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  • CRAZY LIKE A FOX: PHILLY MAG EXAMINES SIXERS' PAT CROCE

         New 76ers President Pat Croce is profiled by Larry Platt in
    the current issue of PHILADELPHIA magazine, with a focus on
    Croce's role in getting Harold Katz to sell the team.  Croce
    "conceived and pulled off what may have been the deal's most
    critical move" -- becoming the "middleman" between Katz and
    Comcast's Ralph and Brian Roberts in order to avoid "potentially
    incendiary" situations arising by having all parties meet
    together at once.  As 10% owner and team president, Croce now
    makes the team's staff call game-nights "show-night."  Croce also
    reportedly wants to call the team's new mascot "Boo."  Croce:
    "This way, if the mascot sucks and the fans boo, it'll be like
    they're chanting his name."  Croce "disciples" accept, and even
    "cherish," his style of "management by fear."  76ers VP of Sales
    Fran Cassidy:   "He never gives it to you personally and he never
    holds a grudge.  When it happens, you just tell yourself he's
    trying to make you better at that moment.  Listen, I get up every
    morning and thank God I work for him.  It's an honor every day"
    (PHILADELPHIA, 8/96 issue).
    

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Franchises, Philadelphia 76ers
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

         Citing negative fan reaction, Ravens Exec VP David Modell
    said the team will "scale back" future use of an authentic "caw"
    recording played repeatedly at Saturday's preseason opener
    (Baltimore SUN, 8/7)....The financially troubled A-League Atlanta
    Ruckus could gain new ownership as early as today.  The league
    has been running the franchise since former Owner Johnny Imerman
    dropped his investment in June (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/7)....The
    ABL's New England entry will be called the Blizzard.  The team's
    logo will feature a polar bear (AP/WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/7)....The
    Spurs have teamed with seven of 13 area chambers of commerce in
    an effort to boost corporate season ticket sales and keep the
    team in San Antonio (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 8/6)....The 76ers
    plan to announce the location of their new practice facility at a
    press conference tomorrow (76ers).
    

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Comcast-Spectacor, Franchises, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs
  • HEAT REPORTEDLY TO BAIL ON HOWARD ARBITRATION

         The Heat has withdrawn its claim on Juwan Howard meaning the
    free agent is free to re-sign with the Bullets, according to
    ESPN's David Aldridge.  Howard had originally signed with the
    Heat, but the NBA ruled the deal violated league salary cap
    rules.  The Bullets said they have heard nothing from the league,
    and no announcements were scheduled as of last night (ESPNET,
    8/7).  While NBA Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Mishkin
    told the WASHINGTON POST they are "clearly not close to an
    agreement," he added, "I am very confident Juwan Howard will
    remain with Washington."  Sources familiar with the talks say
    Heat President & Coach Pat Riley wants a waiver to re-sign free
    agents Walt Williams and Rex Chapman, both of whom he had
    renounced (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 8/7).  The MIAMI HERALD
    also reports the NBA "was exerting pressure on the Heat" to give
    up on arbitration (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 8/7).  However,
    the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL reports the Heat will not abandon
    the fight and that the league denies any resolution.  NBA
    spokesperson Chris Brienza:  "As for the Heat giving up the fight
    for Juwan, that has not happened" (Robes Patton, Ft. Lauderdale
    SUN-SENTINEL, 8/7).  Should they pursue the matter, the Heat
    could face "stiff penalties" -- as much as $5M in fines -- for
    violating league cap rules (Karen Goldberg, WASHINGTON TIMES,
    8/7).
         OPINION:  In DC, Michael Wilbon writes, "I'm wondering now
    whether the NBA was this offended by Miami's arrogance/
    miscalculation, or more concerned over the outcry over losing the
    signature player in a city where a new building is going up"
    (WASHINGTON POST, 8/7).  Knicks Coach Jeff van Gundy:  "I can't
    believe there hasn't been an outcry by other teams in the NBA"
    (NEWSDAY, 8/7).  In Miami, Greg Cote writes, "This smells foul,
    like something is seriously not right."  Cote accuses
    Commissioner David Stern of letting "his obvious animus" toward
    Riley "run amok at the expense of his and the league's integrity"
    (MIAMI HERALD, 8/7).  In Philadelphia, John Smallwood writes,
    "It's not far-fetched to think that what has happened is the
    NBA's way of giving Riley and the Heat a little payback for past
    transgressions and lessons not learned" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 8/7).
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, ESPN, Franchises, Miami Heat, NBA, New York Knicks, Walt Disney
  • MAPLE LEAF GARDENS SHUTS ITS GATES TO THE PUBLIC

         Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd.'s final official shareholder meeting
    brought an end to Steve Stavro's five-year battle to get control
    of the company.  During Tuesday's meeting, minority shareholders
    upset with Stavro's decision to take the company private tried to
    make their presence known.  But due to Stavro's 95.5% (through
    MLG Ventures Ltd.) control, the outcome was never in doubt.  The
    motion easily passed, and MLG will be a private entity once the
    company buys up the remaining 4.5% of shares at a cost of
    C$49.50/share.  While Stavro did not speak at the meeting, MLG
    Director George Whyte said the plan will save on taxes which will
    in turn allow for improvements to the NHL club (Peter
    Fitzpatrick, FINANCIAL POST, 8/7).  With the end of this long
    saga, TORONTO SUN's Al Strachan gets in a few parting shots at
    Stavro and the company.  He notes a number of unanswered
    questions mostly having to do with how all of these public
    companies were able to hold secret negotiations without the best
    interest of Harold Ballard's heirs being represented.  Now that
    the company is private, Strachan notes it will be easier for "the
    stonewalling" to continue: "It has been a flawless strategy so
    far" (TORONTO SUN, 8/6).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NHL
  • ROGER, HOUSTON -- OVER AND OUT? MCLANE TO STAR PROCESS?

         Astros Owner Drayton McLane meets with MLB's Executive
    Council in Milwaukee today to discuss the financial condition of
    his club and review negotiations with Harris County on a new
    stadium, according to the WASHINGTON POST.  It is unclear if
    McLane will ask for clearance to re-open talks to move the Astros
    to Northern VA.  However, Astros Senior VP Bob McClaren said the
    issue could come up if the Council is "receptive" to the club's
    situation.  One MLB owner said McLane "almost certainly will not"
    formally petition for relocation, noting such a move is "another
    two weeks to a month away."  Yesterday, McLane and Harris County
    Judge Robert Eckels met for the first time since Eckels' pitch
    for a $250M ballpark last week.  McLane told Eckels the offer is
    "unacceptable" because of the $8M a year club contribution (Mark
    Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 8/7).
         RUT-RO:  Eckels is urging MLB to wait until a proposed
    November referendum before deciding on a move.  As evidence of
    voter support for a new facility, he cited a poll commissioned by
    the county of 650 likely voters which shows 62% support for
    building the ballpark on the terms Eckels offered on August 1.
    Eckels:  "It would be foolish for the league to then turn around
    and say, 'We're sorry Houston, we don't care what you think, we
    don't care about your support for the sports, we're going to
    leave you short.'"  Virginia Baseball Exec VP Mike Scanlon said
    they would have no comment until McLane receives MLB's permission
    to re-open talks.  Scanlon:  "We're not even mentioning the H-
    word or the A-word."  Meanwhile, county commissioners approved
    Eckels' request to hire Philadelphia-based Stafford Sports
    Ventures and Houston-based Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton to help
    with stadium planning.  Eckels had passed on Stafford because the
    firm had a contract with VA's Baseball Stadium Authority.  Eckels
    is now "satisfied" Stafford is not working for VA (John Williams,
    HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/7).
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Houston Astros, MLB
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