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  • BIG MAC ATTACK: MCGWIRE "CATALYST" OF CARD'S ATTENDANCE BUMP

              The MLB Cardinals "are counting on Mark McGwire's
         prodigious power to energize ticket sales this year,"
         according to Christopher Carey of the ST. LOUIS POST-
         DISPATCH.  McGwire has been "the main catalyst" for a 16%
         jump in home attendance, an increase of nearly 4,800 more
         fans per game than in '97, but better weather, a better
         record and special promotions have also contributed.  The
         Cardinals are projecting $83M in revenue this year, "with
         gate receipts ranking as the primary source."  Cardinals
         Secretary/Treasurer Andrew Baur estimates that McGwire's
         pursuit of the home run record last season was worth 5,000
         fans a game for the Cardinals.  Carey writes that if the
         "McGwire inspired crowds continue at the same pace through
         the summer, the Cardinals will draw about 390,000 more fans
         this season than last" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21).
              FROM BUSCH STADIUM TO THE BUSCH CIRCUIT: McGwire has
         joined teammate Gary Gaetti and former Cards Andy Benes and
         Danny Sheaffer "as a backer" of Bobby Hillin's stock car
         team in NASCAR's Busch Series.  McGwire's name will "adorn
         the back of the Chevrolet's deck lid" along with "his up-to-
         date home run total" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Franchises, General Motors, NASCAR, St. Louis Cardinals
  • DADDY WARBUCKS: VINCE PIAZZA CONSIDERING JOINING MARLINS BID

              Vince Piazza, the father of Mike Piazza, is considering
         joining Don Smiley's investment group trying to buy the
         Marlins, according to Mike Berardino of the Fort Lauderdale
         SUN-SENTINEL.  The elder Piazza said this week that he has
         had "preliminary discussions" with Smiley.  But Smiley
         downplayed Piazza's interest yesterday, saying, "I haven't
         talked to Vince in a long, long time.  I can't say any more
         than that."  In '92, Piazza and Philadelphia-area business
         exec Vincent Tirendi were part of a group led by Vince
         Naimoli that wanted to buy the Giants and move them to St.
         Petersburg.  The sale was blocked, and Piazza and Tirendi
         filed a defamation and antitrust lawsuit against MLB that
         was settled out of court in '94 (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/21).
              THE WORST OF TIMES: In the Marlins' first home game
         since Friday's trade, "just" 17,560 attended last night's
         game against the D'Backs.  Two "particularly displeased fans
         were removed from the stands for wearing paper bags on their
         heads."  One bag read "Trade me next."  The other, "From
         champs to chumps" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/21)....The Marlins have
         changed Sunday's giveaway: a Charles Johnson collector's
         card.  Instead of fans being given the card by ushers upon
         entering the stadium, tables will be set up throughout the
         concourse where they can pick up the card of the former
         Marlins C (Clark Spencer, MIAMI HERALD, 5/21).
              BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: Marlins C Mike Piazza took
         out a quarter-page ad in yesterday's sports section of the
         L.A. Times thanking Dodgers fans.  A display ad of that size
         runs $18,898.  The ad read: "An Open Letter to Dodger Fans 
         -- It's never easy to say goodbye.  But from the bottom of
         my heart, I want to thank you for the overwhelming support
         you have shown during my years in Los Angeles.  I leave with
         nothing but great memories and deep appreciation. 
         Sincerely, Mike Piazza" (AP/N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/21).  Piazza
         spoke to the L.A. TIMES' T.J. Simers yesterday in Miami
         about the trade.  Asked if the trade would have happened had
         Peter O'Malley not sold the Dodgers: "In my opinion, no, it
         wouldn't have happened" (L.A. TIMES, 5/21). 
              OH, NO, IT'S MR. BILL: Bill Murray was on "Up Close"
         where he called the Marlins situation "just a terrible thing
         for the people down there, and for all the players." 
         Murray, on Marlins ownership: "You know, if you're not ready
         to have pets, don't get them" (ESPN, 5/20).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, ESPN, Miami Marlins, Franchises, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, News Corp./Fox, Walt Disney
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              Falcons President Taylor Smith dismissed a rumor
         yesterday that his family intended to sell the team: "I have
         no idea how it all got started, but it's absolutely not
         true" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/21)....In Minneapolis, Twins
         Owner Carl Pohlad said that he entertained "two Charlotte
         businessmen in the past week who remain interested in moving
         the Twins" to NC.  One was Charlotte Regional Baseball
         Partnership Chair Johnny Harris (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21)....In
         L.A., WNBA Sparks President Johnny Buss said the chances are
         "better than 50-50" that his team will move into the Staples
         Center, probably in 2000, joining the Lakers, Clippers and
         Kings.  Previously, he had said the team would remain at the
         Forum (L.A. TIMES, 5/21)....In Chicago, the MLS Fire drew
         10,520 yesterday against the Galaxy, its smallest crowd of
         the season (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/21)....Of Red Wings C Sergei
         Fedorov's $12M, up-front bonus, $4.9M "most likely" will go
         to the IRS (USA TODAY, 5/21)....ESPN's Peter Gammons
         reported that while the Padres "are working so hard" to try
         to get the November referendum for a new ballpark passed,
         some Padres people "are so worried" about the vote that a
         few members of the board, including Calvin Hill, are already
         looking at a Washington, DC, location in case they have to
         move there in the 2000 ("SportsCenter," 5/20)....Sabres CEO
         Tim Rigas said that the team "makes an average" of $300,000
         to $350,000 per home playoff game.  A trip to the Stanley
         Cup finals would mean up to $4M in net revenues "for a team
         that is struggling" with an $81M debt (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/20). 
              QUESTIONING A FULL HOUSE: In Tacoma, Frank Hughes wrote
         that the organization of the Ackerley Group, parent of Full
         House Entertainment and the Sonics, has recently become
         "murky."  When Bill Ackerley, who oversaw "aspects" of the
         Sonics Full House Entertainment (FHE), resigned two weeks
         ago he cited family reasons, but sources within Ackerley say
         he "resigned because he has had ongoing disputes with [his
         father] Barry Ackerley about the Sonics."  An Ackerley Group
         spokesperson "vehemently denied" any disputes among the
         family.  Bill Ackerley could not be reached for comment, but
         Hughes wrote that with him gone, "there has been
         speculation" that FHE President John Dressel, who is close
         to Bill Ackerley, "could lose his job."  However, both
         Dressel and an Ackerley spokesperson said Tuesday that "that
         was not the case" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 5/20).
    
    

    Print | Tags: AEG, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Fire, Detroit Red Wings, ESPN, Franchises, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Walt Disney
  • THE HUNT FOR A NEW VIKINGS OWNER: MANY MENTIONED AS SUITORS

              The NFL on Wednesday accepted the withdrawal of Tom
         Clancy's $200M bid to purchase the Vikings, according to
         Banks & Parrish of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  NFL
         Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: "I think they're back to close
         to square one, or square one.  There's no transaction
         currently there."  New potential bidders for the team
         include Vikings President Roger Headrick, Twins Owner Carl
         Pohlad and former Spurs/Nuggets Owner Red McCombs.  But one
         Vikings co-Owner said that at least five co-Owners are
         opposed to Headrick buying the team: "I don't think Roger
         can count on but one vote, maybe two."  Pohlad, on the
         Vikings: "I'm interested in talking to them if they're
         interested in talking to me" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).   Cowboys
         Owner Jerry Jones said that McCombs "would be good for the
         NFL.  He's talented, substantive and has proven he
         understands sports" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21).
              OTHER PLAYERS: In Houston, John Williams reports that
         business exec Bob McNair said "he may try to acquire a small
         portion" of the team now that Clancy has pulled out.  Such a
         purchase "would allow McNair greater access to other [NFL]
         team owners," which he said he hopes "would improve his
         chances of attracting an expansion team to Houston."  McNair
         said that after talking with Tagliabue yesterday he "likely
         will ask" to join Headrick's investor group (HOUSTON
         CHRONICLE, 5/21).  In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports that
         one NFL source said he expects T-Wolves Owner Glen Taylor to
         become a Vikings bidder (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/21).  In
         Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that Flyers/76ers Chair Ed
         Snider "might be interested if he could negotiate rather
         than bid for the team" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21). 
              CLANCY DEBRIS: In Minneapolis, Don Banks cites an NFL
         finance committee member who said that Clancy "not only
         didn't have the extra [$40M] or so that the league prefers
         its owners to have in case of emergency, he didn't have
         close to the money to swing the deal itself" (Minneapolis
         STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).  Sid Hartman writes of Clancy's partner
         Marc Ganis, "[D]on't be shocked if Ganis ... sues" the
         league (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).  A STAR TRIBUNE editorial, on
         Clancy's bid: "[T]he whole affair wound up being a sorry
         fiasco" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Nuggets, Franchises, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers, San Antonio Spurs
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