Boosted by a commitment from First Union Bank to buy 250 season tickets, the NHL Predators have now sold 10,124 season tickets for their inaugural '98-'99 season. The team must sell 12,000 season tickets by March 31 to reach the NHL's expansion condition deadline (Predators)....In Nashville, Jeff Legwold reports that the Predators will have to sell an average of 93.8 season tickets per day to reach the 12,000 season ticket mark (TENNESSEAN, 3/11).
N.Y. art dealer Jeffrey Loria was the "behind-the- scenes man who would have bankrolled" K.C. banker Jerry Green's purchase of the Royals. However, Green said yesterday that it's "highly unlikely" he'll be able to bid for the club, as he has "been unable to find another partner" (K.C. STAR, 3/11)....The Angels will bring back a live organist for their home games this season. Last year, the team played recorded rock music during games (O.C. REGISTER, 3/10)....49ers President Carmen Policy "made it clear" his team is not interested in an exhibition game against the Raiders. Policy: "We don't really want to deal with them. It's always a one-way street when you deal with them." The Raiders "are willing" to play such a game (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/11)....MLS Fusion President Ken Horowitz "has no doubt" Sunday's home opener will be played in a "finished facility," following 15 weeks of renovations to Lockhart Stadium. As of yesterday, "just more than" 10,000 tickets had been sold to the game. Lockhart's capacity is 20,000 (MIAMI HERALD, 3/11)....The USBL awarded an expansion franchise to Washington, DC, to begin play this season. Larry Arnold, President of DC-based International Associates, will be the team's President & CEO (USBL). Arnold said he is "in the midst of negotiations to find an arena for the team," and will meet with Washington Sports & Entertainment President Abe Pollin today to discuss possibilities at MCI Center (WASHINGTON POST, 3/11). CHECK THESE DUDS! THE HOCKEY NEWS' first-ever ranking of secondary minor league logos featured 41 teams in the WPHL, West Coast, United and Central Leagues (HOCKEY NEWS, 3/13 issue)...The Tigers changed their road uniforms and will return to a more "traditional" road cap, featuring an orange Old English "D." Changes to the road jersey include the addition of blue piping down the collar and button line, with similar piping added to pant sides (Tigers).
Raptors President Richard Peddie, who "looked to be first on the firing line" when the Maple Leafs bought his team along with Air Canada Centre last month, yesterday was named interim president and CEO of the Air Canada Centre and both franchises, according to Lance Hornby of the TORONTO SUN. The "surprise news release" from Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. (MLG) also listed Peddie, who "whacked the Leafs in a bitter arena war and tried to submarine them at City Hall," as "a strong candidate" to take the position full-time. Leafs Exec Committee member Brian Bellmore said that the entire board "is in favor" of the move and that they "aren't holding any grudges" against Peddie. Bellmore: "Who knows more about the Air Canada Centre?" (TORONTO SUN, 3/11). In Toronto, Michael Grange writes that Ken Dryden, President of the Maple Leafs and Exec VP of MLG and "everyone else in the hockey operation will report to Peddie as will all aspects of the" Raptors organization. MLG Chair Steve Stavro said that he was "delighted" Peddie had accepted the role, adding that Peddie would "work closely" with Dryden, whose "role will be expanded." The announcement "made it clear" that Peddie's duties, which include overseeing the final phase of Air Canada construction, making decisions on premium seating, and selling corporate-sponsorship and season-ticket plans, "are expected to be largely completed by August." Grange: "The question left dangling is how long the arrangement will last" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11). MIXED SIGNALS? In Toronto, Chris Young reports that no Leafs representatives were present at the announcement, and that the appointment "hardly received a ringing endorsement" from Bellmore. Bellmore: "This is an interim appointment and he'll probably be a candidate. We'll hire someone in the summer" (STAR, 3/11). The STAR's Dave Perkins calls the move "a clear sign of the continued rise to shot-calling prominence of [MLG Dir] Larry Tannenbaum." Perkins: "Peddie is Tannenbaum's guy, no question" (STAR, 3/11). The SUN's Craig Daniels writes that the hiring "provides stability during a period of turmoil," but adds that Peddie "knows less about hockey than he does about basketball ... and has no natural feel for the game." Daniels: "All of it further confirms what you already knew: Sport today boils down to optics, to money, to selling, to a slick marketing man with little real sense of the game" (TORONTO SUN, 3/11).