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JETS APPEAR GROUNDED IN WINNIPEG ... FOR NOW
Published May 22, 1995
The Jets, seemingly on their way to the Twin Cities after an announcement by club Owner Barry Shenkarow on Friday, will stay in Winnipeg for at least another year after Canadian officials squashed the deal by threatening legal action, according to this morning's Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE. Jay Weiner and Dennis McGrath report that Shenkarow was "apparently unnerved" by the Canadian government's assertion that he will be responsible for the $13M in operating losses the government has covered for the team since '91 if the team is moved. Winnipeg City Council member Al Golden, who presides on the board that represents the city's 36% interest in the team, said that the Federal Government previously "had decided not to play that trump card because they thought Shenkarow" was acting in the city's best interest. However, when Shenkarow announced Friday that he was selling the team to investors who wished to move the team to the Twin Cities -- despite a last-minute bid by Winnipeg investors -- Golden said "government officials decided to get tough." MN businessman Richard Burke's group would still have the first option to buy the club if it moves, but Burke said Sunday that this delay makes it unlikely the team could move to the Target Center for '95-96. Golden said the delay will give Winnipeg more time to demonstrate its support for the team and raise more money. Burke: "I doubt this is going to be the last twist or turn this thing is going to take" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/22). MORE GOVERNMENT HELP: Shenkarow's group has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow to announce the terms of "the deal to keep the money-losing club in Manitoba," according to David Roberts in this morning's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. Roberts reports that "the tentative deal ... is still shaky and requires further government funding to cover the Jets' operating losses for one more year, while the private owners retain an equity interest in the club." CanWest Global Communications Chair Izzy Asper, who is heading the local ownership group: "One jiggle and the whole house of cards comes down" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/22). HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT: Asper, whose group was jilted by Shenkarow on Friday, apparently offered C$32M for the team, including a C$10M deposit and offer to assume an C$8M loan (David Roberts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/22). THE MUSIC CITY'S JETS? Before yesterday's announcement that the team would stay in Winnipeg, reports circulated that prospective owners in Minnesota were taking "a hard look at Nashville." Saturday's Nashville TENNESSEAN reported that Burke had said that the city is a "strong option," and a source said that "many in the NHL" view Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen's deal to attract a team as as "irresistible" (TENNESSEAN, 5/20).