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The Ackerley Group "will not invest in the Marlins because the Seattle-based company cannot have the control it wants," according to Antonio Fins of the Ft. Lauderdale SUN- SENTINEL. The end of the negotiations with Ackerley "raises questions about how, or whether," Marlins President Don Smiley will be able to buy the team. Ackerley CEO & Sonics Owner Barry Ackerley said in a statement that he ended negotiations because the "proposed deal was not consistent with the Ackerley Group's investment criteria of having a leading ownership position in all its investments and acquisitions." Smiley had no comment (SUN-SENTINEL, 12/18). POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY: In FL, David O'Brien writes that Marlins Manager Jim Leyland has become "a more conspicuous proponent of a publicly supported baseball stadium than he was during the season." Leyland: "For some reason, people act like [Marlins Owner] Wayne Huizenga should take South Florida out to dinner every night. ... People have this perception you're building [a stadium] for some $8 million or $10 million ballplayer. That's absolutely not true. You're building it for the area" (SUN-SENTINEL, 12/18).
Flyers C Eric Lindros signed a contract extension Wednesday, "further setting $8.5 million and shorter-term contracts as benchmarks for elite NHL players," according to USA TODAY's Mike Brehm. Lindros' pay will rise from $3.75M to $7.5M this season, and he'll make $8.5M next season, the figure the Mighty Ducks' Paul Kariya agreed to last week for '98-99. Agent Tom Laidlaw: "Not only were the numbers pretty high, but the short term shocked a lot of people" (USA TODAY, 12/18). In Philadelphia, columnist Bill Lyon: "This is the sad and pathetic state of sports at the moment: Almost $13 million changed hands in Philadelphia yesterday and neither side is happy. The Flyers signed the player they believe to be the very best in his sport for another season, and yet his team's owner confessed to emotional emptiness." Flyers Chair Ed Snider: "There is no exhilaration" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/18).