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The Oilers "reaffirmed their two-year commitment to Memphis on Monday, despite abysmal attendance" at their first two games at the Liberty Bowl, according to John Glennon of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Oilers Exec VP Don MacLachlan said that the team has "no plans to pull the plug on Memphis" despite speculation the team might choose to play at Vanderbilt in '98, as it waits for Nashville's stadium to be built by '99. MacLachlan: "We realize that in coming (to Tennessee), there were a lot of things we had to accomplish in a very short period of time. We did have some snafus, and some problems coming out of the gate. But we're looking to the future." To help increase attendance, MacLachlan said the team is working with NFLP, "though he declined to say whether possible changes being discussed involve team colors and nickname" (COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/23). MORE NEWS: ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "The league acknowledges that it's embarrassing, it's not a good situation, and they're sending their marketing arm in there to roll up its sleeve a little bit and get to work and see how they can fix this situation. [Oilers Owner] Bud Adams ... is taking a bath." ESPN's Mitch Albom: "[T]his is the fault of owner Bud Adams and the rest of the league. Did they really think carpet-bagging the team to a two-year, temporary home would be a popular move? ... Pretty amazing -- a league that fines players for not having their shirts tucked in, allows a mess like this" ("PrimeMonday," 9/22).
Pacers President Donnie Walsh, on landing a WNBA team: "I am confident we'll be a viable candidate [for expansion] when the new arena is complete" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 9/23)....The Nets will hold their '97 training camp in Atlantic City (Bergen RECORD, 9/18)....In Toronto, Gary Picknell wrote the Bills, who estimate that as much as 10% of their fans are from southern Ontario, are "concerned about the possibility of a new U.S. law" which would require Canadians to fill out visas and exit and entry forms before crossing the border. The law could go into effect next September (TORONTO SUN, 9/21).
NEWSDAY's Joe Gergen writes today on the NFL football scene in New York: "Who owned New York? There wasn't much doubt, even when the Giants were stumbling through the Ray Handley hangover or Dan Reeves' lame-duck season a year ago. But from the moment Leon Hess introduced Bill Parcells as head coach and chief of football operations officer on Feb. 11, interest in the Jets has grown to the extent that it now threatens to overtake the NFL's flagship franchise. ... The [Giants'] erosion of support that began under Reeves appears to be continuing under [new head coach Jim] Fassel. ... The Giants still have a longer waiting list for season tickets, deeper roots in the community and one more Super Bowl trophy than the Jets. ... By contrast, the Jets offer a vision of progress. ... The image of Parcells is everywhere." Gergen concludes that "obviously the [Jets] fans have gotten the message" as evidence by the near capacity crowds that attended the team's first two home games (NEWSDAY, 9/23). NOTE: In DC, Thomas Heath reports that Sunday's Jaguars-Redskins game will be listed as a sellout despite club seats remaining. The Redskins have more than 1,500 of the club seats -- which cost between $99 and $199 a game -- left to be sold (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).
Mighty Duck fans who sign up for the "Die-Hard Duck Frequent Fan Rewards Program" will receive a "Goal Card," according to Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Once inside The Pond, fans can swipe their "Goal Card" through a kiosk machine to receive two points. An accumulation of 20 points is good for a Ducks team poster, 44 points can get you into a private practice session, 60 points is good for two Disneyland tickets and 80 points equals a brunch with the team's coaching staff (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/21). WHAT'S IN A NAME?: The St. Paul NHL expansion team is "giving fans an extra week to offer" suggestions on what to name the team. In addition to Gnats and Frozen Ears, fans in the "fishing-crazy" state have suggested the Flying Walleye, Ninja Muskies and Fighting Smelt. Other suggestions include the Corn Dogs, Ten Thousand Lakers and Puckeroos. Along with the nickname, the team also has to decide on what geographical reference to use, either Minnesota or St. Paul (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/23). NOTES: The Avalanche have a waiting list "of about" 3,000 fans (HOCKEY NEWS, 9/26)...In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes that the Senators "continue to be a tough sell in the suburb," as they are "stalled" at 9,400 season-ticket sales and have 47 unsold luxury suites (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/23).