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TICKET PRICES: WNBA Mercury officials will increase ticket prices next season and expect their season-ticket base to reach 6,000-8,000, up from 4,500. Mercury VP/Operations Seth Sulka said there would still be 8,000 upper-level seats for $8: "We're not talking about anything massive" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/19)....The ECHL Raleigh IceCaps announced a new ticket price -- $5 -- for youth 14-and-under and high school and college students with ID (NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/18). NHL: The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS reports that twice in the last week, the Sharks have played against teams with African- American players. In each game, the Foreigner song "Dirty White Boy" was played when the African-American players were sent to the penalty box. In San Jose, David Pollak asks, "Coincidence? Pattern? Two minutes for cluelessness?" Sharks Exec VP Malcolm Bordelon: "Mistakes. Embarrassing mistakes." Bordelon said that the team has pulled the song from the playlist (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/18).
Raptors Exec VP/GM Isiah Thomas "admitted ... he's negotiating for a job with NBC-TV at the same time he's trying to cut a better deal for himself with team owner Allan Slaight," according to Smith & Young of the TORONTO STAR. Speaking last night, Thomas "refused to put a deadline" on the talks with both parties, but a "high-level" NBA official said that the situation "should be cleared up by Friday" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19). In Toronto, Craig Daniels writes that Thomas "is waiting to see what gives. ... [W]hether Slaight will pony up the okay to spend money, specifically on Damon Stoudamire ... and generally on the bevy of free agents available this summer" (TORONTO SUN, 11/19). NBC Sports VP Ed Markey: "We have no deal with Isiah Thomas, I don't know where the report came from. Maybe somebody at Isiah Thomas's office" (Michael Grange, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/19). A CLEAN SLAIGHT? In Toronto, Bill Harris writes that Slaight "isn't panicking and won't be pushed." Slaight: "We have a contingency plan in place." He "reacted strongly" to suggestions that he had vetoed trades or signings due to a "lack of funds." Slaight: "Those accusations outrage me." Raptors President Richard Peddie: "In my time here there has not been a single time when a salary request or player move has been flatly turned down" (TORONTO SUN, 11/19). REAX: In Toronto, Stephen Brunt: "Perhaps Thomas sees the writing on the wall. He doesn't have a close relationship with Slaight. He has no relationship with Peddie. It's his own dough that's on the line, and the cash calls to get the arena built are proving to be a financial strain." Brunt adds "the biggest threat to the Raptors long- term success isn't one man's absence," but "it's an ownership that's so strung out financially trying to pay off the remaining franchise fee and finance its own arena that it doesn't have the wherewithal to compete" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/19). Also in Toronto, Dave Perkins: "[T]he Raptors are this close to being in a fight for their very survival in this town. ... This is strictly about money ... Whether or not Slaight wants to pay for players isn't what matters right now; the cash is not there. The cash is at Lakeshore and Bay. ... Both men will be painted as villains, but put the extra coat of the stuff on Slaight" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19). In Toronto, Chris Young adds this "is one power play that Isiah Thomas can't win" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19).
Twins Owner Carl Pohlad said that he "is committed to selling the team" to a group of investors who plan to move it to NC after next season, according to Patrick Sweeney of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. In Phoenix, MLB owners appointed a five-man committee Tuesday to guide the team through the "sport's relocation rules and expedite the sale." Committee Member/Rockies Chair Jerry McMorris: "We really don't want to give up on Minnesota. But the bottom line is you have to do what you have to do." Carl Pohlad's son, Bob, said that MLB owners "probably will not take a final vote on the sale until mid-February or early March and that owners could reject" the sale to NC business exec Don Beaver if MN legislators "agreed to build a ballpark by that time" (PIONEER PRESS, 11/19). CHARLOTTE'S WEB: The Charlotte Chamber yesterday hosted "a private meeting for about 15 business and civic leaders who decided to put together a plan to bring baseball to Charlotte, including an uptown ballpark" that could cost more than $200M, according to Moore & Rhee of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The group "found itself in the delicate position of trying to ready a plan -- but not appearing to undermine the Greensboro area's efforts to land a team." Chamber Chair Sharon Decker: "The Triad is sitting in the driver's seat right now. We will look at alternatives if there is a need for one" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/19). Beaver said that he was "encouraged" by the news out of Phoenix and Charlotte: "All of this is a confirmation of our efforts and a signal to move ahead" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 11/19).