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IS GEORGE A BIDDER FOR ISLES OR JUST GRABBING "HEADLINES"?
Published August 27, 1997
Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner yesterday "confirmed a published report" that he has had discussions with John Pickett about buying the Islanders, according to Jim Smith of NEWSDAY. Steinbrenner's publicist Howard Rubinstein: "People have approached Steinbrenner about purchasing the Islanders but George does not want to discuss specifics." But Smith reports that NHL sources "scoffed" at the report, saying Steinbrenner is attempting to "get headlines" from a phone inquiry made about 10 days ago. One NHL source: "I don't think there's much to it. I wouldn't go crazy about it." Pickett could not be reached for comment (NEWSDAY, 8/27). In N.Y., Marc Berman reports one source said that Steinbrenner "is not willing to come close to matching" the $165M purchase price John Spano and Pickett agreed upon. The source: "Spano's price doesn't set the market price because Spano would've promised anything" (N.Y. POST, 8/27). CAVEATS: Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan said that any Isles deal would have to include its long-term SportsChannel contract, valued at $85M. Dolan said that the SportsChannel deal negotiated with Spano "is still binding." But he added, "It would be marvelous to have George in hockey" (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 8/27). But Marc Berman writes that status of the SportsChannel deal "is still undetermined" (N.Y. POST, 8/27). MSG President Dave Checketts, on Steinbrenner: "It would help firm up the [Rangers-Islanders] rivalry, unlike some of the other names I've heard. He knows how to run a sports team" (N.Y. POST, 8/27). OTHERS IN THE MIX: A member of a group led by Marquee Group CEO Bob Gutkowski, speaking on the condition of anonymity: "We've had some good discussions with (Pickett). ... We have to decide if we're going to go forward on our own or with others. If we decide to go forward, we'll pull it off. The money is there." NEWSDAY's Jim Smith reports that Robert F.X. Sillerman is no longer in contention for the Islanders. Sillerman's spokesperson Tim Klahs: "I don't think it is very likely for us to be there. There are certain powerful motivators that would disincline us from going forward." Klahs, asked if he meant the $200M asking price: "That's getting pretty high" (NEWSDAY, 8/27).