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Volume 24 No. 117

Franchises

     To date, the Grizzlies have only "one up-front, in the
public-eye employee," VP/GM Stu Jackson.  "And it's a safe bet he
isn't going to sell 8,000 season tickets with his "charming smile
and nicely tailored suits."  Jackson is counting, in part, on an
October 25 exhibition between the Lakers and Sonics to help the
team reach the league-mandated minimum of 15,000 season tickets
by December 15.  Jackson said the Grizzlies have had slightly
more than 7,000 season tickets registered to be purchased, plus
1,250 suite seats  (Dan Stinson, VANCOUVER SUN, 9/23).

     MD Gov. William Donald Schaefer said that a recent meeting
with Rams officials "left him less optimistic that the team will
move to Baltimore."  Schaefer cited many "obstacles," most
notably the opposition from NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and
Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.  Schaefer: "The Rams know that
Baltimore would be a great market, but you've got a Marylander
[Tagliabue] against us.  St. Louis is our main rival and
Tagliabue supports them over us" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN,
9/23).

     The Raptors have "ambitious broadcast plans and hopes to
wrap up" its TV deal quickly "to start building what it expects
to be a major promotional vehicle for the club."  Raptors
VP/Communications Tom Mayenknecht: "In an ideal world, we'd like
to be in a situation where we have our radio and television deals
in place by the beginning of the 1994-95 season."  That means
November 1, "and that's also unrealistic."  Christmas may be a
more "reachable target, but the point is the negotiations have
become a priority and talks are getting more serious by the day."
Up for negotiation are national, local and cable TV deals.
Nationally, the NBA handles the talks on a 12-game schedule and
the league has already met with CTV, CBC and TSN.  On the local
level, the NBA has granted the Raptors permission to broadcast 41
games.  The league has defined the Raptors' "region" as Ontario;
the Grizzlies have British Columbia as a protected area (Rob
Longley, TORONTO SUN, 9/23).
     NO SUPERSTATIONS:  "Because of the absence of a regional
sports network in Canada, the Raptors don't have the same range
of distribution as most U.S. teams."  Mayenknecht: "We are in a
situation where we are all dressed up with nowhere to go on
cable."  TSN is not an option because it is considered a national
network, though it has "recently hinted at looking into regional
programming"  (Rob Longley, TORONTO SUN, 9/23).

     The Central Florida Hotel and Motel Association's board of
directors supported a "tourist tax increase on their industry" to
help Orlando's bid for a MLB franchise.  The hoteliers supported
a $.01 increase to the $.04 tourist tax on Orange County hotel
rooms to help finance a $150M ballpark should Orlando get an
expansion team.  The support of the industry was "key" to the
expansion efforts, and the three principals behind Orlando's bid
-- Boca Racon Real Estate investor Norton Herrick, and Denver
partners Paul Jacobs and Steve Kurtz -- were "pleased" by the
vote.  County commissioners are "expected" to approve the raise
by mid-October (Lawrence Lebowitz, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/23).

     Bullets President Susan O'Malley, already one of the highest
ranking women in pro sports, has been given new responsibilities
that make her the "second most powerful person in Abe Pollin's
sports empire."  In what amounts to a restructuring, Pollin has
put O'Malley -- whose title will be President of the Bullets and
Centre Group Marketing -- in charge of most of the business
operations of the Bullets, Capitals, along with the sales and
marketing of USAir Arena and a proposed 23,000-seat facility in
downtown DC.  In addition, Pollin has given Bullets VP Wes Unseld
new responsibilities in the marketing of the proposed arena.
Unseld's title:  VP/Bullets and Centre Group Marketing.  Jerry
Sachs will retain his title of president of Centre Group Limited
Partnership, which oversees day-to-day operations of USAir Arena,
while O'Malley is heading the newly created division that
combines the sales and marketing of the two teams and arenas.
O'Malley's promotion "comes after five highly successful seasons
with the Bullets."  During her tenure, average attendance
increased every season from 9,814 in '88-89 to 15,116 for the
'93-94 season (Richard Justice, WASHINGTON POST, 9/23).

     The sale of the Timberwolves "is on the verge of unraveling
because negotiations on a Target Center lease have hit 'huge
hurdles.'"  Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Henry
Savelkoul said that he has "a significant fear" that a lease
agreement between businessman Glen Taylor and the commission will
not be worked out by October 5 -- when the NBA is set to approve
the sale.  Savelkoul, who for a year has "steered a plan to
publicly" buy the Target Center from Marv Wolfenson and Harvey
Ratner, made his comments after a team of bond lawyers told him
and Taylor's representatives that their proposed lease includes
legal flaws with "deal-breaking tax implications."  Taylor is
also seeking to place a limit on a ticket surcharge mandated by
the legislation that authorized the public buyout of the Target
Center.  The legislation authorized a $42M buyout paid for by
ticket taxes and $750,000/year for 15 years.  NBA Commissioner
David Stern was optimistic:  "It's the normal ups and downs of a
deal that's destined to get done."  Wolfenson and Ratner agreed
to sell the Wolves for $88.5M, but Taylor might not buy the team
if a lease deal is not worked out.  "One remote solution, Taylor
could buy Target Center."  Taylor: "Nothing is out of the
question for me" (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/22).