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              The St. Paul, MN, City Council "gave its blessing"
         Wednesday night to preliminary plans "to overhaul the Civic
         Center" to attract an NHL team (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE,
         1/9)....In New York, Jim Dwyer of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS writes
         about the Yankees' charitable donations, noting that they
         went from $240,000 in '95 to $150,000 in '96.  Dwyer: "No
         one says the Yankees have to give a dime to charity.  But
         you don't go cheap the year they call you a champion.  It's
         another part of the prize that comes with winning" (N.Y.
         DAILY NEWS, 1/9)....In New York, Mark Kriegel looks at the
         first season of Wayne Gretzky in New York under the header,
         "City Slow To Embrace Ice Age, Even With Gretzky."  Kriegel: 
         "The Rangers are still the Rangers.  They've yet to create
         the buzz beyond the building.  The columnists who heralded
         the Great Gretzky's arrival haven't made the time to catch a
         game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/9)....NFL Oilers' RB Eddie George,
         on lack of attendance at home games affecting the team's
         playoff chances: "We had the best road record in the NFL. 
         Who's to say ... we only needed one more win, so probably, I
         think we could have made it" ("Up Close," ESPN, 1/8).

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, ESPN, Franchises, New York Yankees, NFL, NHL, Walt Disney

              Lakers Owner Jerry Buss is the latest to express
         interest in buying the Dodgers, according to Hiltzik, Bates
         & Cooper of the L.A. TIMES, who note, Buss "has never hid
         his interests in expanding his horizons to football or
         baseball."  Buss said, through a spokesperson, "I'm the
         biggest Dodgers fan in Los Angeles.  I'd like to be part of
         a group that buys them."  Buss also owns the Forum and owned
         the NHL Kings from '79-88.  Despite interested parties, L.A.
         Mayor Richard Riordan said such talk is "premature because
         [Dodgers President] Peter O'Malley hasn't even set up a
         process yet" for accepting bids.  Riordan said he briefly
         considered bidding for at least a part ownership in the
         team, but "quickly abandoned the idea because it might
         conflict with his role as mayor" (L.A. TIMES, 1/9).
              THE USUAL SUSPECTS: News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch is
         taking a "wait-and-see" approach amid speculation he may buy
         the team, according to Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. 
         Fox Sports spokesperson Vince Wladika: "Ever since our high-
         profile entrance into the world of sports, Mr. Murdoch and
         Fox seem to have a perpetual place on the 'usual suspects'
         list" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/9).  Responses from other
         companies rumored to be interested:  Peter Wilkes, Sony
         Corp. of America VP/Exec Communications: "There is no
         interest at this point."  Nike spokesperson Jim Small:
         "There's always speculation about us buying a sports
         franchise, but we choose not to comment" (USA TODAY, 1/9). 
         Peter Ueberroth, another potential buyer, was interviewed on
         CNBC's "Business Insiders."  Ueberroth stated "chances are"
         his group would make a bid, "and the chances are it won't be
         successful."  Ueberroth: "[T]his is a very, very premier
         sports franchise, maybe the best in the whole world.  And I
         think that it will go for a very high price, and my group is
         economic buyers, and we have to do it to make it make sense
         financially ... somebody else can approach it with a
         different kind of look" (CNBC, 1/8).   
              MORE SUSPECTS: People Magazine's Mitchell Fink listed
         some rumored potential buyers for the Dodgers, which include
         Magic Johnson, Tommy Lasorda, Marvin Davis, Planet Hollywood
         and Michael Ovitz, among others.  Fink:  "Ovitz's name is
         especially intriguing because he could really stick it to
         Disney, owner of the rival Anaheim Angels, by using the
         severance pay he just received from Disney as a down payment
         for the Dodgers.  O'Malley said on Monday he didn't want the
         sale of the team to become a circus.  I say, 'fat chance'"
         ("Showbiz Today," CNN, 1/8).  
              ONE GLOVE: Jay Leno, on lawyer Robert Shapiro's
         interest: "Imagine if he bought the team?  Suddenly none of
         the gloves would fit" ("Tonight Show," NBC, 1/8).  ESPN's
         Keith Olbermann, on Shapiro: "Well, he's always had success
         with guys who had one glove" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/8).

    Print | Tags: LA Angels, ESPN, Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, NBC, Nike, Orlando Magic, Walt Disney

              MLB has begun an investigation into allegations that
         Reds Owner Marge Schott used the names of seven Reds
         employees to falsify cars sales, according to Geoff Hobson
         in the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER.  NL President Leonard Coleman:
         "If these allegations are true, they would be very serious. 
         Warranted action would follow.  But ...she hasn't even had
         the chance to respond to GM's allegations, so let's be
         fair."  Coleman said MLB's investigation will continue
         despite the fact that Schott is selling the dealership, but
         would not say whether using the names of Reds employees
         violated the agreement Schott signed when she had to
         relinquish control of the team (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/9).

    Print | Tags: Cincinnati Reds, Franchises, MLB

              The Pistons early season success is "translating into
         big gate and television returns for the team," according to
         David Barkholz of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS.  Pistons
         President Tom Wilson said that following the team's 16th
         home game, paid attendance was up 1,900 a game, a 15%
         increase over last year.  The Pistons have had nine sellouts
         this year, compared to ten in all of '95-96.  Soon after the
         Pistons' strong start, Northwest Air, Taco Bell and
         Montgomery Ward filled the unsold TV spots.  The Pistons
         also locked up two "key" sponsorships just before the
         season, with Budweiser and a "coalition" of the Metro
         Detroit Ford Dealers and GM.  Pistons Exec VP Dan Hauser
         said Budweiser's deal was a new four-year agreement to
         replace a four-year deal that had expired.  The car
         coalition replaces Chrysler Corp., which had a 12-year
         affiliation with Pistons TV.  In an effort to promote
         separate brand identity among products, Chrysler decided to
         leave buying spots up to the various Chrysler divisions. 
         The Pistons are also experiencing more merchandise sales,
         with game day sales at the Palace up nearly 50%, partly due
         to higher attendance and changes this season to the team's
         colors and logo (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 1/6 issue).
              METS CUT MARLBORO MAN: The Marlboro Man "is gone" from
         Shea Stadium, according to Marty Noble in NEWSDAY.  The
         five-year deal between the Mets and Philip Morris USA
         expired last season, and Philip Morris declined to exercise
         its option for another five-year term.  The location of the
         Marlboro sign, "and the number of times" the sign appeared
         in TV shots, "had become issues in recent years."  The Mets
         will "not seek new tobacco advertising" (NEWSDAY, 1/9).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Detroit Pistons, Franchises, New York Mets, Wilson Sporting Goods

              The Twins yesterday unveiled a proposed ballpark
         partnership in which Owner Carl Pohlad would contribute 49%
         of the team's stock to the state in return for assistance on
         stadium financing and a 30-year lease commitment by the team
         to remain in MN.  In total, the Twins would contribute
         $157.5M toward the new stadium, including $82.5M in cash,
         $25M in up-front project revenues, and the 49% ownership
         interest, which is valued in excess of $50M.  The proposal
         would require approval by MLB, but with public ownership of
         the team's stock, the state would be able to prevent the
         Twins from leaving MN.  The Pohlad family would own 51%,
         retain sole rights to field and manage the team and be
         responsible for all operating losses (Twins).  
              REAX: In Minneapolis, Whereatt & Weiner write the Twins
         and stadium backers "hope" the contribution is "enough to
         persuade legislators to approve the deal and come up with
         the difference in public money," nearly $200M.  A
         retractable-roof stadium is estimated at $354M.  Pohlad:
         "It's a fair plan; in fact, more than fair."  MN Gov. Arne
         Carlson: "This sounds like a very reasonable offer.  I think
         it's the best package of it's type put forward in the U.S.
         in the past 15 years."  The public's 49% stake could be held
         by the state or sold.  But, Whereatt & Weiner note, the
         proposal got a "cool" reception from state legislators. 
         State Rep. Loren Solberg, chair of a top House budget
         committee: "I want to see where the rest of the dollars come
         from.  I'm not won over so far" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE,
         1/9).  Sen. John Marty: "It's not going to fool the public. 
         I don't think it's going to fool most legislators"
         (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/9).  Weiner notes MLB has "long
         frowned" on public ownership.  But Carl Pohlad's son Bob
         said, "We expect no objections.  The operating control of
         the club rests with my dad" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/9).
              A 'GIFT': Under the header, "A Gift From The Pohlads,"
         columnist Patrick Reusse writes that the Pohlads "could have
         followed the pattern set by baseball proprietors in Chicago,
         Cleveland, Seattle and Cincinnati, and by football owners in
         Cleveland, Houston, and Los Angeles. ... Instead, a
         remarkable thing happened" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/9).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB
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