SBD/31/Franchises

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).

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