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         Sunday marks the start of the NFL's 76th season, with new
    teams in Jacksonville and Carolina, and two old teams in new
    cities -- the Rams in St. Louis and the Raiders returning to
    Oakland.  Here's a roundup of what's going on around the league:
         THEY'RE SOLD OUT:  In Oakland, the TV blackout for Sunday's
    Raiders-Chargers game has been lifted as 14,000 single-game
    tickets were sold between Sunday and yesterday (Koury & Martinez,
    SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/1).  A rally will be held today in
    Oakland's Jack London Square celebrating the team's return (S.F.
    CHRONICLE, 9/1).
         THEY'RE BLACKED OUT:  The Eagles' season opener against the
    Bucs will be blacked out in the Delaware Valley, as more than
    6,000 seats remain unsold at Veterans Stadium.  This is the
    second time in three years an Eagles opener has failed to sell
    out.  NFL TV Coordinator Val Pinchbeck said more than one-third
    (88 of 224) NFL games were blacked out in home markets in '94
    (Mike Bruton, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/1).  In Seattle, the
    Seahawks had sold only 50,500 tickets as of Wednesday for
    Sunday's opener against the Chiefs in the 66,400-seat Kingdome.
    Last year, five Seahawks home games were blacked out (TACOMA NEWS
    TRIBUNE, 8/31).  Other blackouts this weekend:  Atlanta,
    Indianapolis, New Orleans.
         THEY'RE LOCKED IN, FOR THIS WEEK:  TX District Judge William
    Bell yesterday granted Harris County a temporary restraining
    order against the Oilers barring them from playing home games
    outside the Astrodome.  A full injunction hearing will be held
    September 13 that could force the team to stay in the dome
    through '97.  County officials say the court action was due to
    concerns that the team may "try a repeat of the preseason
    episode" when a game was cancelled due to poor turf conditions
         THEY'RE ISSUING A WARNING:  Daniel Connell, the Jaguars
    Senior VP/Marketing said yesterday that the "people of Houston
    need to realize the fact that the Oilers could leave," and that
    bad feelings toward Owner Bud Adams should not "overrule any
    business logic."  Connell warned of the difficulties of getting a
    new team (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/1).
         THEY'RE CLEARING THE AIR:  The Jaguars Foundation has
    received a grant to promote anti-smoking initiatives in and
    around the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.  The Robert Wood
    Johnson Foundation gave the team $137,000 to develop and install
    anti-smoking signs in the stadium concourse, including one on the
    center panel of the North scoreboard.  The program will also put
    anti-smoking messages on 50,000 cards distributed by the team.
    The Jaguars do not accept tobacco advertising or sell tobacco
    products (Jaguars).
         THEY'RE TEACHING:  CBS profiled the Jets' "Football 101" --
    a class aimed at women. Jets exec Douglas Miller:  "We've found
    studies that show women are the fastest growing group of fans
    that there are" ("CBS This Morning," 9/1).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, CBS, Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, LA Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Viacom, Vulcan Ventures

         "Pat Riley believed he was going to be released from his
    obligations as Knicks coach in exchange for silence about his
    coaching plans" during the final stages of ITT's purchase of the
    Garden, according to this morning's N.Y. TIMES.  Mike Wise
    reports "that was the reason" Riley began to negotiate with the
    Heat before he resigned as Knicks coach in June.  According to
    two people "familiar with the case," MSG President Dave Checketts
    "did not want ITT to know the Knicks might lose Riley, fearing
    that such a revelation might affect the company's $1.01 billion
    dollar purchase. ...In return, Checketts would allow Riley out of
    the final year of his contract after the sale was consummated."
    However, when Riley asked to be released after the season, the
    team refused, sources say.  The sale of MSG's holdings from
    Viacom to an ITT-Cablevision partnership became official March
    13.  A Knicks official tells the TIMES that "Checketts had told
    Riley to 'not make noise about possibly leaving' while the
    purchase was still in progress."  However, that source adds that
    "no promises" were made to Riley regarding a release.  NBA
    Commissioner David Stern is expected to rule today on charges by
    the Knicks that the Heat tampered with Riley (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, Madison Square Garden, Miami Heat, NBA, New York Knicks, Viacom

         Nets President Jon Spoelstra, whose marketing programs
    helped the team set box-office records, resigned yesterday.  In
    this morning's N.Y. TIMES, Mike Wise reports that Spoelstra
    sometimes clashed "with an ownership resistant to change" and may
    have upset some owners with his "candidness."  Two Nets officials
    said Spoelstra was not forced out.  Spoelstra had pushed for the
    Nets to change their name, to either Swamp Dragons or Fire
    Dragons, but ownership nixed the change at the last minute.
    Spoelstra, "frustrated" with "the malaise that he felt permeated
    the franchise," also sent a memo to ownership criticizing player
    personnel decisions.  Spoelstra, without a contract since March,
    had expected to sign a more lucrative pact and was disappointed
    when the Nets delayed (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Brooklyn Nets

         The Pirates have given DC attorney Bart Fisher until next
    Wednesday to come up with the financing to complete a deal to buy
    the club, according to Mark Maske in this morning's WASHINGTON
    POST.  Fisher's group says they will keep the team in Pittsburgh,
    initially, "but in recent weeks," Maske writes, "he has talked
    about the possibility of moving the club" to the DC-area.  Fisher
    met with Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and team officials
    yesterday, and told the AP that he intends to stay in Pittsburgh.
    However, Maske reports that Fisher said earlier this month that
    "no buyer will enter into that situation without an exit
    strategy. ... They're in a bad situation, they've been on the
    market a year now.  That should tell you something."  Sources
    tell the POST that Fisher has been in contact with the VA Stadium
    Authority and told them to "be ready, because I'm close with the
    Pirates" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/1).  If Fisher fails to meet the
    team's Wednesday deadline, Sacramento newspaper heir Kevin
    McClatchy will get an exclusive two-week period to negotiate
    (AP/Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 9/1).  Fisher heads Capital
    Baseball, one of two groups trying to bring baseball to the
    DC/Northern VA area.

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Pittsburgh Pirates
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