NHL: In Edmonton, Alberta Treasury Branches will announce today whether it will accept a local group's offer to buy the NHL Oilers. Current Owner Peter Pocklington said that the bid will be accepted, but the deal does not include Coliseum Management Inc., which holds the lease on the Coliseum (JOURNAL, 3/18)....The Predators said yesterday they are 1,195 season tickets away from meeting the NHL's condition of 12,000 season tickets by March 31 (Predators). NOTES: NFL VP/Communications Greg Aiello said that Commissioner Paul Tagliabue "probably won't" make a decision on the Vikings ownership dispute between Tom Clancy and team President Roger Headrick "until Thursday" (PIONEER PRESS, 3/18)....Sonics Owner Barry Ackerley lent the team's plane to the Univ. of WA Huskies for their flight to Greensboro, NC, for their Sweet 16 appearance (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/17).
While Celtics Chair Paul Gaston "threatened" a little over three years ago "to sue the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper suggested drug abuse and team negligence may have contributed to the death of Reggie Lewis," the statute of limitations has expired, according to Peter May of the BOSTON GLOBE. The statute of limitations for libel in MA is three years, and the three-year anniversary of the Journal article "passed quietly" last week. Gaston: "[A]s much as I hate the fact that some injustices go unpunished, I decided that this was one that was going to get away" (GLOBE, 3/18). ROCKETS: The Rockets "have been alerted to the possibility of legal action" by two former employees and three current employees who are charging that members of Rocketball Ltd. "engaged in race discrimination, violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and sexual harassment," according to Eddie Sefko of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The team received a letter from the attorney representing the five complainants. The letter seeks a $2.5M settlement "to keep the group from filing a civil action suit against the organization." Last year, Rocketball Ltd. had 51 minority employees out of a total of 160 (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18).
The Packers announced yesterday that they raised more than $24M from the sale of roughly 120,000 shares of stock during a 17-week window, "a considerably smaller haul than was originally forecast," according to Tom Silverstein of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The $24M in new revenue "doubles the team's coffers" and means the Packers "have probably enough money in their savings to keep them afloat for at least a quarter century." However, early estimates were that the team could generate $80M from the stock split, which the club said was the "high end" of the estimate. Packers President Bob Harlan said that the team "would still be able to" renovate Lambeau Field, expand its football offices and workout facilities and contribute to a new stadium fund, "but the contribution to the stadium fund won't be as great" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/18).
The Twins have sold about 5,400 season tickets, "down from 8,800 last season," according to Jay Weiner of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. About 25,000 tickets have been sold for Opening Night, and the team has budgeted for 1.2 million tickets to be sold this season, "which would be the lowest sales in a non-strike" year since '83. The Twins sold 1.4 million tickets last year. However, despite coming off a last-place finish and "facing perhaps its final season in a stadium its owners say is inadequate," the team's corporate sponsors and signage buyers "have, generally, stayed on board." Twins Dir of Corporate Marketing Laura Day said that she "already" has met about 93% of her sales goals, heading toward more than $3M in corporate sales. This year, there are 24 giveaway nights planned and seven season-long promotions (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/18). WHITE SOX: The White Sox are bringing back Dog Day Afternoon and Elvis Night this season, while adding fan- friendly concourse attractions at Comiskey Park. Senior VP/Marketing Rob Gallas: "The fans love 'Dogs' so much, and it's easy to do. There will be new ones that we're not quite ready to announce" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/18).