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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     Orioles Owner Peter Angelos held a 3-hour meeting Friday
with the trustees selling the Buccaneers.  Angelos described the
meeting as "very positive," but Bucs officials downplayed it as
"one of a dozen or so introductory exchanges they expect to hold"
with bidders.  Angelos and Bucs officials "declined to disclose
the specifics" of their talks (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 11/19).
Columnist Vito Stellino notes, with the election of Democrat
Parris Glendening as MD Governor, the funding for a new football
stadium should stay in place, leaving Baltimore remaining as a
"player in the franchise game" (Baltimore SUN, 11/20).
     WHY BUY AN NFL TEAM?  In St. Pete, Robert Keefe lists
reasons why buying an NFL franchise is a good investment.  1)
There is "relatively" very little risk.  2)  "While sports teams
may not be the best investment in the short term ... they are
extraordinary investments in the long term, after they are
resold."  3)  "They're not as good as they used to be, but sports
teams can still be fair tax shelters."  4)  As for supply,
"football teams are as rare as fine gems, regardless of their
quality."  As for the Bucs, besides the guaranteed revenue they
receive from the league from TV revenue, the team has "one of the
best leases of any sports franchise" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES,
11/21).

     Oakland Coliseum officials seeking a buyer for the A's "find
themselves ominously close to a deadline to get the job done."
But so far, "even with no indication that a legitimate buyer has
been lined up for the baseball team, they have not asked the
current owners for an extension, and none has been offered."
Coliseum board member James Vohs, who heads the search committee,
said the December 6 deadline is "helpful in bringing things to a
head.  I don't want to even talk to the A's about it to give any
impression (to possible buyers) that there might be an
extension."  When the Haas family announced that the team was for
sale, it set a price of $85M, contingent on the buyer keeping the
team in Oakland.  The search committee has forwarded several
names of possible buyers for review by MLB but none of the names
has been released to the public.  If the officials are unable to
find a buyer before the December deadline, the Haases have the
option  of "marketing the team as they deem fit -- possibly at a
higher price, without the local buyer restriction" (Larry
Slonaker, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/20).

     Whit Hudson's plan to purchase a controlling interest in the
Heat is on the "verge of collapse, the victim of internal
fighting among the team's partners and a contract dispute with
majority owner Ted Arison."  The NBA has set a Tuesday deadline
for Hudson and Heat owners to settle their differences.  Among
them:  Deciding who pays entertainer/ Heat partner Julio Iglesias
$2.4M, and a pending lawsuit by limited partner Raanan Katz.  If
no progress is made, NBA owners probably will not vote on the
sale until the season ends.  Hudson does not "believe the NBA
will approve this transaction."  In August, Hudson -- brother-in-
law of FL sports mogul Wayne Huizenga -- agreed to purchase 41.5%
of the Heat from managing partners Lew Schaffel and Billy
Cunningham for $60M (Alex Marvez, MIAMI HERALD, 11/19).

     Abe Pollin, owner of the Capitals, Bullets and the USAir
Arena, has told associates he will consider offers for new
partners to join him in the ownership of the teams.  Wes Unseld,
Exec VP of Pollin's Centre Group Management, confirmed last night
Pollin's intent to attract new partners: "Mr. Pollin let it be
known a year ago [to his bankers] that this was possible in the
future.  That if he was to entertain future partners, they would
have to demonstrate a commitment to the community and to minority
affairs.  But to say that this is anything more than conceptual
at this point is premature."  Last night, WUSA-TV (DC) reported
that Pollin was attempting to sell "part of his sports empire" in
anticipation of a downtown arena.  BET President Robert Johnson
has offered to guarantee repayment of any city bonds necessary to
build an arena, if Pollin would agree to sell him a share of the
Bullets.  Last year, Pollin rejected an offer to sell his sports
empire to a NY-based group led by former football star Calvin
Hill.  Pollin has told friends that when he steps down, he would
like Bullets President Susan O'Malley and Unseld to run his
operation (George Solomon, WASHINGTON POST, 11/21).  Sources
close to the Bullets told WUSA that Pollin has informed DC city
officials that he may roll the Bullets, Caps and other businesses
into one company.  Pollin would keep 60% ownership in the company
while making the remainder available to the public (WASHINGTON
TIMES, 11/21).

     Stars Owner Norman Green said he would be "forced to put
part of the team up for sale if the NHL lockout were to wipe out
the entire season."  Green owns 100% of the Stars, which he
bought in '90 for $40M and moved to Dallas in '93.  The has an
estimated worth of $70-80M.  Green: "The way (sports) is headed
is toward all the teams being owned by big business.  The unique
thing is that I'm one of the few owners in sports who owns the
team 100 percent.  That's the old way of doing it.  It appears
the old way of owning a sports franchise no longer works."  Stars
officials said they lost a couple of million dollars last season.
With no hockey being played this year, the Stars are losing about
$600,000 per game in ticket revenue.  "That is not offset" by the
estimated $200,000 per game they save on player salaries (Egan &
Deener, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/18).

     In Toronto, Randy Starkman compares the progress of the
Grizzlies and the Raptors: "Vancouver seems to have the leg up."
ARENA:  GM Place is half built and should be finished on
schedule; the Raptors' future home?  "The much ballyhooed plans
for an arena by the Eaton Centre that helped the group led by
John Bitove Jr. win their franchise bid have been shelved."  TEAM
MANAGEMENT:  The Griffiths family has a "long tradition in sports
ownership"; The Bitove group, "by comparison, is unproven on the
sports ownership scene."  SEASON TICKET SALES:  As of last week,
the Grizzlies said they were close to 8,000; the Raptors are at
approx. 6,500 (TORONTO STAR, 11/19).  In Vancouver, Mike Beamish
writes of the Grizzlies, "If we've made a mistake, it may be that
we've become overly smug in believing this basketball team is a
sure thing" (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/19).  From an editorial in the
Vancouver PROVINCE: "The proposed NBA franchise for Vancouver is
clearly deserving of support and attention, particularly in the
next six weeks.  To not do so could mean the end of Vancouver as
an emerging major league sports market in North American"
(Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/21).  Both teams have until December 31
to sell 12,500 season tickets.
     RAPTORS NEWS:  "Apparently concerned about undermining the
credibility of its own mandate," the NBA yesterday ruled that
"Basketball 101" -- a planned Raptors' promotion to sell the
lowest priced season-tickets at the SkyDome for $101 -- would not
count toward the 12,500 season ticket mandate.  Raptors
VP/Communications Tom Mayenknecht: "Basketball 101 will be rolled
out somewhere down the line" (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 11/21).