In order to boost attendance for Saturday's game against the Warriors, the 76ers will give away 5,000 Beanie Babies to children 12 and younger on a first-come, first- served basis (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/16)....The Patriots will play the Cowboys in an exhibition game in Mexico City in late July (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/15)....In N.Y., Bill Madden reports that NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mets President Fred Wilpon have discussed plans to relocate the Mets' Pittsfield, MA, rookie-league affiliate to Coney Island. The team "would be the centerpiece of a proposed multimillion-dollar sportsplex" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/16).
The NHL's anticipated approval tomorrow of the $195M sale of the Islanders to a new investment group "has been thrown into doubt," according to sources of Riley, Smith & Moritsugu of NEWSDAY. Two "insiders" said that the snags stemmed from "difficulties" Steven Gluckstern "is having in finalizing a deal to sell his half-interest" in the Coyotes to partner Richard Burke. The sources added that "[f]ailure to consummate that deal" would prevent Gluckstern from being a 40% partner with Howard Milstein, Steven Ross and investor Daniel Doctoroff in the Islanders investment group. Riley, Smith & Moritsugu: "Amid a welter of conflicting information, it was unclear whether the last-minute problems were minor hangups, a negotiating ploy or a major roadblock." Islanders Owner John Pickett, asked if the deal had hit a "major snag": "You're misinformed." Gluckstern and Milstein would not comment (NEWSDAY, 1/16).
The NV and NM-based Maloof family has bought a 24% share in the NBA Kings, Monarchs and Arco Arena, according to Gary Delsohn of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The deal, worth $37.5M, "fulfills a dream" of the four sons of late Rockets Owner George Maloof, who have wanted "to re-enter the pro sports fraternity" after they sold the Rockets upon their father's death in '80. Gavin Maloof, on the sale of the Rockets: "That was not one of our smarter decisions." The Maloofs said it's "nothing but speculation" about whether they will seek to exercise options contained in the deal to "buy out" Kings Managing General Partner Jim Thomas and other partners (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/15). In Las Vegas, Matt Jacob wrote that the Maloofs' announcement "immediately triggered speculation that the Kings would abandon Sacramento and possibly move to Las Vegas" (REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/15). But Joe Maloof said that they have "no plans" to move the Kings, but "would like" the team to play "a few games" at The Pit in Albuquerque, NM (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/15). In Las Vegas, Matt Jacob reported that as part of the deal with the Kings, the Maloof-owned Fiesta casino "can no longer book NBA games" (L.V. REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/15).