NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said the NJSEA is willing to pay for improvements to Brendan Byrne Arena and would potentially join with a private-sector partner to build more "revenue- producing" luxury suites, according to the Bergen RECORD. Whitman said this would address one of the Devils' key complaints "without putting taxpayers on the hook" (Fitzgerald/Hirsch, Bergen RECORD, 6/13). OTHER DEVILISH DETAILS: ESPN's Keith Olbermann, reporting last night's Conference Finals win by the Devils, referred to the team as the "New Nashville Jersey Devils" and said, Remember this, Flyers fans, at least your team is certain to exist next year" ("SportsCenter," 6/13). In a N.Y. POST column, with the header "McMullen's Just a Whiny Ingrate," Jay Greenberg responds to Devils Owner John McMullen's claims that nobody has ever thanked him for bringing the Devils to NJ. Greenberg writes that the only thing worse than a businessman who "wants to be subsidized for his own failures" is "one with a martyr complex" (N.Y. POST, 6/13). Tony Coleman's column in the Nashville TENNESSEAN notes that it would not be unprecedented for a league champion to move citing, among others, the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Redskins (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 6/13).
The Tigers are leading MLB in the category entitled "highest percentage of ticket-sales increase," according to Lynn Henning in the DETROIT NEWS. The category is a comparison of ticket sales through the first month of the '94 and '95 seasons. Even though the Tigers are 22nd among MLB clubs in attendance, they have sold 27,595 more tickets this year than last. But Tigers officials expressed cautious optimism. Tigers Marketing Dir Mike Dietz: "It's not like we are going to beat a drum over it. We are not going to advertise that our attendance is up when our turnstile counts are probably lower." Dietz also said that on most days the figures are pretty close and the Tigers have offered big discounts and been active with corporate tie-ins. Dietz: "We have been able to sell quite a few tickets to sponsors who can use the tickets for whatever purpose they choose" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/13).
ITT Corp. said yesterday that its board of directors approved a management plan to "spin-off" its businesses into three separate companies: ITT Corp. (including ITT Sheraton and ITT's interests in Caesar's World and Madison Square Garden), ITT Industries (automotive and defense), and ITT Hartford (insurance). ITT Chair, President & CEO Rand Araskog will become Chair & CEO of the new ITT Corp. (ITT). Araskog is expected to use the new ITT Corp. "as a vehicle to expand in the fast-growing leisure and entertainment businesses" (Eben Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/14). But Ronald Bowman, who will be No. 2 at ITT Corp., said the new company was already growing at a 30% rate adding "that any acquisitions in the foreseeable future will probably be small ones" (Paul Tharp, N.Y. POST, 6/14). Lehman Brothers analyst Phua Young expects ITT Corp. stock to sell at between $37-47 a share (USA TODAY, 6/14). ITT has a 50% stake in MSG, which includes the Knicks, the Rangers, Madison Square Garden and the MSG Network. ITT is rumored to be interested in buying a network, as well as investing in Boston's proposed megaplex (THE DAILY).
The Spirit of Manitoba agreed yesterday to purchase the majority shares of the Jets for $32M, according to today's WINNIPEG FREE PRESS. The agreement is not final, however, until Spirit puts down a $10M deposit -- for which it has until Friday. The FREE PRESS' John Douglas notes that, "while the sale is a major step towards keeping the Jets in Winnipeg long-term, it is not over." Spirit must now complete an agreement with the three levels of government to build a new 16,000-seat arena and raise another $20M to cover future losses. Closure is "contingent on three issues being settled": 1) Private sector investment of $80M -- $60M of which has already been pledged; 2) Favorable rulings on re-capitalization and the charitable status of a fund to cover losses; and 3) Approval by the NHL. In addition to buying shares for $32M, the new owners would pick up $8M in debts and be prepared to cover about $15M in expected losses next year (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 6/14).