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              After Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga took his team
         public in November '96, his "first move" was the acquisition
         of two resort hotels owned partly by Huizenga and other team
         officials, "a move that enriched Huizenga, his friends and
         others who have invested with him," according to Edward
         Wyatt of the N.Y. TIMES.  The floatation "has all worked out
         grandly for Huizenga, whose original investment in Florida
         Panthers Holdings has nearly tripled in value" to $150M. 
         Initial investors "have done well, but many of those who
         bought subsequently have, at best, broken even," and some
         "profitable investors who got in early have expressed
         outrage, believing that Huizenga and his friends profited
         improperly.  Three class-action lawsuits seeking damages
         have been filed by shareholders" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25). 
              WAYNE'S WORLD: Wyatt reports that the initial resort
         deals, "unrelated to the hockey club, sent the price of
         Panther stock soaring.  But despite the sharp increase, the
         company did not adjust the number of shares it had offered
         to exchange for the resorts before the deal closed."  By
         "ignoring a common practice when acquisitions are paid for
         with shares of stock, the company ended up paying" $225M for
         the two resorts, three times the original price.  Wyatt adds
         that despite the teams' losses, the market value of FL
         Panthers Holdings "has increased sixfold" since the company
         went public.  Profits from the hockey and arena-management
         operations, which now account for only about 10% of the
         company, "will be a blip on the company's financial screen." 
         Wyatt: "For Huizenga, little about Florida Panthers Holdings
         has to do with hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25).

    Print | Tags: Franchises

              NOTES: Tom Clancy disputed a report that he will sell
         his minority interest in the Orioles in acquiring the
         Vikings: "I plan to follow all league rules, but nobody has
         asked me to sell my interest in the Orioles."  Clancy's
         partner Marc Ganis admitted that his comments saying Clancy
         would sell his stake was a "misunderstanding" (Baltimore
         SUN, 3/25)....The Islanders hired NY-based Diamond Promotion
         Group to market the team and handle promotional programs,
         fan forums and other events (NEWSDAY, 3/25)....The ECHL's
         first franchise in GA will be called the Augusta Lynx
         (HOCKEY NEWS, 3/27 issue)....The Anaheim Bullfrogs, formerly
         of RHI, have joined Major League Roller Hockey (MLRH).
              MLB: Cablevision CEO James Dolan said that Yankees
         Owner George Steinbrenner told him the "ballclub is not for
         sale."  But Dolan said that "his company will continue have
         a close relationship with Steinbrenner" (CNBC, 3/24)....Pro
         Player Stadium is expected to be sold out for the Marlins'
         season-opener on Tuesday (SUN-SENTINEL, 3/25)....In
         Cincinnati, Managing CEO John Allen is profiled by Bill
         Koch.  Asked about his relationship with Marge Schott, Allen
         said, "Marginal at best."  But Koch wrote that under Allen,
         the Reds "finally have a plan.  If all goes well this year,
         if the Reds can draw about 1.8 million fans, they might
         actually make a little money" (CINCINNATI POST, 3/24)....The
         Orioles will have the largest player payroll in MLB history
         this season at $74.3M.  The Braves will open the season with
         a payroll of $71.6M, followed by the Red Sox at $71.3M and
         the Yankees at just under $68.3M (WASHINGTON POST, 3/25). 

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Cablevision, Cincinnati Reds, ECHL, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Minnesota Lynx, Minnesota Vikings, MLB, New York Islanders, New York Yankees

              A mediator "issued a non-binding ruling" that the Twins
         are "free to terminate the team's Metrodome lease after this
         season," according to Patrick Sweeney of the ST. PAUL
         PIONEER PRESS.  Robert Bowen, a retired judge hired by the
         Twins and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission
         (MSFC), gave his ruling yesterday.  The Twins lease allows
         them to terminate their agreement, provided they met either
         of two conditions: attendance less than 80% of the AL
         average from '95-97 and audited financial records showing a
         cumulative operating loss for the same period.  Because
         Bowen's ruling "was non-binding," the MSFC may file suit to
         try to "bind" the Twins to the lease.  MSFC Exec Dir Bill
         Lester: "We'll have to evaluate our options -- whether
         that's court or not" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/25).  MSFC
         Chair Henry Savelkoul: "The court situation will be a last,
         last, last resort" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/25).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins
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