SBD/29/Franchises

FOLLOWING RECORD JAGR DEAL, PENGUINS SLASH TICKET PRICES

          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).

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