SBD/24/Franchises

RAPTORS BITOVE FAMILY FACES SUIT FROM CANADIAN GOVERNMENT

     Raptors President John Bitove Jr. could "take the stand" as
early as today in a C$21.5M lawsuit by the federal government
against his father's company (David Israelson TORONTO STAR,
4/24).  John Bitove, Sr., who owns Bitove Corp., a food service
firm with interest in the Raptors, is being sued by the Canadian
government for over C$21M in back rent from food outlets at
Toronto's Pearson Int'l Airport.  Reports claim Bitove used his
"political ties" in 1988 to have former Prime Minister Brian
Mulroney "intervene" in a deal with the Government regarding his
Pearson's food franchises.  Terms of a lease for the franchise
"included a rent formula that has allowed his company to pay no
rent in the last three years."  John Bitove Jr. helped negotiate
the lease (Paul Waldie, FINANCIAL POST, 4/22).
     STADIUM CONTROVERSY:  The Raptors "should hear" today
whether their plan for a C$120M-plus arena can more forward
through the city's planning process.  The team has "run into a
wall of opposition" from the city's land-use committee  (David
Israelson, TORONTO STAR, 4/24).
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