SBD/27/Franchises

DEVILS NOTIFY NJSEA OF INTENTIONS -- STAYING PUT FOR '95?

     The Devils announced their intention to terminate their
lease after the '96-97 hockey season in a letter sent Saturday to
the NJSEA.  The team contends that provisions under the original
franchise agreement signed with the Authority in '82 allow each
side to cancel and terminate the agreement after the conclusion
of the 15th year.  The Devils said that their renegotiation of
the lease in '91 that adds five more years to the out-clause is
invalid due to breaches by the NJSEA (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST,
6/27).  In New York, Lawrence Van Gelder reports that the '91
extension was invalid because McMullen had not signed it,
according to a source close to negotiations (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27).
     WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?  In Northern NJ, Stephen Hirsch &
Thomas Fitzgerald cite sources who say it "does not necessarily
mean the team has decided to move," but that it does set an
"acrimonious tone" to future talks between the Devils and the
NJSEA (bergen RECORD, 6/27).  In New York, Lawrence Van Gelder
notes "there are many questions" about whether the notice "was in
earnest or part of a bargaining ploy."  Murray Chass, comparing
the situation to similar problems McMullen had in Houston before
selling the Astros:  "He doesn't want to move the Devils ... He's
only looking for fair financial treatment" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27).
Larry Brooks calls the letter "irrelevant" to whether the Devils
stay at the Meadowlands for '95-96.  The letter "is merely the
first legal maneuver in the team's attempt to pressure the state
of [NJ] into concessions ... It's a beginning, not an end. ... If
the Devils can prove their case, perhaps even to NHL attorneys,
the league then would not be in the position of condoning lease-
busting in allowing the move; a very dangerous precedent" (N.Y.
POST, 6/27).
     IS THE BEER FIGHT OVER?  In yesterday's Bergen RECORD,
Fitzgerald & Hirsch examine obstacles the Devils would face if
they move to Nashville next year.  Among the challenges: The ECHL
Nashville Knights' contract with the 8,200-seat Municipal
Auditorium; the need for state approval for beer to be sold at
the new Nashville arena may give opponents time to convince
lawmakers to defeat beer sales; the NJSEA could block the move
with a lawsuit over breach of contract by the Devils; the team's
victory in the Stanley Cup makes it more difficult to move
(Bergen RECORD, 6/26).
     OH, BY THE WAY:  The Devils announced that their victory
parade will be held in the Meadowlands Arena parking lot
Wednesday night.  Many fans were disappointed after the Rangers'
ticker-tape parade in '94 (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27).
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