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              A source close to Reds Owner Marge Schott, on MLB
         allegedly trying to pressure her to sell the team: "She's
         not someone you bully.  If she (sells), it will be because
         it's her decision" (CINCINNATI POST, 4/30).
              BLUE JAYS: In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski writes that "fans
         are taking notice" of the Blue Jays' 10-16 record.  The Jays
         said they sold 26,690 tickets for yesterday's loss to the
         Royals "but there weren't anywhere near that many on hand." 
         Overall, through 13 home games, the team has drawn 11,894
         less than last season (TORONTO STAR, 5/1)....The A's have a
         promo planned for tomorrow where if Blue Jays P Roger
         Clemens strikes out more than 10 A's, ticket-holders get a
         free pair of tickets to a future game (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/1).
              RYAN'S EXPRESS: Nolan Ryan, his son Reid and Don
         Sanders, a former part owner of the Astros, have reached an
         agreement to purchase majority interest in the Jackson (MS)
         Generals, the Astros AA Texas League team, and move them to
         Central TX (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/1).  Ryan is talking with
         the city of Round Rock about possibly relocating the team
         and constructing a city-owned stadium (Nolan Ryan).
              TEAM NOTES: A new souvenir being sold at Dodger Stadium
         is a stuffed koala bear dressed in a Dodger uniform.  In
         N.Y., Rush & Molloy report that some fans have already
         started calling the new mascot "Rupert," after News Corp.
         Chair Rupert Murdoch (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/1)....Former
         Marlins/current Padres P Kevin Brown, on a meeting he and
         three other Marlin players had last November with team Owner
         Wayne Huizenga: "We went there to talk as players because we
         knew things were about to fall apart.  We tried to do what
         we could.  We offered to become campaigners and told Wayne
         we'd do what we could to save it.  We'd try to get fan
         support and push the stadium issue with positives instead of
         having the trigger being pulled" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/1).

    Print | Tags: Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, MLB, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays

              Molson Breweries announced a five-year strategic
         alliance with Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, owners of
         the Canucks and Grizzlies, according to a CP report in the
         Montreal GAZETTE.  The deal also "provides for involvement
         in the presentation of concerts and other entertainment at
         GM Place through Molson's stake in Universal Concerts
         Canada."  As part of the deal, Molson now becomes the
         official brewery of the Grizzlies (Montreal GAZETTE, 5/1).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Vancouver Canucks

              MLB "is balking at Houston's attempt to extract a
         promise the Astros will play at least 30 years in the
         ballpark being built downtown," according to John Williams
         of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  Astros Owner Drayton McLane Jr.
         has made a written promise to sign a "strict performance
         lease" that would prevent the team from playing home games
         anywhere else for 30 years.  But the Harris County-Houston
         Sports Authority "wants stronger assurances should baseball
         face worsened economic problems."  In a "doomsday scenario,
         McLane or a future owner might place the Astros in
         bankruptcy, voiding such a lease and freeing the next owner
         to move the team."  Authority officials have been
         negotiating with Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for a
         pledge that MLB "will not allow the Astros to leave Houston
         until their 30-year lease expires."  Though MLB "has the
         antitrust power to make such a promise," two sources said
         that Selig "has been unwilling to put anything in writing." 
         Williams writes that Authority officials "don't have much
         negotiating power" because they have started construction on
         the $249.5M ballpark and need a final lease to secure their
         tenant.  Gene Locke, the Authority's legal counsel, said
         yesterday that until the authority completes its discussions
         with Selig, it cannot complete its lease negotiations with
         the Astros (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/1).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Franchises, Houston Astros, MLB

              Pistons Owner William Davidson "is in preliminary
         talks" with attorneys representing ownership of the
         Lightning about purchasing the team, according to Kupelian &
         O'Hara of the DETROIT NEWS.  Pistons President Tom Wilson:
         "We are looking at it. ... We saw this as it might be an
         opportunity to go into a one-winter-sport town.  It's kind
         of an underperforming team right now.  You might be able to
         pick it up at a decent price."  Wilson added that "there are
         two or three other parties that are serious.  I wouldn't say
         it's a strong possibility it's going to happen."  Pistons
         management has reviewed the Lightning's books, "indicating
         talks are serious."  Wilson said that the price range for
         the Lightning, based on recent sales of other teams and the
         cost of expansion franchises, is $90-130M.  He added that
         Davidson "has no intention" of moving the Lightning to The
         Palace outside of Detroit (DETROIT NEWS, 5/1).

    Print | Tags: Detroit Pistons, Franchises, Tampa Bay Lightning, Wilson Sporting Goods

              IHL Aeros Owner Chuck Watson said Thursday "he will
         withdraw from efforts to bring an NFL and/or NHL team to
         Houston, primarily so he can focus on his company,"
         according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  But
         Watson also said that "he has grown frustrated with the
         politics of stadium negotiations" which have slowed to the
         point where Houston's chances of regaining an NFL franchise
         "are threatened."  Watson "has taken a much-lower profile on
         the NFL front in the past two months amid pressure from
         stockholders to devote more attention" to his company, NGC
         Corp., an energy firm.  Watson has a held a 50-50 stake in
         Houston NFL Holdings, which he formed with businessman Bob
         McNair.  The two have spent about $2.5M trying to get a team
         to replace the NFL Oilers and another $2.5M trying to lure
         the NHL.  Houston NFL Holdings head Steve Patterson said
         that Watson's departure would not hamper the group's efforts
         to land a team, and that McNair has the "financial clout and
         fortitude" to continue (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/1).

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, NFL, NHL

              Royals officials "will add some pricier new seats
         behind home plate," according to Charles Crumpley of the
         K.C. STAR.  The seats "are just the first phase of more
         dramatic upgrades" Royals officials are contemplating that
         could cost $70-80M.  Those improvements could include
         enclosing the middle level of seats to create some luxury
         suites.  Jackson County Sports Complex Authority Chair John
         Bondon said that discussions "so far" have centered on
         asking voters to approve a bond issue or asking for more
         money from the city, the county and the state.  Installing
         the premium seats behind home plate would cost $10-13M.  The
         new section would be constructed after the season.  It is
         undecided how many seats would be in it or whether any
         existing seats would be torn out (K.C. STAR, 5/1).  
              BRETT, HUNT OR BOTH? Noting the group led by George and
         Bobby Brett and the joint effort by Lamar Hunt and Western
         Resources that are bidding for the Royals, columnist Jerry
         Heaster writes, "The Brett group is a worthy candidate to
         buy the Royals, but ... the team of Hunt and Western
         Resources is preferable for a compelling reason.  It has a
         more clear-cut and seemingly ironclad commitment to local
         economic and civic interests" (K.C. STAR, 5/1).  But
         columnist Jeffrey Flanagan, under the header "Don't Count
         Out Brett-Hunt Partnership," reports that two sources "close
         to the situation" said that the two groups "agreed to
         continue discussions about a possible joint involvement
         after the Royals' board of directors has selected a winning
         bid" (Jeffrey Flanagan, K.C. STAR, 5/1). 

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Kansas City Royals
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