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Citing "sensitivity to the number of gun-related deaths in the area," Bullets Owner Abe Pollin said yesterday that he will decide this summer whether to change the name of his team. Although he has made no final decision, Pollin's comments suggest he is "leaning toward dropping the name" the franchise has had for the past 31 years. Pollin: "In the old days, our motto was 'Faster than a speeding Bullet.' Today the connotation is a little different." Pollin said he has "no preference" for a new nickname and is "uncertain" of a timetable for a change. If there is a change, however, it would most likely be for the '96- 97 season when the proposed new downtown DC arena is scheduled to open. Bullets officials reportedly "favor" a new name because it would continue the "widespread facelift" that began with the arena plans and the signings of Chris Webber and Juwan Howard (Richard Justice, WASHINGTON POST, 5/2).
The May 1 Midnight deadline came and went as Jets President Barry Shenkarow agreed to a Canadian federal government request to delay any decision on the future of the team, according to the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The government has called for a meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss the future of the league in Canada. That meeting, to be held today in Toronto, will focus on how small-market teams such as the Jets and Nordiques can survive (David Roberts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/2). Shenkarow "stopped short of saying the franchise is for sale to all bidders, including groups from Minnesota. He said, however, after two days of continuous and torturous talks, the Manitoba Entertainment Complex 'didn't have a deal they could put together.'" Shenkarow: "I don't know if there's anything the federal government can do" (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/2). MEC spokesperson John Loewen, whose group is trying to buy the team and build a new arena, said they are "still concerned about whether it's feasible to buy the Jets and build a new arena to keep the team in Winnipeg" (CP/Vancouver PROVINCE, 5/2). WAIT A MINUTE: "The stay in proceedings came as a group called 'Thin Ice,' which opposes public funds for an arena, issued a scathing analysis of a proposed financing deal" for a new Jets arena. The group counters claims that only C$40M in public funds would go toward the arena, arguing that taxpayers will have to pay C$131M in cash and loan guarantees and nearly C$8M a year thereafter to help sustain the arena and the Jets. The analysis was done by the economics departments at the Universities of Brandon and Manitoba (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/2). FROM ONE WHO KNOWS: Minnesota's KFAN radio got the rights to carry tonight's Jets-Kings game. KFAN Program Dir Mark Ginther said he told his counterpart at Winnipeg's CJOB when he first inquired: "I hate to do this." Ginther told him that Minnesota "have been through" what Winnipeg is experiencing now, and said that the Winnipeg radio exec "was very gracious" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/2).
The Rockets announced last week they will raise ticket prices for the second straight year. The team will not raise the price of their lowest priced, $11 ticket, but have announced raises for all tickets in the $16.50-$65.50 range. For tickets in that range, the two year percentage change in prices ranges from 32.1%-57.6%. A ticket that cost $46 two years ago, will cost $72.50 next season -- a 57.6% increase. The team did not announce whether they will raise prices for VIP courtside seating that cost $150-$295 this season (David Barron, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/29).
The plan set up by the late Ewing Kauffman to give proceeds from the sale of the Royals to local charities is yet to get approval from the IRS, according to AP's Doug Tucker. Furthermore, it is the "worst possible time" for the team, averaging around 16,000 thus far, to take a "big attendance hit." Assuming the IRS and the AL approve Kauffman's plan, "who'd want to buy a small-market team in a town that draws only about 16,000, and in a climate of general deterioration of baseball interest nationwide?" On the other hand, if the IRS does not approve the plan, the team would "probably be put on the market and go to the highest bidder." WRites Tucker, "If that happens, baseball in Kansas City could be in greater peril than any time since [Charlie] Finley first started packing for Oakland." Either way, Tucker notes the team and the city need a local benefactor to step up soon (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/2).