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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     Molson Cos. Ltd. "plans to get out of retailing and focus on
beer and cleaning, with a bit of hockey on the side."  Meeting
with financial analysts in New York, Molson President Marshall
Cohen said the company's growth will focus on Diversey, its U.S.
cleaning and chemical specialty business, even though the
division has posted consistent losses.  Cohen also said earnings
this year would be lower due to the NHL lockout.  According to
company spokesperson Barry Joslin, Molson, which owns the
Canadiens and the Montreal Forum and sponsors "Hockey Night in
Canada," will lose $11M in operating profit if the season doesn't
start by January 1, and $22M if the entire season is canceled
(Art Chamberlain, TORONTO STAR, 11/15).  Molson spokesperson Bill
Chambers:  "We still hope that a truncated season will be played.
But not blindly.  We have a responsibility to our shareholders."
A company statement calls the Canadiens a "legacy asset" worth
keeping, despite the losses from the labor dispute (Francois
Shalom, MONTREAL GAZETTE, 11/15).

     With their slow start, the Hawks are having difficulty
drawing at The Omni.  Tonight's game against the Celtics
(featuring former Hawk Dominique Wilkins) is expected to attract
around 10,000 (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/15)....An editorial in
the ORLANDO SENTINEL commended the voters of Orange County for
re-electing County Chair Linda Chapin, saying it "demonstrated"
the local community "appreciates the potential benefit of
bringing baseball to Orlando."  Chapin's opponent was against
bringing Major League Baseball to the Orlando area (ORLANDO
SENTINEL, 11/14).

     Whit Hudson has re-submitted his ownership bid to the NBA
for the Heat and could discuss the deal Wednesday with league
officials.  Hudson plans to purchase the 40% of the team owned by
Billy Cunningham and Lewis Schaffel, and has revised his initial
offer with "half of the $60 million purchase completed for in
cash."  The NBA also "may offer to mediate in a lawsuit" filed
last week against Cunningham and Schaffel by Heat limited partner
Raanan Katz, who claims his share in the team should be doubled.
Katz is seeking over $2M in damages (Alex Marvez, MIAMI HERALD,
11/15).

     Printing company exec Leonard Levy and insurance businessman
Walter Baldwin, two who were instrumental in acquiring the
franchise and bringing the Super Bowl to Tampa, are "heading up a
ad-hoc task force that will harness business support" to keep the
team in the area.  Don Barber, President of the Greater Tampa
Chamber of Commerce, expects to officially announce the group on
Friday.  It will likely be made up of 15 members and "many more"
volunteers.  Barber: "There's a very, very strong feeling that we
don't want to lose this team.  Regardless of the team's record,
we still get Tampa and the Tampa Bay name spread around the
country each and every weekend.  That gives you an image boost."
The committee's agenda will be:  to work with the Tampa Sports
Authority on getting funding to renovate Tampa Stadium; contact
NFL owners and staff on the value of the Tampa area to the
league; and work with the media to get out their message.  Former
Tampa Super Bowl Task Force member Jim Urbanski: "There's nothing
worse than having a team and then losing it. ... A bad NFL team
is better than no NFL team" (Dave Szymanski, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
11/15).  Members of the Tampa City Council said no one has
approached them with any proposals to renovate or replace Tampa
Stadium, but added public assistance with such a request is a
possibility (Danielson & Dougherty, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/15).
     TAMPA TEAM NEEDS QB: Local columnist are calling on the
Tampa community to come together in their effort to keep the
team.  Joe Henderson of the TAMPA TRIBUNE writes that
"competition among local folk is the last thing we need ... We
need a statesman.  We need a hero" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
11/15).  Hubert Mizell of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES writes a
"unified" effort of "Tampa Bay Bucs Investment All-Stars" could
be "happening."  Mizell: "It would be a dynamic coalition if our
All-Stars got together.  It could save the Bucs.  It could make
the Bucs" (ST. PETE TIMES, 11/15).

     The Marlins sent letters to season ticket holders this week
stating that any seats not claimed with a 20% deposit by December
5 would be "released for resale."  The letter states the deposit,
is "nonrefundable," but Marlins Media Relations Dir Chuck Pool
"said the public shouldn't worry that they won't get their money
back -- or at least be given options -- if the strike extends
into next season" (Susan Miller Degnan, MIAMI HERALD, 11/15).

     Steve Stavro has filed a counter-claim against a group of
charities that is suing him for his takeover of Maple Leaf
Gardens, Ltd.  The charities, represented by Ontario's Public
Trustee, said Stavro did not pay enough for the 60% block of
shares from the estate of former MLG Owner Harold Ballard.  That
purchase enabled Stavro to acquire 91% of MLG.  The charities'
court action has prevented Stavro from making the company
private, and Stavro claims the delay has caused "losses and
incurred expenses it would have otherwise have avoided" (Paul
Waldie, FINANCIAL POST, 11/15).