SBD/18/Franchises

MONEY'S IN PLACE FOR JETS TO STAY: WILL OTTAWA BUCK UP?

     With sources claiming that private investors trying to keep
the Jets in Winnipeg have reached their C$60M cash goal, the
potential deal "dangled" by a C$17M thread last night, as
Canadian federal officials "balked" at coming up with C$37M for a
new arena, according to John Douglas in this morning's WINNIPEG
FREE PRESS.  Jets Owner Barry Shenkarow set a deadline for noon
today for local investors to get a deal together, or the team
will be sold to a MN group led by health care entrepreneur
Richard Burke.  Yesterday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister
Andre Ouellet said that the city could expect to receive only
C$20M of the C$37M needed from the Federal government to build an
arena. However, Human Resources Minister Lloyd Axworthy's staff
"worked into the night negotiating with the prime minister's
office" in an effort to get the full amount  (WINNIPEG FREE
PRESS, 5/18).  In Vancouver, Jim Taylor reports that the Federal
government will contribute a C$25M grant today, with a C$12M loan
"that will be forgiven if not repaid over the next 10 years"
(Vancouver PROVINCE, 5/18).
     STEEL CAGE MATCH:  Last night, "in a meeting that more
resembled a World Wrestling Federation main event," the Winnipeg
City Council voted 13-3 pick up the C$37M tab for a third of the
arena cost.  John Douglas reports that "packed galleries cheered
and gave high-fives to councilors who supported the public
funding of a new arena while booing and waving goodbye at the
three politicians who voted against the plan."  Earlier in the
week, Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon pledged C$37M in provincial
support for the new, C$111M, 16,000-seat arena (WINNIPEG FREE
PRESS, 5/18).
     WILL THE NHL PUT THE KIBOSH ON THE PEG?  Despite a report
yesterday by Minneapolis' Fox affiliate, Jets Owner Barry
Shenkarow says the league will not reject the local offer to keep
the team in Winnipeg.  The FREE PRESS' Scott Taylor reports,
"Shenkarow said the league would have no problem with any
decision he made."  Minneapolis' Fox station ran a report "that
suggested the league would turn down any deal to keep the Jets in
Winnipeg because the league "did not believe the team could be
viable" in Winnipeg.  NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus
said the league would not comment on the situation, but did say
that they would "stand by" a press release issued by Shenkarow
last week that detailed the possibility of a local buyer stepping
in to save the team (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/18).
     DO YOU TAKE THIS TEAM?  WE DO:  2,500 fans paid C$100 apiece
last night for a Jets fund-raiser held at the Winnipeg Convention
Center, including a couple to be married next month that gave up
their honeymoon money to keep the Jets in town.  Bride-to-be
Karen Dowhan: "We just broke into our wedding money and said,
'That's it.'"  Meanwhile, companies locally and across Canada
continue to chip in, with Canada's five largest banks
contributing a total of C$1.25M to the cause.  Coca-Cola
Bottling-Winnipeg is donating C$.10 for each case of Coke sold
over the next ten days -- a possible donation of C$40,000 (FREE
PRESS, 5/18).  STILL EXPECTING IN 'SOTA:  MN Legislators are
exploring the possibility of offering the public an opportunity
to buy shares in the Jets to recoup any contribution the state
may offer Burke to help bring the team to the Target Center (Jay
Weiner, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/17).
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