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HARTFORD MAKES ONE FINAL PLAY TO SAVE THE WHALE

          A group of Hartford business and political leaders
     "want to broker an agreement" with the Whalers to keep the
     team in a new arena in Hartford, according to Mike Swift of
     the HARTFORD COURANT.  The group is "reaching out" to Owner
     Peter Karmanos "with a carrot and a rope" to bring him back
     to the bargaining table with CT Gov. John Rowland.  The
     group is asking the Rowland Administration to delay final
     approval of the team's $20.5M exit agreement with the state
     and is offering the team $20M in support from the city. 
     Swift writes that Karmanos "apparently did not understand
     the full value of the city's offer" when he rejected the
     state's final bid last week.  Whalers President Jim
     Rutherford: "I hope that the change in the offer is enough
     to make this deal work."   Also, Brian Foley, owner of the
     CBA Connecticut Pride, said he would head a group to buy the
     Whalers if operating losses "can be cut" to $6M annually. 
     They are now estimated at $15M/year (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/1).
          REAX:  Hartford Mayor Michael Peters, who is leading
     the effort at mediation: "I gotta give a damn.  I'm the
     mayor" (Tom Puleo, HARTFORD COURANT, 4/1).  An editorial in
     Friday's COURANT called Karmanos' "cavalier fatalism about
     what to the Hartford region is a major economic blow was
     galling."  It also wrote that Rowland's negotiations with
     Karmanos "seemed lethargic from the outset. His tone never
     reflected the urgency of the situation" (HARTFORD COURANT,
     3/28).  COURANT sports columnist Jeff Jacobs gave two
     reasons the Whalers failed: a history of poor performance
     and the fact that "distant fiefdoms in our state don't give
     a hoot about" the team (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/29).  The
     COURANT's Swift & Keating wrote an extensive page-one piece
     Sunday entitled "Anatomy Of A Deal That Didn't Happen"
     (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/30).  In N.Y., Frank Brown wrote "just
     about everybody" did their "best" to keep the team in
     Hartford.  Brown: "It didn't work out, and that's that.  You
     can't keep throwing good money after bad, so goodbye" (N.Y.
     DAILY NEWS, 3/28).
          SUITORS: ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "Remember hockey fans,
     this team could be yours, if -- the price is right" 
     ("SportsCenter," 3/27).  Karmanos, on potential new homes
     for the Whalers: "Columbus is in it big time.  I like
     Columbus."  He also said St. Paul, MN, and Raleigh-Durham,
     NC, "are at the top of his list" (Kevin Allen, USA TODAY,
     3/28).  In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote that "insiders
     say" that Las Vegas "is a Karmanos favorite" (BOSTON GLOBE,
     3/30).  In MN, Gov. Arne Carlson said he would support bonds
     to renovate the St. Paul Civic Center in an effort to lure
     the team (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/28).

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