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  • COLD FEET IN FLORIDA? MARLINS SALE MAY BE ON ICE

              Marlins Owner Wayne Huizenga plans to meet with local
         politicians in the next two weeks to "discuss the
         possibility" of a publicly funded baseball-only new ballpark,
         and if he gets one, "he will keep the team," according to
         Mike Phillips of the MIAMI HERALD.  With the World Series
         heightening South FL's interest in the team, "not only" is
         Huizenga considering keeping the team, but local politicians
         "are approaching him for the first time" about a new ballpark
         (MIAMI HERALD, 10/26).  In Fort Lauderdale, Larry Lebowitz
         reports that a team of Huizenga lobbyists is "looking at a
         variety of possible public funding options and sites" (Ft.
         Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 10/26).  Huizenga, on his expected
         losses: "Right now I'm in for $235 million and we're trying
         to sell the Marlins for $160 million.  So, if I get my price,
         I'll still lose $75 million.  It's been a pretty bad
         experience for five years" (USA TODAY, 10/27).
              POST-PARTY INTERVIEW: Huizenga was interviewed on NBC's 
         "Today" show.  Huizenga, on the sale of the team: "I believe
         that in order for us to get a stadium in this town that I
         have to remove myself from the process" ("Today," NBC 10/27).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Miami Marlins, Franchises, NBC
  • FALCONS OWNER RANKIN SMITH SR. DIES AT AGE 72

              Falcons Owner & Chair Rankin Smith Sr. died in Atlanta
         yesterday at the age of 72.  In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli
         writes that Smith "was remembered by colleagues Sunday as a
         visionary who pioneered the rise of professional sports
         franchises in the South," and remained one of the few
         "'family' stewards in a sport in which corporate ownership
         has increased."  Smith, who purchased the Falcons in '65 for
         $8.5M, was regarded around the NFL as a "mainstream" owner
         who "rarely bucked the agendas of commissioners ... and
         generally placed the good of the league above that of the
         Falcons" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).  Soto & Payne write
         that Smith "was the driving force behind the construction of
         the Georgia Dome," and was "credited" with bringing two Super
         Bowls games to Atlanta (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).
              TEAM'S FUTURE: Pasquarelli also reports that "there were
         no signs" on Sunday that Smith's death "would result in the
         sale" of the team.  Smith said recently that he had purchased
         several high-premium insurance policies "to assist his heirs
         in dealing with the sort of estate tax problems that have
         plagued other franchises" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Franchises, NFL
  • POHLAD'S $111M OFFER FOR BALLPARK MET WITH "COOL" RESPONSE

              Twins Owner Carl Pohlad pledged $111M toward
         construction of a new ballpark Friday, "an announcement that
         left [MN] legislators unimpressed and talking instead about
         acquiring the team from him," according to Weiner & Whereatt
         of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Because reaction to
         Pohlad's offer was "cool," legislators and Gov. Arne Carlson
         "instead began talking about having a charitable foundation
         created by the state take ownership of the team and build a
         scaled-down stadium."  Pohlad's offer of $111M includes "at
         least" $35M in upfront revenue from selling the naming rights
         to the stadium and vendor rights (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25). 
              DETAILS: Pohlad's $111M offer toward the $411M ballpark
         "matched exactly" the recommendation by a legislative task
         force earlier this month.  However, Weiner & Whereatt add 
         that the offer is based on certain conditions: the team
         "would have to control all stadium revenue, if and when it's
         built; the team's Metrodome lease would have to be changed to
         increase team revenue by "at least" $3.5M a year while a new
         ballpark is being built and the business community would have
         to "guarantee" the purchase of 40 of the stadium's 50 luxury
         suites, and 22,000 season tickets in 2002, when the stadium
         would open -- "more than double the current season ticket
         sales."  Sources say that Pohlad "would recoup his investment
         in about 20 years by receiving all of the revenue generated"
         by the $411M stadium (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25). 
              NOTES: Despite Pohlad's offer, MN Senate Majority Leader
         Roger Moe said ballpark approval remains a "long shot" in the
         Senate and is also unlikely in the House (ST. PAUL PIONEER
         PRESS, 10/26)....In MN, Sid Hartman wrote that with his
         pledge, Pohlad has secured the "guarantee that baseball
         owners would not block a possible move to" NC, if his offer
         is rejected.  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on Pohlad's
         offer: "By comparison, this is extraordinary and generous"
         (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25)....In Minneapolis, Dick Youngblood:
         "[T]he most distinctive aspect of the rancorous debate over
         financing a new Twins stadium has been the all-but-total
         absence of participation by the business community" (STAR
         TRIBUNE, 10/27)....For the '97 season, the Twins had gross
         ticket revenue of $14,498,337, an increase of $1,025,961. 
         Concession revenue was down $195,798 from $2,307,142 in '96
         to $2,111,344 this year (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB
  • VIKES MAY HAVE NO ROOM FOR CRYBABIES OR LITIGIOUS COACHES

              While Vikings Coach Dennis Green said a scenario in his
         autobiography, "No Room For Crybabies," for taking over the
         team "was not meant as a threat, one of the Vikings' owners
         said four team owners want to fire" him, according to Jeff
         Seidel of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS.  The anonymous owner
         said he feels three other owners "won't commit to
         disciplining" Green because "they fear" a lawsuit, and that
         three other team owners want to keep him (PIONEER PRESS,
         10/27).  Vikings Vice Chair Philip Maas: "My personal opinion
         is that he's shot himself in the foot.  I know if one of my
         employees did that he'd be gone tomorrow.  Or gone this
         afternoon" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25).  Green: "I
         talked about buying the team as an afterthought ... kind of
         thinking out loud. ... I didn't threaten anybody as far as
         what I would do" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/27).
              REAX: ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "[I]t's clear there are
         several board members, several part owners, who want Dennis
         Green fired at the end of this season.  So this is going to
         get messy" ("NFL Countdown," 10/26). In MN, Sid Hartman
         speculates that Green, "convinced that he will be fired at
         the end of this season unless he wins a couple of playoff
         games, has decided to put himself in position to get a big
         contract settlement from the Vikings" (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Franchises, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Walt Disney
  • WHEN LES HAS MORE: ROCKETS OWNER CLOSE TO NHL OILERS DEAL

              Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander said Sunday that his
         purchase of the NHL Oilers "could be finalized within a
         week," according to Eddie Sefko of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. 
         Over the weekend it was reported that Alexander has a
         "handshake agreement" to purchase the team from Peter
         Pocklington for $85M.  Under the deal, the Oilers will remain
         in Edmonton for "at least" three more seasons.  Sefko adds
         that during its three year stay in Edmonton, if the team
         makes a profit, it will remain in Edmonton, Alexander will
         sell to a local buyer and he will receive an expansion
         franchise in Houston.  If the Oilers lose money, Alexander
         will be allowed to relocate the team to Houston.  The three-
         year stay in Edmonton should also "provide enough time for a
         new arena to be built in Houston" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/27). 
         If Alexander owns the NHL and NBA teams in Houston, "the
         fight" between Alexander and Chuck Watson of the IHL Aeros
         and Arena Operating Co. over control of a new arena "would
         effectively become moot" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/25).  
              FROM EDMONTON: Pocklington: "This is the one (offer)
         that will probably get done.  This is the one I like the
         best" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/25).  Stock & MacDonald reported that
         sources said Pocklington "wants to remain part of the Oiler
         organization under" the new ownership (EDMONTON JOURNAL,
         10/25).  Dan Barnes reported that the deal "would allow"
         Pocklington to keep a 10% stake in the team, receive some of
         the $12M in "expansion revenues due to the Oilers over the
         next few seasons and perhaps make a reappearance in the
         process three years from now" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/25).  In
         Toronto, Al Strachan wrote the NHL "will make sure that it is
         more profitable for Alexander to start a new team in Houston
         than to move the Oilers there" (TORONTO SUN, 10/25).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Houston Rockets, NBA, NHL
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