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The "back and forth maneuvering" in the 49ers ownership dispute "is mostly about money," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE, who report, "Particularly at issue is the soaring cost of the stadium-mall project, which some insiders now put at $600 million to $700 million." But "it's also a fight over who will control the deal," the 49ers or co-Owner Eddie DeBartolo's DeBartolo Entertainment. In addition, Matier & Ross report that "there have already been talks" between the 49ers and S.F. Mayor Willie Brown "about having the city or the state come up with more money" for the project. Brown "still stands firm" on capping the city's contribution at $100M, which was approved by voters last June. Denise DeBartolo York's statement on Tuesday that her board of directors has decided to slow down the stadium deal "until they got a better handle on the costs ... clearly caught team president Carmen Policy off guard." On local radio yesterday, Policy was "trying to put the best face forward on what clearly was a public relations nightmare." Policy said it wasn't his "recollection" that the board voted to hold up the facility, but that it needed some "very, very serious and in-depth attention to some of the numbers before we took the next step in terms of securing interim financing." In light of the media "crush," Policy issued a press release in jest saying he was going to Tierra del Fuego and the South Pole on a three-week expedition study (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/29). REAX: A S.F. CHRONICLE editorial states that even if the DeBartolos "are getting cold feet" on building the stadium/mall complex, "they should live up to the deal they made with San Francisco taxpayers last year" (CHRONICLE, 1/29). In San Jose, Ann Killion: "The feeling last spring that the stadium was a hurry-up, not-quite-thought-out deal seems to have been correct. DeBartolo has moved a little too fast in too many places, and now it seems, he's run himself right into a wall" (MERCURY NEWS, 1/29).
The Penguins signed F Jaromir Jagr to a four-year, $38M extension -- the "richest contract" in NHL history, and at the same time "slashed season-ticket costs in seven price categories for next season," according to Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The cuts will save ticket holders "as much as $279.50 per season" over the '97-98 season prices. Gate prices "will not increase" next season, and owners "promise to make playoff tickets more affordable this season." Pens co-Owner Howard Baldwin: "[S]ome of the concessions we're making (in playoff tickets) are very dramatic." Starkey wrote that "this season's sagging attendance at the Civic Arena made a bold statement to Baldwin and fellow co-owner Roger Marino." The Penguins have played this season to 89% capacity, selling out only three of 24 games (TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/28). The highest- priced tickets will be reduced from $60 to $57.70. Tickets that currently cost $39 will be reduced to $32.50. Every other ticket will be "cut by at least $1" (USA TODAY, 1/28). BRAND JAGR? In a deal "similar to the one they struck with [Mario] Lemieux in 1993, the Penguins and Jagr have agreed to share his marketing rights." The team will "allow Jagr to use the team's logo if he were to appear on a cereal box or poster," and Jagr will split the extra revenue with the team. As for Jagr's contract, the POST-GAZETTE's Dejan Kovacevic wrote that the Penguins "are banking" that the NHL "will double" its national TV revenue when its contracts with ESPN and Fox expire after this season. Kovacevic: "Not that Baldwin is expecting a deal such as the NFL's." Baldwin: "I'd crawl from here to California and back for $73 million a year in TV money" (Pittsburgh POST-GAZETTE, 1/28). REAX: Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix said that Jagr's contract has him "worried." Lacroix: "The way it's going you have to be concerned. Like any business, if you don't have the potential revenue, somebody down the road is going to get hurt. It's either the fans or the players. With ownerships getting hurt, somebody else is going to have the whiplash" (GAZETTE TELEGRAPH, 1/29). Commissioner Gary Bettman: "[H]opefully, if Pittsburgh couldn't afford to pay it they wouldn't have. ... It may mean long-term that some high-paid players are basically taking away from some low- paid players, but over time we think it will work out, and over time we hope not to be ticket driven" (FSN, 1/28).
Packers President Bob Harlan told the Green Bay Press- Gazette that he is "leaning" towards extending the sale of Packers stock. Later, he told the AP: "If we are still making money and it is a good business, we will consider extending it for a period of time." The stock sale is scheduled to end Saturday (PIONEER PRESS, 1/29)...L.A. City Councilmember Nate Holden said he will continue to pursue the Raiders and that he will work on the initiative alone, as he said his City Council colleagues "are jealous of his efforts" (L.A. TIMES, 1/29)....The Orioles unveiled their altered logo. The "revised oriole, which will also appear on the club's caps this year, has a bigger head and beak and greater detail in the feathers" (Baltimore SUN, 1/29).
Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment committed to the purchase of 500 NHL Predators season tickets, the largest show of corporate support for the team to date. The Predators must sell 12,000 season tickets, including 75% of luxury suites and club seats, by March 31 in order to keep their expansion franchise (Predators). GOT TICKETS? Garth Brooks, Lorrie Morgan, Amy Grant and Vince Gill are among the country music stars featured in the Predators' new ad campaign. The ads, appearing on billboards and in print, parody the "Got Milk?" campaign by showing one of the performers, with missing front teeth, over the tag line "Got Tickets?" (NHL Predators).