SBD/23/Franchises

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).

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