NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told MN officials Wednesday they are "in a one horse race," if they so choose, to bring the Jets to the Target Center. In this morning's Minneapolis STAR- TRIBUNE, Jay Weiner reports Bettman, addressing the state's Advisory Task Force on Professional Sports, "nonchalantly triggered a collective jaw dropping" among leaders when he advised them of his "apparent deadline" of December 14 for a plan to help relocate the club. Bettman was joined by likely Jets buyer Richard Burke. However, Weiner notes they "were probably talking to the wrong people. The 20-member task force ... has no negotiating power." Burke said he will negotiate with "anyone in Minnesota who could provide him with the cash" he and partner Steven Gluckstern need. Burke was referring to a $20M figure said to be the amount needed keep a team from financial difficulty. State Sen. Dean Johnson noted state help may be hard to obtain by the deadline, as legislative sessions do not begin again until January 16. Johnson also doubted a quorum would show if Gov. Arne Carlson called a special Jets session. Bettman: "I believed, based on the sentiments I heard after the [Stars] left, that people here really wanted to have a hockey team. If I misread that, then so be it. Opportunities don't last forever" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 10/12). Columnist Patrick Reusse writes that the state "would be idiots to pass up an NHL team," and leaders should tax casino operators to obtain financing (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 10/12).
The IHL announced yesterday it has signed a lease with Quebec City to bring a team to Le Colisee for at least the next three years. The franchise start-up is currently in league hands, "while the possibility of private ownership is under evaluation." The franchise has established an office led by former Nordiques Marketing Dir Bernard Thiboutot. Quebec will be the IHL's 20th team, and first in Canada in more than 30 years (IHL)....The Bulls became the first sports team to crack TicketMaster's top ten attractions, coming in at No. 5 of the most inquired attractions nationwide for the week ended October 4. The Bulls put tickets on sale September 30. R.E.M. topped the list. Inquiries are measured by Ticketmaster Online. Web address: http://www.ticketmaster.com (VARIETY, 10/9-15 issue).
An Oakland official indicated "for the first time" Wednesday that the city and Alameda County "now are willing to commit significant public funds to keep the Warriors from moving to San Jose," according to this morning's SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Ostrom & Akizuki report yesterday's assertion by Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente the city and county may be willing to lend as much as $8M to help finance a new arena is "a sign" the team's search for a new home "may be turning into a municipal bidding war." Warriors officials met with San Jose city leaders yesterday to iron out details of a $43M publicly financed plan to lure the team to San Jose Arena next season. Although San Jose officials have said "they have no intention of getting into a bidding war," De La Fuente's statement "may turn up the heat." De La Fuente said the loan, which would be used for preliminary design and environmental work for a new facility, would be paid back from arena revenue. Oakland may not have to offer a public subsidy the size of San Jose's because the team would have "a significant advantage" in terms of controlling revenue in its own arena. Also, 45% of the team's season ticket base is in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties (in and near Oakland), compared with 24% of ticketholders in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties (in and near San Jose) (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/12).
"As many as three-quarters" of WA House Republicans "now oppose" WA Gov. Mike Lowry's plan to finance a new stadium for the Mariners and Kingdome renovations, according to this morning's SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. Michael Paulson reports one House Republican leader said Wednesday that only a quarter to a third of the Republican-controlled body "are prepared to vote" for the proposal, which would use state money from expanded lottery games, special license plate sales and existing taxes to pay its share of the $515M price tag for the facility construction and improvements. King County's share would be financed through tax increases in car rentals, restaurants and sports tickets. The plan was made public yesterday by King County Exec Gary Locke. While Lowry's plan has the support of top Republicans, Speaker Clyde Ballard and Senate Minority Leader Dan McDonald, "the debate clearly has partisan overtones." Lowry last night called a special session to discuss the plan and is "still optimistic" some form of financing will pass. The Democrat-controlled Senate is thought to have the votes. Under the plan, the Mariners would contribute $45M, with the state and county splitting the remaining $255M (SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER, 10/12).