SBD/6/Franchises

PISTONS OWNER GIVES LIGHTNING "SOME NUMBERS TO CONSIDER"

          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).

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