The White Sox are offering season-ticket holders their money
back if fans don't like the way the team plays during its first
four homestands. The new policy, "designed with owners
considering the use of replacement players, gives season ticket
holders a June 1 deadline." Ticket holders asking for refunds
will get them on the remaining games, plus interest on the money
spent to secure their seats. The White Sox join the Brewers, and
the Angels in offering a refund (AP, 11/23). The Pirates'
"strategy is simple: worry about keeping the existing 17,100
season-ticket holders and court new business later." The team is
holding parties and writing letters, even manger Jim Leyland is
sending hand-written notes to fans who renewed season-ticket
plans. Pirates VP/Marketing Steve Greenberg said they have had
65% of fans ask for credit, with 35% for refunds. But in San
Diego, the Padres' season-ticket base has dropped from 16,000 to
9,000 (Mel Antonen, USA TODAY, 11/23).
Rams President John Shaw said there was little to report on
a Monday meeting with three Buccaneers team officials in L.A.
Shaw said the group "compared notes, that kind of thing. ... We
caught up with each other on where we were with St. Louis.
Nobody should read too much into this" (Himmelberg & Mouchard,
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/23). Meanwhile, in Tampa, two local
leaders "in the battle to keep" the team have "taken a beating in
the stock market in the last two days." Outback Steakhouse CEO
Chris Sullivan says the drop in his company's stock will not
"affect his ability to make an offer for the Bucs -- if he and
fellow investor Bob Basham event want to." Falling stock prices
have "stripped" Outback of 16.8% of its value over the past two
days. Personally, Sullivan and Basham have combined to lose
about $43M (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/23).
IS THE TABLE FULL OR IS THERE ROOM FOR MORE? George Stamos,
an attorney for Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, said it is
"possible" Angelos "could keep the team" in Tampa if was the
buyer. Nelson Peltz, CEO of the company that controls Arby's and
R.C. Cola, also may be considering making a bid for the franchise
(Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/23). ESPN's Chris Mortensen
reports the Bucs are determined to sell the team by January, "in
part to facilitate an offer to [Jimmy] Johnson. And the NFL
privately believe that a fertile, football-crazy market like
Tampa would thrive under new ownership and Johnson as coach"
("SportsCenter," 11/22). HOLIDAY SHOPPING: Bucs "boosters"
are trying to restructure legislation that would allow state
sales tax money to be used to help renovations on Tampa Stadium.
The "hitch" in the legislation is no money can be used for
existing franchises. Reworking the legislation is not considered
easy, and supporters in Tampa are "reluctant to talk about the
initiative for fear of creating a stir in other parts of the
state." But FL Gov. Lawton Chiles says he will do all he can to
keep the team. Chiles: "I'm trying to call the NFL commissioner
to add my two cents, and I'm ready to meet with him" (Phil
Willon, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/23).
Stephen Roddenberry, attorney for Whit Hudson, said progress
was being made in Hudson's purchase of managing control of the
Heat. A source close to the proceedings said Roddenberry met
with members of the Arison family, the team's majority owners,
and that they are moving forward in resolving issues that are
"stalling" the $60M sale of 41.5% of the team (Alex Marvez, MIAMI
The IHL has added a team in San Francisco, bringing the
total number of franchises in the league to 18 for '95-96. The
team "will being play next season, with its home games at the Cow
Palace in Daly City, CA. The team will be owned by David Pasant,
43, a retired president and chief executive officer of Jackson
National Life Insurance Co. of Lansing, MI. The team will
display a logo, team colors, and season ticket plans by mid-
December. Pasant, who said he has been "looking for different
sports ownership opportunities for some time," called the
franchise "a great opportunity to operate a team in one of the
world's best cities, and to be able to go to San Francisco and
fill the hockey void that has existed there." Pasant said the
team will offer an affordable alternative to the NHL Sharks.
Pasant: "I would estimate our prices to be half of theirs."
Sharks President Art Savage is not worried about the competition
from the IHL team, saying "they have a good product, but it is a
developmental product that we support" (Mike Weaver, SAN JOSE
MERCURY NEWS, 11/23).
The Lightning's general partner, Kokusai Green Ltd., has
named a team CEO to operate out of the team's headquarters in
Tampa. Saburo "Steve" Oto has replaced "the seldom-seen, non-
English speaking" Yoshio Nakamura as President of Lightning
Partners, Ltd., which oversees the business operation of the
team. Oto said the changes are "structural in nature, and has
nothing to do with Nakamura's performance or that of the team's
governor, David LeFevre." Oto will oversee both LeFevre and
Lightning President & GM Phil Esposito. Oto, who stresses he will
"exemplify Kokusai Green's commitment to the Bay area": "This
hockey team is a very important part of Kokusai Green's holdings,
so what we are doing here is adding power. We are making a
powerhouse" (Roy Cummings, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/23).
Rising interest rates "pose the newest threat to completion
of the Target Center buyout and Timberwolves sale," with a
December 31 deadline approaching. Henry Savelkoul, chair of the
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said that the Federal
Reserve's announcement that it will boost interest rates another
3/4 of a point will make the Timberwolves/Target Center
transaction "very difficult." Since the summer, when state and
city financing of about $54M was approved to buy the downtown
arena -- and another $25M or so set aside to refinance other
outstanding debt on the building -- interest rates have gone up
two full percentage points. Debt service on a new mortgage for a
publicly owned Target Center could be as much as $1.4M more per
year than projected, according to Savelkoul (Weiner & Hartman,
Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/22).
SOLUTIONS? According to Savelkoul, one possible solution is
issuing shorter term bonds than the previously agreed-upon 30-
year long bonds. Short term financing could bring down the
interest rates. Wolves buyer Glen Taylor and team and arena
sellers Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner are facing a December 31
deadline to close on the sale of the team. That sale is
contingent on the Sports Facilities Commission buying the Target
Center. There is a "risk" that interest rates will continue to
rise, "placing the entire financing package in jeopardy" for
buying the arena. As of now, ticket taxes will pay the mortgage
on the arena, but if that does not cover it, then the Commission
may ask the city to cover the payments through a liquor and hotel
tax (Weiner & Hartman, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/22).
An arbitrator has awarded the former Salt Lake Trappers
baseball team $1.75M for being displaced by the AAA Salt Lake
Buzz in '93. In an opinion announced Monday, George Nicolau
ordered Buzz owner Joe Buzas to pay the Pioneer league $317,000
as well. Buzas also owns the AA Eastern League team in New
Britain. The $2.1M award is more than half of what the Rockies
had to pay the minor league team it displaced when it took over
the Denver territory. Nicolau: "It was the Trappers that
revitalized the territory to the point where it again became
attractive to a Triple A team. The Trappers, a highly successful
club in performance, profit and attendance, are entitled to the
benefit of that effort" (AP/HARTFORD COURANT, 11/22).
The CISL announced that a four-person investment group has
purchased 70% of the Portland Pride. The new ownership group is
headed by Norm Daniels, president of G.I. Joe's Sporting Goods,
and joined by three Oregon businessman -- Roy Rose, Mike Truax
and John Zupan. Brian Parrott, who served as the team's
president during the Pride's first two years, along with the
original partners will retain 30% of the franchise (CISL).