In Boston, Will McDonough writes that there will be no
change in ownership of the 49ers with the death of Edward
DeBartolo, Sr. The team is owned by the DeBartolo Corporation.
Team President Carmen Policy: "Mr. DeBartolo had planned for this
and it is all covered in his estate. Eddie [DeBartolo, Jr.] will
continue to run the team as he has in the past" (BOSTON GLOBE,
A group of Caesars World shareholders filed suit in Palm
Beach Circuit Court charging that Caesars World did not "shop
itself around to get the highest price" when it agreed to a $1.7B
deal with ITT. The shareholders assert that Caesars Chair & CEO
Henry Gluck agreed to take ITT's offer because it benefited
management "rather than stockholders." Gluck will retain his
position after the sale and Caesars President & COO J. Terrance
Lanni also would remain part of the management team. Analysts
have called ITT's $1.7B offer a "fair but not exorbitant price."
ITT offered $67.50 for every share in Caesars World. When the
deal was announced, Caesars was trading at about $45 per share.
It closed yesterday at $66. The lawsuit alleges that Gluck did
not pursue other suitors, such as Mirage Resorts and Alliance
Gaming Corp. It also alleges that Gluck was prepared to use
defensive measures to "ward off competing offers." The
plaintiffs' chances may have been approved by a court ruling in a
similar case last December. Paramount Communications was forced
to consider a hostile offer from QVC after shareholders sued to
block a friendly merger between it and Viacom. "The court sent a
loud warning to corporate managers that they cannot let personal
preferences govern their decisions." Meanwhile, the SEC is
examining trading in Caesars' stock, which rose "noticeably
higher in advance of Monday's takeover offer" (Cindy Krischer
Goodman, MIAMI HERALD, 12/22).
THE GAMBLING PROBLEM: Because ITT is expected to become co-
owner of the Knicks and Rangers, the NHL and NBA will probably
require ITT to ban betting on their games once ITT officially
gains control of both Caesars and the two teams. ITT
spokesperson Jim Gallagher: "The leagues have their rules and we
have publicly said we will do whatever we have to do to own both"
teams (Kenneth Gilpin, N.Y. TIMES, 12/22). In New York, Dave
Anderson notes that one solution would have ITT selling off the
two teams: "Casino owners catering to high rollers shouldn't also
be team owners. ... Too much suspicion. Too much temptation.
Sports has enough worries about gambling" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/22).
The Raptors announced yesterday that not only did they
surpass the NBA minimum of 12,500 season-tickets, but also that
they "firmed up" their plans for a new arena. The team reached
an agreement "in principal on basic business terms" with Canada
Post on a downtown site, just blocks away from SkyDome. The
Raptors will reportedly pay $30M up front, and $1.5M per year for
the next 20 years to develop a four-acre parcel of land for their
22,000 seat stadium. Payments would increase if the Raptors
bring in new tenants, such as a hockey team. The team faced a
league-mandated deadline of December 31 to finalize its arena
plans, and the annoucements yesterday marked a big day for the
Raptors. Raptors Stadium Director Jay Cross said many obstacles
remained, but he was hopeful that "arrangements should be in
place by next summer, with construction to start in the fall"
(Bill Harris, TORONTO SUN, 12/22). The site, "nestled beside the
heavily travelled Gardiner Expressway, has high billboard value."
The team is expected to sell name rights to a corporate buyer who
could become a "fixture on the skyline" (James Christie, Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 12/22).
TICKETS: Raptors President John Bitove announced that the
team received deposits on 15,127 season-tickets, well over the
12,500 mark. As reported yesterday, the team received a large
boost for Shoppers Drug Mart who purchased up to 4,250 tickets
(Chris Young, TORONTO STAR, 12/22).
Save the Rams, the civic group trying to keep the Rams in
the L.A. area, will hold a news conference today to announce
their plans to fight the team's rumored move to St. Louis. Save
the Rams believes the team is about to sign a lease with St.
Louis, and will launch an "all-out lobbying assault on NFL owners
and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in an effort to secure the eight
league votes necessary to block the move." Save the Rams Co-
Chair Leigh Steinberg: "We're going to give a progress report on
where we think the battle goes from here. This is going to be
Phase Two." The group may call on CA Gov. Pete Wilson, U.S.
Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and former baseball
commissioner Peter Ueberroth to "persuade owners that Orange
County can support the Rams and deliver on a package that would
make them financially competitive" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES,
12/22). Bob Glauber of THE SPORTING NEWS writes on the
implications of pro football leaving the L.A. market. Glauber
calls a Rams move "bad news for the business of pro football,"
and noting the potential loss of the Raiders as well, he adds
that "franchise stability is paramount to any sports league's
success. ... Not only do you remove football from an area that
has had an NFL team for nearly half a century, but you remove a
product from a major population center, something that can result
in a loss of significant revenue" (THE SPORTING NEWS, 12/26
Political and business leaders in Tampa unveiled a "radical
plan" on Wednesday, pledging public money to guarantee ticket
sales to help put 55,000 fans in the stands for every Bucs home
game over the next two years. The leaders hope the guarantee
sends a "strong signal to investor groups concerned about paying
a near-record price to buy the Bucs and keep them in town."
Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman: "Our future will change drastically
if this franchise moves out of this area." The "novel plan is
the most daring step so far by a community fearful that Orioles
Owner Peter Angelos will make good on his pledge to pay $200
million for the Bucs and move them to Baltimore" (Jeff Testerman,
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/22).
DETAILS: The City of Tampa and Hillsborough County would
guarantee that 55,000 tickets would be sold at each home game
unless attendance drops below 45,000. If that happens, they will
guarantee the purchase of up to 10,000 tickets. Businesses would
be the main contributor, and the "maximum exposure to taxpayers
would be $2 million a year for two years." The guarantee would
be paid through a reserve fund and a sales tax. The offer is
being made only to new owners, not the trustees who currently run
the team (Ken Koehn, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/22). According to THE
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY's "Turnstile Tracker," the Bucs currently
averages 45,517 for the '94 season.
REAX: Reaction by elected officials who will vote on the
measure was mixed. Hillsborough County Commissioner Joe Chillura
said the plan was premature, stating the team does not have
owners yet: "This is analogous to an arranged wedding where one
is not identified. ... We need to dance before we get engaged"
(Ken Koehn, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/22).
NEW BUYER? Orlando-based sports agent Robert Fraley met with
team trustee Steve Story to state his interest in the Bucs.
Fraley represents a group of Orlando-area investors who intend to
keep the team in Tampa (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/22).