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Volume 24 No. 155

Sports Media

     The Nuggets "moved closer to a new arena yesterday when
their parent company, COMSAT Video Enterprises, announced a
tentative deal to make The Anschutz Corp. an equal partner in the
facility."  The deal will allow construction to begin as soon as
the COMSAT-Anschutz partnership reaches a deal with the city of
Denver.  The arena will be built on 43 acres of land Anschutz
owns, and the two companies will share equally in the $110M
construction cost as well as in revenues.  The deal "does not
mean that Anschutz owns a part of the Nuggets."  Also, the deal
does not make Anschutz an equal partner in the TV production
studios that COMSAT wants to build near the new arena.  COMSAT
and Anschutz both have a piece of the new Elitch Gardens, an
amusement park across from the arena site (Christopher Lopez,
DENVER POST, 10/28).     STUMBLING BLOCKS:  The Nuggets have a
contract to play in McNichols Arena through the 2007-08 season,
so the city must release them from that obligation before
construction of an arena can begin.  Denver Mayor Wellington Webb
has "voiced strong support for the Nuggets proposal in recent
weeks -- so much so that many people believe the team's plan is a
'done deal'" (Lopez, DENVER POST, 10/28).  The city stands to
lose about $28M over the 14 years remaining in the Nuggets' lease
should the Nuggets move into a new arena.  Webb has said that the
city will not agree to any deal that involves a "reduction in the
revenue generated at McNichols" (John Rebehook, ROCKY MOUNTAIN
NEWS, 10/28).
     PLUSSES OF NEW ARENA:  The new arena "would position COMSAT
to acquire" an NHL team.  COMSAT President Charlie Lyons has said
an NHL team is necessary to make the proposed arena "financially
viable" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 10/28).
     OTHER DEALS:  COMSAT also announced the acquisition of
Beacon Communications, a small L.A. production company that has
made movies like, "The Commitments."  COMSAT wants to "expand its
programming beyond" showing Nuggets games.  COMSAT's deal "comes
on the heels" of Bell Atlantic Corp.'s reported deal to start a
film production company with two other Baby Bells (Doug Abrahms,
WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/28).  With the acquisition of Beacon,
"COMSAT joins the ranks of formerly staid telecommunications
companies that have felt the lure of Tinseltown."  Beacon's
distribution agreement with Sony will carry over in the new deal.
COMSAT CEO Bruce Crockett: "Telecommunications and entertainment
are merging.  These ventures put us on both sides of this
convergence and give us greater control of content, positioning
COMSAT as a major player in the sports and entertainment
business" (Michael Dresser, Baltimore SUN, 10/28).

     For the first time in 14 years, ABC will not cover the New
York City Marathon live.  Instead, ABC will show the November 6
race in a one-hour, tape-delayed format at 3pm.  The decision not
to cover the event live was blamed on declining ratings and hefty
production costs (Jim Shea, HARTFORD COURANT, 10/28)....The
Empire Sports Network and the AHL announced a one-year deal in
which the regional sports network will produce a seven-game
package involving the five NY state AHL franchises (Empire)....In
an effort to push package buys for regular-season pay-per-view
Trail Blazers and Spurs basketball games, KBLCOM Inc. systems
will offer subscribers discount package prices and added-value
premiums (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 10/24 issue).