The Capitals have announced "Furlough Friday," a promotion which offers discounted tickets for Friday's game against the Oilers to all federal employees (Capitals).... Mavericks Owner Donald Carter said the way the Bulls and Blackhawks share revenue 50-50 at the United Center should be a model for Dallas (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/20)....As Blazers Owner Paul Allen explores the possibility of purchasing the Panthers, Blazer officials last week sent surveys to season-ticket holders asking if they would be willing to buy NHL tickets -- and, if so, how much they would spend. Allen should decide by the end of the month whether to buy an existing team, wait for the next round of expansion, or take a pass (L.A. TIMES, 12/20).
Jets Owners Richard Burke and Steven Gluckstern officially announced an agreement yesterday with Suns Chair Jerry Colangelo to have the team play in America West Arena next season. The team's lease at America West will run 15 years, depending on undisclosed renewal options (USA TODAY, 12/20). According to a the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, Jets President Barry Shenkarow has signed a 10-year agreement to be a consultant to the club in Phoenix. It was also announced yesterday that a contest will be held to decide the name of the team. The team colors will include purple (a staple of Colangelo teams), and the name will include "Phoenix" rather than "Arizona." Gluckstern said some names mentioned have been the Coyotes, Scorpions, Mustangs, Posse, Outlaws, Dry Ice ... and Jets (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/20). HOT SPORTS MARKET (BUT IT'S A DRY HEAT): ESPN's Bob Ley called Phoenix "the newest burgeoning sports capital of the U.S." ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/19).
Orange County commissioners voted yesterday to create a task force of Central Florida business, sports and political leaders for a "last-ditch" effort to get the Bucs to move to Orlando, according to the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The move comes after Orange County Chair Linda Chapin's comments last week that they will not offer a "sweetheart deal" to the Bucs. Still, the task force's goals are vague -- the group has no negotiating authority and mirrors the Orlando Area Sports Commission (Lawrence Lebowitz, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/20).
The Bears held another round of talks with officials in northwest Indiana Tuesday, moving closer to a "memorandum of understanding" committing the team to move to Gary if a local income tax increase is approved, according to the CHICAGO SUN- TIMES. Indiana stadium group spokesperson Colleen Dykes said an agreement outlining terms under which the Bears would move could be finalized in "two or three weeks." Bears VP Ted Phillips said it could take as long as a few months for "major contingencies" to be addressed to the team's satisfaction. Tuesday's negotiations were the first since the Bears broke off talks with the city of Chicago (Fran Spielman, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/20). BLITZ: Proponents of a Bears stadium in Gary plan to launch an advertising "blitz" this weekend, according to the GARY POST- TRIBUNE. Readers of Sunday's Post-Tribune and Munster Times will see full-page ads touting the $482M stadium. NIPSCO (the local power company) customers will also get a similar ad in monthly billing statements. The print ads, which cost $4,500, will be paid for by the Dewey Parriman Construction Advancement Foundation, the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Northwest Indiana Forum. The Convention and Visitors Bureau has earmarked $10,000 to market the stadium idea and is trying to get its information to the public first. NIPSCO has already spent $400,000 on marketing, consultants' fees, environmental tests, architectural renderings and feasibility studies. NIPSCO is counting on Northwest Indiana-Chicago Land Entertainment Inc. repaying that money as residents are concerned utility rates will go up with the stadium spending. Dykes says the money comes from NIPSCO's economic development budget, set up to lure business to the region (Peter Van Allen, GARY POST-TRIBUNE, 12/19).