SBD/1/Franchises

MAY DAY DEADLINE MEANS "MAYDAY, MAYDAY!" FOR CRASHING JETS

     Talks to keep the Jets in Winnipeg "continued during the
weekend but no one appeared especially optimistic a deal could be
salvaged by midnight tonight -- the deadline given by Jets owners
to complete an ownership transfer and arena deal," according to
this morning's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman arrived in Winnipeg over the weekend with a police escort
after fans "responded angrily" to reports that a deal between
Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow and the Manitoba Entertainment
Complex, a local ownership group seeking majority interest in the
team and a new arena, was "scuttled" due to league-imposed
conditions.  That leaves it up to Shenkarow "to cut a last-minute
deal with government and other private interests in an effort to
gain financing for a new hockey arena."  Bettman met with
Shenkarow, Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon, federal Human Resources
Minister Lloyd Axworthy, Winnipeg Mayor Susan Thompson and local
business leaders, after which officials "were pinning their
hopes" on Axworthy's ability to convince the federal government
to consider a C$30M contribution toward the arena and a C$16M
operating loan for the team (David Roberts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
5/1).
     CAN IT BE DONE?  MEC Chair John Loewen:  "Everyone is
feeling much better about the short- and medium-term future of
the team -- it's the longer-term prospects that we are trying to
deal with now" (CANADIAN PRESS, 5/1).
     BARRY, BARRY, HE'S OUR MAN:  If there is a deal, according
to Scott Taylor and John Douglas of the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, "it
will be with Shenkarow's cooperation.  The ownership will not be
changing; it will be expanding, with Shenkarow likely staying on
as the club's governor to the NHL."  Government loans of C$44M --
 C$14M each from the province and the city and C$16M from Ottawa
-- will reduce MEC's annual interest payments on the building
from C$6M to about C$2.5M (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/1).  MEC's Bob
Silver:  "The NHL wants to see leadership, someone who wants to
play hockey. ... We need a player and Barry Shenkarow knows the
hockey game at the corporate level better than anyone in
Winnipeg" (John Douglas, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/29).
     FAX FIGHT:  The NHL released a copy of the April 26 letter
from NHL Senior VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash to the MEC, in
response to "erroneous reports" that the NHL's conditions were
new to the group.  The release notes that the conditions were
first laid out in an April 13 meeting between Pash and the MEC
(NHL).  In Winnipeg, Scott Taylor writes that Bettman was
"ravaged" by Loewen and Thompson for trying to make sure that MEC
has enough money to buy the team, build the arena and operate
both for 10 years.  "There is still some question today as to
whether the MEC's ownership group is capable of doing that and
it's not Bettman's fault" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/29).
     POINTS SOUTH, AND WEST?  Should the Jets move, the
Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE reports United Healthcare Corp. Founder
and former CEO Richard Burke emerged as the "first serious
bidder" to bring the team to the Twin Cities.  Any new hockey
owner in MN will have to negotiate a lease with T-Wolves Owner
Glen Taylor and Ogden Corp., which manages the Target Center.
Taylor, who said he has not aligned with any possible MN groups,
was open to the idea of joining an NHL ownership group.  Other
possible bidders:  A group led by former Nuggest President Tim
Lieweke; the Naegele family, owners of a billboard advertising
"empire"; and stockbroker Ed Villaume (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis
STAR TRIBUNE, 4/29).  IHL Knights President Jay Adler denied
reports that the Jets were headed to Atlanta, citing his
exclusive lease with The Omni for '95-96.  According to Louis
Mayeaux of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, Turner Broadcasting "would
like an NHL team for Atlanta, but not before a new arena is built
to replace the Omni" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/28).  ESPN's Linda
Cohn reported that if the Jets move, "word is the league would
like it to stay West.  Portland and Phoenix among the sites
mentioned."  Cohn reported that Minnesota "may not have deep
enough pockets to satisfy the NHL" ("SportsCenter," 4/28).
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