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              Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge John Bessey
         issued a "directed verdict" against Lamar Hunt in the NHL
         Blue Jackets contract dispute "without giving the case to
         the jury," according to Bruce Cadwallader of the COLUMBUS
         DISPATCH.  Attorneys for both sides had asked for a directed
         verdict.  Bessey ruled that Hunt "wasn't improperly forced
         out of the ownership group" of the Blue Jackets, and that he
         committed a "'flagrant' violation of the business contract
         by taking legal actions against" former partners John
         McConnell and John Wolfe "without consulting other members"
         of the ownership group Columbus Hockey Limited.  Hunt claims
         that McConnell and Wolfe breached their contract with him by
         obtaining the Blue Jackets without him.  Anthony Celebrezze
         Jr., Hunt's lead attorney, said, "We're going to review the
         ruling, but it's safe to say there will be an appeal on this
         part of the case and we'll be appealing again the contract
         issues which we've said all along are the critical issues in
         this case."  A second trial will be called "to determine
         financial damages against Hunt" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/15). 
              ESCAPE TO NEW YORK: Hunt is pursuing a similar suit
         against the NHL and Nationwide Mutual Insurance in New York,
         which seeks $50M in damages and aims to prevent the league
         from placing a team in Columbus.  But John Zeiger, one of
         the attorneys for McConnell and Wolfe, said, "We think the
         New York court will be very respectful of Judge Bessey's
         ruling today" (Bruce Cadwallader, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/15).

    Print | Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets, Franchises, Nationwide Insurance, NHL

              The Pirates are using a CD-ROM software device, D&B
         MarketPlace, to assist them in targeting corporations for
         group ticket sales.  The team began using the business-to-
         business marketing tool, produced by MA-based iMarket, in
         '96.  Pirates Marketing Systems Analyst Jim Pappas said it
         has helped him develop better leads for sales reps by
         allowing him to segment the Pittsburgh market by criteria
         such as company size, revenue or number of employees. 
         Pappas: "I had no idea how many viable companies were in
         Pittsburgh."  Aside from the initial software fee and
         quarterly updates, users are charged on a per-lead basis
         based on what is downloaded.  The cost of leads varies from
         $.10 to $.35.  In their first year, the Pirates paid about
         $10,000 for such leads.   While the Pirates have generally
         had a 4% success rate with targeted lists, Pappas said the
         team has had success rates as high as 10-12% with D&B, and
         he hopes to have had a 6-7% success rate with D&B for a 16-
         week direct marketing campaign the team recently completed. 
         The campaign targeted 100,000 businesses, and Pappas
         estimated the team spent $15,000 to $20,000 on D&B leads. 
         Final results of the campaign have yet to be completed. 
         Overall, group ticket sales have increased by 25% since the
         Pirates started using D&B two years ago.  In addition, the
         team's full-season equivalents this year have increased from
         6,800 to 7,800, which Pappas partially attributes to the
         software.  The White Sox also use D&B (THE DAILY).   

    Print | Tags: Chicago White Sox, Franchises, Pittsburgh Pirates

              49ers co-Owner Eddie DeBartolo had a "nice sit-down
         meeting with his team's longtime nemesis," Raiders Owner Al
         Davis, according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. 
         The meeting "was set up by DeBartolo's right-hand man,"
         former Raider Ed Muransky, "who sources say has been
         pushing" DeBartolo not to give up his "fight to keep control
         of the football team."  Sources say that Davis and DeBartolo
         discussed issues ranging from possible preseason games
         between the two teams to "how DeBartolo might handle his
         fight to regain control of the 49ers."  Muransky denied the
         meeting had "anything to do with DeBartolo's current
         problems with the NFL," saying only, "They were there to
         talk about old times and friendships."  Matier & Ross add
         that DeBartolo opened a new pizza restaurant this week in
         Santa Clara called Tomatina (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/15).
              COLD WAR OVER? The Raiders have "accepted a city and
         county offer to break a seven-month-old silence and discuss
         a 'comprehensive proposal' aimed at restructuring" the
         team's current deal with both agencies.  The sides will meet
         in the next couple of weeks" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/14).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

              The popularity of the Sabres among women fans was
         profiled in the BUFFALO NEWS under the header "Hockey
         Heartthrobs -- Those Hot Young Sabres And The Women Who
         Chase Them."  Sabres VP/Marketing Christye Peterson said
         that women are "snapping up the jerseys and merchandise and
         programs" in the gift shop this season (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/13).
         ...Tickets to Market Square Arena for Games Three and Four
         of the Pacers-Bulls series sold out yesterday in five
         minutes (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/15)....The Maple Leafs
         are looking into buying or owning an Ontario Hockey League
         team outright as a tenant in Maple Leaf Gardens after the
         Leafs move to Air Canada Centre (TORONTO SUN, 5/15).

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Bulls, Franchises, Indiana Pacers, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Toronto Maple Leafs

              Tom Clancy's bid to buy the Vikings "appeared on the
         verge of collapse Thursday as new deal-breakers emerged,"
         according to Don Banks of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. 
         Vikings owners say that "potential flaws" include: an effort
         by Clancy to lower the $200M purchase price by about $15M;
         the inclusion of Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander in Clancy's
         group; and "continuing concerns that Clancy, who is going
         through a divorce, does not have the personal fortune to own
         a team."  Three NFL owners said that the current deal "will
         not be approved by the owners," and "several" Vikings co-
         owners said that the inclusion of Alexander "could prompt
         them to vote against the final sale agreement."  Clancy
         spokesperson Marc Ganis dismissed the possibility that the
         deal was in trouble and said, "A lot of what is coming out
         is over-reaction" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/15).  
              DETAILS & QUESTIONS: In St. Paul, Jeff Seidel reports
         that some Vikings owners were "irked" that Ganis tried to
         modify the deal by requesting to have part of the payment
         deferred because the team has assumed additional debt re-
         signing free agents.  Ganis said that the changes he
         requested amounted to less than 10% of the purchase price. 
         He said that the proposal "has been withdrawn, but several
         owners called it a sticking point in negotiations." 
         Meanwhile, reports have varied on how much Alexander and
         Clancy would invest and sources said that the NFL's concern
         about approving the deal "stems from the fact Alexander
         would have more cash invested in the team than Clancy." 
         Vikings co-Owner Wheelock Whitney said that Clancy needs to
         have a $60M commitment to get league approval. Whitney: "We
         didn't sell the team to Alexander; we sold it to Clancy." 
         But Ganis said $60M was not an accurate figure for Clancy's
         investment (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).  In St. Paul,
         columnist Bob Sansevere: "Ganis has put the deal together. 
         If this deal flies, it will be because of Ganis.  If it
         fails, it will be because of Ganis" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).
              MORE NEWS: In Houston, John Williams reports that NFL
         officials said yesterday "they will take steps" to make sure
         the Vikings stay put, "including making their next owner
         promise not to break the team's Metrodome lease."  Williams
         adds that while Alexander has entered the picture, Houston
         businessman Bob McNair said he "dropped his interest" in the
         Vikings after being told they have a performance lease
         locking them to MN.  In "the past two weeks," McNair offered
         $200M for the team "amid speculation Clancy's proposal would
         crater" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/15).  If Clancy's deal does
         fall through, San Antonio business exec Red McCombs said
         "he's ready to make a cash transaction."  McCombs: "We could
         close in 24 hours" (Charley Walters, PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).
         ...In their divorce proceeding, Clancy's wife Wanda
         estimates in her counterclaim that Clancy's current holdings
         and contracts for future books are worth "at least" $191M. 
         She hasn't said how much she wants, only that she is aiming
         for her "fair share" (Annie Gowen, WASHINGTON POST, 5/15). 

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Vikings, NFL

              Media reports out of Tampa varied as to the status of
         Pistons Owner William Davidson's bid for the Lightning.  In
         St. Pete, Tim Buckley reports that the Lightning has
         received "a formal, written offer" from Davidson, but the
         Lightning's ownership "has yet to decide if it will accept
         or reject the bid" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/15).  In Tampa,
         Ira Kaufman reports that Davidson "did not tender a
         conditional offer" yesterday.  But he adds that Sunshine
         Network GM Jim Liberatore has recently discussed the team's
         contract with a Davidson rep, "assuring the executive of the
         viability of Tampa Bay's NHL market."  The Lightning owes
         the net an estimated $5M for its TV deal, but Liberatore
         said that Sunshine is open to renegotiating terms of the
         deal "in exchange for adding years" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/15). 

    Print | Tags: Detroit Pistons, Franchises, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning

              NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani yesterday called Wednesday's
         attendance of 23,142 for the Yankees-Rangers game
         "pathetic," according to Robert Hardt of the N.Y. POST. 
         Giuliani: "This just can't go on forever and forever" (N.Y.
         POST, 5/15).  Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner: "People
         say, 'Don't leave Yankee Stadium.' ... Tell me why I should
         stay here.  If you're a decent, smart businessman, you have
         to say, 'Why should I stay?'"  Steinbrenner "alleged" he is
         losing money, but he would not say how much.  Steinbrenner:
         "It would probably shock some people" (Bergen RECORD, 5/14).
              REDS: In Cincinnati, Geoff Hobson reported that Reds
         limited partner Carl Kroch, who owns one of the team's 15
         shares, said that he believes that none of the team's owners
         will align with Managing General Partner Marge Schott's 42%
         to help her keep a majority after the current partnership
         expires December 31, 2000.  Kroch: "I'm perfectly willing to
         let her keep her 40 percent, as long as she's a silent
         partner.  We need someone who is professional, can run a
         business, and really knows baseball."  Kroch said "his
         impression is none of the other limited partners wants to
         run the team."  He added that Managing Exec John Allen has
         "done a good job but he hasn't thought about a potential
         candidate" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/14).
              D'BACKS: HBO's "Real Sports" airs Tuesday with a
         segment on the controversy over the $253M public subsidy
         toward construction of the $350M Bank One Ballpark.  In
         N.Y., Steve Zipay writes that the report "can be viewed as a
         warning" to all politicians looking to publicly subsidize
         new facilities (NEWSDAY, 5/15).  During an interview with
         HBO's Armen Keteyian for the piece, D'Backs Managing General
         Partner Jerry Colangelo walked off the set.  But HBO Exec
         Producer Ross Greenburg commended Colangelo "for calling me
         to apologize" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 5/15).  
               NOTES: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports that Twins
         President Jerry Bell estimates the team will lose $12M this
         season (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/15)....The Devil Rays
         announced a season-low crowd of 24,296 for last night's game
         against the Royals (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/15).

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Franchises, HBO, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays
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