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  • BALTIMORE RETAINS ITS SPIRIT: SOCCER HARBORS NEW CHALLENGE

              Edwin Hale, Sr. has entered an agreement to purchase
         the NPSL Baltimore Spirit.  Hale, Chair of 1st Mariner Bank,
         said his immediate plans include changing the team name back
         to the Baltimore Blast and continuing to play at the
         Baltimore Arena (NPSL).  In Baltimore, Lowell Sunderland
         reports that Hale operated the Blast between '89-'92.  Hale
         said that at that time, "the league failed, not his team." 
         His Blast averaged 8,550 a game in those three years, but he
         said he lost "about $30,000 a game."  Hale did not disclose
         financial details of the deal (Baltimore SUN, 3/31).
    
    

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  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              In St. Paul, Charley Walters writes that Tom Clancy's
         ownership group is expected to be among the NFL's "strongest
         in terms of equity."  Walters adds that the group could pay
         half of the expected $200M purchase price in cash (PIONEER
         PRESS, 3/31).  Vikings Coach Dennis Green, on Clancy: "The
         good news is he really wants the team ("Up Close," 3/30).
              
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Vikings, NFL
  • MLB SEASON OPENER TEAM NEWS & NOTES: THE DEVILS' ADVOCATES

              In celebrating the inaugural game of the Devil Rays
         today at Tropicana Field, this morning's ST. PETE TIMES
         featured a special pullout section called, "Devil Rays: The
         First Game."  Among the features is a Q&A with the team's
         Managing Partner Vince Naimoli, who said the team is in
         "good shape financially."  Naimoli: "From our original 1992
         pro formas which we gave out to the investors, we're only
         about 5 percent off."  On ticket sales: "The history of our
         area says it's a walk-up (ticket purchase) market.  We've
         sold somewhere over 50 percent of our available tickets,
         which is more than history told us because walk up crowds
         are some 70-80 percent of sales" (ST. PETE TIMES, 3/31). 
         Ted Williams, Al Lopez, Stan Musial and Monte Irvine will
         throw out today's first pitch (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/31).
              RANGERS: The Rangers "will place a strong imaging focus
         on star players like Juan Gonzalez and Rusty Greer through
         TV spots highlighting their talents, sense of humor and
         community involvement."  A new 30-second spot, called
         "Juan's Porch," shows Gonzalez swinging at a newspaper
         tossed by a newsboy as a signal "he is anxious for the
         season to begin" (ADWEEK, 3/30 issue).  Rangers President
         Tom Schieffer said the team is targeting to top 3 million in
         total attendance, although pre-season ticket and licensed
         merchandise sales are down (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/31).
              REDS: In Cincinnati, Todd Archer wrote that the city,
         "perhaps more than any other city, has been affected by the
         strike the most."  Last season, the team drew only one crowd
         of 30,000-plus in their final 16 home games.  For '98, they
         have sold about 13,000 season tickets.  Reds Marketing
         Consultant Cal Levy: "Little by little it's getting better. 
         We're working on developing the right things and checking
         out what other teams and seeing if they would work here"
         (CINCINNATI POST, 3/30).  The Reds have sold out today's
         home opener against the Padres (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/31).
              TICKET NEWS: The Brewers have sold over a million
         tickets this season, the earliest date the club has reached
         that plateau (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/31)....The
         Mariners have sold a team-record 18,516 season tickets
         (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/30)....A's President Sandy Alderson said
         there are "plenty of seats left" for the team's home opener
         Wednesday against the Red Sox (S.F. EXAMINER, 3/30)....The
         Cubs have sold 39,000 tickets for their home opener Friday
         against the Expos, with only standing room remaining.  But
         the White Sox have sold "only around" 20,000 tickets for
         their home opener Monday versus the Rangers (CHICAGO SUN-
         TIMES, 3/31)....The Mets will have over 50,000 on-hand today
         for their season opener against the Phillies at Shea.  In
         N.Y., Jason Diamos writes that despite the team being 20%
         ahead of last year's ticket sales when the team drew over
         1.7 million in 78 dates, the Mets "are nowhere near the
         attraction they were a decade ago" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/31).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Franchises, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, PepsiCo, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays
  • OIL PRICES RISE IN EDMONTON; IS GRETZKY OWNERSHIP IN SIGHT?

              NHL Oilers Exec VP/Business Operations Doug Piper
         announced "across-the-board" ticket increases in the 20%
         range for the '98-99 season, according to Robert Tychkowski
         of the EDMONTON SUN.  The cheapest seats will rise from C$12
         to C$14; mid-range seating from C$30-C$36; and top-level
         seats from C$60 to C$72.  There will now be 5,700 seats at
         the Coliseum priced under C$23 (EDMONTON SUN, 3/31).   
              WILL THE GREAT ONE RETURN? In Edmonton, Scott Haskins
         writes that a "reliable" source told him that Wayne Gretzky
         is putting up $35M to purchase controlling interest in the
         Oilers.  The source added that the deal will be announced at
         the end of the Rangers' season (EDMONTON SUN, 3/31).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, NHL
  • RAPTORS DISBAND MEMBERS OF THEIR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION

              Of the six board members on the Raptors Foundation,
         "three have been told their volunteer services no longer
         will be required," according to Harris & Zicarelli of the
         TORONTO SUN.  Board Chair Ralph Lean, Basketball Canada exec
         Sid Greenberg and Sylvia Sweeney were all asked to resign.
         The Raptors Foundation reached the $5M mark in funds raised
         last fall and on Saturday raised more than $300,000 at its
         annual season wrapup dinner.  Harris & Zicarelli report that
         the Maple Leafs do not have a similar foundation, "so it's
         not known if they are going to place their own people on
         Raptors Foundation board or if even bigger changes are in
         store" (TORONTO SUN, 3/30).  Sweeney: "I'm not really
         disappointed or surprised by the move, more in the way it
         was done.  To be asked to resign without so much as a thank
         you was rather gauche" (TOR. STAR, 3/31).  Maple Leafs Dir
         Brian Bellmore: "This is not a firing, it's a new ownership
         putting a new face on the company" (TORONTO SUN, 3/31).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors
  • SHOCK WAVE IN DETROIT: TEAM PROJECTS 9,000 SEASON TICKETS

              More than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the WNBA's
         Detroit Shock's opening game, and approximately 1,100 seats
         remain, according to Ted Kulfan of the DETROIT NEWS.  The
         Shock has sold around 6,550 season tickets and "are
         projecting" 9,000 sales.  For the opener, the Shock is
         expected to set a WNBA attendance record, topping the 18,937
         that attended a Sting game last season (DETROIT NEWS, 3/31).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Palace Sports & Entertainment, WNBA
  • WARRIORS BATTLE IMAGE PROBLEMS; HIRE PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM

              The Warriors have hired Burson-Marsteller, "one of the
         world's largest public relations firms with hopes of
         bolstering a sagging fan base," according to Steve Brandon
         of the Portland OREGONIAN.  Warriors legal counsel Robin
         Baggett called the hiring of Burson "a kind of physical
         examination for the organization."  The company has begun a
         "full-scale evaluation of the Warriors, from their business
         and basketball operations to public relations."  Burson's
         Josh Luke, on the Warriors: "We've been brought on board to
         kind of rebuild their image" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/30).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Golden State Warriors
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