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              Mario Lemieux's agent Tom Reich, responding to a column
         Tuesday by Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun, said that Lemieux
         "won't be resuming his playing career anytime soon, if
         ever," according to Dave Molinari of the PITTSBURGH POST-
         GAZETTE.  Reich: "I'll never say never ... but he isn't
         going to be playing any hockey" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE,
         5/27).  In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes that Penguins
         co-Owner Roger Marino called the story "baloney," but would
         not comment on any specifics of Lemieux's contract.  Marino
         also declined comment on the legal action that Lemieux has
         taken in the last two weeks "aimed at getting the money he
         says Marino owes him"  (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/27).  On Tuesday,
         Strachan cited sources who said the Penguins "owe Lemieux
         $35[M] U.S. -- money which he earned during his career but
         which he agreed to take on a deferred basis."  Another
         source said that Lemieux's deals "were personal-service
         deals" with Penguins co-Owner Howard Baldwin, who was
         running the team at the time, and added that "there was
         always a lot of secrecy about them" (TORONTO SUN, 5/26).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Pittsburgh Penguins

              The Vikings Board of Directors decided on Monday "to
         put the franchise up for sale again and will accept open,
         cash bids for 100 percent of the stock in the holding
         company," according to Greg Johnson of the ST. PAUL PIONEER
         PRESS.  Bidders have until July 1 to make an offer, but
         Johnson wrote that "doesn't mean a transaction can't be
         completed" before that date.  Many of the team's owners
         "believe" that the successful bid "will be in the area" of
         Tom Clancy's earlier $200M offer (PIONEER PRESS, 5/26).  
              IN THE RED: San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, who
         made a $176M offer for the team before Clancy, said that he
         "has not decided if he will make a new offer."  McCombs said
         he saw "no reason for any real haste" with the July 1
         deadline set, and he will "probably wait until" then to make
         any offer (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/27).  But Vikings co-Owner Jaye
         Dyer said that "concerns have been aired" among the team's
         board about McCombs' intentions should he successfully bid
         for the franchise, adding "there has been speculation ...
         that anything he does would be intended to maybe eventually
         end up in San Antonio" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/27). 
              NO FROM SNIDER: Flyers Chair Ed Snider, a rumored
         candidate, said yesterday that he has "no interest" in
         bidding for the Vikings (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/27).

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Franchises, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Flyers

              Cleveland natives Charles and Larry Dolan announced
         that Bill Cosby has become an equity investor in the Dolan
         family owner-applicant group which is seeking to purchase
         the new Browns franchise.  If the bid is successful, the
         group announced that Larry Dolan would hold 30% of the total
         equity and act as the sole general partner, with majority
         voting control and complete management authority.  Charles
         Dolan would also hold a 30% stake, but would be a limited
         partner.  Dolan Family Trusts would hold a 30% equity stake,
         and Cosby would be a limited partner, with a 5% stake. The
         remaining 5% is being held in reserve (Dolans).  
              HEY, HEY, HEY: In Akron, David Adams wrote that the
         addition of Cosby, whose net worth was estimated at $300M in
         '96, "unofficially thrusts the Dolan effort to the head of
         the pack" of groups vying for ownership of the Browns. 
         Although Cosby has no local ties to Cleveland, he "does add
         a minority member to the group," something that NFL owners
         and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue "consider to be a powerful
         factor" in its favor (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/23).  Also in Akron,
         Terry Pluto wrote that the addition of Cosby to the Dolan
         group "rings hollow" and looks like an attempt "to tell the
         NFL 'Hey, we have a minority owner, too.'"  Pluto added that
         while the Dolan group and the Paul Warfield/ Calvin
         Hill/Howard Milstein group "will probably end up" as the
         finalists for the Browns, "[d]on't count out" Cleveland
         businessman Al Lerner.  Pluto wrote that Indians Owner Dick
         Jacobs, however, is "disenchanted" with the bidding process,
         and plans to "remain on the sideline and see what develops"
         (Terry Pluto, AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/24).

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Franchises, NFL

              The NHL Oilers are "fast running out of time" in their
         drive to sell at least 13,000 season tickets by May 31 in
         order to qualify for $2.5M from the NHL's Canadian
         Assistance Plan.  With five days remaining, the team has
         sold "about" 11,400 tickets (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/27).
         ...Saturday's MLS MetroStars-Fusion game drew 56,404 to
         Giants Stadium, the biggest crowd in MetroStars history. 
         The game was followed by an exhibition match between
         Colombia and Scotland (Bergen RECORD, 5/24)....MLB "shot
         down a proposal" by Hamilton County Treasurer Robert Goering
         that the county buy Marge Schott's controlling shares of the
         Reds.  Acting Commissioner Bud Selig: "I don't see that 
         happening" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/22)....In N.Y., Jay
         Glazer reported that final NFL attendance numbers showed the
         Jets trailed only the Chiefs and Broncos in total attendance
         figures for home and away games in '97 (N.Y. POST, 5/24).
         ....The Flyers have invited Hayley Wickenheiser, one of
         Canada's "top female ice hockey players," to the team's
         prospects camp (USA TODAY, 5/27). 

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Cincinnati Reds, Comcast-Spectacor, Denver Broncos, Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Kansas City Chiefs, MLB, New York Jets, NFL, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers

              Blue Jays Chair & CEO Sam Pollock told a House of
         Commons committee on the future of sports in Canada that the
         Blue Jays and all Canadian pro teams "are in financial
         peril," according to William Walker of the TORONTO STAR. 
         Pollock said that the Blue Jays lost $35M in FY '97 and that
         he "forecasts a similar loss this year."  He added that the
         team "started losing money in 1993 and hasn't been
         profitable since."  But throughout his appearance Pollock
         "insisted" that the team was not asking for "government
         concessions" (TORONTO STAR, 5/26).  He cited the low
         Canadian dollar, the "bad deal" between the government and
         business when the SkyDome was built, and the amount of taxes
         the Jays pay as "key reasons" behind its struggles, and
         added that "every time the Canadian dollar drops one cent,
         it costs the Jays $600,000" (CALGARY SUN, 5/26).  

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Toronto Blue Jays

              The Knicks are "increasing" ticket prices by 10-12.5%
         next season, with the top tickets increasing by $100, to a
         "whopping" $1,350 per seat per game, according to Kevin
         Kernan of the N.Y. POST.  In a letter to season-ticket
         holders, MSG CEO Dave Checketts wrote that the increases
         were necessary "to keep pace with the growing cost of
         maintaining our talented roster in such a competitive
         marketplace."  Courtside seats will now run $58,050 per seat
         for the season.  The most affordable ticket at MSG will rise
         from $20 a game this year to $22 next season, and a seat
         that was $200 will now cost $220.  Kernan added that the
         $220 seat "was $25 a decade ago" (N.Y. POST, 5/26).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks

              C Mike Piazza's second game as a Met helped the team
         enjoy its "first sellout in five years," according to Steve
         Popper of the N.Y. TIMES.  Sunday's game drew a paid crowd
         of 47,291, and, including 8,484 giveaways, the ballpark was
         at its 55,775 capacity.  On Saturday, Piazza's Mets debut
         attracted a crowd of 32,908.  The team announced that 21,400
         tickets were sold for the two games after Friday's trade
         with the Marlins was announced (N.Y. TIMES, 5/25).  The Mets
         had been averaging 17,601 before Friday's trade. The average
         attendance for the two weekend games was 40,100 (N.Y. POST,
         5/25).  In N.Y., Claire Smith wrote that, in trading for
         Piazza, the Mets have "finally graduated from Off Broadway"
         and "now have the star of the show" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/23). 
         Also in N.Y., George Vecsey wrote that Mets management has
         been feeling the "immense pressure of empty seats and
         yapping voices and the graceful juggernaut in the Bronx." 
         Mets co-Owner Fred Wilpon, on Piazza: "This town is ready. 
         They love him already.  He could be like Willie Mays or
         Mickey Mantle to this town" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/23).
              BACK IN FL: In spite of "all the negativity around the
         Marlins," Miami Mayor Joe Carollo said that he wants the
         Marlins to "build a stadium next to the Heat's new arena,"
         and added that he is "willing to consider using public money
         to do it," according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD.
         But Jackson wrote that the city "is in no position" to
         contribute toward a retractable-dome stadium, as it is
         "recovering from a financial crisis" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/25). 

    Print | Tags: Miami Marlins, Franchises, Miami Heat, New York Mets

              Stars Owner Tom Hicks "expects" MLB to approve his
         purchase of the Rangers at a June 12 owners' meeting in
         Seattle, an action that will allow him "to proceed with his
         plans to assemble his sports assets into one company,"
         according to Alm & Kirkpatrick of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. 
         Hicks said that he "still intends to package" the Rangers,
         Stars, an "as-yet-to-be-created [RSN] and perhaps other
         assets into a public company."  The company will "be
         financed privately initially" but Hicks said "[a]t the right
         time, we'll consider accessing the public so our fans can
         own some of the teams with us."  An IPO "may" come in the
         next 12-36 months (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/23).  In Toronto,
         Damien Cox called the Stars "one of the NHL big boys now,"
         and that if Hicks "has his way, they'll soon be a giant." 
         (TORONTO STAR, 5/25).  In Ft. Worth, Simon Gonzalez wrote
         that the Stars have sold out every playoff game thus far and
         are the "hottest thing around."  Stars President Jim Lites
         said "if [TV] and attendance are indicators," the team is
         "getting closer to" the MLB Rangers in popularity, and is
         "past basketball, by a long shot" (STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/26).
              WHO'S DOING HIS PR? In N.Y., Carlos Tejada wrote that
         Hicks' new consolidated sports company "would seek
         advertising with the promise of a national network of radio
         and [TV] outlets and possibly billboards," and would "give
         the laconic Mr. Hicks an impressive sports and media empire"
         (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/26).  Hicks was also profiled by
         Allen Myerson of the N.Y. TIMES, who wrote that Hicks "has
         transformed" the Stars into a Stanley Cup contender, and
         "plans to pit" Fox against Disney/ESPN "[t]o compete for
         rights to carry" the Rangers and Stars on cable through a
         partnership with his planned RSN (N.Y. TIMES, 5/25).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, ESPN, Franchises, MLB, NHL, Texas Rangers, Walt Disney
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