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The Clippers and KXTA-AM are business partners, with the team buying the time for the station to carry its games at a cost of $4,000 per game, according to Larry Stewart of the L.A. TIMES. But the team wasn't "too pleased" with the station's "latest publicity stunt" of having a station employee living atop a billboard, "vowing to stay there until the team won." One Clippers exec: "The whole thing has been fraught with bad taste. And handled very badly from a partnership standpoint." But the Clippers took care of the situation with last night's win (L.A. TIMES, 3/12).
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with prospective and current owners of the Penguins yesterday in N.Y. The meetings will continue today. Bettman met with team co- Owners Roger Marino and Howard Baldwin, Mario Lemieux and a potential new investor Harvey Gainey, who owns MI-based Gainey Transportation Services and lives in Grand Rapids (POST-GAZETTE, 3/12)....In Montreal, Jack Todd writes, "It is all but inevitable now: the Expos will be sold and moved. This will be their final season in Montreal." Todd adds that Expos President & General Partner Claude Brochu "has taken the final steps" to end baseball in Montreal "by being his intractable, niggling, difficult, suspicious, mendacious, evasive self" (GAZETTE, 3/12)....Red Sox CEO John Harrington, on a possible Expos move to the AL and a relocation to the DC/VA area: "It's definitely a problem putting another AL team in the Washington area. ... The preferable thing may be to have Montreal move to Charlotte, ... and not impair Baltimore" (USA TODAY, 3/12)....The ECHL Charlotte Checkers will wear tie-dyed uniforms on "Retro Jersey Night" for Saturday's game against the Pee Dee Pride. The jerseys will also have peace symbols and happy faces on the shoulders (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/7).
On the eve of the NFL finance committee's meeting in Phoenix to decide whether to recommend Howard Milstein's $800M bid for the Redskins, Heath, Shapiro & Clarke write in a WASHINGTON POST front-page report that Milstein "has yet to be embraced by the league's inner circle." By asking Milstein to restructure his bid twice already and "raising the threshold" that he must meet to buy the team, league officials "are increasingly giving the impression that they simply don't want him in their club." The league's actions have caused observers to wonder "whether NFL officials are dealing in good faith" with the Milstein group, "or deliberately complicating the transaction in hopes of driving them away." NFL VP/Communications Greg Aiello said yesterday that "no new demands or requirements have been presented to the Milstein group this week." Aiello: "That notion is false. We are working with the Milstein group." Milstein's bid "still faces question" because "some owners worry Milstein is too litigious," while others "fear he might become too much of a maverick and would challenge the NFL's long-held business practice of sharing most of its revenue." Steelers President Dan Rooney said he still has concerns about financing and the "kind of partner [Milstein] would be." Rooney: "I'd like some assurances that he believes in the operation of the league, the way we do business." Another owner called Milstein "confrontational," and said "you want to be able to respect your partner and trust him." Williams & Connolly attorney Mark Levinstein, who has represented owners in disputes with the league: "They [the NFL] anticipate litigation. They want to bounce this proposed owner, and they want to create a record on which they can base the refusal" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/12). DELAY OF GAME? In DC, Snider & Fisher report that the owners' vote on the sale of the Redskins "might be delayed" if Milstein can't reorganize his bid in time for Saturday's finance committee meeting. Also, attorneys for the estate of Jack Kent Cooke have told Redskins President John Kent Cooke not to attend the meetings (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/12).