SBD/17/Franchises

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR DIGS IN TO KEEP DEVILS FROM EXITING 16W

     NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman "is maneuvering" to keep the
Devils from accepting a lucrative deal to move to Nashville,
according to Richard Sandomir in this morning's N.Y. TIMES.
Sandomir reports that Whitman plans to meet with the NJ Sports
and Exposition Authority today, and has assigned her husband, who
is an investment banker, to "devise a proposal to satisfy the
Devils, without giving away the store."  In an interview Monday
night, Whitman said she would consider adding more luxury boxes
to the Brendan Byrne Arena.  The Nashville Metro Council last
night approved a resolution giving any team that moves to the
city's new arena attractive lease incentives, including:  A $20M
relocation fee plus yearly rent of $750,000 or 5% of ticket
sales; 100% of game ticket revenue, 100% of radio-TV revenue and
97.5% of luxury suite revenue; revenues from game-day
merchandise, parking and concessions, scoreboard, sideboard, and
50% of all other arena advertising.  In addition, Sandomir
reports that "privately, the league looks favorably upon the
possibility of the Nashville Devils.  It would ease the three-
team overcrowding" in the New York market, "and let the NHL
establish the first major league sports team in Nashville" (N.Y.
TIMES, 5/17).
     MUSIC CITY CHIMES IN:  By a 21-12 vote, the Nashville Metro
Council approved a measure last night allowing the arena to sell
beer in the new arena after opposition from some conservative
Christian ministers.  Councilman Ronnie Stein:  "I have been told
our window of opportunity for the NHL is only three or four
months wide.  And at that time, it may close for years into the
future" (Mark Ippolito, Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/17).  However,
while local politicos are enthusiastic about attracting a pro
sports team, Nashville's pursuit of an NHL franchise "continues
to be greeted with something less than enthusiasm by many sports-
minded citizens," writes columnist David Climer of the
TENNESSEAN.  Climer reports that many residents are "shocked" by
the cost of NHL tickets and are "concerned" about downtown
parking (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/16).
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