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PISTONS OWNER GIVES LIGHTNING "SOME NUMBERS TO CONSIDER"
Published May 6, 1998
Pistons Owner William Davidson has made "a preliminary bid" to purchase the Lightning, "just as a local group has dropped its pursuit of the debt-ridden" franchise, according to Ira Kaufman of the TAMPA TRIBUNE. Pistons President Tom Wilson said Davidson has set a "semi-drop-dead date" of May 15 to finalize negotiations. A source involved with the talks said that a bid was made Monday, but it "was not answered immediately by the Lightning." Meanwhile, Kaufman reports that businessman Mike Cone, who was heading a Tampa group, "has lost interest in purchasing the team." Cone did not return phone calls (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/6). In St. Pete, Tom Jones reports that Davidson is deciding whether to make "a conditional offer on paper in the next day or two," and Wilson told him, "I wouldn't say we made them an official offer, but we did give them some numbers to consider. It's down to the point where we've done a lot of work, looked at a lot of the figures, and we've given them some numbers to see if it's in their ballpark" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/6). UNSUNG HERO? In a sidebar, the TIMES' Jones writes that Davidson is "on the short list of the most successful owners in professional sports. ... Virtually every business he has taken over -- from his family's wholesale drug company to an automotive glass supply company to the Pistons -- has gone from near-bankruptcy to thriving leaders in their industries. He has two rules of business: hire competent people and do everything first class" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/6). In St. Pete, columnist Gary Shelton, on Davidson: "This is our guy. This is the owner we want. If this was a vote, it would be a landslide" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/6).