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The CP's Neil Stevens reports that the return of RW Pavel Bure to the NHL increases the league's average yearly player salary to $1.3M when factoring in his previous $8M salary with the Canucks. The Panthers, who acquired Bure in a trade with the Canucks, gave him a new contract for the rest of the season "believed to be worth about" $3M. Agent Mike Gillis "will try" to negotiate a five or six-year deal worth around $10M per year for Bure after this season (CP, 1/19). In Toronto, Geoffrey York writes that Bure's "lavish lifestyle of endless partying and nightclubbing" during his holdout "made him a controversial figure" in his native city of Moscow (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/19)....The Atlanta Arena Co. took out an ad in the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Southeast edition promoting Thrashers club seats at the new Atlanta Arena: "Impress Customers. Terrify Competitors" (THE DAILY)....In San Jose, Clark Judge writes that NFL Dir of Football Development Gene Washington's hiring by the 49ers "likely will be put on hold until the NFL resolves the future of co- owner Eddie DeBartolo." It is "believed" that Washington would be named as an Exec VP (MERCURY NEWS, 1/19).
The NBA Kings announced Friday that the Maloof family of NM "will assume controlling interest" of Capital Sports & Entertainment, the company that includes the Kings and Arco Arena, effective July 1, according to Martin McNeal of the SACRAMENTO BEE. After the deal was announced, Gavin and Joe Maloof said that they had "no plans" to move the team from Sacramento. Current majority Owner Jim Thomas said he will remain as the company's CEO until July 1 and will work with the Maloofs "to help ensure a smooth transition." Though no financial terms of the deal were disclosed, Thomas is "expected" to retain a small part of the team. The Maloofs purchased a 25% share of the team in January '98 for approximately $40M. Thomas said his decision to sell his stake in the Kings was "influenced" by new business interests he wants to focus on, as well as the team's "cloudy position" in the free agent market. Thomas: "[The free agent situation] had some bearing on it. We have been talking with some people who wanted to know about what the future would be like for the team. So once I made the decision, it made sense to get the Maloofs involved so we could have a united front" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16). DOUBTING THOMAS? Thomas, who took control of the Kings in '92: "I'm glad I had the experience. I'm disappointed with the level of success. I truly believed and expected that we would be in the NBA Finals in three to four years. I had no idea about the salary cap and a lot of other impeding things" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16). MALOOFS NOT ALOOF: Gavin Maloof said that his family "plans to be aggressive in the pursuit of talent." Maloof: "We're pro-active. We've got money, and we're committed to putting a better product on the floor" (Martin McNeal, SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16). Also in Sacramento, Mark Kreidler suggested that the Maloofs establish residency in Sacramento, as Thomas was perceived by the local fans as a "complete outsider" because he never left L.A. to establish residence in the city (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16).
The Heat are offering several incentive packages during the shortened season, including two free tickets to two games to every season-ticket account and $10 upper bowl tickets that include a voucher for free concessions on opening night. The Heat also announced there will be no price increase for playoff tickets or for the '99-2000 season (Heat). For next season, the Heat will sell about 3,100 upper bowl seats at its new arena for $5 per game, cheapest in the NBA. Heat President of Business Operations Jay Cross said the $5 price "likely" would be available for half of the team's home games and "possibly more." The $5 seats would be for games against "marquee opponents," and for other games, the 3,100 seats might be closed off. The Heat have sold around 9,300 season-tickets this year, compared with just under 10,000 last season. About 120 new orders have been received by the team since the lockout ended on January 6 (MIAMI HERALD, 1/16). CHARLOTTE: The Hornets plan to pay a 6% rebate for all tickets used by season-ticket holders this season and will use bar-coding to track whether or not the game ducats are used. The team will send out the rebate checks after the season based on usage of the tickets (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/18). In Charlotte, Eric Spanberg reported that the Hornets lost "at least" $10M due to the lockout. The team was hurt most by $8.1M in lost ticket sales from the cancellation of 16 home games (BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/15). DENVER: Ascent Entertainment "expects to have" the Pepsi Center's 1,854 club seats, with season-ticket prices of $5,590 to $8,600, sold out by the time the arena opens. With companies and individuals buying an average of four tickets per order, Ascent "has already sold half the seats." Ascent VP Paul Andrews: "Now that the lockout has ended, we see renewed enthusiasm" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 1/15). Club- seat prices include both Nuggets and Avalanche games.
The NFL wants John Kent Cooke to own the Redskins, a league official said Sunday, but a rep for the trustees of the Jack Kent Cooke estate said that they will "stand" by their agreement to sell the team to the group headed by Isles co-Owner Howard Milstein and MD business exec Daniel Snyder, according to George Solomon of the WASHINGTON POST. Cooke's final bid of about $680M was not only less than the Milstein/Snyder group bid of $800M, but also less than that of AZ business exec Sam Grossman, who offered $720M. The NFL believes the trustees "should be flexible" in allowing Cooke to increase his bid if he wants to. NFL Senior VP/Communications & Government Affairs Joe Browne: "The current (Cooke) ownership has a proven track record. The continuity of this ownership would be a plus for the league, if it can be accomplished to the satisfaction of the trustees." However, a rep of the trustees said they had a "binding contract" with the Milstein group "that precludes our submitting any other proposals to the [NFL]." The NFL's Finance Committee wants the trustees "to consider submitting a proposal from Cooke" and has asked them "to explain at a meeting in Miami later this month under what circumstances they could submit a bid" from Cooke and "why they chose the Milstein group over [him]" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/18). SHOW ME THE MONEY: In DC, Tony Kornheiser questions where Cooke can "come up with" an additional $120M. Kornheiser: "This thing could end up strung out in court for years. It seemed like the Milsteins bought the Redskins fair and square" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/19).