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  • CAN CAPS' PLAYOFF RUN EXCITE DC'S SUSPECT HOCKEY FAN BASE?

              While the Capitals "have had to hustle to sell seats"
         at the MCI Center for the NHL Playoffs and are registering
         overall "flat" TV ratings, there is "new hope and
         opportunity for Washington's often ignored hockey" team as
         it plays in the Eastern Conference finals, according to
         Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST.  Team officials hope
         that the series against Buffalo will also help increase the
         team's "modest" season-ticket base of "about" 6,500.  As of
         late yesterday, there were 3,200 tickets remaining for Game
         One on Saturday and 7,400 for Game Two on Monday.  The
         league also changed the date of Games Five, Six and Seven
         because league and team execs "failed to realize the
         original date" of Game Five was reserved by WCW for a
         "Monday Nitro" event at MCI Center.  While the team has sold
         out four of its six playoff games, they "have had to work to
         do it," by offering discounted seats to season-ticket
         holders and other "inducements, including spreading some
         free tickets around town."  But Washington Sports President
         Susan O'Malley said, "Nothing helps ticket sales like
         winning" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19).  
              SCHEDULE SNAFUS: With the date changes, if the Caps-
         Sabres series goes to a Game Seven, it would be televised on
         ESPN2, not ESPN.  Since ESPN2 is not available to DC
         Cablevision customers, the NHL is seeing whether RSN HTS
         could carry it to "affected homes" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19). 
         In Dallas, schedule makers failed to notice a Champions on
         Ice show at Reunion Arena on June 2 and were forced to move
         Game Five from June 2 to June 3, and move Games Six and
         Seven back a day as well (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/19). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Cablevision, Comcast-Spectacor, ESPN, Franchises, NHL, Walt Disney, Washington Capitals
  • CHARLOTTE STUDY SAYS CITY CAN SUPPORT MLB, BUT AT A COST

              A feasibility study unveiled yesterday concluded that
         Charlotte "can make big league baseball work -- but only
         with a first-class uptown ballpark that could come at a
         steep price to taxpayers," according to Foon Rhee of the
         CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  The study, commissioned by the
         Charlotte Regional Baseball Partnership, projects that a
         team would draw an average of 25,000 and could raise $30M in
         PSLs from 10,000 season tickets.  Prospective Twins Owner
         Don Beaver's group "might come up with an additional" $70M
         or so through naming rights, parking and concessions, but
         that would leave another $100M of financing to be found
         (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19).  Muhleman Marketing's Max
         Muhleman, who conducted the study: "What we conclude is the
         Charlotte market at this time is likely to provide mid-level
         support of [MLB]" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/19).  NC Triad
         Business Journal Exec Editor Justin Catanoso writes, "The
         results, the advocates said, were encouraging but not
         overwhelming" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19).
     
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB
  • CLANCY'S BID ON LIFE SUPPORT AFTER NO-SHOW AT OWNERS MEETING

              Prospective Vikings Owner Tom Clancy on Monday "asked
         for and was denied a one-week delay to address the NFL's
         concerns about his finances," according to Don Banks of the
         Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
         instead gave Clancy "until the close of business Wednesday"
         to provide written response to the league's concerns. 
         Clancy's group had been expected to make a preliminary
         presentation before the NFL's Finance Committee Monday at
         the league meetings in Miami, but neither Clancy nor his
         partner Marc Ganis attended.  Saints Owner Tom Bensen, on
         Clancy's absence: "If I were him and I was that interested,
         I'd be here.  That might send a bad message (otherwise)." 
         Ganis told Banks: "It didn't really make sense for us to
         come down there.  All we were going to do is say the same
         thing we said to the commissioner last Monday (in New York)"
         (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19).  NFL Oilers Owner Bud
         Adams: "We really have a lot of questions ... and even as
         prolific as (Clancy) is, I'm not sure that he can write fast
         enough to answer them all" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/19).  
              CLANCY REAX: In Minneapolis, Paula Parrish reports that
         Vikings co-Owners Wheelock Whitney and Jaye Dyer indicated
         Clancy's bid to buy the team "is all but finished" after his
         no-show.  Dyer: "From what I can put together, it sounds
         like (his bid) is deader than a doornail" (STAR TRIBUNE,
         5/19).  In Minneapolis, columnist Patrick Reusse writes that
         "it has turned out Clancy was a fraud" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19). 
         In St. Paul, columnist Bob Sansevere writes that "even
         wackier than Clancy are the current millionaire owners of
         the Vikings.  What were these folks thinking?  A better
         question: Were they thinking?" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/19). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, NFL
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              THE HILLS ARE ALIVE FOR BROWNS? In Akron, Terry Pluto
         writes on Calvin Hill and Paul Warfield joining Isles co-
         Owner Howard Milstein on a possible Browns bid: "If they
         have the money, they might be irresistible to the NFL. ...
         [D]on't be surprised if they end up as the next owners of
         the Browns."  Pluto adds that the "conservative" Hill and
         Warfield "don't make any moves without a great deal of
         thought and research. ... It's hard to imagine them joining
         any group that didn't have the bucks to pay the NFL's
         expansion ransom" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/19).  Also in
         Akron, Chris Tomasson writes on minority interest in the
         Browns under the sub-head, "Minority Ownership For New
         Browns Could Be More Than Mere Talk" (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/19).
              OTHER NOTES: In Miami, Cindy Krischer Goodman examined
         Florida Panthers Holdings (FPH) and wrote, "Though
         diversified, the bulk of its revenues now come from upscale
         hotel properties."  FPH Chair Wayne Huizenga has abandoned
         "plans he once had to create a sports/entertainment empire. 
         Now, all efforts are aimed at building a presence in the
         lodging industry. ... Next to go could be the company's
         name, Panthers Holdings officials said, to signal to Wall
         Street that the company wants to be a player in the resort
         business" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/17)....The current issue of
         BASEBALL AMERICA ranks MLB markets, listing the top three
         MLB cities as St. Louis, Boston and Chicago (Cubs). 
         BASEBALL AMERICA also ranks the best minor league cities,
         naming Rochester, NY; Durham, NC; and Reading, PA as the top
         three, respectively (BASEBALL AMERICA, 5/25 issue).       
    
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Browns, Franchises, MLB, NFL
  • MARLINS TICKET HOLDERS FILE SUIT; ADVERTISER PULLS SPOTS

              Two Marlins season-ticket holders yesterday "filed
         lawsuits seeking reimbursements," and one of the club's
         original sponsors said it was "canceling advertisements for
         the rest of the season," according to Barry Jackson of the
         MIAMI HERALD.  The separate class-action lawsuits were filed
         by Miami chiropractor Octavio Fernandez and Palm Beach
         attorney Henry Handler in reaction to Friday's payroll-
         cutting trade with the Dodgers.  Each suit seeks in excess
         of $15,000 in damages.  Meanwhile, Emilio Cruz, President of
         two Miami stores, Miami Shoes and Wilderness Country, said
         that he would "immediately pull his stores' advertising"
         that appears on JumboTron at Pro Player Stadium, as well as
         during Marlins broadcasts on SportsChannel FL and WQBA
         radio.  Cruz: "Our customers have been complaining.  They
         ask, 'What kind of organization is this that you're
         supporting?'  It hurts us in terms of image to continue
         advertising with the Marlins.  Why would we support
         something that's not supporting the community?"  Cruz's two
         stores are in the final year of a three-year deal.  The
         company pays $150,000 for two JumboTron ads per game,
         $100,000 this season for ads on SportsChannel FL's Marlins
         and NHL Panthers telecasts, and $70,000 for ads on WQBA
         (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19).  Huizenga Holdings spokesperson Stan
         Smith shrugged off the suits: "What will they think of
         next?" (Alan Snel, Fort Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).  In
         Miami, columnist Greg Cote also dismisses the suit as
         frivolous: "Your ticket, and by extension your season
         ticket, assures you nothing, just as the previous season's
         result assures nothing" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19).
              PR ADVICE: In Fort Lauderdale, Alan Snel examines the
         Marlins' PR problems and notes that "spin doctors" say the
         team "faces a stiff test" in trying to explain its moves. 
         Marlins VP/Sales & Marketing Jim Ross: "The biggest
         challenge is to educate people on what's going on.  We can't
         rely on anyone doing that for us."  FL-based Communications
         Group President Ray Biagiotti: "They need to be very clear
         and honest with the media.  The public is forgiving as long
         as you provide accurate information" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).
              I.L. ON THE D.L.: As part of their organization-wide
         cost-cutting measures, the Marlins will not field an
         Instructional League team this fall (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Miami Marlins, Florida Panthers, Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, News Corp./Fox
  • TAKASHI OKUBO, WE HARDLY KNEW YOU! DEAL REACHED IN TAMPA

              Arthur Williams, a retired insurance "magnate" living
         in Palm Beach, FL, signed a purchase agreement on Monday to
         acquire the Lightning, rights to the Ice Palace and adjacent
         waterfront land, according to Ira Kaufman of the TAMPA
         TRIBUNE.  While the team "had been expected to sign off" on
         a $130M offer by Pistons Owner William Davidson, Williams
         "tendered a bid this weekend deemed more attractive" by the
         team's Majority Owner, Takashi Okubo.  Kaufman writes that
         sources close to the negotiations indicate the purchase
         price "mirrored Davidson's figure, but there are virtually
         no contingencies listed" in Williams' bid, while Davidson's
         "was linked to the modification of Lightning contracts with
         lenders and vendors."  The league will conduct due diligence
         on Williams and is expected to vote on his offer on June 25
         in Toronto (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/19).  In St. Petersburg, Tom
         Jones reports that Williams, whose net worth is estimated at
         $400M, agreed to pay $120M for the franchise and arena.  The
         deal "concludes a two-year search" to find a buyer for the
         team "that is more than" $102M in debt.  Lightning President
         & CEO Chuck Hasegawa: "Art Williams offered the most
         financially sound proposal of any of the groups who pursued
         the team."  Williams was traveling in Europe and was not
         present during the announcement (ST. PETE TIMES, 5/19).
              THE MOTOWN BLUES? Pistons President Tom Wilson said
         that Davidson expected to have a deal Monday: "It was a
         complete surprise to us.  There was no indication this was
         coming. ... It seems that they took our offer and went out
         and shopped it around.  We never played poker with them, we
         never played hardball, and we were very straight with them.
         ... I just hope now this is good for the community.  I'm not
         sure, though" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/19).  More Wilson:
         "We were very, very surprised" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/19).
              ART OF A DEAL: Williams founded A.L. Williams &
         Associates in '77 and built the company "into the largest
         seller of individual life insurance" in the U.S. (ST. PETE
         TIMES, 5/19).  He sold to Primerica in '89 for "about" $99M
         and has been retired since.  He was an unsuccessful suitor
         for the Bucs in '94 and owned the CFL Birmingham franchise
         for one year before it folded in '95 (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/19). 
         In St. Pete, Robert Trigaux calls Williams "charismatic and
         controversial," and adds that his "apparent ability to
         motivate people who work for him could serve him well" as
         the Lightning's owner.  Republicans in GA and FL have "even
         considered backing" Williams as a potential candidate for
         Governor.  But "his longstanding contempt for politicians
         and his affection for blunt language make even his
         supporters wary of political ventures" (ST. PETE TIMES,
         5/19).  In Tampa, Tom McEwen calls the agreement a "good
         deal all around.  Or, so it appears to be" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
         5/19).  Also in Tampa, Roy Cummings notes that Lightning GM
         Phil Esposito is "expected to stay on" through the June 27
         entry draft, "if not permanently" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/19).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: CFL, Detroit Pistons, Franchises, Palace Sports & Entertainment, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Wilson Sporting Goods
  • WILL DAVID WELLS BECOME MLB'S NEW PERFECT PITCHMAN?

              Despite throwing a perfect game Sunday against the
         Twins, marketing experts say that Yankees P David Wells
         "does not make a perfect pitchman," according to William
         Neuman of the N.Y POST.  ProServ President Bill Allard: "He
         threw goose eggs all day Sunday, and he'll turn up goose
         eggs in the national marketing game as well.  It's a one-
         time situation.  What marketers are looking for is sustained
         success and consistency."  Neuman reports that the perfect
         game "did raise his value" in the New York market, "with
         experts speculating he could get $10,000 to $30,000 for one-
         day appearances" (N.Y. POST, 5/19).  Wells' agent, Gregg
         Clifton, said that he "is fielding offers for endorsements
         and speaking engagements."  Wells was scheduled to appear on
         the Howard Stern radio show and "Regis and Kathie Lee" today
         (N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).  Wells was a guest on the "Late Show"
         last night with David Letterman.  Letterman: "Usually, as
         you know, a perfect game at Yankee Stadium is when nobody
         gets hit with a chunk of falling concrete. ... After the
         game, Wells was pretty excited, as you can understand, and
         he celebrated by retiring 27 Heinekens in a row."  Wells
         said that while NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered him the key
         to the city, "I told him that's not a good idea.  Too many
         doors I need to open out there, and that wouldn't be a good
         idea.  I'd let all my degenerate friends in the city.  I
         think they would fit right in" (CBS, 5/18).  ESPN's Peter
         Gammons said that Wells has "become a working class hero,
         he's kind of an iconoclast, and I think now he's going to
         end up a Yankee for a long time" ("SportsCenter," 5/18).
              FIRST RATE: MSG Network drew a 4.52 rating for Sunday's
         game -- equivalent to about 305,350 homes -- exceeding the
         30-game season average of 3.44.  WNBC, which was showing
         Pacers-Bulls Game One, saw its rating drop from a 9.8 to an
         8.1 at 4:30pm, as the perfect game was coming to a close
         (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).  MSG's ratings rose
         "almost every quarter hour" starting with a 2.4 at 1:30 and
         reaching a 7.1 by the end of the game (N.Y. POST, 5/19).
              IF ONLY EVERY DAY WAS BEANIE BABY DAY: After drawing
         49,820 to Yankee Stadium for Sunday's Beanie Baby promo, the
         Yankees attendance is 26% ahead of last season, and "within
         reach of the all-time [Yankees] record."  Through 16 home
         dates, the Yankees have drawn 486,851, "well ahead" of last
         year's 385,670 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/19).  Giuliani: "When the
         [Orioles] are not giving out Valentino [Beanie Baby], they
         get 50,000 people per game (N.Y. POST, 5/19).
              
    

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Cablevision, CBS, Chicago Bulls, ESPN, Franchises, Indiana Pacers, Madison Square Garden, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Viacom, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
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