SBD/5/Franchises

JETS CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF, BUT WILL LANDING BE SMOOTH?

     As health care exec Richard Burke said yesterday that he
expects to announce a deal this weekend to buy the NHL Jets at
the end of the season, MN legislative leaders said state help for
the team will be difficult to sell.  Jay Weiner reports in this
morning's Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE that MN House Speaker Irv
Anderson said he is "not going to the wall" for a plan to help
bring the team to the Target Center.  A news conference in the
Twin Cities is set for Sunday to announce that Burke has a deal
for the team.  But Burke has said he needs public aid to make the
Jets a "viable franchise" at the Target Center.  Anderson said he
does not support a plan to give the team's owners a rebate on the
Jets' players' state income taxes as a subsidy.  Next Wednesday,
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will join Burke in a meeting with
the State's Advisory Task Force on Professional Sports
(Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 10/5).
     CONFLICT OF INTEREST?  In this morning's Vancouver PROVINCE,
columnist Kent Gilchrist writes that the "NHL's treatment of the
city of Winnipeg and its loyal hockey fans is one of the sorrier
aspects to the costly and drawn-out death of the Jets."
Gilchrist notes speculation that NHL VP of Hockey Ops Brian Burke
will be the President & COO of Richard Burke's Minnesota
franchise, creating an "obvious conflict of interest."  Gilchrist
also asks who will be responsible for paying the $6M-plus
contract of Keith Tkachuck this season:  Manitoba taxpayers or
Burke?  Both had a stake in "the quick decision to match" the
offer sheet the star had signed with the Blackhawks.  Gilchrist
writes if the Jets lose C$15M-20M this season, "there is no way
the government's 36 percent ownership share of the sale will come
close to covering losses. ... The league appears ready to further
stick it to Winnipeg and Manitoba by making them pick up the
first year of Tkachuck's contract and then hand the team over to
Richard Burke" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/5).
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