SBD/3/Franchises

FRANCHISE NOTES

          Felix Sabates, who withdrew Raleigh's bid for an NHL
     expansion team after he could not work out a lease agreement
     at a proposed arena, contends -- "and sources on the NHL
     Board of governors agree" -- that Raleigh would have made
     the league's cut from eleven candidates to six and had a
     chance of winning a franchise.  Sabates: "It's a
     heartbreaker. ... I tell you this Raleigh thing is a real
     heartbreaker" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/1)....Shares in Ascent
     Entertainment Group are "slouching toward historic lows" due
     to "too much uncertainty," according to industry observers. 
     N.Y.-based Smith Barney analyst Bill Meyers: "Everybody has
     questions, but nobody is providing the answers."  Among the
     unknowns: "Who will manage the company?"  MD-based Comsat
     Corp. announced plans to divest its 80% stake in Ascent in
     October, but no buyers have surfaced so far; "Can the
     company be kept together?; Can a lucrative arena deal be cut
     with the city of Denver?" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/28)....The
     Lions hope to begin negotiating "in the next few months,"
     with the Pontiac Stadium Authority to discuss leaving the
     Silverdome before their lease expires in 2004.  The team
     hopes to be in their new stadium "for the 2001 season"
     (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/1).  


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