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Negotiations between the Angels and City of Anaheim for a new stadium "have been put on the back-burner," according to this morning's L.A. TIMES. Angels President Richard Brown said he continues to receive "feelers from other cities interested in attracting the team." Brown said the Angels and the city are still about $4M a year in debt service apart on a deal for a $215M, 43,000-seat facility, which the team hopes build next to Anaheim Stadium by '99. The team has asked the city for concessions in their current lease, which would let them retain more stadium revenue, but the city will only amend it if the team makes a long-term commitment to the new stadium. Brown: "We still have plenty of time to reach an agreement to have a stadium ready for the 1999 season" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 4/27).
As the May 1 deadline by Jets Owner Barry Shankerow to sell to a local owner approaches, officials in Winnipeg are scrambling to work a deal to keep the team in Manitoba. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling from Minneapolis to Atlanta. ELECTION OPTIMISM: On Tuesday, the Progressive Conservative party retained a majority in the Manitoba provincial elections, increasing the likelihood "that the NHL Jets would remain in Winnipeg and not bolt for Minnesota or other parts south," according to Jay Weiner in the Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE. However, Weiner reports that "big problems" still must be resolved before the deadline, namely determining whether the government is willing to pay for a new arena, and if Manitoba Entertainment Complex (MEC), the group seeking to buy the team, has enough money to close a deal. Jets officials told city leaders Tuesday that the NHL was "concerned" MEC might not be able to gain NHL approval because of lack of funds (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/26). FROM ABOVE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told David Shoalts in Toronto that the NHL "wants assurances" from local governments that the Jets will "remain healthy and in Winnipeg for a minimum of 10 years or it would have to look at moving the team." Bettman was not specific, but "left the impression" that certain levels of luxury box seating and season tickets are key (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/27). MEC BUYOUT: In Winnipeg, the FREE PRESS' John Douglas reports that MEC is willing to let the city and province "buy their way out" of their obligation to cover team losses in exchange for the governments' 36% share in the club -- estimated to be worth C$18M (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/27).
Pirates ownership made a "startling about face" yesterday and will try to sell the Pirates to Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas by early May. Reports as late as yesterday had team ownership contemplating taking the team off the market after Rigas refused to increase his $85.15M bid for the team. But yesterday Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy "changed the owners' mind" by promising an additional $7-8M in city-backed funding. Team owners also found out at their quarterly meeting yesterday that the team "is nearly out of money and another loan backed personally by the owners was needed" to keep the team in business. Pirates Chair Vincent Sarni: "We're very optimistic for an agreement within a week to 10 days" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/27).