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              In Toronto, Dave Perkins writes on the Blue Jays hiring
         TSN/ESPN analyst and former Blue Jay Buck Martinez as their
         new manager: "Martinez obviously was the very public face
         the franchise decided it needed as this point in its
         history, as the Jays slide closer and closer to relative
         sporting oblivion in Toronto. ... They need to once again
         draw the kind of people who used to pack the joint, back in
         the good old days, when it was trendy" (Toronto STAR, 11/3).
         Also in Toronto, Richard Griffin calls Martinez' hiring a
         "slam-dunk in terms" of PR.  But "in terms of effect in the
         dugout, the move has the hold-your-breath iffiness of a
         fadeaway 30-footer at the buzzer" (TORONTO STAR, 11/3).
              WHERE WAS JACOBS? In Boston, Karen Guregian notes that 
         Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs was "missing" at yesterday's
         press conference where Harry Sinden stepped down as the
         team's GM.  Guregian: "Once again, the Bruins CEO sent the
         kind of message that has prompted even the loyalest fans to
         abandon ship" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/3).

    Print | Tags: Boston Bruins, ESPN, Franchises, Toronto Blue Jays, Walt Disney

              Boca Resorts Chair Wayne Huizenga told company
         shareholders yesterday "there has been a lot of activity"
         regarding the potential sale of the NHL Panthers, but "there
         have been no offers," according to Patrick Danner of the
         MIAMI HERALD.  Boca Resorts has been trying to sell the club
         for "nearly a year," as officials believe the team "is a
         drag on the stock price."  Asked why it is taking so long to
         sell the team, Huizenga said, "First, what's happening in
         sports today is a little difficult.  We have had significant
         interest.  We just have not been able to agree on a price." 
         Danner: "Without elaborating on those difficulties, Huizenga
         said declining attendance has not been a factor in the
         failure to find a buyer" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/3).  Company
         officials told Charles Elmore of the PALM BEACH POST that
         they are talking to a prospective buyer from outside FL and
         are "willing to be flexible on an asking price that was
         once" in the $150-175M range.  Boca Resorts Vice Chair Rich
         Rochon, on the $175M asking price: "We're not going to give
         it away, but we're going to listen to offers below that." 
         Officials "repeated assurances the team would remain" in
         South FL because of a 30-year lease at the National Car
         Rental Center.  Huizenga said that neither Boca Resorts
         investor Bill Gates nor former Devils Owner John McMullen
         are suitors of the team (PALM BEACH POST, 11/3). 

    Print | Tags: Florida Panthers, Franchises, New Jersey Devils

              Through last night's games, only six of the NBA's 23
         home openers have been reported as sellouts.  On Tuesday,
         only four of the 13 openers were sellouts (Raptors, Knicks,
         Bulls and Trail Blazers), on Wednesday, two of seven openers
         were played before a full house (Lakers, Sonics), while last
         night, none of the three home openers were sold out (THE
         DAILY). In Minneapolis, Dan Barreiro writes that attendance
         from the first week of the NBA season "suggest some folks
         are less than overwhelmed" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/3).
         In NC, Lenox Rawlings writes under the header, "NBA Fever
         Blister: Once Blazing Hot, Stern's League Now Plays Before
         Thousands Of Empty Seats" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 11/3).  On, Mike Monroe writes, "As optimistic as [NBA
         Commissioner] David Stern says he is about improved
         attendance this season, there was some ominously bad signs
         on opening night" (, 11/3).
              LAST NIGHT: In Phoenix, Norm Frauenheim reports that
         the Suns drew an announced crowd of 18,436 for their home
         opener against the Trail Blazers last night at 19,023-seat
         America West Arena, the first time in ten years the Suns
         have not sold out their home opener.  Suns GM Bryan
         Colangelo: "I'm disappointed that the sellout did not occur.
         ... Without question, there is apathy in the industry,
         particularly in this market.  Every sport is
         underperforming" (AZ REPUBLIC, 11/3).  Also in Phoenix, Dan
         Bickley writes that last night's attendance is "a sign of
         the times, and more an indictment of the league than the
         Suns.  In short, bad basketball, boorish athletes and
         skyrocketing ticket prices have combined to suck the joy out
         of the NBA" (AZ REPUBLIC, 11/3)....The Nuggets drew 15,790
         for last night's opener against the Warriors at the 19,099-
         seat Pepsi Center (DENVER POST, 11/3). 
         Lynn Henning writes on the Pistons' marketing slogan, "Every
         Night," which "translated is a team that will put it all on
         the floor every minute of every game, in attempting to give
         at least a championship effort until championship-caliber
         players abound."  Pistons President Tom Wilson, on the
         slogan: "It's a simple mantra.  What's interesting about the
         Every Night campaign is that never in my 20-odd years here
         have I heard anything like this."  Other marketing
         initiatives for the Pistons include phone calls to past
         season-ticket holders and more community relations, with
         Pistons players "doing everything from fixing up old homes
         in Detroit to delivering food baskets."  Meanwhile, Henning
         writes that the team's TV and radio announcers "will be on
         the offensive -- without being offensive," in hopes of
         generating excitement around the team (DETROIT NEWS, 11/3). 
         Also in Detroit, Rob Parker writes, "Don't expect a sellout
         tonight at the Palace.  In fact, don't look for one all
         season. ... Attendance-wise, the Pistons have hit rock
         bottom.  Some crowds [this season] could be so small that
         they might be considered witnesses" (DETROIT NEWS, 11/3).
              TIP-INS: Heat Owner Micky Arison said that ticket sales
         "have come close to expectations," though they "fell off"
         after C Alonzo Mourning's recent announcement that he would
         miss the entire season with a kidney ailment.  But Arison
         said, "If we win a lot of games, I think the fans will be
         here" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/2)....Heat G Eddie Jones, on
         previously playing for the Hornets: "It [Charlotte] wasn't a
         basketball city, not a great deal of fan support.  I didn't
         feel like the people really enjoyed the game" (MIAMI HERALD,
         11/3)....SI's Richard Hoffer profiles Mavs Owner Mark Cuban
         and writes that Cuban is "frustrated that all his ideas,
         which were celebrated in the Internet industry, percolate to
         no appreciable effect in the NBA."  Pacers President Donnie
         Walsh, on Cuban's treatment of his players, which includes
         upgraded hotel rooms, special meals and enhanced locker room
         conditions: "The problem with Mark is, he might force us to
         go out and do those things (for our players).  But, in the
         meantime, my one comment to him is, I don't think there are
         any stupid people in this league" (SI, 11/6 issue).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Franchises, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Fever, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Miami Heat, NBA, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, PepsiCo, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sports Illustrated, Toronto Raptors, Vulcan Ventures, Wilson Sporting Goods

              Speaking at a press conference to announce a
         sponsorship deal with the Bank of Montreal (B of M) and its
         investment banking partner, Ottawa-based BMO Nesbitt Burns
         (BMO), "which could be worth more than" C$1M over three
         years, Senators Chair Rod Bryden "sent a warning: Fans need
         to buy tickets," according to Bruce Garrioch of the OTTAWA
         SUN.  Bryden said that the "number of empty seats -- which
         has been higher than anticipated -- means he won't be able
         to meet his goal of breaking even this season because
         revenues won't meet expectations."  Heading into last
         night's game against the Rangers, the Senators' average
         attendance in the 18,500-seat Corel Centre was 17,203, 10%
         "lower than anticipated."  Bryden: "The problem is not the
         business community, it's individual seats.  If people want
         to keep the team together, then they have to buy tickets." 
         Garrioch notes that the team has 11,300 season-ticket
         holders, but Bryden said that "more than 800 people who
         committed to buying season tickets during the club's
         campaign last year didn't follow through" (OTTAWA SUN,
         11/3).  Also in Ottawa, Michael Prentice writes that B of M
         and BMO will pay "several hundred thousand dollars" to the
         team and the arena this season for ad and promo rights, with
         "much of the money" expected to pay for ad signs inside and
         outside of the Corel Centre.  Bryden said that the deal
         "might grow to be worth more than" C$1M annually in future
         seasons (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 11/3).  The deal will make B of M
         and BMO the team's official financial advisor (Senators).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, Ottawa Senators
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