Despite "jeers" over the decision to name M.L. Carr as coach, publicly traded units of the Boston Celtics Limited Partnership "barely moved" on Tuesday, according to Steven Syre & Tom Nutile of the BOSTON HERALD. One reason is that there are enough "set, guaranteed or sure-thing" revenue lines that make the Celtics "financially bulletproof" for a couple of years. Money from the sale of WFXT-TV is "almost in hand," NBA TV contracts and expansion fees are just a few of the sources of steady income for the team. In addition, the Celtics will play in the new FleetCenter next year. Investment analyst Peter Russ: "The history of the new stadium is that you can be in last and still sell out" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/21). Celtics Chair Paul Gaston was interviewed by Mark Murphy in yesterday's BOSTON HERALD. Gaston: "I've publicly said that I've turned down a couple of great offers in the last year or so, and certainly nothing has changed. ... I'm willing to spend whatever it takes to get the Celtics back on track. I wish it were that easy, because I'd spend everything we make and more, but it doesn't work that way" (Mark Murphy, BOSTON HERALD, 6/21).
In Portland, Steve Brandon reports that either the NHL or IHL could be coming. Marshall Glickman, President of Oregon Arena Corp., reportedly was in New York recently on "hockey matters," which included a visit to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. And, according to sources, Bettman has been "practically begging" Blazers Chair Paul Allen to join the league. Allen and the Arena Corp., however, are "are taking just as close a look at the IHL." Arena officials believe an IHL club would "make money" in Portland while filling 45-plus Rose Garden dates. Brandon notes that an IHL team also "would not be a financial threat" to the Blazers. In addition to ongoing consideration of the NHL, the Arena Corp.'s lease with the WHL Winter Hawks "stands in the way" of an IHL team coming in '96-97. The 20-year lease, which took effect last year, permits Arena Corp. to lease the Rose Garden to an NHL team, but not an IHL team, without the Hawks' permission (Portland OREGONIAN, 6/20). IS NIKE READY FOR NHL OWNERSHIP? Brandon also reports that the "word in hockey circles is that Nike Inc. has considered applying for an expansion team that would play in Portland." Nike spokesperson Vizhier Corpuz denied the reports saying the company has "nothing in the works" regarding ownership of an NHL club (OREGONIAN, 6/20).
Several reports yesterday indicated that the Raiders were close to an announcement that they were moving back to Oakland, setting off a flurry of "no comments" and denials. KNBR radio in San Francisco was the first to report that the Raiders would move back. On his KNBR show, former Raiders coach John Madden said ,"It's closer now than it's ever been. It's going to happen, and it's going to happen today" (KNBR, 6/21). Sources said that if the decision is indeed final, it would be because Raiders Owner Al Davis "became extremely concerned that construction of a new L.A. stadium ay Hollywood Park would not be completed by '97, forcing him to spend three years in the L.A. Coliseum (Plaschke & Springer, L.A. TIMES, 6/22). In the East Bay, the OAKLAND TRIBUNE reports that "throughout the day, East Bay officials exchanged drafts of a letter of intent with [Davis], tweaking the language to satisfy the Raiders and themselves" (Li, Staats & Ronningen, OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 6/22). DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING? NFL spokespersons said "no final decision had been made," and Davis told the AP that "he could not say for sure what was happening." One league official said Davis "was struggling with a very difficult decision and might not know which way he's going from one minute to the next" (Timothy Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). WHO'S SAYING WHAT? In L.A., Plaschke & Springer write, "Al Davis has decided to move the Raiders back to Oakland, but the deal will not be finalized until legal details are worked out" (L.A. TIMES, 6/22). In Toronto, Gary Picknell writes, "Oakland is preparing for a welcome-home celebration" (TORONTO SUN, 6/22). L.A. TIMES column header: "Raiders move north is a definite maybe" (L.A. TIMES, 6/22). USA TODAY header: "Oakland, be prepared for more disappointment" (USA TODAY, 6/22). In Baltimore, Vito Stellino reports Davis is either close to moving, "or he's using his former coach, John Madden, to give him leverage in his talks with [L.A.] officials" (Baltimore SUN, 6/22). Header over SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS piece: "Remember: Davis has played this game before" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/22). John Czarnecki of the "NFL on Fox" called it "a last minute ploy": "My gut tells me Al will stay." NewSport's Fred Edelstein: "I spoke with the highest echelons of the NFL (Wednesday), and Al Davis' spin to them was, 'I have no deal with anybody'" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 6/22). CNN's Nick Charles: "From all reports, it looks like the Raiders are going long and deep back to Oakland." Former Raider/Fox NFL analyst Howie Long: "I don't know whether it's a reality or not or a ploy at the last minute to coax along the Hollywood Park people. Who the heck knows?" CNN's Danny Sheridan: "This will give him a home field advantage second to none in the NFL, and you certainly don't get that in laid-back L.A. Number two is obviously financial incentives. He'll be guaranteed in ticket sales $2.5 million for every home game, plus approximately $85 to $90 million in stadium renovations. And lastly, several minority partners have told Al, 'If you don't move back to Oakland, I want to be bought out.' That's also a considerable amount of money. It's a great move for the NFL and a great move for the Raiders" ("Sports Tonight," 6/21). NETWORK REAX: If the Raiders leave L.A., it leaves the No. 2 media market without an NFL team. Both NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol and Fox Sports President David Hill declined comment, but Fox spokesperson Vince Wladika said "it's a league matter." TNT analyst Pat Haden: "The upside for the networks is they'll get to televise more games in Los Angeles, because they were hampered by local blackouts from non-sellouts. But the league still has to have a team in Los Angeles" (USA TODAY, 6/22). IF THEY DO LEAVE: If the Raiders do leave, the L.A. TIMES' Plaschke & Springer write that the league "intends to bring one existing and one expansion team to the area, but only after construction begins on a modern stadium that would be attractive to potential owners" (L.A. TIMES, 6/22). In Seattle, Laura Vecsey writes, "Yesterday, the Seahawks- to-L.A. rumor mill was at full-tilt boogie, now that Al Davis might be reversing himself and heading back up the [CA] coast" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 6/22).