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              PUCKETT UP? In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports of
         talk that Kirby Puckett could "become a significant investor
         in the Twins, and that owner Carl Pohlad and his family
         might help finance Puckett's portion, even if the Pohlads
         sell the team."  Walters adds that Ogden Entertainment
         Services, which operates the Target Center for the
         Timberwolves, "is undergoing management changes at its New
         York headquarters and will curtail its aggressive attempt to
         control operations at the Metrodome" (PIONEER PRESS, 6/16).
              NOTES: In Seattle, Mariners CF Ken Griffey Jr. blamed
         Microsoft exec Chris Larson, who reportedly owns 30% of the
         team, for vetoing the trade of P Randy Johnson: "This one is
         Chris Larson.  Everyone agreed to the trade except one
         person, Larson."  Mariners CEO John Ellis: "I absolutely
         cannot comment because it just isn't true" (SEATTLE TIMES,
         6/15)....In TN, David Williams examined the public's
         confusion over the role of the Memphis and Shelby County
         Sports Authority.  Exec Dir Ross Bartow: "Do people know
         what a sports commission can do?  I'd say no.  I've got to
         ...  get out to civic clubs and meet with people, continue
         to answer questions that are out there" (COMMERCIAL APPEAL,
         6/15)....In Phoenix, the WNBA Mercury lead the league in
         season-ticket holders with "more than 9,000" (AZ REPUBLIC,
         6/16)....In Tampa, after announcing a $5M increase in
         payroll, Lightning GM Phil Esposito said that new Owner Art
         Williams has agreed to pour another $1M into the budget for
         player salaries for the '98-99 season (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/16).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Microsoft, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twins, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Lightning

              To the Chinese, Michael Jordan "remains America's
         king," according to Elisabeth Rosenthal, who writes from
         Beijing about Jordan and the NBA's reach in China on the
         front page of the N.Y. TIMES.  The Chinese have named Jordan
         "kongzhong feiren -- 'space flier.'"  When a Beijing company
         recently asked 1,000 Chinese to name the best-known
         Americans ever, Jordan was second, "trailing Thomas Edison
         by just a few percentage points.  Behind him were Albert
         Einstein, Mark Twain and Bill Gates" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16).
              RELOADING? In Chicago, Terry Armour reports that the
         TRIBUNE "has learned the Bulls are prepared to offer" Bulls
         F Scottie Pippen a two-year deal worth $35-40M in an effort
         to keep the team intact (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/16).  Arrests in
         Chicago after the Bulls' title win were down 22% from last
         year, "with 451 people arrested, mostly for disorderly
         conduct."  Police spokesperson Pat Camden said that arrests
         for "serious incidents" were down "even more significantly,"
         from 144 last year to 77 this year (SUN-TIMES, 6/16).

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, Franchises, NBA

              Two addenda to Mario Lemieux's seven-year contract with
         the Penguins -- one attached in '92, the other in '96 --
         "shows his to be a highly unusual deal," according to Dave
         Molinari of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE.  The "most striking
         feature of the 13-page agreement is a clause in the 1992
         addendum that states, in effect, that Lemieux was guaranteed
         to receive the salaries, bonuses and other payments laid out
         in the contract, even if the league office deemed the deal
         invalid."  The second addendum "might reveal the source of
         Lemieux's threatened lawsuit against Penguins co-owner Roger
         Marino."  It calls for Lemieux to receive a $4M "rights"
         payment, payable in $2M installments on January 1, 1997, and
         January 1, 1998.  Lemieux's agent, Tom Reich, said recently
         that the Penguins failed to make payments in January '97 and
         January '98, "although Reich did not specify the nature of
         the payments missed."  Molinari detailed all aspects of the
         contract in his piece (Dave Molinari, POST-GAZETTE, 6/15).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Pittsburgh Penguins

              Larry and Charles Dolan "have raised the stakes in
         their bid to become the next owner of the Browns" by
         bringing Don Shula into their ownership group, according to
         Terry Pluto of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL.  Shula was born and
         raised in OH and the Dolans will introduce him at a press
         conference today as an Exec VP in their proposed
         organization.  Pluto writes that Shula "is a big name and
         known commodity to NFL owners," and with him on board, "the
         Dolans believe their seemingly already strong group is even
         more attractive to the league" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/16). 
         In Cleveland, Tony Grossi reports that Shula "might ...
         invest nominally in ownership.  But his value to the Dolan
         effort is priceless."  Grossi: "Shula's universal acceptance
         by NFL owners makes it increasingly difficult for them to
         deny the Dolans' bid."  Bengals Owner Mike Brown: "He's a
         significant plus for the Dolans" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER,
         6/16).  In Miami, Kevin Ding reports that Shula would become
         a 5% owner in the Dolan group (MIAMI HERALD, 6/16).
              MORE BROWNS NEWS: In Cleveland, Tony Grossi reported
         that Browns ownership applicants Thomas Murdough and Bart
         Wolstein "were less than amused" when they read that Howard
         Milstein termed the expansion team ownership derby "a two-
         horse race" between he and the Dolan brothers.  Wolstein:
         "We don't need a New Yorker running our team."  Ownership
         candidates will have to send a check for $150,000 to the NFL
         this week to receive material on the stadium lease and
         revenue sharing projection information (PLAIN DEALER, 6/14). 
         Bernie Kosar, who has been approached by Murdough and the
         Dolans about joining their ownership bids, has "serious
         questions about whether there is enough time to build a
         viable NFL franchise" by '99.  Kosar: "I'm concerned about
         the timeline of it.  It's a tight timeline to get ready to
         play in '99" (Carter Gaddis, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/14).

    Print | Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Franchises, NFL
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