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  • AU REVOIR, AU REVOIR, LIFE GOES ON: QUEBEC DEALS WITH LOSS

         In Quebec City, only "a handful" of fans protested outside
    of the hotel where the deal was announced.  Most blamed the
    failure of the team on team President Marcel Aubut rather than
    Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau, who refused to give in to
    demands for a new arena (CP/Hamilton SPECTATOR).  Parizeau was
    clearly angry about the move.  As he left a meeting yesterday, he
    "snapped": "I have more important things to deal with than Mr.
    Aubut's every little twitch" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/26).  Meanwhile,
    writers across Canada mourned the loss of the team and its
    tradition:     GLOBE & MAIL:  Christie, Shoalts & Seguin notes
    "the new realities of the hockey industry":  "Quebec City has the
    lowest family income of any city with an NHL franchise and
    operates in the smallest urban area of any team in the league
    with the smallest number of head offices. ... Only Quebec's
    passion for hockey -- and perhaps Aubut's ego -- were large
    enough for the [NHL]" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26).
         TORONTO SUN:  Al Strachan writes the Nordiques had become "a
    means of maximizing returns for an integrated corporate
    structure."  But George Cross blames apathy: "Fans in Winnipeg
    rallied around the team when it appeared it was heading for
    Minnesota.  The sale of the Nordiques hardly resulted in a
    whimper" (TORONTO SUN, 5/26).
         OTTAWA CITIZEN:  Anne McIlroy calls allowing the Nords to
    leave "one of the few things Premier Jacques Parizeau has done
    right lately" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 5/26).
         Hamilton SPECTATOR:  John Kernaghan bashes corporate
    ownership:  "That, in sum, is hockey now.  It's marketing
    strategies and corporate alliances, not guts, glory and passion"
    (Hamilton SPECTATOR, 5/26).
         U.S. REAX:  In L.A., Helene Elliott examines the NHL's
    weaker franchises, while also noting the league's expansion
    plans.  Elliott asks: "By [2000] ... will the economic pinch have
    endangered the league's medium-sized markets, which are the NHL's
    backbone?" (L.A. TIMES, 5/26).  In Philadelphia, Flyers President
    Bobby Clarke criticized club owners in general "who are too
    committed to making money."  Clarke: "It's become blackmail.
    They say, 'Build me a building.  Pay for my losses or I'm
    leaving.'  I think the business is still screwed up" (Gary Miles,
    PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER, 5/26).
    

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Franchises, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers
  • COMSAT PURCHASES NORDIQUES, BRINGS NHL TO MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE

         Nuggets owner Comsat Entertainment Group yesterday acquired
    the Nordiques from a Quebec group led by Marcel Aubut for $75M
    and announced the team's move to Denver.
         THE DEAL:  For the $75M, Comsat receives the team, its
    development squad in Cornwall, Ontario, and player contracts.
    Comsat Entertainment President Charlie Lyons would not comment on
    how much, if any transfer fee the club would have to pay the NHL.
     Lyons said that Comsat did not become "serious" about the deal
    until late last week, as the company assumed the club would stay
    in Quebec (THE DAILY).  Lyons said Aubut called him on May 17 and
    asked "It's not going to work out up here.  Would you like to buy
    the team?" (Curtis Eichelburger, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/26).  In
    this morning's USA TODAY, Jack Carey writes that about $10M is
    "presumed going toward a transfer fee" (USA TODAY, 5/26).
         RUN WITH THE BIG DOGS:  Comsat, a video entertainment and
    satellite technology firm, said the team will help build their
    entertainment division.  Lyons: "We want to build a significant
    entertainment asset that provides great returns to our
    shareholders, both in terms of income and in terms of asset
    value."  Lyons noted Comsat's presence in the NBA and NHL: "It's
    not going unnoticed that companies like Disney and Turner and
    Blockbuster and ITT are now joining the growing group of
    companies that want to expand their entertainment businesses and
    really see the trophy assets to be professional sports" (THE
    DAILY).  Comsat CEO Bruce Crockett, on investing in the NHL:
    "The highest returns in this business come from owning a
    combination of assets starting with an arena, filling it with
    multiple sports teams, selling high-profit merchandise, selling
    broadcast rights to cable and pay-TV and using and leveraging
    your own production facilities" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/26).
         A PEPSI WITH YOUR BIG MAC?  The team will join the Nuggets
    at McNichols Sports Arena for the next two seasons before moving
    into the proposed Pepsi Center, which Comsat hopes to build in
    downtown Denver.  Although the project has been held up in a
    property tax dispute, Lyons said the arena is a necessity.
    Lyons, who said the hockey team will "probably lose a little
    money" at McNichols, stressed that the purchase is not contingent
    on the arena deal.  Lyons: "The deal for the new arena is not
    done, and we intend to get it done. ... The NHL is very clear
    that they don't see this hockey team playing in McNichols much
    beyond two years" (THE DAILY).  The ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS reports
    that if the city doesn't help Comsat get the arena, officials
    from the NHL and the NBA "will begin applying pressure on the
    city."  Another NHL source called the deal was a "ticking lease"
    and implied it could be settled once the mayoral race is over
    (Curtis Eichelburger, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/26).
         IF YOU DON'T SUCCEED ... MARKET:  Lyons blamed the failure
    of the NHL Rockies, who left Denver in '82, on poor marketing,
    and "not the market."  Lyons said he considers the Denver fan
    base to be "considerable," but that Comsat planned on
    establishing ticket prices lower than the league average in order
    to cultivate that market.  KHOW Radio in Denver reported 7,500
    requests already for season tickets (THE DAILY).  Joseph Sanchez
    writes in today's DENVER POST that the team had received 1,100
    season tix orders six hours after the announcement (DENVER POST,
    5/26).  Comsat ran full-page ads in both Denver dailies this
    morning with the slogan "Pucker Up, the NHL's here" under a
    goalie mask.   THE OPERATIONS:  Lyons said Comsat planned to
    retain Pierre Lacroix as GM of the club and Marc Crawford as head
    coach.  Nuggets marketing officials will work with the team
    initially (THE DAILY).  Nuggets VP of Business Ops Gary Hunter
    will reportedly handle the business end of the team, Nuggets Dir
    of Marketing Shawn Hunter will handle the marketing operations,
    and Lacroix will run the hockey operations (Curtis Eichelburger,
    ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/26).
         ADIEU, LES NORDIQUES:  Lyons said the change in the team's
    name will be announced within a month of NHL approval.  While not
    commenting on whether the team would be called Denver or
    Colorado, Lyons stressed his desire to market the team throughout
    the 10-state Rocky Mountain Region (THE DAILY).  Shawn Hunter
    said the name search had been narrowed to three: "It's important
    to come up with something that represents the region, the people
    and the lifestyle -- something that is very hot and is easy to
    merchandise throughout the region" (R.M. NEWS, 5/26).
         MARKET SATURATION:  As Denver becomes the tenth major league
    market with teams in the NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA, the ROCKY
    MOUNTAIN NEWS' Curtis Eichelberger this morning asks: "Can it
    survive?"  Jack Vickers, who brought the NHL Rockies to Denver in
    the late '70s, says Comsat's arena situation is the key but
    agreed with Lyons that marketing will be important:  "I know it
    takes another dollar out of the Denver sporting community, but
    it's a different kind of fan, a different kind of following, and
    it's still a great sport" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/26).
         GRIZZLIES FUTURE:  IHL Grizzlies President Bernie Mullen
    said he would not rule out the possibility of both teams playing
    in Denver next year.  Mullen said the team could split games
    between the Denver Coliseum and McNichols (Irv Moss, DENVER POST,
    5/26).
    

    Print | Tags: Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets, Franchises, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, PepsiCo, Walt Disney
  • DEVILS SPORTSCHANNEL DEAL NO INCENTIVE TO STAY

         In New York, Richard Sandomir examines the Devils' current
    TV deal and how it may contribute to a possible move to
    Nashville.  The Devils' SportsChannel deal expires in '97-98, but
    Devils Owner John McMullen "has not asked SportsChannel to
    renegotiate."  However, if the team stays they still wouldn't be
    able to "dictate higher local rights fees" -- even with their
    current success."  SportsChannel and MSG (the Devils former
    network) are both run by Cablevision Chair Chuck Dolan, and
    "there is no true competitive bidding" in New York for TV rights.
    "That quandary could hurt the bargaining position of the Devils,
    and even the Yankees," whose deal runs out in 2000.  Sandomir
    writes that both "would be helped if another bidder entered" --
    such as Liberty Sports -- with the resources to create an outlet
    that could compete (N.Y. TIMES, 5/26).  Phil Mushnick reports,
    "Everyone we've spoken with who has an interest in NHL TV
    contracts is convinced that the Devils are already gone to
    Nashville" (N.Y. POST, 5/26).  The POST's Thomas Hill reports
    that the Nets, spurred on by the Devils, also hope to negotiate
    changes in their Meadowlands lease with the NJSEA (N.Y. POST,
    5/26).
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, Madison Square Garden, New Jersey Devils, Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty, New York Yankees, NHL, YankeeNets
  • EXPOS COULD BE SOON SINGING THE AMERICAN NATIONAL ANTHEM

         "Barring a dramatic increase in their popularity this
    summer," the Expos will be based in the U.S. next season,
    according to Marty York in today's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  Sources
    said yesterday that Expo ownership "has already begun"
    preparations to sell or move the team and has started
    investigating sites in Nashville, Charlotte, Orlando, Buffalo and
    Northern VA.  According to Expos GM Kevin Malone, the team needs
    to average between 25,000 and 30,000 fans for the rest of the
    home games this season in order to stay in Montreal for '96
    (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises
  • LUMBERJACKS UNVEIL NEW LOGO -- A "BEAVER WITH AN ATTITUDE"

         The IHL Cleveland Lumberjacks unveiled a new logo yesterday.
    The logo contains a "beaver with an attitude" holding a hockey
    stick with the phrase "JACKS" in bright blue at the center
    position.   The logo was designed by Valentine Design & Marketing
    in Minneapolis, the same company which designed the IHL Moose
    logo (Lumberjacks).
         YOU CRAZY NUTS:  Lansing, MI, named its Royals minor league
    team the "Lansing Lugnuts" (CNBC, 5/25).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Kansas City Royals
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