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Volume 24 No. 158

Franchises

     The Grizzlies must sell 15,000 seats by January 1 or "else
the NBA won't allow them to start their first season next fall."
The team has sold about half that figure.  Most of the court-side
corporate seats have been sold, but now Arthur Griffiths,
President of Northwest Sports which owns the team and "the
dreamer who envisioned an NBA team in Vancouver," must convince
fans that paying between $675 per season-ticket seat in the upper
sections to $3,555 for good club seats, is a "worthwhile
investment."  Griffiths is going to "businesses for an indirect
loan, asking companies to pay for employees' season tickets and
recoup the loan through payroll deductions."  Griffiths told one
business group, "Not only is this a fantastic company-provided
bonus to your workforce, but it comes at an extremely low cost to
your company" (Gillian Shaw, VANCOUVER SUN, 9/30).

     The Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission "approved all
the major points of an agreement to buy the Target Center."  This
clears the way for Glen Taylor to complete his deal to buy the
Timberwolves, which has been contingent on public acquisition of
the arena.  The agreement will keep the NBA team in Minnesota and
"leaves open the possibility that an NHL team may return to the
Twin Cities."  Commission Chair Henry Savelkoul said Taylor is
the most likely buyer of any NHL team, and called the odds of an
NHL returning to MN in five years "pretty good."  The agreement
is for 30 years, but it would allow Taylor to break the deal in
10 years if the team has two successive money-losing seasons.
Taylor could also opt out if the state legislature fails to
provide the promised $750,000-a-year subsidy.  "One unique
feature" gives the commission an option to buy the team at the
price Taylor is paying today -- $88.5M -- plus a compounded 3%
increase for each year he has owned the team" (Patrick Sweeney,
ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/30).
     TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD  The "legal scuffle" between Top
Rank and "soon-to-be-former" Wolves owners Marv Wolfenson and
Harvey Ratner continues.  Top Rank, the group wanting to move the
Wolves to New Orleans, won a "minor" victory as U.S. Magistrate
Franklin Noel "disagreed with Wolfenson and Ratner's claim that
their sale contract was properly terminated" when the NBA blocked
the team's sale to Top Rank. Wolfenson and Ratner must decide by
next week whether to have a U.S. District Judge review Noel's
recommendation (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/29).
     TWINS WATCH:  Twins owner Carl Pohlad says he would like to
talk with Taylor about the possibility of joint ownership of the
Twins (AP, 9/30).

     Rams President John Shaw "discounted reports yesterday that
has Baltimore out of the running for the Rams."  Shaw, asked
whether the Rams had narrowed their choices to St. Louis and
Anaheim:  "I don't know where those perceptions came from.  We
really haven't had any conversations with St. Louis for a few
weeks.  They're trying to come in next week, but I'm not sure
whether [those meetings] will materialize."  The L.A. TIMES had
reported that Wednesday's NFL vote to approve the Redskins move
to MD seemed to "swing the Rams' pendulum toward St. Louis"
(Baltimore SUN, 9/30).