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Volume 24 No. 159

Franchises

     In his most direct statement to date, Orioles Owner Peter
Angelos called the Buccaneers "eminently moveable" and that his
offer of $200M for the team is still on the table.  Angelos made
these comments in an interview in this morning's ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES.  Angelos cited the 35,000 in attendance at last Sunday's
Bucs/Rams game:  "That simply isn't enough fan support to
justify, it seems to me, the retention of an NFL franchise in a
given metropolitan area."  Regarding his offer of $200M last
August for the Bucs, Angelos said "one can logically assume that
that is a number that's available since nothing has drastically
changed with regard to the need for a franchise in Baltimore."
He also discounted reports the NFL would interfere if he tried to
move the team.  Angelos: "Why should we have a battle (with the
NFL)?  We will guarantee 70,000 people will attend each game.
All the sky boxes are sold.  All the premium seats are sold. ...
and every team that comes to Baltimore will go home with at least
a $1 million check" (Topkin/Stroud/ Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES, 12/15).  Angelos, on statements by Bucs trust member Steve
Story that no offers have been made for the team:  "We have not
withdrawn the proposal that was made to the Culverhouse
representatives" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 12/15).
     TOUGH COMPETITION: Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner
"confirmed" last night that former Chrysler Chair Lee Iacocca and
Twins Owner Carl Pohlad are "prospective buyers" in his group
pursuing the Bucs (Topkin/Stroud/Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES,
12/15).

     The NBA has "approached" the Raptors about possibly hosting
the NBA All-Star Game in '97 or '98.  But team President John
Bitove said the franchise will not submit a bid, "at least for
the time being," instead focusing on their season-ticket drive
and the completion of negotiations for an arena site.  Bitove did
not rule out considering an all-star offer at a later date,
adding that hosting an All-Star Game is "something we would like
to do sooner rather than later."  The NBA has a history of
awarding an all-star game to expansion franchises as a way of
bringing attention to the new team, and the league has already
approached the Vancouver Grizzlies about hosting the game in '99
(Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 12/15).
     RAPTORS, RAPTORS EVERYWHERE:  Mike Davenport, president of
the Sports Organizing Committee in Pinellas County, FL, said he
is working on a deal to bring the Raptors to St. Petersburg for
training camp at the ThunderDome.  Davenport hopes to have an
agreement with the team within a few months (Paul Abercrombie,
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/15).

     The group representing Orlando's bid for an expansion
franchise made their presentation to MLB's Expansion Committee
yesterday.  Prospective Owner Norton Herrick said "everything
went perfect," adding he believed Orlando had a better chance to
land a team than St. Petersburg because "We've got a stronger
market, a better stadium, a better leadership group."  The first
part of the presentation by Orlando officials focused "on
community, business and government support as well as the growth
potential for the area."  Later, Herrick and his investors
discussed finances with the group.  Stanton Cook, the Cubs' Chair
and a member of the committee, said the group did a "good job and
made an excellent presentation."  The league still has not made
an official announcement that it will expand, but Phillies Owner
Bill Giles said a vote by the owners "will probably be taken in
January" (Bill Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/15).