Noting the Maple Leafs are "facing real live competition in the [Toronto] sports marketplace" for the first time, Stephen Brunt of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL writes the Raptors and Leafs are "jockeying" for fan support "right in front of the paying public." Brunt credits Raptors Exec VP Isiah Thomas for his "boldness" and "creativity" in not making "expansion excuses" last season and buying the franchise more "fan patience." Brunt: "The Raptors are trying to get better, fast, which might make things just a little bit uncomfortable for a hockey team that at this moment seems on the verge of entering yet another ownership- driven dark ages" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/8). REMEMBER, COTTON SHRINKS: A "rumor" that the Leafs plan to "overhaul" their logo and sweater in two years when they hope to move into a new arena was denied by Leafs Dir of Business Ops/Communications Bob Stellick, according to Lance Hornby of the TORONTO SUN. Hornby writes the "classic" Leaf currently featured on the shoulder patch could become the "dominant crest," with the new team logo moved to the shoulder. The change could also see the color black added to the current blue and white. The Leafs' Stellick said, "Not true. We're told by the league our sweater is already in the top four or five sellers. ... We have a sweater that's never gone out of style and we're happy with it" (TORONTO STAR, 10/8). EXTINCT IN HALIFAX? The Raptors are "threatening" not to play any more pre-season games in Halifax because of "sluggish" ticket sales for Friday's game with the Hawks, according to Bill Harris of the TORONTO SUN. Harris adds ticket sales are also "very slow" for pre-season contests against the Knicks in Ottawa and the Heat in Buffalo. Raptors VP/Events & Operations Brian Cooper, on sales: "We're perplexed. It's one of the hotbeds of basketball in Canada." Only 7,000 tickets have been sold for the Knicks game and "whispers" suggest the Heat matchup is in the "worst shape of all" (TORONTO SUN, 10/8).
Oilers DB Cris Dishman has filed a grievance against the Oilers in conjunction with the NFLPA over the team's method of paying its players. Dishman and the NFLPA want to force the Oilers to pay players over the 17-week regular season rather than the current policy of paying 1/3 of the salary over the season, 1/3 before April and 1/3 in May. The grievance is scheduled to be heard by an arbitrator in Houston next week (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/8)....The block on Chicago Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets in front of the Metrodome Plaza was officially renamed Kirby Puckett Place. The Twins offices are not located at 34 Kirby Puckett Place (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 10/8)....Twins Owner Carl Pohlad said he is not interested in selling the club and has not been approached by either Clark Griffith or Vance Opperman, who both have expressed interest. Pohlad: "The club is not for sale. Opperman hasn't talked to me" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 10/6)....NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello said Bears LB Bryan Cox will receive a fine of "at least $10,000" for making an obscene gesture at an official during Sunday's loss to Green Bay. Aiello: "Abuse of game officials is against our rules, both physical contact and extreme verbal abuse (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/8).
Despite reaching the NLCS for the first time since '87, the Cardinals will still lose money this year under the direction of its first year owners, according to Josh Gotthelf of the ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Fred Hanser, Chair of the group which purchased the club from Anheuser-Busch in March, said being in the playoffs "could help," but probably "won't have a big impact on the team's bottom line." In their sweep of the Padres, the club received "about" 7.5% of the ticket revenue, which was around $50,000-$75,000 a game for each team. Cardinals President Mark Lamping, asked if the organization would lose less than the $12M it claimed to lose in '95: "I don't think it would be fair to say that." However, Lamping adds, the "real benefits" of being in the playoffs will be "felt next year, not this year." The reconfiguration of Busch Stadium to include more high-end seats will generate about "about" $3M a year in additional ticket revenue. Club owners will reportedly discuss "further renovations," which could include adding more luxury seats close to the field and removing a portion of the upper deck, during this off-season. The team has taken "several steps toward making" it profitable in the future by reaching new radio/TV deals and increasing stadium signage, including a deal with The Gap, estimated at $100,000 a year, for "Gap" signs in the outfield (ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/7 issue).