we can't make it work in Pittsburgh, I'll bring it to Orlando. ... I don't care if I make a lot of money. But losing $40 million takes all the fun out of ownership." With Rigas refusing to adjust his bid, Pirate ownership "may take Herrick more seriously if for no other reason than to force" Rigas or the city to give them the deal they want. Ownership wants Rigas to cover this year's losses, but Rigas is only willing to "pick up" the first $13.8M with the team to sharing losses above that (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE, 4/20).
The Rangers are granting a "reprieve" to "bonded" ticket holders who missed the deadline to renew. Fans who failed to renew their season-tickets by February 1 face paying a "seat option" of between $500 to $2,500 to regain purchasing rights. But Rangers President Tom Schieffer said they have decided to extend the renewal deadline to May 12, and although ticket holders are not guaranteed to get the same seats, the team will "allow them to purchase similar seats until May 12 without having to pay seat-option charges" (Christopher Ave, FORT WORTH STAR- TELEGRAM, 4/20). In Montreal, the Expos have sold only 18,000 of the 46,000 available tickets for opening day. Expos VP Marketing/ Communications Richard Morency also said that group ticket sales are down. Morency: "Usually we sell about 300,000 tickets a year through group sales. We are at about 110,000 to 115,000 right now, but it is still early." The good news is that Pharmaprix, the Quebec chain of Shoppers Drug Mart, Ltd., has agreed to purchase 2,000 season tickets for 1995 (Robert MacLeod, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/20).