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         A city hall source in Chicago says an NFL team interested in
    playing in Chicago should the Bears leave has "put out feelers"
    to the city, according to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.  While the
    identity of that team has not been formally disclosed, the SUN-
    TIMES' Spielman and Gillis report that when asked if it was the
    Cardinals, the source said, "That's a very good guess."  The
    contact from the team comes on the same day Chicago Mayor Richard
    Daley met with other mayors of NFL cities to examine how to
    restrict teams from relocating (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/15).  The
    TRIBUNE's John Kass reports that Chicago's "back-channel"
    diplomacy with the Cardinals is seen by some as a way to "kick-
    start" negotiations with the Bears.  Kass adds the report "lost a
    bit of its edge" when Cardinals General Counsel Thomas Guilfoil
    said he was "personally unaware of any meaningful communication"
    between the team and Chicago.  Kass adds that Cardinals Owner
    Bill Bidwill and the McCaskey family are "good friends" and that
    Bidwill is unlikely to "undermine" the Bears' negotiating
    position (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/15).

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bears, Franchises, NFL

         The IHL Roadrunners plan to stay in Phoenix despite the
    pending arrival of an NHL team.  Roadrunner GM Adam Keller: "As
    in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, where IHL teams compete with
    the NHL, we also pay attention to a different niche of fans"
    (AP/DESERET NEWS, 12/15)....The Mariners and Spring Training
    Tours have already sold over 620 packages for spring training
    games during the month of March.  The previous record was 275
    packages in '93 (Mariners)....In a poll of 704 Seattle residents
    conducted by the SEATTLE TIMES, 617 did not favor helping the
    Seahawks with taxes or a new lease, while 87 did (SEATTLE TIMES,

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NHL, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Vulcan Ventures

         The NFL has come to the Carolinas with the winningest
    expansion franchise in NFL history, but the Panthers have not
    exactly won over their home region, according to a report in
    SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.  Ed Hinton notes Panthers officials had high
    expectations for attendance going into its inaugural season.  The
    team decided to play at Clemson's 74,300-seat Memorial Stadium
    while Carolinas Stadium is finished so, as Panther Owner Jerry
    Richardson put it, South Carolina could "feel a sense of
    ownership."  But the Panthers are only averaging 55,399, 5th from
    the last in the NFL.  Hinton writes the biggest deterrent is the
    fact that Clemson "'home' games are so far from home."  Clemson
    is as much as a six-hour trip from the triangle region of NC and
    150 miles southwest of Charlotte.  The Panthers also negotiated
    with the Univ. of SC for the use of their 72,400-seat stadium,
    but the school wanted a $5M rental package, while Clemson only
    costs between $2-3M, depending on ticket revenue.  The Panthers
    will play to larger crowds next season in their new $160M,
    72,500-seat stadium in Charlotte.  The team has already sold
    50,000 PSLs and according to local columnist Ron Green: "They'll
    sell it out, and they'll never have another empty seat" (SI,
    12/18 issue).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NFL, Sports Illustrated

         For the second time this year, Rockets officials have
    "slapped down" rumors that the team was moving -- this time a
    report in the January '96 issue of TEXAS MONTHLY that Rockets
    Owner Les Alexander is secretly negotiating to move the team to
    Las Vegas.  Rockets Dir of PR Kathy Frietsch calls the report
    "absolutely ridiculous."  Texas Monthly spokesperson Lisa
    Lawrence said they stand by the story, which documents teams
    leaving cities and focuses on the Oilers' move to Nashville and
    the problems of Astros Owner Drayton McLane.  The story cites two
    sources who claim Alexander is not happy with his situation at
    The Summit and is interested in Las Vegas.  The HOUSTON
    CHRONICLE's Michael Murphy notes an August report they had
    mentioning Las Vegas, but team officials at that time also said
    denied any discussions or plans.  Murphy also notes a move to Las
    Vegas would face serious challenges from the NBA because of its
    stance on gambling.  The league required Canada to change laws
    regarding sports wagering before clearing the way for expansion
    teams in Toronto and Vancouver, and the league was also success
    in forcing the state of Oregon to discontinue its sports lottery
    (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/15).  The Rockets' lease with the Summit
    runs through 2003 (USA TODAY, 12/15).
         GO 'STROS:  Ed Fowler writes with the Astros' resigning of
    Craig Biggio, Owner Drayton McLane is betting on a comeback of
    baseball in Houston (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/15).

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, NBA

         Today marks the final day of voting in the Boston Market-
    sponsored contest to rename the Bullets, after which a five-
    person "blue ribbon" panel will decide on the finalist.
    According to the WASHINGTON TIMES, Bullets President Susan
    O'Malley says the team has received over 300,000 responses,
    adding that the panel -- made up of Bullets forward Juwan Howard,
    local sports anchor George Michael, WTEM-AM GM Bob Snyder, a
    representative from Boston Market, and either O'Malley or Bullets
    Owner Abe Pollin -- will give weight to names received, but will
    not be limited by those entries.  O'Malley said trademarking the
    name is an issue, adding the team would rather drop a potential
    name from contention rather than go through a trademark dispute.
    An announcement of a new name is expected February 22.  Last
    month, O'Malley said the front-runners were Glory, Justice,
    Ravens and Wizards (Frank Hughes, WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/15).

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Franchises
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