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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     A judge has ordered the release of files from Miller
Thomson, the former law firm for the estate of Harold Ballard and
Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. (MLG) to two Ontario agencies that "want
to unwind the recent takeover of the hockey franchise."  But the
agencies and the estate still need to decide what files "must be
released" from the firm. MLG fired Miller Thomson in late '90 and
the firm "resigned from the estate a few months later, after
executors had rejected their advice.  Stavro, executor of
Ballard's estate is being accused by Ontario's Public Trustee of
breaching the estate's fiduciary duties by selling himself a "key
Gardens block."  Miller Thomson had advised Stavro "not to
proceed" with the special option to buy into MLG without court
approval (Tony Van Alphen, TORONTO STAR, 10/13).

     The TORONTO SUN reports that "the Raptors and other
expansion groups were guest of the IHL two weeks ago."  The
meeting took place at The Palace in Auburn Hills, MI, and IHL
spokesman Tim Bryant confirmed there was a Raptors representative
present.  This comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement
that plans for an NBA facility in Toronto were scratched after
Raptors President John Bitove saw the economic viability of
adding a hockey franchise to the facility (Craig Daniels, TORONTO
SUN, 10/13).
     FIREPUCK HITS THE ICE IN MINNESOTA  The Firepuck made its
debut last night during the IHL Atlanta-Minnesota game.  The
puck, with a silver stripe on the outside, yellow reflective
material on the top and bottom and enhanced lighting from the TV,
is meant to make it easier for fans to follow (Tim Harper,
TORONTO STAR, 10/13)

     FANS Inc., the St. Louis group heading up the effort to lure
the Rams, "delivered a lucrative invitation" to the team
yesterday "imploring them to move to a sparkling" $258M stadium
with up to $90M in cash incentives.  Rams President John Shaw
declined comment after his 4 1/2 hour meeting with FANS, and no
decision by the Rams "appears imminent" (Himmelberg & Mouchard,
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/13).  FANS head Thomas Eagleton: "We
thought it was a good meeting.  They asked very intelligent
questions."  Eagleton said they discussed the domed stadium
project, the stadium lease, the proposed practice facility and
the permanent seat license plan.  Eagleton expects to hear back
from the Rams soon: "They're going to make some comments to us
both on the telephone and in writing over the next two or three
weeks, and we'll be in touch back and forth" (Jim Thomas, ST.
LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/13).  This week's developments "are also
likely to provoke discussion in NFL circles about the impact of a
possible Rams move" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/13).
     COOKE'S COOKED GOOSE IS GOLDEN FOR BALTIMORE:  Supporters of
Baltimore's effort to land an NFL team say the initial rejection
of the Redskins' proposed stadium in Laurel, MD -- 20 minutes
from Baltimore -- "represents a significant timely boost for the
city's 10-year drive to return to the league."  Orioles Owner
Peter Angelos: "It is better because it clears the air and
eliminates the contention raised by the Redskins that the area
cannot support two teams."  Rams spokesperson Heidi Sinclair: "It
makes that market more attractive" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN,
10/13).
     PLAYING POLITICS?   The Rams have made three separate
contributions totaling $25,000 to CA Governor Pete Wilson's re-
election campaign.  Rams President John Shaw said that the team
made the campaign contribution based on the advice of the team's
political consultant: "I really have no comment other than to say
we support a number of candidates from different political
parties."  But UC/Irvine political science professor Mark
Petracca speculated that the Rams contribution indicated the team
is interested in a state-financed stadium: "It may mean something
after the election if Wilson wins and all of a sudden you see tax
dollars shifting over their way."  Orange County Supervisor
William Steiner, a member of Save the Rams, said that the
political contribution is a "sign that they want to stay and they
want to be involved in California and our future" (Pasco &
Kingsley, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/12).