In his column in Sunday's BOSTON GLOBE, Will McDonough writes that Seahawks Owner Ken Behring "has been working covertly to get his team" to L.A. Behring reportedly told NFL owners of his desire to move South during discussions about the Raiders' deal in Hollywood Park. After Raiders Owner Al Davis told his colleagues "the deal was so good for the league in the long run that he would step aside and let any owner make it," Behring reportedly "volunteered to take it." McDonough reports that "he then told the owners he had been in Los Angeles scouting locations for a new stadium." While Behring's Kingdome lease does not expire in the near future, McDonough writes that "Behring said he felt his lease had been breached, which would make it possible for him to move anytime." McDonough reports that if the Seahawks joined the Raiders, they would move to the NFC, while the Rams, would move to the AFC (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/28). BASELESS IN SEATTLE? Seahawks President David Behring, son of Ken, denied the rumors, calling McDonough's story "truths, half-truths and falsehoods." Behring said his father did "verbally spar" with Davis, and told Davis that he got "a heck of a deal." The younger Behring said if Davis leaves L.A., "there's going to be seven or eight teams" looking to fill the void. Behring also denied his family owned land in the L.A. area and were looking at possible stadium sites there (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 5/29). REVENUE SHARING CONTROVERSY: The league's decision to limit revenue sharing was a "another financial blow" to the Bengals' chances of survival in Cincinnati, according to the Vito Stellino of the Baltimore SUN. Stellino writes that the owners' decision to limit revenue sharing to a pool of 40% of visiting club- seating revenue -- combined with the Rams relocation fee -- has Bengals President Mike Brown saying that he's "running out of time." Brown: "A small market team without a grade A stadium is not going to work in the NFL for very much longer" (Baltimore SUN, 5/27). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that the new revenue sharing plan will mean more income for the Vikings. Team President Roger Headrick said that the addition of the two new teams and the Rams' move puts the Vikings 24th in revenue, and eligible for "additional income between $500,000 and $800,000 each season" (STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/28). PHANTOM CBA TALKS? In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli reports that last week's reports that NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue were working to extend the current CBA are untrue (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/28).
"For years, the Broncos have rolled out John Elway, pocketed the television money, split the gate receipts with the opposing team and gone about their business," but Denver's changing marketplace has spurred the team to start marketing themselves, according to Jim Armstrong in Sunday's DENVER POST. Armstrong writes that "after two decades of unchallenged supremacy, the Broncos have begun positioning themselves to hold their own in a market that ... has four major-league sports franchises fighting for a diluted entertainment dollar." The Broncos did not have a marketing department from '89-'95, and when they did -- in '86 -- they promoted their equipment manager to marketing director. However, within the past year, Rosemary Hanratty was hired as marketing director and has begun a program to "engender a positive image." Hanratty: "We're trying to build a fan base of those young people out there who've maybe turned to the [IHL] Grizzlies or Nuggets" (DENVER POST, 5/28). MILE HIGH MALAISE: The future of Mile High Stadium, where the Broncos receive no stadium revenue and compare the atmosphere to a heavy-metal concert, is also a top priority. Armstrong reports that the Broncos "have been victimized by their own success." Owner Pat Bowlen: "We've got a whole generation of people who have grown up not being able to see a game in Mile High Stadium because they couldn't get a ticket." Bowlen says that has created a generation of fans who will demand many of the comforts of their homes at a stadium. His solution is for the Broncos to take over the management of Mile High from the city. Bowlen says the city would stand to generate the same amount of revenue from the stadium, but the team would take in more revenue and have more control over the atmosphere. Broncos COO Robert Hampe says the luxuries avaliable just a short distance away at Coors Field will be a "double-edged blade" for the Broncos. Hampe: "People are going to Coors Field and saying 'Wow!' Our games have become Megadeth concerts. If something is going on in the stands short of a homicide, we let it go." The Broncos hope that Mile High will be replaced in the near future, and will seek to extend the .01% sales tax that was used to build Coors Field to help finance a new $220M stadium, with $60M in private financing. The city has said it will cost $264M to keep Mile High in working condition for 30 years -- adding weight to Bowlen's insistence that replacing Mile High makes sense (DENVER POST, 5/28).
John Labatt Ltd. has "formally rejected" a C$2.3B takeover bid from Onex Corp., according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Labatt is searching for a "white night" willing to pay more for the company (De Santis & Greenberg, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/30). Onex VP Anthony Melman: "If Labatt management truly wants a higher bid, they should be looking everywhere, including (Onex) since we are the only company that has put money on the table" (Paul Brent, FINANCIAL POST, 5/30). Labatt President George Taylor is said to be "courting" other brewers, broadcasters and financial firms as suitors, writes Marina Strauss in the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. If a broadcasting acquisition takes place, it would "likely entail" finding partners with each buying a piece of Labatt's properties, which include The Sports Network and the Discovery Channel (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/30). It is "increasingly likely" the Blue Jays will be sold as Labatt fights off Onex (Jim Proudfoot, TORONTO STAR, 5/30).
DEVILS REVEL: The Devils, headed to the Eastern Conference finals, are still being grilled in the New York/ NJ area for the prospect of possibly moving to Nashville. In Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, Dave Anderson calls the possibility "a low blow." Anderson believes that McMullen will keep the team in the area and that he should. Anderson: "In an era when small-market sports franchises are pleading poverty and hoping to move to a big-market area ... McMullen would be skating backward: from one of sport's biggest markets to one of its smallest markets." Anderson suggests the Islanders -- who finished behind the Devils in the standings and attendance -- move to Nashville if one team must move out of the New York market (N.Y. TIMES, 5/28)....PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Gary Miles writes that "if the Devils don't head south, look for the NHL to end up placing an expansion team in Nashville" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/28). SOON-TO-BE RENAMED NORDS SETTLE: In Denver, former Comsat/ Nuggets exec Tim Leiweke told a panel last week that Denver's population could "probably not" support all four pro franchises. However, Leiweke stressed that teams must market to the 25 million people who live in the 10-state Rocky Mountain region. Leiweke: "The teams who don't do that are going to be in trouble" (Norm Clarke, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/28). Nords players are "laughing all the way to the bank" about the team's move, according to Alan Adams of the CANADIAN PRESS. CO's income tax is estimated at its highest to be 39%, compared with the 55% players had to pay in Quebec. Agent Steve Bartlett estimates players will be making as much as 10-15% more for that reason alone (CP/Hamilton SPECTATOR, 5/30). In Quebec City, although police patrolled Marcel Aubut's suburban home regularly, there was little public outcry (CP/EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/27). JETS METTLE: The deal to keep the team in Winnipeg will reportedly be signed sometime this week, according to Winnipeg Mayor Susan Thompson (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/29). Meanwhile, CanWest Global Communications Chair Izzy Asper, who headed the drive to save the Jets, told a Toronto group the effort was "all done for the people of Manitoba." Asper: "I don't go to hockey games" (TORONTO STAR, 5/27).