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  • COLUMNIST SAYS LINDROS IS CRITICAL TO FLYERS' SUITE SALES

              While the debate continues over whether the Flyers
         should trade Eric Lindros, columnist Timothy Dwyer reports
         that both Lindros' contract and the leases for many of the
         CoreStates Center's luxury suites expire after next season. 
         Flyers Chair Ed Snider: "I don't care about marketing when it
         comes to our season ticket holders and suite (owners).  I
         care about winning."  The arena's 126 suites go for $75,000-
         $150,000, and many of them are on a three-year lease.  Dwyer
         writes that about "a dozen" have not been leased, which
         "means there is no waiting list -- except, perhaps, for a few
         suites in prime locations."  Dwyer: "But the fact that a
         dozen boxes have yet to be leased two years into the life of
         the building shows that the market is close to being tapped
         out. ... So it is no surprise that Snider wants to sign
         Lindros to a long-term deal."  Most of Comcast-Spectacor's
         income "is derived from three sources -- luxury boxes,
         broadcasting and marketing.  And Lindros is the force that
         drives all three."  But Snider said, "I don't operate that
         way.  We operate one way, and that is to do everything that
         is humanly possible to win" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Franchises, Philadelphia Flyers
  • DEVIL RAYS HOPE ORIOLES AND OTHER AL EAST FOES BOOST GATE

              The Devil Rays "face their biggest test" this weekend
         when they host the Orioles for a three-game series -- not on
         the field but "in the stands," according to Peter Schmuck of
         the Baltimore SUN.  The Orioles mark the first series of the
         year against an AL East rival for the Devil Rays, who rank
         11th in MLB attendance at 31,605 a game.  Devil Rays Managing
         General Partner Vince Naimoli said attendance has "been a
         little bit disappointing.  I don't know if it's because the
         kids aren't out of school or what, but we hope that now that
         we're going to play some of our divisional rivals, it will
         start to pick up."  Schmuck writes that the team's obstacles
         start "with Tropicana Field."  Devil Rays VP/PR Rick Vaughn:
         "There was a negative connotation to the building.  That's
         something we have to get past" (Baltimore SUN, 5/8).  Naimoli
         said he would give the team a "B" in ticket sales, but added,
         "We're taking a much more active stance to marketing ourself. 
         Some of our broadcasters were telling listeners it might be a
         nice idea to take Mom out to see the Orioles and have a nice
         buffet for Mother's Day" (Kevin Wells, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/8).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Franchises, MLB, PepsiCo, Tampa Bay Rays
  • FRANCHISE NOTES

              In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes that D'Backs ownership is
         "freaking out" about an upcoming HBO "Real Sports" report
         that "claims taxpayers in Arizona were duped into footing" a
         $238M bill to build the club its new stadium (N.Y. POST,
         5/8)....In Chicago, "the Bulls have been trailed the last two
         weeks by an IMAX film crew working on a movie about the team
         for the extra-large screen" (SUN-TIMES, 5/7). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Bulls, Franchises, HBO, Time Warner
  • LIGHTNING CREDITOR MAY RESTRUCTURE CONTRACT FOR DAVIDSON

              A day after sales talks with the Lightning "appeared to
         stall," Pistons Owner William Davidson's group "made some
         inroads Thursday by receiving 'favorable response' from a
         major creditor perhaps willing to restructure terms of an
         existing contract," according to Ira Kaufman of the TAMPA
         TRIBUNE.  Pistons President Tom Wilson would not identify the
         Lightning creditor or discuss details.  Besides SunTrust
         Bank, "major" Lightning creditors include the NY-based
         Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, the NHL, Sunshine
         Network and New York Life Insurance Co. (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/8). 
         Accountants for Davidson spent Wednesday studying the
         Lightning's finances.  Pistons VP/PR Matt Dobek: "That (debt)
         number changes almost daily, and that's what's scary" (Doug
         Stanley, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/7).  Attorney Stephen Wayne, who is
         representing Lightning parent company Kokusai Green,
         confirmed that Davidson tendered an offer for the team,
         rights to the Ice Palace and adjacent land along Garrison
         Channel (Ira Kaufman, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/7).    
    
    

    Print | Tags: Detroit Pistons, Franchises, NHL, Palace Sports & Entertainment, Tampa Bay Lightning, Wilson Sporting Goods
  • RED SOX LOOK TO GO TO TRIAL IN EMPLOYEE HARASSMENT CASE

              The MA Commission Against Discrimination issued what "it
         called the civil equivalent of an indictment" against the Red
         Sox stemming from a former employees' claim of racial
         harassment by the team, according to Adrian Walker of the
         BOSTON GLOBE.  MCAD Chair Charles Walker said that the
         agency's inquiry into Thomas Sneed's claim "turned up enough
         evidence for the case to go forward."  He "urged" the team
         and Sneed to settle, but a Red Sox attorney said Sneed's
         demands "have been unreasonable, and indicated that
         settlement may not be near."  Sneed has accused the Red Sox
         of "allowing a hostile work environment" during his seven-
         year stint with the team and claims that management did not
         respond to his reports of harassment incidents.  Red Sox
         attorney Daniel Goldberg released a list yesterday of actions
         the team took, but "seemed pessimistic that this case will be
         settled soon."  Goldberg claims that Sneed had asked for 100
         times his salary of "about" $30,000 a year, a number which
         Sneed's attorneys deny (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/8).  
              SETTLE OR ELSE? In Boston, Joan Vennochi writes that
         "despite the bluster" of Goldberg, a "trial is the last thing
         this ball club wants."  As they pursue a new ballpark and try
         to "convince the public they have changed from the closed-
         minded institution of 30 years ago," the Red Sox "don't need
         embarrassing headlines of the kind that could emanate from a
         case like Sneed's" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, Franchises
  • REPORTS: ISLES MAY BUY NETS AND MOVE THEM TO THE ISLAND

              New York Sports Ventures (NYSV), which recently
         completed its purchase of the Islanders, is involved in
         "serious discussions" to purchase the Nets for $150-200M and
         return the NBA team to Long Island, according to Valenti,
         Logan, et al. of NEWSDAY.  The deal would provide NYSV with
         another tenant for Nassau Coliseum and "bolster its bid to
         persuade" Nassau County officials to support a new $200M
         arena.  NYSV co-Owner Howard Milstein met yesterday with
         Nassau County officials regarding the development of a 70-
         acre Coliseum site, but NEWSDAY reports that those
         negotiations "appear to have slowed" in recent weeks.  Also,
         sources said that Milstein has had "preliminary talks" with
         Mets Owner Fred Wilpon about moving the Isles "and the Nets,
         if that deal can be completed," into the Mets' planned multi-
         use stadium.  Nassau officials said that the Isles "are
         bound" to their Coliseum lease through 2015, but a Mets exec
         "confirmed" that talks had taken place, and said Wilpon also
         had "been in contact with" the Nets about the team "playing
         some games and possibly all" at the proposed new facility.
         Nets spokesperson Howard Rubenstein confirmed the team has
         had discussions about a "possible move" to Long Island but
         declined comment about a possible sale.  NYSV spokesperson
         Gary Lewi said that Milstein had been involved in "serious
         discussions" with Nets ownership (NEWSDAY, 5/8).
              MORE: Sources said that the Nets' lease at Continental
         Arena with the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA),
         which runs through 2021, contains an option to leave the
         facility following the '99-2000 season "without financial
         penalty."  The option "would have to be exercised" by January
         1, 2000, and "would be the Nets' last chance to break the
         lease without penalty."  NEWSDAY also reports that Nets reps
         "contacted" MSG officials about playing home games there
         "until a move from the Meadowlands can be finalized."  MSG
         spokesperson Barry Watkins declined comment (NEWSDAY, 5/8). 
         In N.Y., Tracy Connor reports three scenarios are being
         discussed between the NYSV and the Nets: one "involves [NYSV]
         buying the Nets outright;" another has the Nets owners
         keeping "a third of the team;" and the third would have the
         Nets owners "also getting a piece" of the Isles.  A NYSV 
         spokesperson the group "hopes to nail down a deal for the
         year 2000 in the next 60 days" (N.Y. POST, 5/8).  A possible
         Nets move was front page news in today's N.Y. POST, carrying
         the banner headline, "Escape From New Jersey" (5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, Madison Square Garden, NBA, Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders, New York Mets, YankeeNets
  • SUITES AT NEW HAWKS/THRASHERS ARENA AMONG HIGHEST IN SPORTS

              Officials of Atlanta's new arena, home of the Hawks and
         Thrashers in '99, "quietly" have been leasing private suites
         "and, in the process, confirmed that the luxury seating is
         reachable only for the upper crust," according to Jeff
         Schultz of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  The suites are priced
         at $135,000 to $225,000 per year, "among the highest in
         sports."  About half have been leased, including "a majority"
         of the top-priced models.  Arena President Bob Williams said
         the price point "has not been an issue."  The average suite
         price of $189,000 is 51.2% higher than the projected $125,000
         in a '96 feasibility study.  Suites have been leased for
         five, seven or 10 years (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/8).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers, Franchises, Time Warner
  • THE PLACE TO BE SEEN FOR FANS AND PHONIES: COURTSIDE AT MSG

              Knicks VP/Public Relations Chris Weiller, who handles
         celebrity ticket requests, will "have plenty of power this
         weekend" as the Knicks host the Pacers for Games 3 and 4 of
         their playoff series, according to Kelly Carter of NEWSDAY. 
         The Knicks have eight complimentary floor seats to each game
         for distribution, and Lakers PR Dir John Black said, "If I
         had eight complimentary floor seats for every game, I would
         own Los Angeles.  Chris Weiller is doing something wrong if
         he's not mayor yet.  [He] is more powerful than Rudy
         Giuliani."  Weiller said the "key" to selecting the courtside
         celebs "is if they're a Knicks fan.  You'd rather have
         someone who is a fan rather than a great face."  The team
         tries to "differentiate between real fans and those who just
         want to be seen."  Weiller: "We love Elle [MacPherson].  But
         if she left at halftime and was talking on the cell phone the
         whole time, she wouldn't be back."  The team also reportedly
         "warned" Sean "Puffy" Combs for constantly talking on his
         cell phone during the game.  Spike Lee, Woody Allen, Tom
         Brokaw and John Kennedy Jr. are among season ticket holders,
         and Billy Baldwin, Matthew Modine and Robin Leach are celebs
         who attend Knick charity functions and thus "are going to get
         a comp seat" when they request one (NEWSDAY, 5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Franchises, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks
  • TWINS AND MLB TO APPEAL JUDGE'S RULING IN ANTITRUST CASE

              The Twins and MLB have decided to appeal a ruling by a
         Ramsey County (MN) district judge which order MLB and Twins
         officials, along with prospective Twins Owner Don Beaver, to
         answer questions from the MN Attorney General's office and
         produce documents concerning the Twins' potential move to
         NC., according to Jay Weiner of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. 
         Weiner writes the antitrust case has "national implications."
         Today, lawyers for MLB, the Twins and Beaver will ask the 
         Judge to stay the execution of the ruling and order a speedy
         appeal to the state Court of Appeals "because of the
         importance of the case" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/8).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins, MLB
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