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A "confidential" report obtained by Al Strachan of the TORONTO SUN shows that while NHL ticket prices "were up an average of 6.6% throughout the league this season, after-tax gate receipts increased by only 3.3%." One of the "main reasons" was the relocation of the Whalers to NC, "where the average after-tax gate was only $198,705." But "even if the Carolina figures had matched those from Hartford, league- wide gate receipts would not have increased at the same rate as ticket prices." All figures are in U.S. dollars. Other numbers showed that the Canadiens "were the only Canadian team" in the upper half of the league's receipts, with the fifth-highest total at $31.17M. That represented a drop of 2.1% from last season, despite a 1.8% increase in the team's average ticket prices. Vancouver and Toronto rank 15th and 16th in the league and have "similar totals," a little more than $21M. Strachan writes that the Flames rank 24th in receipts and are "in danger of having the league's lowest gate receipts within two years." Among the Stanley Cup participants, the Red Wings had the third-highest gate receipt in the league, while the Capitals are second-to- last, ahead of only Carolina (TORONTO SUN, 6/16). BONUS BABIES: With final figures yet to be determined, the total amount of monetary awards provided by the NHL for playoff and regular season bonuses will be $11M, an increase of $1M from last season. Of the $10M awarded last year, nearly $7M went to playoff bonuses (WASHINGTON POST, 6/16).
MLB: In Denver, local ticket agents say that the "marked-up resales" of All-Star Game tickets are "flat." Rock & Jock Tickets Owner Bruce Brown: "It is looking like tickets will be readily available" (DENVER POST, 6/15). ...In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark wrote the "latest buzz" is that agent Scott Boras "may take some of his high-profile clients," such as J.D. Drew, and seek citizenship in some draft-exempt country such as Costa Rica. Then they could become free agents "and could start up a hot bidding war," similar to Cuban players (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/14). TURNER/NBC FOOTBALL: In Boston, Will McDonough reported on the NBC/Turner football league and said that Ted Turner and "his aids in Atlanta are carrying the ball and doing all the research and development, with NBC waiting to see the final product" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/13). BLOOMBERG'S Rick Westhead wrote under the header, "Players In Europe Pinning Hopes On Proposed NBC/Turner League" (SAN DIEGO UNION- TRIBUNE, 6/14). Brian Ransom, agent for Rams CB Ryan McNeil is "threatening" to take his client to the new league in '99. Ransom: "I'd like to find out how soon their plans are finalized" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/14). OTHER NOTES: On Friday, 73 people watched the USBL Long Island Surf-Atlanta Trojans game at Stony Brook Indoor sport complex. Surf CEO Steve Shillet: "I don't understand why Long Island doesn't support a Long Island team" (NEWSDAY, 6/15)....The Nuveen Tour's BTI Championships in Raleigh, NC, "easily cleared their total attendance goal of 20,000" for the week. BTI Tournament Director Karen Happer said that attendance could hit 22,000-23,000 (NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/15).