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Volume 24 No. 117

Franchises

     The four-member management committee that has run the
Islanders since 1992 announced that it has bought 10% of the team
from majority owner John Pickett, Jr.  Committee Co-Chair & CEO
Stephen Walsh:  "Our group had previously made a loan to the
team.  In exchange for that, we converted the loan to equity,
which makes the team a lot stronger financially."  While there
has been "confusion" as to who runs the team, the new agreement
calls for the committee "to have operating control of the
franchise for the next decade, beginning immediately"  (N.Y.
TIMES, 11/16).

     Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy announced that city reached an
agreement with Adelphia Cable TV President John Rigas "on terms
relative to the purchase" of the Pirates.  Murphy said he would
ask the city to formally submit Rigas' name to the team.  Murphy:
"We are excited about this because it means major league baseball
will be in Pittsburgh for a long time to come."  The city faced a
deadline of January 29 to find a buyer to keep the team in
Pittsburgh.  Rigas will now have to negotiate the purchase of the
team with the "10-member consortium of companies and individuals
who own the Pirates," and then get it approved by MLB (Mark
Hyman, Baltimore SUN, 11/16).  Baseball owners "have frowned on
additional television based companies from owning teams, twice
rejecting the sale of the Rangers to broadcast interest."   The
price tag for the Pirates is estimated at $95-100M, with most
going to pay off the team's current debt.  The deal with the city
includes a new stadium lease, and a promise of "good faith" by
the city to build a "Forbes Field-like baseball-only stadium"
(AP, 11/16).  Former Orioles President Larry Lucchino, an "early
favorite" to buy the Pirates, "put his bid on hold" and turned
his full attention toward a deal for the Padres (Baltimore SUN,
11/16).  Lucchino and Houston businessman John Moores are
reportedly in the final stages to buy the Padres.  Lucchino:
"Because the exceptional San Diego baseball opportunity I have
been offered is now nearing consummation, it's unreasonable, if
not impossible for me to continue to participate in the Pirates
process" (City of Pittsburgh).

     FLORIDA:  Marlins President Don Smiley said that ticket-
price reductions "will not be limited to season-ticket holders,
and that 'the Marlins intend to lower prices for individual game-
day tickets in at least one' of the two categories that already
have been reduced:  terrace box and mezzanine reserved."  Smiley:
"We know we're going to have to reach out and get aggressive in
the marketing of this ballclub, especially in light of the
shortened 1994 season" (Susan Miller Degnan, MIAMI HERALD,
11/16).
     BALTIMORE:  In Washington, Thomas Boswell reprimands the
Orioles for their ticket-hike announcement.  "The Orioles say the
strike cost them $15 million.  Notice the Orioles said 'cost,'
not 'lost.' ... You may have noticed that the Orioles have had a
slightly reduced costs of doing business.  They haven't had to
pay their players a cent" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/16).

     Hillsborough County Commission Chair Joe Chillura said the
"county could provide more than $40 million worth of renovations
to Tampa Stadium to induce the next owners" of the Bucs to keep
the team in Tampa.  Chillura's comments went "further than other
elected officials" in promising tax dollars to keep the team.  He
said funds could come from excess surplus hotel taxes collected
to help pay for a downtown hockey arena, but those funds would
"only cover a fraction" of $40M (Larry Dougherty, ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES, 11/16).  The threat of a move by the team is consuming the
local media.  Steelers Owner Dan Rooney feels a move by the Bucs
could be "the first real test" of the nine guidelines for
relocation implemented in '84 by former Commissioner Pete Rozelle
following the Colts move to Indianapolis.  NFL spokesperson Greg
Aiello: "The league only wants teams to move when it is
absolutely necessary.  That is why we have the guidelines."  When
the guidelines -- such as stadium lease and financial conditions
-- are applied to the Bucs, the team "appears to be in good
shape" (Pat Yasinkas, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/16).  Local investors
willing to purchase the team will do so only under the following
conditions, according to TAMPA TRIBUNE columnist Tom McEwen.  1)
If the financial numbers work; 2)  Tampa Stadium can be
renovated; 3)  New Buc facilities are worked out; 4) Community
support via ticket and luxury box sales (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/16).