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              On Tuesday, Raiders Senior Assistant Bruce Allen
         announced that the team had fired head coach Joe Bugel,
         their forth coach in five years.  The move prompted several
         columnists to weigh in on the state of the team and Owner Al
         Davis' administration.  In S.F., Ray Ratto wrote that
         Raiders fans "aren't buying tickets.  They aren't worrying
         about the week-to-week blackouts.  They aren't buying the
         shirts and hats and jackets, and most of all they aren't
         buying Bruce Allen's explanations of the company line.  They
         shouldn't have to.  They deserve to have Al Davis sitting
         before them, explaining why the hell it went so bad, and how
         it's going to get better" (S.F. EXAMINER, 1/7). In San Jose,
         Ann Killion: "We don't know what Davis is going to do. 
         Except one thing: He's not going to step aside.  And that,
         of course, appears to be the problem" (MERCURY NEWS, 1/7). 
         From Boston, Bob Ryan: "It is very, very difficult to go
         from unchallenged genius to pathetic buffoon, but Al Davis
         has managed to do it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/8).  In N.Y., Shaun
         Powell: "As long as Davis is lurking behind the scenes,
         controlling the direction of a franchise that's now among
         the worst-run in football, the Raiders will remain in
         dubious hands no matter who's coaching" (NEWSDAY, 1/8).  

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Oakland Raiders

              Don Beaver completed his purchase of the AAA Charlotte
         Knights from Hornets Owner George Shinn yesterday, but "his
         major-league bid faces significant hurdles," according to
         Dane Huffman of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER.  Beaver did
         sign a letter-of-intent to buy the Twins from Carl Pohlad if
         funding for a new stadium was not completed by November 30,
         '97, and while the deadline has passed, the issue "could
         resurface" when the MN legislature reconvenes in a few
         weeks.  Beaver: "According to our agreement and our letter
         of intent, those situations are over with.  Of course,
         baseball has the final say-so and can overrule or decide
         different.  So in one sense you've got a contract, and in
         another sense, you don't" (NEWS & OBSERVER, 1/8).  Beaver
         said he hoped to be able to present a deal to MLB owners in
         March.  He also "insisted" that his organization is "totally
         focused on the Triad," but added that if a May ballpark
         referendum failed, Charlotte would be the "only next
         choice."  Beaver: "Raleigh, with its college sports teams
         and everything going on up there with hockey, seems to be
         pretty saturated" (Stan Olson, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/8). 

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB, New Orleans Pelicans

              While the Capitals have announced that they are
         averaging 15,688 fans in 10 games played at the MCI Center,
         reporters covering the team "are skeptical about those
         figures," according to David Shoalts of the Toronto GLOBE &
         MAIL.  Published reports have said there are usually
         thousands of no-shows at each game, with actual crowds often
         estimated to be below 10,000.  Shoalts writes one reason is
         that the "majority" of the Caps' market "is made up of white
         fans" who live in the suburbs and "have resisted a long
         drive downtown to an area where many believe their safety is
         at risk."  Caps GM George McPhee: "This hasn't been as bad
         as everybody says.  The problem is we've had nine of 10
         games scheduled at home during the Christmas break, which is
         a byproduct of getting as many games as we can scheduled in
         the new building.  But I don't think people want to go to
         four hockey games a week on weekdays" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/8).
              TREND TO WATCH?  Shoalts writes that Caps attendance
         "follows a depressing trend of NHL owners," as sellouts
         "have proved hard to come by in Boston, Buffalo and Ottawa,
         all cities that had new arenas open in the past two years." 
         McPhee: "The bottom line is that except for a few markets
         like Toronto and San Jose, you have to win to sell tickets." 
         While Shoalts writes that the Caps may be faced with a
         "mostly urban market if most of their old fans resist
         driving into the city," a look around the arena during
         Tuesday's Maple Leafs game "showed far more black fans
         [than] are generally seen at NHL games" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/8).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals

              A Houston TV station reported that IHL Aeros Owner
         Chuck Watson offered to lend a group of Edmonton investors
         $35M to buy the NHL Oilers.  Watson: "Our motivation is to
         assist ... in keeping the NHL in Edmonton.  In turn, the NHL
         would look favourably on a franchise for me in Houston"
         (AP/EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/8)....Lease talks between the Nets
         and the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) "will
         finally commence next week."  NJSEA Chair Ray Bateman: "We
         have been very anxious to get the ball rolling on these
         talks.  The time has come for us to proceed" (STAR-LEDGER,
         1/8)....The Chargers sent out letters to 1,400 season-ticket
         holders "inviting them to purchase two tickets each" for
         Super Bowl XXXII.  The 1,400 were chosen "at random" from
         the 17,000 season-ticket holders.  The 2,800 tickets used to
         satisfy the drawing's winners represent "nearly half" of the
         team's allotment of 5,650 tickets for the game (S.D. UNION-
         TRIBUNE, 1/8)....With less than three months until their
         home opener, the MLS Rapids have surpassed their entire
         season-ticket sales total for '97.  The number of new full-
         season equivalents (FSEs) sold through December 22 is
         already 50% ahead of the total new FSEs in '97 (Rapids).

    Print | Tags: AEG, Colorado Rapids, Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, MLS, Brooklyn Nets, NHL, San Diego Chargers

              Clark Enterprises Inc., which owns the Blues and Kiel
         Center, "will pump" $20M more into those entities, according
         to Dave Luecking of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.  The money
         will be used to cover the debt service on Kiel Center and to
         help pay for $18.9M in player contracts and "buyouts for the
         Blues."  Luecking reports this "new cash comes on top" of a
         $16.6M cash call in '96 and a $16M bailout last season. 
         Blues President Mark Sauer said $8M would be paid this
         month, another $8M in February and the remaining $4M
         "shortly thereafter."  Of the team's $18.9M in contract and
         buyouts, more than half, or $9.6M, will be paid to 14
         players no longer on the team.   Sauer: "This is the high-
         water mark, mostly because of all the deferments and
         buyouts.  It's a full accounting of all that's happened in
         the last year."  The team is also paying contract buyouts to
         former coach/GM Mike Keenan and former President Jack Quinn. 
         The 19 companies that make up Clark Enterprises -- "formerly
         known as Kiel Center Partners -- will inject cash into the
         operation on a percentage basis equal to their share of the
         team."  Sauer said that the Blues owners owe "some" $90M on
         Kiel Center.  Debt service on the arena is about $7-9M per
         year and Sauer added that it will take 5 to 10 years to pay
         off the debt (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/8).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, St. Louis Blues

              The MLB Rangers yesterday formally announced the sale
         of the team to Stars Owner Tom Hicks for $250M, the second-
         highest franchise fee in MLB history, according to Gerry
         Fraley of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  For $250M, Hicks gets
         the team, the lease "with an option to buy The Ballpark in
         Arlington, its center-field office building and restaurant,
         and options on 270 acres of undeveloped real estate in the
         area."  Hicks said yesterday that he won't turn the Rangers
         into "wild spenders," and "he remains committed to a
         downtown Dallas arena for the Stars" (MORNING NEWS, 1/8). 
              WHY THE DEAL: Rangers President Tom Schieffer, on the
         sale: "To get better, we had to get bigger.  To get bigger,
         we had to get more revenue.  Tom gives us access to capital
         that we haven't had before."  Hicks expects to hold about
         80% of the team, and he will keep the current management
         structure.  Hicks added that the market "will determine how
         the land is used, if he picks up the option.  He did not
         threaten to build an arena on the land should" the Dallas
         referendum on the facility fail next week (DALLAS MORNING
         NEWS, 1/8).  Hicks: "Reports of the size of my net worth
         have been greatly exaggerated" (Ken Daley, DALLAS MORNING
         NEWS, 1/8).  In Dallas, Slater & Oppel report that TX Gov.
         George W. Bush turned his original $600,000 investment in
         the team "into as much as $10 million" (MORNING NEWS, 1/8). 
         ESPN's Gary Miller reported that the team itself consists of
         about $150M of the sale price ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/7).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, ESPN, Franchises, MLB, Texas Rangers, Walt Disney
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