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  • BUFFALO NEWS HAS SABRES FACING "A HOST OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS"

              When Adelphia Chair John Rigas becomes owner of the
         Sabres, he will be "taking over a franchise facing a host of
         serious problems," according to Robinson & Warner of the
         BUFFALO NEWS.  Because the Sabres have lost $15M during each
         of the last three years, the deal "requires" Rigas to pay
         "only" $5M cash to the existing owners.  Rigas "also has
         pledged to pay another" $10.5M, plus interest, over the
         "next few years."  Robinson & Warner wrote that despite the
         opening of Marine Midland Arena, the team has lost about
         $46M in the last three years "largely because of the
         franchise's ballooning debt load" that stands at "nearly"
         $81M.  Another $6M was lost "in the first four months" of
         the current FY.  The team's season-ticket base "shrank" by
         1,600 this season to 8,634, almost 16% less than last year. 
         But the Sabres purchase "gives Rigas a valuable source of
         programming for Adelphia's Empire Sports Network," which
         already pays the team "a minimum" of $1.6M per season to air
         70 games.  A source said that the deal "also gives Rigas and
         Adelphia the chance to use some of the Sabres' losses to
         offset other income and reduce taxes" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/26).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Franchises
  • CHIEF WAHOO LANDS ON WALL STREET: TRIBE TO FLOAT IPO?

              In a "historic move that could trigger a significant
         financial realignment" of MLB, the Indians "are expected to
         announce plans to make the ballclub a publicly traded
         company," according to Jones & Rogers of the CHICAGO
         TRIBUNE.  MLB owners last summer "approved the Indians'
         proposal" to issue two classes of stock, with Indians Owner
         Richard Jacobs maintaining control of voting interests.  An
         announcement could come "within the next week or so."  Jones
         & Rogers write that "the move may be a partial response to
         the increasing big corporate influence in baseball. ... This
         would be a remarkable departure in the operation of
         professional baseball, a very public game governed by the
         very private dealings of a select group."  Rogers & Jones
         add that the Indians would be the "first free-standing team"
         in MLB to go public (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/27).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Indians, Franchises, MLB
  • DEBARTOLO DEAL WOULD PUT TEAM IN TRUST IF HE IS INDICTED

              49ers co-Owner Eddie DeBartolo "is about to make a
         formal offer to buy his sister's share of the 49ers -- and
         is looking" to Bill Walsh to run the team, according to
         Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  A source said the
         offer contains a provision that if DeBartolo "is indicted
         and convicted" in LA over questions of how he secured a
         gaming licence, the team would be placed in a family trust. 
         Matier & Ross: "Walsh's possible re-emergence could lead to
         a major shakeup in the 49ers' organization -- at the expense
         of team President Carmen Policy, whom most insiders credit
         with the team's success."  One source said the buyout deal
         "has the tentative blessing" of Denise DeBartolo York and
         the offer could be forwarded to the league as early as next
         week.  But a league source told Matier & Ross that the NFL
         "is likely to 'freeze' the current management structure --
         keeping Policy in place -- 'until Eddie's indictment goes
         away.'"  While DeBartolo thinks "prosecutors don't have a
         case against him," sources in LA "are predicting" that he
         will be indicted, "possibly by late May" (CHRONICLE, 3/27).
              THE GROWING DISTANCE BETWEEN FRIENDS: 49ers President
         Carmen Policy said that his relationship with DeBartolo has
         been "severed."  Policy: "I have distanced myself
         significantly from Eddie during this period.  And I've
         basically distanced myself on a personal level from Denise.
         ... I've backed way off on my personal relationship with
         both of them" (Chadiha & Finnie, S.F. EXAMINER, 3/26).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NFL, San Francisco 49ers
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              MN: In MN, Charley Walters reports that season-ticket
         depositors ($100 nonrefundable) for the Wild number 10,400,
         and "team officials say they have yet to put club seats and
         private suites on sale.  The team projects it will surpass
         12,000 by December."  Walters also reports that Rush
         Limbaugh "is being mentioned" as a possible Vikings investor
         with Tom Clancy, and that "the rumor of actor Tom Selleck as
         an investor won't die" (STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27).  
              NOTES: Nets GM John explained the circumstances "that
         led to his argument" with agent David Falk in Nets' locker
         room after Wednesday's game against the Sixers.  Nash: "It's
         unfortunate.  It's really not the way I prefer to do
         business."  In Newark, Don Burke reports that the team
         policy which prohibits agents from being in the locker room
         "was apparently not enforced."  Falk did not return phone
         calls (STAR-LEDGER, 3/27)....With five days remaining before
         their March 31 deadline, the NHL Predators have sold 11,512
         season tickets, 488 season tickets short of their 12,000-
         mark goal (Predators)....The Georgia Dome has decided to let
         the Hawks shoot for the NBA attendance record of 61,983 for
         tonight's game against the Bulls.  As of yesterday, the team
         had sold 56,540 tickets (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/27)....The
         Coyotes Goals for Kids Foundation on Wednesday gave $20,000
         to the Sojourner Center to help alleviate a shortage of
         space at the domestic-violence shelter (ARIZONA REPUBLIC,
         3/27)....In Tampa, the Mutiny drew 6,035 last night for
         their game versus the Fusion (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/27)....The
         Hurricanes drew 15,426 last night for their game against the
         Rangers.  In Raleigh, Steve Politi reports that NHL
         Commissioner Gary Bettman will make his second appearance in
         NC this season when he visits March 31 to help the Canes
         unveil a new season-ticket package (NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/27).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Bulls, Comcast-Spectacor, Franchises, Gale Force Holdings, Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, NBA, Brooklyn Nets, NHL, Philadelphia 76ers, Arizona Coyotes, Time Warner, YankeeNets
  • KIOSK MY GRITS! THE EAGLES ARE SELLING SOME MERCHANDISE

              The Eagles have opened a kiosk to sell licensed team
         merchandise at the USAirways hub in the Philadelphia Int'l
         Airport.  The kiosk is the first of its kind offered by an
         NFL team.  Eagles Dir of Merchandising Steve Strawbridge
         told THE DAILY that the team will open another kiosk at the
         airport this fall.  This season will also mark the return of
         the Eagles traveling merchandise trailer, introduced at the
         team's training camp in Lehigh last fall.  The trailer, the
         Eagles' "merchandise store on wheels," will be in operation
         throughout training camp, at Friday pre-game festivities and
         in front of Veterans Stadium on game days.  Strawbridge said
         that the airport kiosk, merchandise trailer and altered
         uniforms have all attributed to the team's increase in
         merchandise sales.  The Eagles jumped from 15th in licensed
         merchandise sales in '95, to sixth place in '97, the highest
         for a non-playoff team.  Strawbridge added that the Eagles
         will also send out an initial 300,000 merchandise catalogs
         this season, building on the over 200,000 it sent to fans
         last year.  The team has produced its own in-house
         merchandise catalogs for the past three years (THE DAILY).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles
  • MLB NEWS & NOTES: COULD LEAGUE PICK UP TAB ON TWINS?

              One MLB owner "has suggested" that the league purchase
         the Twins for the same price, $140M, offered by prospective
         buyer Don Beaver, according to Sid Hartman of the
         Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  The Twins would then remain in MN
         run by the Pohlads for two years.  If a new stadium is not
         built, then MLB, "not the Pohlads would make the decision
         whether to move the team."  Twins President Jerry Bell: "I
         did hear something like that.  But it didn't come up in any
         of our meetings."  Hartman writes the MN Legislature should
         holds talks with Pohlad about his investment in a new
         facility, for "[d]eep in his heart, Pohlad still wants to
         keep baseball here" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27).
              NOTES: The Blue Jays have shifted their Wednesday home
         opener from the traditional afternoon start to a night game
         "in a bid to draw more customers," but Jays VP/Ticket Sales
         George Holm said that "a sellout is not expected" (Toronto
         GLOBE & MAIL, 3/27).  In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski reports
         that the Jays "will have trouble attracting 40,000 fans" on
         Opening Day (TORONTO STAR, 3/27)....Hal Bodley profiles
         Devil Rays Owner Vince Naimoli in today's USA TODAY. 
         Bodley: "If you think George Steinbrenner is a hand-on owner
         ... you should spend a day with Naimoli.  He's involved in
         every detail of the team" (USA TODAY, 3/27).  The Rays
         announced that "several thousand" tickets will go on sale
         for Tuesday's home opener, a game which had been "previously
         billed as a sellout" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/27)....In AZ, Steve
         Wilson profiles D'Backs General Managing Partner Jerry
         Colangelo, and writes that Colangelo "has taken more than
         his share of cheap shots.  Next week, an Arizona team will
         open its first Major League season in a winning ballpark
         that should be a source of statewide pride.  He's earned
         some applause" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/27)....The Orioles named
         David McGowan as the new public address announcer at Camden
         Yards (WASHINGTON POST, 3/27)....Tom Cummings, the voice of
         the Lipton Tennis Championship since '88, will replace Jay
         Rokeach as the Marlins P.A. announcer (MIAMI HERALD, 3/27).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Wilson Sporting Goods
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