THE STATE OF THE NBA'S CANADIAN EXPANSION TEAMS
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).