SBD/8/Franchises

HURRICANES' "STRUGGLE" IN CAROLINA GETS FRONT-PAGE ATTENTION

          The Hurricanes' move from Hartford to NC so far "has
     been a struggle," according to Bryan Gruley of the WALL
     STREET JOURNAL, who examines the team's move in a front-page
     feature.  Gruley: "To claim its place among America's great
     metropolises, upstart Raleigh is out to prove it can support
     a major professional sports franchise."  But with the team
     playing in Greensboro while their Raleigh arena is completed,
     the 'Canes average attendance of 8,500 is "the lowest" in the
     NHL, as "Raleighites haven't proven eager" to make the 150
     mile round-trip drive to Greensboro, "nor to pay $50 to $100
     for a decent seat."  Team Dir of Ticket Ops James Baldwin
     also said, "There's a lot of jealousy, which we didn't
     realize, between Greensboro and Charlotte and Raleigh."  But
     Gruley writes that 'Canes Owner Peter Karmanos and area
     leaders are unfazed.  Karmanos: "This is a tremendous
     opportunity.  When we move to Raleigh, everything will be
     fine."  With the team "prepared to lose more than" $20M in
     its first two seasons in NC, and having signed a 20-year
     arena lease, "divorce is almost unthinkable in this marriage
     of North and South."  The team is "counting on three core
     audiences to help" it succeed in Raleigh, "companies from all
     over the world, people from the South and people originally
     from the North."  Sims Hinds, VP/Raleigh Arena Management,
     said that the team has leased 49 of its 72 luxury boxes at a
     price of $110,000-140,000 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/8).

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