SBD/20/Franchises

RIGAS-MORTIS SETTING IN ON PIRATES DEAL? HERRICK MOVES IN

     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).
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