SBD/4/Franchises

HUIZENGA AIMS TO GIVE THE PEOPLE WANT THEY WANT

     Panther Owner Wayne Huizenga said yesterday he is close to
issuing a public offering of just under 50% of the team,
according to Larry Lebowitz of the FT. LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL.
Many details remain, but the announcement comes on one of the
biggest days in franchise history.  The team opens the Stanley
Cup Finals this evening in Denver, and Broward County
Commissioners are expected to approve final agreements to build a
new $212M arena.  Plans to sell majority control to Dallas
businessman John Spano were "scuttled" after Huizenga's wife and
friends convinced him to keep the team in local hands.  It
appears Huizenga and associates will maintain control of at least
50.1%, and Huizenga hinted that Panther shares "may be available
only to season-ticket holders or some other limited group of
potential investors."  The offering would need approval from the
NHL and the SEC (FT. LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL, 6/4).
     BACKGROUND:  Huizenga's office said neither of his other
teams, the Marlins or Dolphins, would be part of the offering.
Huizenga and NHL officials "are in discussions to determine
whether he would keep" 51% or 50% to comply with league ownership
rules.  The N.Y. POST's Paul Tharp notes Huizenga could be "in
conflict" with other pro leagues (N.Y. POST, 6/4).  Huizenga said
he hopes the stock will get off the ground "sometime in the next
couple of months" ("Sports View," CNBC, 6/3).  Huizenga appeared
on CNN's "Moneyline"  wearing a large rat lapel pin.  Huizenga,
on the key to the Panthers' success:  "People.  Only in America.
Except in this case, it's only in America with mostly Canadian
players and a few Czechoslovakian players and only two or three
American players.  It's management all the way" (CNN, 6/3).  A
team source estimated the initial price of the stock would be "in
the $10 to $30 range" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/4).
     TAKING STOCK:  Huizenga: "You buy these stocks because you
love the sport or want to be part of owning a team in your local
community."  Sports consultant Marty Blackman: "It's more of a
vanity stock than a business" (N.Y. POST, 6/4).  USA TODAY's
Daniel Kadlec on the timing of the announcement:  "It's called
seizing opportunity and nobody does it better than Huizenga. ...
[But] pro sports teams tend to make lackluster stocks" (USA
TODAY, 6/4).
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