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).

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