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              NBA: In AZ, David Leibowitz called the Suns' pay-per-
         view (PPV) package a "rip off."  Leibowitz: "The sad thing
         is, the fans fall for it -- the team expects a jump in buys
         over last year.  Sadder still, the Suns keep trying to sell
         pay-per-view as a favor."  Leibowitz looked at the schedule
         of PPV games vs. free TV games since '93.  While the 78
         regular-season PPV games have featured teams with a total
         winning percentage of .568, teams on the 127 games on free
         TV had a .447 winning percentage.  He also notes that the
         three PPV games this week were against the Rockets, T-Wolves
         and Bulls (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/19).
              NHL: The Islanders and Brett Lindros have "reached a
         settlement" on Lindros' contract.  Lindros retired following
         three concussions suffered on the ice and "indications are"
         that Lindros will receive the full amount due to him in the
         five-year, $7.5M contract, "which could be as high as" $4.5M
         -- depending on how much of the deal was paid out in bonuses
         up front instead of salary (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, Franchises, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, New York Islanders, NHL, Phoenix Suns

              Season-ticket sales "almost doubled" for the D'Backs
         and Devil Rays on Wednesday, following the expansion draft.
         D'Backs Ticket Sales Manager Rob Kiese: "Until this week, we
         sold 30-40 season-tickets a week.  But in the last two days,
         we've sold 50" (Mel Antonen, USA TODAY, 11/20).
              NEVER ENOUGH FRUM: In Toronto, Marty York reports that
         Murray Frum and his partners "are still quietly in pursuit"
         of the Blue Jays and "remain hopeful" that the Jays, the CFL
         Argonauts and the SkyDome "will ultimately be theirs."  Frum
         had no comment when asked if his group had reopened talks 
         with Jays Owner Interbrew SA (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).
              TWINS: In St. Paul, columnist Bob Sansevere writes that
         Twins Owner Carl Pohlad's "credibility" was among the things
         that "made it difficult" for the people of MN to support a
         new ballpark.  Sansevere: "The problem with Pohlad was, and
         still is, people don't trust him" (PIONEER PRESS, 11/20).
              INDIANS: Ticket prices for '98 have been increased in
         seven of the 11 seat locations at Jacobs Field.  Among the
         increases, Field Box seats go from $23 to $26; Lower & View
         Box go from $18 to $20; Upper Box, Mezzanine & Lower Reserve
         go from $15 to $17; and Bleacher seats go from $10 to $12. 
         The approximate ticket price increase is 12% (Indians).
              YANKEES: In N.Y., adidas and the Yankees ran a full-
         page ad in today's N.Y. Post and N.Y. Daily News that touts

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, CFL, Cleveland Indians, Franchises, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals

              A press conference "will be held no later than
         tomorrow" to announce that Raptors minority Owner and Exec
         VP/GM Isiah Thomas "will be leaving Toronto, regardless of
         whether he decides to take a television job with NBC,"
         according to Craig Daniels of the TORONTO SUN.  Daniels
         writes that NBA Commissioner David Stern "asked Thomas
         yesterday to remain with the club for the next 24-48 hours
         ... so the Raptors could clean up certain financial matters,
         such as the closing of financing for the Air Canada Centre." 
         Yesterday, Thomas "retired to his home" in Detroit and
         referred all calls to his agent.  Thomas: "I want to be as
         professional and classy in this matter as possible.  I don't
         want to be in the position where I have to look people in
         the eye and lie, so you have to understand there are some
         things I can and can't say right now." Team Assistant GM &
         VP/Legal Affairs Glen Grunwald "appears" to be "the leading
         candidate" to replace Thomas as GM  (TORONTO SUN, 11/20).  
              STRAINED RELATIONS? In Toronto, Michael Grange writes
         that everything "surrounding the latest ownership drama ...
         remains unclear," and that "the rift between Thomas and
         [Raptors Majority Owner Allan] Slaight is no closer to being
         repaired and has likely widened as each side regards the
         other with a growing measure of distrust" (GLOBE & MAIL,
         11/20).  Also in Toronto, Doug Smith reports sources who
         said that Slaight "provided some of the money Thomas has had
         to pay out in the last couple of months to fulfil
         obligations as a minority shareholder."  One source: "I
         think Isiah has a bit of a cash squeeze."  Thomas' reps
         "refused comment" on the speculation.  Smith adds that
         Slaight "has positioned himself perfectly to assume Thomas'
         share" of the team, and sources say that Slaight "signed off
         on an agreement ... that puts in place a syndicate to
         finance" Air Canada Centre (TORONTO STAR, 11/20).
              TALKING TOUGH ABOUT ZEKE: In Toronto, Steve Simmons
         writes, "The latest squabble for Thomas is just another in a
         series of personal-agenda controversies that have marked his
         life in basketball.  His career has been a testimony to
         conflict.  Name a place, name a person, and there is a story
         to be told.  Too many stories" (TORONTO SUN, 11/20).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NBA, NBC, Toronto Raptors

              The Bay Area "buzz" is that Warriors Owner Chris Cohan,
         "saddled with major financial obligations and rocked by the
         lack of support by fans, is quietly exploring the idea of
         selling the team sometime in the next two years," according
         to C.W. Nevius of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  There is "even a
         scenario" that would have the MLB Giants' ownership group
         "taking over and using the team as an East Bay presence to
         help attract baseball fans" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/20).
              WARRIORS REFUTE RUMORS: Nevius adds that the Warriors
         "insist there is nothing to" the sale rumors.  Warriors
         General Counsel Robin Baggett: "The concept of selling the
         team has never been discussed.  As far as losing money and
         not operating in the black, that is inaccurate."  Baggett
         said that "there has always been a misconception about"
         Cohan's financing, and that ever since he bought the team
         "there have been suggestions that Cohan borrowed heavily for
         the money, and overpaid wildly."  More Baggett: "[Cohan]
         bought the team for $119 million, not $140 million. ... He
         is not heavily leveraged."  Nevius adds that "there are
         clearly some problems, which go beyond the woeful product on
         the floor," and that the league office is "concerned about
         the way the franchise is floundering."  Baggett also added
         that sales of the team's 72 luxury boxes have been "fair.  I
         wouldn't put it at good."  But Nevius reports that "others
         are even less optimistic, doubting that the team has sold as
         many as 20 boxes" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/20).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants

              The Sonics' marketing strategy this year aims to
         "familiarize fans with the players' human side," according
         to Mike Roarke of the PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL.  To help
         form a "long-term relationship between the team and its
         supporters," the team hired Seattle-based ad agency
         WongDoody to produce a series of ads "focusing on the
         personalities" of the team members.  The ads are "not
         scripted," and feature six Sonics, including coach George
         Karl and Gary Payton, "interacting spontaneously" with
         people in "unrehearsed settings."  In one spot, Payton is
         shown spending time with senior citizens; in another, Sam
         Perkins "playfully blocks" a child's shot on a mini-hoop,
         before sending him to bed.  WongDoody's Tracy Wong feels
         that this type of campaign "could be what the NBA needs." 
         Wong: "I think the NBA's problem now is the salaries are so
         astronomically high, a distance has been created between the
         players and the fans" (PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/17).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NBA
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