SBD/5/Franchises

MN GROUP STEPS FORWARD; JETS BID FAREWELL TO WINNIPEG

     Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Henry
Savelkoul will recommend to MN Gov. Arne Carlson and legislative
leaders today that the state "should buy an equity stake or
'contract interests'" in the NHL's Jets, according to this
morning's Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  The evolving plan is yet to
have a dollar amount attached to it. Savelkoul, referring the
MN's loss of the Stars to Dallas: "The idea is to buy the wheels
off the team."  Savelkoul's idea is not to buy a majority
interest, but perhaps a "good chunk of voting shares," maybe 20%.
He called "premature" any suggestion that as much as $20M is
necessary.  Savelkoul: "I don't want a number right now.  I want
to talk about the principle.  If the principle is acceptable, is
$1 million worth it?  Two million dollars?"  The Jets are
expected to be sold for between $60-70M.  If the state did not
become an owner, it could buy contractual rights from the new
owner.  For instance, the new owner would not be allowed to move
the team "without onerous liquidated damages."  Another component
of Savelkoul's plan:  Use the NHL team's new tax revenues to help
buy new ice rinks statewide, or refurbish the old ones.  The new
tax revenue created by the team -- about $3.3m annually -- would
help fund what is called the "Mighty Ducks Bill" in the MN
legislature -- because of the benefits for youth hockey leagues
around the state.  The issue of helping the Jets "has taken on a
sense of urgency because the Legislature' scheduled May 22
adjournment is less than three weeks away" (Weiner & McGrath,
Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/5).
     OFFER ON THE TABLE:  The WINNIPEG FREE PRESS is reporting
that a group of MN-based businessmen, led by health care
entrepreneur Richard Burke, has offered to buy the Jets for a
reported $75M, with the purchase partly financed with state
government bonds.  MN stockbroker Ed Villaume, who reportedly put
the deal together, would not comment on specifics (Bruce Owen,
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/5).    FAREWELL:  Jets players, coaches
and staff will be at the Winnipeg Arena tomorrow to say goodbye
to fans.  Wherever the team lands, it won't be called the Jets,
as the team plans to retire its logo tomorrow (FREE PRESS, 5/5).
     IT'S NOT ALL TEARS ACROSS CANADA:  EDMONTON JOURNAL
columnist Cam Cole:  "It could have been us. ... Winnipeg took a
bullet for every small-market team in the National Hockey League"
(WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/5).  From a CALGARY HERALD editorial:
"Rather than filling their arena and making an incontrovertible
case for why the Manitoba government should throw significant
amounts of tax dollars into keeping the NHL franchise, fans
whined and carped about their outmoded ice palace, the team's
poor performance and even their unfortunate lot in life" (CALGARY
HERALD, 5/5).  In Toronto, Gare Joyce writes, "Markets remain
constant and  a team is only as good as its house" (Toronto GLOBE
& MAIL, 5/5).  Al Strachan writes, "Don't shed any tears for
Barry Shenkarow.  He paid nothing for this team, did nothing
constructive to guarantee its future and now, between tears, will
make a multi-million dollar profit" (TORONTO SUN, 5/5).
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