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  • DIAMONDBACKS READY TO BANK ON ONE SUCCESSFUL FIRST SEASON

              On Friday, D'Backs Managing General Partner Jerry
         Colangelo christened Bank One Ballpark and demonstrated the
         retractable roof for the media, according to Bill Muller of
         the ARIZONA REPUBLIC.  Colangelo said the ballpark will not
         be 100% complete on March 31, "mainly because the Cox
         Clubhouse, an area with interactive games and a baseball
         museum, would not be ready" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/21).  In
         AZ, Kerry Fehr-Snyder reported that the economic impact of
         the D'Backs "will top" $300M a year in AZ, most of it in
         downtown Phoenix.  The estimate is a "substantial increase"
         from the $230M impact predicted in '93 (AZ REPUBLIC, 3/21).
              D'BUCKS: BUSINESS WEEK's Ronald Grover reports that
         Colangelo and his group of 15 investors spent more than
         $325M getting the franchise ready for this season, but the
         D'Backs are "all but assured of placing among the leaders in
         attendance and operating profits."  The team has raised
         $500M in marketing revenue and Colangelo predicts it will
         draw 3.5 million this season (BUSINESS WEEK, 3/30 issue).
              MEDIA CONFLICT? In AZ, consumer advocate writer Richard
         de Uriarte said that some readers have complained that the
         Arizona Republic "gives favorable treatment to the
         Diamondbacks because of a conflict of interest."  Phoenix
         Newspaper Inc., Publisher of the Republic, has invested $5M
         as a limited partner in the team.  D'Backs Dir of Media
         Relations Bob Crawford said the paper's investment in the
         team "will not give Republic reporters an inside track." 
         Crawford: "We treat all reporters the same."  de Uriarte:
         "Editors are aware of the scrutiny.  We've made no secret of
         the investment.  And we have promised our readers it would
         not affect coverage" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/22).
              DESERT NOTES: The D'Backs drew a crowd of 11,117 on
         Saturday, the sixth time this spring the team has played in
         front of a crowd of 10,000 or more (ARIZONA REPUBLIC,
         3/22)....On ESPN SportsZone, Mitch Lawrence wrote that "more
         than one" NBA GM "is privately accusing the Suns of
         bypassing the salary cap" when Colangelo made Danny Manning
         a minority owner in the D'Backs (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/22).
         ...CNN/SI's Tom Verducci reported that the "scouting report"
         on Bank One Ballpark is that "it's great for fans, but it's
         a nightmare for umpires."  NL officials said that due to the
         park's different angles, they "might have to change the
         ground rules during the season" ("CNN/SI," 3/20).
              GREEN RAYS: Devil Rays Managing General Partner Vince
         Naimoli projects revenues of $90-$100M in his team's first
         year, which would rank among the top eight MLB teams.  The
         team expects to generate up to another $15M from other
         events at Tropicana Field.  Naimoli predicts Devils Rays'
         attendance "should be around" 3.2-million, an average of
         40,000 per game (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/22).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, ESPN, Franchises, Milwaukee Bucks, MLB, NBA, New Jersey Devils, PepsiCo, Phoenix Suns, Sports Illustrated, Tampa Bay Rays, Time Warner, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              The Raptors drew a season-high 33,216 for their game
         yesterday versus the Bulls (TORONTO STAR, 3/23)....The Hawks
         will decide today whether to sell more tickets to next
         Friday's Bulls game.  Over 54,000 seats have already been
         sold (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/22)....Twins Owner Carl Pohlad
         "may retain ownership of his team" if it moves to NC "and
         bring in Triad investors as partners" (NEWS & RECORD, 3/21).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Franchises, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Minnesota Twins, Time Warner, Toronto Raptors
  • LIGHTNING WANT PUBLIC IN THE DARK OVER FINANCIAL RECORDS

              Lightning attorneys have filed a request to have the
         team's financial records kept out of public view, "citing
         the text of a recent Tampa radio interview in which
         plaintiff Marc Ganis ... promises next year's trial will be
         a 'media circus,'" according to Larry Dougherty of the ST.
         PETERSBURG TIMES.  Ganis, who accuses the Lightning of
         "thwarting his bid to start an NHL franchise in Tampa" and
         is seeking more than $100M, said in a March 4 interview: "I
         want this information to be made public.  You and the press
         are going to love the information that comes out of this." 
         But attorneys for the team and former Lightning exec David
         LeFevre say that Ganis' interview "reveals a willingness to
         abuse the legal system to damage the team and vent his
         personal frustrations."  Team attorneys are also worried
         that Ganis "would publicize confidential business documents
         provided to him during pretrial discovery."  Ganis could not
         be reached for comment (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/21).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NHL, Palace Sports & Entertainment, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • MEDIA CONGLOMERATES ENTRY INTO BASEBALL: IS VIACOM NEXT?

              The message sent by MLB owners in approving the Dodgers
         sale to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Group was that "the pluses of
         having Fox's vast financial resources, as well as its
         expertise on global television and marketing, outweigh
         serious potential conflicts," according to Richard Sandomir
         of the N.Y. TIMES.  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "You
         have worries about conflicts.  But the returns on Disney,
         Tribune and Time Warner have been to the contrary.  They've
         been great partners."  Giants Exec VP Larry Baer said that
         "any analysis of a media company owning a team is more
         positive than negative" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).  In L.A., Thomas
         Mulligan wrote that media companies "are pushing further
         into sports ownership in a trend that shows no sign of
         reversing. ... The biggest motivator in the trends, experts
         say, is fear of getting locked out of sports."  Smith Barney
         analyst Spencer Gaines said that Cablevision buying the
         Yankees would be "a preemptive strike against what happened
         in Los Angeles with ESPN West" (L.A. TIMES, 3/21).  In
         Boston, Peter Gammons wrote to "expect Viacom to be the next
         media giant to buy into baseball and widen the chasm between
         the haves and the have-notes" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/23).  A N.Y.
         TIMES editorial dismissed concern over Murdoch's purchase of
         the Dodgers: "Baseball has always been a business run, with
         rare exceptions, by proprietors with an aversion to red ink
         far stronger than their professed loyalty to the traditions,
         rhythms and solidifying virtues of the game."  What matters,
         "in the end" are "the numbers. ... That is just what
         mattered to Mr. O'Malley and, if history is a guide, that is
         all that will matter to Mr. Murdoch" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Cablevision, ESPN, Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, New York Yankees, News Corp./Fox, Time Warner, Viacom, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
  • NO SABRE-RATTLING: RIGAS PROVES TO BE LIFE-SABRE FOR TEAM

              The Sabres, Adelphia Communications Corp. and Adelphia
         Chair John Rigas jointly announced the signing of a formal
         agreement under which Rigas would acquire control of the
         Sabres.  Details were not released, but will be communicated
         to the Sabres partners this week.  The closing is expected
         to take place in April, pending NHL approval (Sabres).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Franchises, NHL
  • PREDATORS ANNOUNCE SALES AT 11,059; BETTMAN OPTIMISTIC

              NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spent Friday in Nashville
         with Predators officials, Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen and
         city business leaders, according to Jeff Legwold of the
         Nashville TENNESSEAN.  Bettman: "I believe in this market, I
         believe in this ownership, I believe in the arena, I believe
         in the mayor."  As of Friday, the team had sold 11,059
         season tickets, 941 short of the March 31 goal of 12,000. 
         Predators Majority Owner Craig Leipold said that the team
         has sold the needed luxury suites, all dasher board
         advertising space and "has in large part met the club seat
         requirement" before the March 31 deadline.  Leipold: "On the
         club seats, we're very close and if we meet the ticket goal,
         those will also fall in there" (TENNESSEAN, 3/21).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Nashville Predators, NHL
  • STEINBRENNER WEIGHS OPTIONS FOR YANKEES BROADCAST RIGHTS

              ESPN could "emerge as a key competitor" to Cablevision
         for Yankees TV rights if Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner
         "keeps the Yankees and is forced to negotiate a new deal"
         when his MSG cable package expires in 2000, according to
         Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY.  Among Steinbrenner's "strongest"
         possibilities would be to sell the Yankees' TV rights to
         ESPN, which could create an ESPN New York, patterned after
         ESPN West.  ESPN spokesperson Mike Soltys confirmed that the
         net is "exploring several markets at this time, but we're
         not going to identify any particular one."  Other options 
         for Steinbrenner include creating his own "so-called 'Yankee
         Network'" or selling Yankees TV rights to Time Warner, which
         could put the games on its cable systems (NEWSDAY, 3/21).
              REVENUE: New York City received $2.4M in rent from the
         Yankees for the '97 season, double the $1.2M rent payment in
         '96.  The city also received $900,000 in TV revenue, up from
         $700,000 in '96, and $1.4M from parking, up from $918,000 in
         '96 (Frank Lombardi, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/21).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, ESPN, Franchises, Madison Square Garden, New York Yankees, Time Warner, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
  • TAGLIABUE WARNS VIKINGS NOT TO PUSH ROGER OVER AND OUT

              NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled that Vikings
         President Roger Headrick "cannot be fired ... while the sale
         of the team to author Tom Clancy is pending and under the
         review process," according to Don Banks of the Minneapolis
         STAR TRIBUNE.  But some of the Vikings' board members "are
         intent on challenging Tagliabue's jurisdiction in the
         matter, claiming the board is within its right as a
         corporation" to name its CEO.  Vikings co-Owner Wheelock
         Whitney, on Headrick: "He's the boss, until further notice. 
         But his presence continues to remain a concern to us." 
         Banks wrote that the board is looking to replace Headrick
         "because it would prevent him from remaining in power should
         the sale to Clancy "collapse" (STAR TRIBUNE, 3/21).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Vikings, NFL
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