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              One of the Expos' ballpark project's "high-profile
         promoters has cast aspersions on Expos president Claude
         Brochu and on the near-impenetrable veil of secrecy
         surrounding the project he was recruited to sell," according
         to Stephanie Myles of the Montreal GAZETTE.  In a radio
         interview, Jean Coutu said, "I think Brochu is a very good
         administrator, but maybe he should step aside and let
         someone else promote the project."  Brochu would not
         comment.  Coutu joined the Expos' ballpark effort in March,
         but he now says he is "no longer active in the project." 
         Coutu: "It's excessively difficult to put that good name we
         [he and the other businessmen assisting in the ballpark
         push] have into something we don't understand ourselves. 
         Who will own the stadium?  We don't even know.  It smells a
         bit like what went on in Quebec City with the Nordiques." 
         Coutu: "They haven't known how to sell it to business,
         government and the fans."  Meanwhile, the Expos have invited
         members of the business community to accompany them to
         Baltimore today to tour Camden Yards (GAZETTE, 8/19).  

    Print | Tags: Franchises

              With a 30-day window for potential buyers of the Twins
         open to September 14, the two who had "publicly declared
         interest in acquiring" the team say they "are undecided
         about whether they will make an official bid," according to
         Tom Powers of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS.  Minneapolis
         lawyer Clark Griffith, son of former Twins Owner Calvin
         Griffith, said he will "take the next two weeks to decide
         whether to make an offer."  Mike Veeck said he will take
         part in a conference call with his financial partners today. 
         But Powers writes that Veeck "no longer seems interested" in
         buying the team (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/19).  
              TWINS PEAKED? In his column, Powers notes that the
         Twins drew an average of 2.3 million fans from '87-93, and
         writes that the lack of a new ballpark is "not the reason
         Carl Pohlad has lost millions of dollars the past five
         seasons."  Powers: "Let's get real.  The reason Pohlad has
         lost a lot of money is his team stinks.  His team stinks
         because he won't spend enough to make it competitive. 
         Period.  Quit blaming the market for everything. ... The
         point is, instead of trimming the payroll from $26 million
         to $20 million, why not invest in the team by signing some
         much-needed talent?" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/19).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Minnesota Twins

              Today is the day that "seven aspiring owners of the
         Browns pitch themselves in front of all 30 NFL team owners"
         in Atlanta, according to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland PLAIN
         DEALER.  Grossi: "No prize is awarded at the end of the day,
         but a good presentation could sway some votes when the owner
         is selected in another month."  Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver:
         "I think it's kind of a dog-and-pony show. ... We all will
         form opinions and impressions.  And when it comes right down
         to it, it seems to me what they say and what they present
         will become fairly significant.  Because in the final
         analysis, there won't be a great disparity in the bids." 
         Grossi writes that while the first bids are "signed and
         sealed," the second bids -- due after each applicant visits
         the NFL "data room" in New York -- will "separate the
         field."  If the bids "are close," an NFL owner speculated
         within $50M of each other, "factors such as Cleveland
         connections, minority participation and likability could
         play a larger role."  Through a draw from a hat, Cleveland
         developer Bart Wolstein will go first (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19). 
         Wolstein: "From what I've been reading, the price is going
         to be the most important thing" (BEACON JOURNAL, 8/19).  
              WHO ARE THE ODDS-ON FAVORITES? Grossi reports that
         while Al Lerner "looks like the front runner ... nothing is
         always what it seems in the NFL" (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).  USA
         TODAY's Gordon Forbes lays his odds, putting Lerner at 3-1;
         Wolstein at 7-2; Charles/Larry Dolan at 9-2; Howard Milstein
         at 6-1; Richard Jacobs at 10-1; Thomas Murdough at 15-1; and
         Jeremy Jacobs at 25-1 (USA TODAY, 8/19).  In an AKRON BEACON
         JOURNAL survey, Murdough was the fans' pick to become the
         Browns' owner, receiving 27% of the vote.  The Dolans got
         22%; Lerner 16%; Wolstein 14%; Milstein 12% and Richard
         Jacobs 4.5%.  Lerner "drew the strongest response, both pro
         and con" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/19).  In St. Pete, Hubert
         Mizell calls Lerner the "best bet" (ST. PETE TIMES, 8/19).
              STADIUM LOAN: With a 5-2 vote, OH's Controlling Board
         approved a $21.8M loan to help finish the Browns' stadium. 
         The loan -- "in effect, a cash advance on a state
         construction budget" -- will be repaid with stadium aid
         appropriated in the November budget (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Browns, Franchises, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL

              Alberta Treasury Branches paid a C$4M "break-up" fee to
         Rockets Owner Les Alexander "after he lost out on his bid"
         to buy the NHL Oilers in May, according to Jac McDonald of
         the EDMONTON JOURNAL.  Alexander "is entitled to" another
         C$4M if the agreement keeping the Oilers in Edmonton until
         2004 is "relaxed in any manner," making it easier for the
         club to be relocated.  The fee agreement, obtained by the
         JOURNAL, says that the additional money is due "whether or
         not the club is then relocated."  The fees "were part of
         Alexander's second offer to purchase the Oilers."  Treasury
         Branches spokesperson Darlene Dickinson "confirmed" that
         Alexander received the C$4M, out of the C$100M proceeds of
         the sale.  Dickinson: "It was his requirement that if the
         local buyers succeeded in purchasing the team, he would
         require a break-up fee.  This is quite normal under
         transactions of this type" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 8/19).

    Print | Tags: Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, Houston Rockets, NHL
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