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              The Marlins have "dropped" their five-year P.A.
         announcer Jay Rokeach, but his dismissal was "not
         financially motivated."  Marlins VP/Sales & Marketing Jim
         Ross said that the team "wanted to make a change for
         creative reasons."  The team is considering several
         candidates to replace Rokeach (MIAMI HERALD, 3/20)....The
         76ers will change the start time of Monday-Saturday night
         home games next season, moving them up a half-hour to 7:00pm
         (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/20)....The situation involving
         former employees of Rocketball Ltd., who had threatened to
         bring charges of race discrimination and sexual harassment
         against the organization, has been "resolved."  No details
         were released, and no legal action will proceed (HOUSTON
         CHRONICLE, 3/2)....Through Monday, the Mariners had sold a
         club record 18,416 season tickets.  At the same time last
         year, the club had sold 17,760 (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/19).

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Philadelphia 76ers, Seattle Mariners

              The Blue Jays will use "a softer, more feminine
         marketing spin" this season, according to Mark Zwolinski of
         the TORONTO STAR.  Players "reading poems, earlier starts
         for night games, more news on the JumboTron, new, dynamic
         logos and slogans" are "all part of a fresh marketing
         strategy launched by the Jays in a bid to rekindle"
         excitement and attendance.  The team aims to draw at least
         2.8 million this year, an increase of some 200,000 over last
         season.  To do that, the Jays are targeting much of their
         marketing at women.  Blue Jays Communications Dir Peter
         Cosentino: "We're trying to appeal to a broader base of
         people. ... We want to be softer, but still have an
         aggressive approach."  Team research shows women make up
         about 40% of the team's fan base -- 6% short of the MLB
         average.  One element of the marketing package includes
         eight players reciting sonnet-style, baseball-themed poems
         on local radio stations.  New agency Ben Simon Byrne has
         replaced the Stanford Agency on an improved, C$1M-plus
         contract "to help sell the sizzle" (TORONTO STAR, 3/20). 

    Print | Tags: Franchises, MLB, Toronto Blue Jays

              NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled in Tom Clancy's
         favor in the Vikings ownership dispute, according to Don
         Banks of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Tagliabue ruled that
         team President Roger Headrick's right to match or top
         Clancy's bid "did not apply to the sale agreement between
         Clancy and the Vikings board."  The "major stipulation" of
         the ruling is that the current Vikings co-owners "are barred
         from re-investing under Clancy -- until after the transfer"
         of 100% of the team's stock.  Then, they can buy back into
         the team, "though with greater tax liability."  At least two
         co-owners -- Wheelock Whitney and James Binger -- "are
         considered likely to re-invest."  Clancy's purchase still
         needs approval from NFL owners (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE,
         3/20). In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports that Clancy's
         investors list "will total about 15," but Clancy said that
         Orioles Owner Peter Angelos "probably will not be an
         investor" in the Vikings (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/20).   
              HIT THE ROAD, ROGER? In Minneapolis, Paula Parrish
         reports that Headrick "next may lose his position as team
         president."  Some Vikings board members "are adamant that he
         resign or be removed, possibly before next week's owners
         meeting."  During their conference call discussing
         Tagliabue's decision, the co-owners "instructed" team
         attorney John Mooty "to press Tagliabue for the right to
         remove Headrick."  Headrick said he plans to retain his
         position and attend the owners meeting: "I'll be here right
         up until the sale of the team is closed" (STAR TRIBUNE,
         3/20).  In Minneapolis, columnist Dan Barrieiro, on the
         ruling: "To rule in favor of Headrick, and the status quo,
         would have been to deliver a public relations blow to this
         franchise so severe that even the most loyal Vikings fans
         might have fled to Arena Football" (STAR TRIBUNE, 3/20).  

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Franchises, Minnesota Vikings, NFL

              Both the Yankees and Cablevision issued statements
         after yesterday's NEWSDAY report that Yankees Owner George
         Steinbrenner had held discussions with Cablevision Chair
         Charles Dolan about the possibility of buying the team.  The
         Yankees said that Steinbrenner and Dolan had met and "the
         possibility of Cablevision buying into the Yankees was
         discussed.  But no deal was made.  The Steinbrenners will be
         with the Yankees for many years to come.  'The Boss' is here
         to stay" (Yankees).  In a separate statement, Cablevision
         CEO Jim Dolan said, "We maintain an active interest in the
         future of our relationship with the Yankees and are open to
         any ideas that Mr. Steinbrenner may have" (Cablevision).
              STILL TALKING? A "well-placed" source told NEWSDAY's
         Jon Heyman that a Cablevision "overture to buy the Mets was
         rebuffed more than a year ago" before it began talks with
         Steinbrenner.  But sale talks with the Yankees "remain very
         much alive."  Club sources "maintained yesterday that there
         is serious interest on Steinbrenner's part" in a deal
         estimated between $650-700M.  One source disputed the phrase
         "buying into" in the Yankees statement "and affirmed the
         original report from Newsday that Cablevision would become
         the principle owner under the terms being discussed." 
         Steinbrenner, on Newsday's report: "That's somebody popping
         off about something they know nothing about.  That's so
         ridiculous."  Moments later though, he added, "I don't rule
         anything out."  Cablevision declined comment when asked
         about its past interest in the Mets (NEWSDAY, 3/20).  The
         N.Y. DAILY NEWS reports that while Steinbrenner and Dolan
         have met about renewing the Yankees TV deal, a source close
         to Cablevision said, "Everything's on the table" (N.Y. DAILY
         NEWS, 3/20).  In N.Y., sources told Cauley & Fatsis that a
         "major hurdle" in the sale talks is Steinbrenner's "demand
         that he retain management control of the franchise for the
         next 15 years" (Cauley & Fatsis, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/20). 
              CABLEVISION TIE-IN: CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that
         speculation about a Yankees deal "and a recommendation from
         Goldman Sachs sent Cablevision stock sharply higher" on 
         Thursday, gaining $8 to close at $120.25 ("Moneyline," CNN,
         3/19).  In N.Y., Geraldine Fabrikant writes that the
         acquisition of "even a partial stake in the Yankees makes
         sense for Cablevision" and would give it "a near lock on the
         metropolitan area's professional sports market" (N.Y. TIMES,
         3/20).  But the DAILY NEWS' Bob Raissman writes that
         Cablevision's buying the Yankees "would be bad news for the
         fans" as it already owns the Knicks and Rangers and holds TV
         rights to the Yankees, Devils, Nets and Islanders.  Dolan
         has previously talked about creating various team TV cable
         packages at a "premium price" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/20).  A
         NEWSDAY editorial, on a possible Cablevision purchase of the
         Yankees: "That kind of domination of sports programming ...
         should raise questions" (NEWSDAY, 3/20).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, New Jersey Devils, Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, New York Mets, New York Yankees

              Minnesota Wild officials released a partial list of the
         team's investors and details of its business plan to
         legislators yesterday, in "an effort to quell suspicions
         about its financial dealings," according to Brown & Whereatt
         of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  The disclosures came after
         State Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe asked a legislative
         committee to investigate arrangements between the Wild and
         the city of St. Paul to see if "the process up to now has
         been a legally defensible one."  Wild CEO Jac Sperling said
         that he "will meet" with committee members, and the team is
         "expected" to hold a news conference today "to discuss the
         documents."  Documents released show the team's average
         ticket for the 2000 season will cost $40, with club seats
         costing "as much as" $65; by 2004, the average ticket price
         will be $54.33.  Also, the team "has reduced" its projected
         attendance numbers from 16,650 to 15,770, 83% capacity of
         the planned arena, and the team is predicting a positive
         cash flow of "more than" $2M each year (STAR TRIBUNE, 3/20).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Wild
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