SBD/19/Franchises

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  • COULD NORDS FIT IN WELL IN DENVER MARKET?

         The ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS' Curtis Eichelberger has been
    covering the potential move of the Nordiques to Denver since
    rumors about the team's move to the area began.  He told THE
    SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY that questions about the Denver market's
    ability to support an NHL team are valid, but he thinks Denver
    could support a franchise.  Eichelberger: "I do think with the
    proper marketing there is enough of a base here to get people to
    turn out."
         THE CORPORATE DOLLARS: Eichelberger thinks the biggest area
    of concern will be the ability of the Denver corporate community
    to support the skyboxes and club seating necessary to make the
    franchise profitable.  He says there are many Denver teams
    competing for corporate money.  Eichelberger: "I think you're not
    going to have a problem filling the place, and I think you are
    going to sell some boxes, but to sell them all, and to get the
    kind of money they've -- the Rockies, the Broncos, the Nuggets,
    and even up at CU -- been getting for them, I think that's where
    the real test is going to be" (THE DAILY).
         HAMILTON IN THE MIX?  A U.S. group led by Rough Riders Owner
    Horn Chen is interested in bringing the Nordiques to Hamilton,
    according to this morning's Hamilton SPECTATOR.  John Kernaghan
    reports that Chen's group has been in contact with the Nordiques,
    but "have received no reply."  Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow, who
    confirmed the groups' interest, said the city did not want to
    "seem predatory."  Hamilton: "But we couldn't wait until a deal
    was done to move the team to Denver" (Hamilton SPECTATOR, 5/19).
    

    Print | Tags: Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Franchises, NHL
  • DEADLINE PASSES WITHOUT DECISION ON JETS: DEAL IN LIMBO

         Yesterday's noon deadline for a local group to buy the Jets
    from Barry Shenkarow and keep them from moving to Minnesota came
    and went without a decision.  Local buyer Izzy Asper released a
    statement suggesting "he was prepared to make an offer to
    purchase the team, and would have further details next week"
    (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/19).
         SHORT ON CASH:  The Canadian Government failed to donate the
    C$37M Manitoba and Winnipeg officials had hoped they would to
    help fund a new C$111M arena for the team, instead contributing
    C$20M.  However, local officials were optimistic the shortfall
    can be met, according to John Douglas in this morning's WINNIPEG
    FREE PRESS.  Douglas reports that in addition to the C$17M
    shortfall for the arena, the C$110M needed from local buyer Izzy
    Asper and the community was still C$28M short (WINNIPEG FREE
    PRESS, 5/19).
         PLAYING FAVORITES?  Yesterday's decision by the Federal
    Government to allocate funds for an arena created an uproar in
    Quebec, where the Nordiques have also threatened to leave if a
    new arena is not built.  In this morning's GLOBE & MAIL, Stephen
    Brunt writes that Quebec's pro-separatist government will likely
    use this issue as another way to blame the Federal government,
    "just months before the referendum" on Quebec separation.  Brunt
    notes, the issue "is another card to play, and it will be played
    if Canada sinks money into the Jets" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
    Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien denied charges of
    favoritism, noting that the federal infrastructure funds
    allocated to Manitoba for a new arena in Winnipeg had been used
    for a convention center by the province of Quebec (Hugh Windsor,
    GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
         MEANWHILE, IN MINNESOTA:  MN businessman Richard Burke, in
    line to buy the Jets if the Winnipeg effort fails, allowed the
    deadline to pass "because of the intensity of the day and the
    potentially violent situation" in Winnipeg, where thousands
    gathered downtown to await word on the sale, according to the
    Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE.  Jay Weiner writes it is "unclear if
    Burke's option to buy the team expired Thursday, or if Shenkarow
    simply pushed the purchase process into the future to calm
    feelings and give the political and business communities one more
    chance." Weiner also reports league officials were "semi
    mystified" by the days events (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/19).
    STAR-TRIBUNE Columnist Tom Barreiro writes there are two reasons
    Burke did not demand a deal yesterday: "The first is that Burke
    does not want to come off as the cold, heartless franchise-
    robber, and figures that once it becomes obvious Winnipeg can't
    close the deal, then he'll be able to take the team anyway.  The
    second, is that Burke, who has to know by now that it is no
    better than a long shot to get the [state] aid he wants...is no
    longer in a hurry to take the team" (5/19).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, New York Jets
  • FIRST THE MIGHTY DUCKS, NOW ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD?

         The Walt Disney Co. and the Angels yesterday announced that
    Disney has agreed in principle to buy a 25% interest in the team,
    with an option to purchase the rest of the team upon the death of
    Owner Gene Autry, according to the L.A. TIMES.  Disney will
    reportedly assume the role of managing general partner and run
    the day-to-day operations of the team.  According to Angels
    President and CEO Richard Brown, that will happen "when the deal
    is consummated."  Although terms were not disclosed, the deal is
    reported to be worth about $30M.  Former MLB Commissioner Peter
    Ueberroth, who was considered the "front-runner" to buy the team
    was told that the Disney offer "exceeded" the bid made by his
    group.  Ueberroth:  "We were disappointed that our bid was not
    accepted..." (Steve Emmons, L.A. TIMES, 5.19).
         MARKETING REVIVAL?  In L.A., Ross Newhan writes, "[Disney's
    involvement] will almost certainly mean the revival of a comatose
    marketing and sales program throughout a densely populated area
    that the Angels have often ignored" (L.A. TIMES, 5/19).  Disney
    Chair and CEO Michael Eisner said that the company "will create a
    number of concepts to develop synergies between the Angels and
    various Disney entities" (Thomas King, WALL STREET JOURNAL,
    5/19).
         IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS:  Since the relationship between the
    Autrys and the city of Anaheim "has been strained for years ...
    the possibility of Anaheim building a new baseball stadium with
    favorable terms for the Angels, or of at least significantly
    improving the ... lease, is greatly enhanced by Disney's
    involvement" (L.A. TIMES, 5/19).
    

    Print | Tags: LA Angels, Anaheim Sports, Franchises, MLB, Walt Disney
  • IS CHRIS FORD ONLY THE FIRST IN A CELTIC HOUSECLEANING?

         The firing of coach Chris Ford "might be the start of
    wholesale changes in the Celtics organization that could include
    the axing" of GM Jan Volk, according to Steve Bulpett in the
    BOSTON HERALD.  The Celtics say Volk's job is not in jeopardy,
    but "one belief from within is that Volk won't be given a new
    contract when his expires this summer."  Bulpett also reports
    that Tod Rosensweig, the team's VP/Marketing and Communication
    also "might find his job in peril."  Rosensweig headed the Celtic
    marketing operation until Stuart Layne took over the department
    in March of '94.  Layne "appears to be headed to an expanded
    role" as COO.  One anonymous employee: "I just think a lot of
    people are very nervous about the direction everything is going
    in" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/18).  Team sources told Jackie MacMullan of
    the BOSTON GLOBE that Layne "is clearly Paul's (Gaston) guy.  Jan
    is from the Red Auerbach camp and that camp is losing power every
    day."  MacMullan writes league sources "were concerned enough
    about Rosensweig's status to start looking into other markets for
    him" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/18).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Celtics, Franchises
  • LABATT FACES UNSOLICITED BUYOUT OFFER FROM ONEX CORP.

         Onex Corp., a Canadian investment firm and Quilmes
    Industrial S.A., Argentina's largest brewer, "fired the first
    shot" for John Labatt Ltd. yesterday by offering C$2.3B for the
    beer and entertainment conglomerate.  Onex Chair Gerald Schwartz
    "suggested he was prepared to raise his debt-propelled offer if
    he finds Labatt is worth more."  Labatt, which controls close to
    45% of Canada's domestic beer market, also owns European
    breweries as well as up to C$1B-worth of sports and entertainment
    properties, including  the Blue Jays, CFL Argonauts, SkyDome, and
    The Sports Network (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
              NO GO?:  Labatt President George Taylor has dismissed
    the initial offer.  Taylor: "This is a wholly inadequate proposal
    and does not reflect fair value to our shareholder."  Industry
    analysts and market watchers said the bid "will have to be
    higher" for a deal to be made.  David Cohen, an analyst with
    Research Capital Corp., said the offer was "a little light
    relative to what people expected relative to the value of
    Labatt's assets."  Labatt's Board of Directors will meet today to
    discuss the bid (Art Chamberlain, TORONTO STAR, 5/19).
         WITHER THE JAYS: Schwartz said he wanted to return Labatt to
    its roots as a brewer and eventually sell its non-brewing assets
    to pay for a leveraged buyout (Bertrand Morotte, CALGARY HERALD,
    5/19).  But he also said Labatt's interest in the Blue Jays might
    remain.  Schwartz: "[Baseball] is a business I don't understand,
    and I would want to get advice from (Blue Jays President) Paul
    Beeston. ... Obviously the Blue Jays are a great marketing
    vehicle for Labatt" (John Saundes, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
    According to Bill Lankohf of the TORONTO SUN, potential suitors
    for the team include:  Canwest Global; cable TV mogul and Sun
    owner Ted Rogers; and the Bassett family, owners of CFTO and
    Baton Broadcasting (TORONTO SUN, 5/19).
         TSN HOT?  One business executive: "The hot property is TSN.
    Lots of people would like to buy into that.  I think you'll see
    (Schwartz) lump some things like the Argos and Blue Jays with TSN
    and try to sell it as a package" (TORONTO SUN, 5/19).  In
    Toronto, Rob Longley writes that TSN's "profit picture has never
    been rosier and therefore the network and its holdings ... have
    never been more ripe for a sale."  If TSN is sold, Longley writes
    that possible buyers include Molson, which last year was
    unsuccessful in a bid for a regional sports network, and Canwest
    Global, which is "becoming a bigger force in the broadcast
    industry" (TORONTO SUN, 5/19).  Other possible buyers include
    Astral Communications of Montreal, Alliance Communications of
    Toronto, Telemedia of Montreal, Western International
    Communications of Vancouver, Baton Broadcasting of Toronto,
    CanWest Global Communications of Winnipeg, and News Corp.'s
    Twentieth Century Fox.  One analyst pegs the value of Labatt's
    broadcasting assets and TSN "at roughly $600 million" (Harvey
    Enchin, TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
    

    Print | Tags: CFL, Franchises, Labatt Brewing, News Corp./Fox, Toronto Blue Jays
  • RIGAS, PIRATES REACH PRELIMINARY AGREEMENT

         Cable TV exec John Rigas and the Pirates yesterday reached a
    preliminary agreement for him to buy the team.  Rigas will
    reportedly pay $25.15M in cash and assume $60M in debt for the
    franchise.  He will also assume the $13M projected debt for '95,
    plus a $20M city-backed loan to the team in '85.  Rigas:  "It is
    a risky gamble, but one we think is worth taking to keep baseball
    in Pittsburgh ... and to get a new stadium."  The agreement is
    expected to be formalized within about four weeks, and then must
    be approved by MLB owners (N.Y. POST/AP, 5/19)
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates
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