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Volume 24 No. 155

Franchises

     The Boston Celtics Limited Partnership "dramatically beefed
up its financial clout in a three-month period this year,
virtually doubling its assets to $206 million," according to a
report in today's BOSTON HERALD.  The partnership borrowed $85M
from Shawmut Bank between June 30 and September 30, and put the
funds into short-term investments.  The team "is apparently
making use of the expected windfall from the pending sale" of
WFXT-TV to Fox Television Stations Inc., which is currently tied
up by NBC's FCC probe of Fox.  Partnership and team execs
"declined to elaborate on the likely uses of the added financial
clout" (Steve Syre, BOSTON HERALD, 12/14).

     FANS Inc. point-man Tom Eagleton isn't concerned by comments
from Rams President John Shaw that the team could remain in
Anaheim.  Shaw stated on Monday the team may sign a short-term
lease in Anaheim to see if the league will come through on a
proposal to build a football-only stadium in the area.  Eagleton:
"The league, in all fairness, is not going to build a $300M
stadium in California and then say to the Bears who want a new
stadium, 'No, we can't build you one'" (Bernie Miklasz, ST. LOUIS
POST-DISPATCH, 12/14).

     With no offers for the Buccaneers on the "horizon, the trust
that owns the team has devised a way to pump some wind into their
sale."  A deadline for submitting an offer may be announced to
prospective owners in an "effort to accelerate the deal" (Rick
Stroud, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14).  Jack Donlan, a member of
the three-man trust in charge of selling the team, said the team
needs to prepare for next season, adding, "You have to get things
in place."  Trustee Steve Story said the deadline would be placed
on prospective owners "to get things going -- to get a deal
done."  The notion of a deadline drew criticism from local
bidders.  Tommy Shannon, point-man of a group from Outback
Steakhouse: "I don't understand the sale process.  I don't think
anyone does.  Is it a sealed bid?  An auction?  Are they going to
shop around the bids?"  Shannon added: "You're buying this at
peak value.  This is not a good time to buy" (Joe Henderson,
TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/14).  Palm Beach millionaire and interested
buyer, George Lindemann: "It looks like they want us to make an
offer and then they'll shop it around to the next guys. ... No
one is going to make an offer on that basis" (Rick Stroud, ST.
PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14)
     STARR QUALITY: Bart Starr met with Story for 30-minutes
yesterday stating his interest.  Story said Starr's group would
keep the Bucs in Tampa (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/14).

     A report this morning indicates that a string of corporate
block buys could put both the Raptors and Grizzlies over the NBA-
imposed goal of 12,500 season-tickets.  The Raptors are believed
to be in negotiations with Ford, Shoppers Drug Mart, and AST
Computers about the purchase of a large block of tickets.  The
Grizzlies, who are also speaking with Shoppers Mart, and AST,
will hold a news conference next Tuesday to announce the total in
their ticket campaign.  It is believed they will reveal at that
time that they have reached the 12,500 goal. Grizzlies
spokesperson Steve Frost: "We're discussing block ticket buys and
working toward closing those deals" (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN,
12/14).
     RAPTORS TV:  The Raptors are reportedly interested in ABC-
ESPN announcer Mike Jones to host game coverage on City-TV
(William Houston, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/14).

     Red Wings Shawn Burr and Dino Ciccarelli are among a group
of investors who purchased the Seattle Roller Hockey franchise.
The team, "whose nickname might be determined by a major local
sponsor," will play at Cobo Arena in Detroit for the June-
September schedule.  Burr said he will play for his team if the
NHL season is cancelled due to the labor dispute.  This is the
second franchise for Ciccarelli and Burr, who also own the Sarnia
Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.  Burr said the two will be
very involved, adding that season-ticket prices for a 12-game
package will range from $100 for children to $150 for adults.
The team's home games will be on local cable and all sports radio
(Keith Gave, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/13).

     The Grizzlies enter the final stretch of their season-ticket
drive to bring basketball to Vancouver.  Since awarded a
franchise by the NBA on April 27, owner Arthur Griffiths has led
a furious charge to meet the league's requirements.  Unlike the
Raptors, who began taking season-ticket orders in October, the
Grizzlies kicked off their campaign on April 28 with a season-
ticket hotline.  Two days later, 6,000 fans had called and
committed a $100 deposit toward a season-ticket.  Sales have
slowed, but the Grizzlies organizational efforts have met with
greater success than the Raptors.  Over the past week, THE SPORTS
BUSINESS DAILY spoke with members of the Vancouver media and Tod
Leiweke, who is charge of the development of business and
marketing opportunities for the Grizzlies.
     THE NUMBER:  The team is around 3,000 sales short of the NBA
mandated-minimum of 12,500, but reports this morning indicate
that deals could push both teams over the top this week.
Leiweke, Exec VP of Northwest Entertainment Group, parent company
of the Grizzlies and the Canucks, said the franchise "has made
progress," but refused to speculate on numbers.  The Grizzlies
announce their total on Tuesday.   THE MARKET:  Leiweke, who came
over from the Warriors in early November:  "The community has
really wanted to see this happen. It has largely been a community
initiative."  Leiweke mentioned "The Ambassadors," a group of 49
business leaders throughout the city who have organized the
business community.  He also praised business leaders who stepped
forward and purchased suites and club seats for the Canucks, and
then consented when asked by the Grizzlies to increase their
commitment on their suites.  Although Vancouver is a hockey town,
the SUN's MacDonald said, "The town is talking about the
Grizzlies."  Still, Tsumura calls the NBA a "brand new game in
town" and for Vancouver fans "it is almost like buying into
something on faith."
     ORGANIZATION: "The Grizzlies always knew they had a selling
job and they got their organization in place and went about their
business," according to MacDonald.  Griffiths, who is looking for
an investment partner for the team, received high marks from the
media for his organizational skills.  MacDonald: "They come
across as a very slick, well organized, franchise."   Tsumura
agrees that the organization is well run, giving kudos for
bringing in Magic Johnson for an appearance and an ownership
guarantee for a full refund if the customer is not satisfied with
the performance of the team.  Likewise, GM Stu Jackson has kept a
high profile, making appearances and being a front-man for the
team in advertising.  Tsumura: "Jackson has really done the job
and gotten out there."
     CORPORATE HELP: The team has been active in the corporate
community. Spectra Foods Restaurant Group signed a deal that
included the purchase of 300 season-tickets. Leiweke said it has
been untraditional corporate help, those "who might not buy a
media package or a sign in the arena."  Although Spectra is not
engaging in cross-promotions, Leiweke did say the deal "sparked
the imagination of other companies."  There are reports this week
that both Shopper's Drug Mart and Overwaitea grocery stores are
close to making a significant corporate ticket purchase.  The
team is currently in discussing a media deal, but nothing is
signed.
     OVERALL: Tsumura compares Vancouver with NBA expansion
franchises, such as the Magic.  MacDonald:  "Orlando had a full
year longer to sell 10,000 tickets and they went right to the
end. If you gauge it that way, for Vancouver being a non-
basketball town, the 9,000 they have sold is quite a good
number."  Lieweke on the NBA's deadline: "It is not fair for me
to sit here and pass judgement.  We only had one choice and that
was to rise to the challenge. ... Certainly, if you look at the
last expansion with 10,000 tickets and here you come into a
market where there has not been a ton of NBA exposure in the
market place, it is really quite amazing that they would rise to
this challenge" (THE DAILY).