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HESS FUNERAL TODAY; SPECULATION HAS TEAM GOING FOR $500M
Published May 10, 1999
More than a thousand mourners are expected this morning at the funeral of former Jets Owner Leon Hess at the Park Avenue Synagogue in N.Y., including most of the NFL's owners, politicians, celebrities and other distinguished dignitaries (Randy Lange, Bergen RECORD, 5/10). FUTURE OF TEAM: With Hess' passing, there is speculation around the NFL that the Jets will be put up for sale, as Hess told team owners and league officials that he wanted the Jets to be sold after his death (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8). In NJ, Randy Lange reported that Hess' son, John, has said that he "is not interested in NFL ownership" and the team "is likely to be sold." Lange named Cablevision CEO James Dolan, Devils Owner John McMullen, Giants co-Owner Robert Tisch, Donald Trump and Isles co-Owner Howard Milstein as potential bidders. But a league source said that Tisch "appears happy" with the Giants and Trump would have to get rid of his casinos (Bergen RECORD, 5/8). In N.Y., Bill Pennington added Mets co-Owner Nelson Doubleday as a possible suitor. One NFL owner said that Hess "indicated he was planning to make the sale of the Jets a priority in his will," while a friend said that Hess wanted the Jets to be sold "to spare his family the angst and disappointment he experienced" during the team's losing seasons. Pennington estimated that the Jets could sell for "at least" $500M (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8). NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay put Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan, Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, Nets co-Owners Lewis Katz & Raymond Chambers and Mets co-Owner Fred Wilpon in the mix. The Marquee Group CEO Bob Gutkowski: "The Jets are a natural for Chuck (Dolan) and what he's trying to do in this market." Other potential buyers: MetroMedia co-Founders John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick and Triarc Cos' Nelson Peltz and Peter May (NEWSDAY, 5/8). One NFL insider said that Jets President Steve Gutman will become the new Owner because Hess "put full power" in Gutman on the sale (N.Y. POST, 5/8). NO CATCH FOR THE TUNA? Jets coach Bill Parcells dismissed weekend rumors that he could lead a group interested in buying the team: "I am not part of any group, nor will I ever be part of any group, to buy the Jets" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/10). But in N.Y., Rich Cimini wrote that Parcells "is in a position of power because he's the organization's greatest asset" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/9). One league source said Parcells "has a group he can put together to buy the team" (N.Y. POST, 5/9).