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Volume 24 No. 155

Franchises

     The trust in charge of selling the Buccaneers met separately
with a group from Outback Steakhouse and Yankees Owner George
Steinbrenner yesterday.  Trustee Steve Story said more meetings
were planned with both groups and termed the session with
Steinbrenner as "somewhat preliminary."  Tommy Shannon, along
with Outback Founders Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham met with the
trust early in the day.  Shannon:  "We didn't make an offer and I
don't think we've all concurred that we want to make an offer.
But it was a good meeting."  Shannon still has no idea what price
the trust has settled on:  "All we know is that we read in the
paper about a bracket between $175M and $200M.  That is quite a
bracket" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/23).
     IF YOU WATCH THE BUCS, I'LL TAX YOUR SEAT:  Nearly four out
of five Tampa Bay residents want local officials to do "whatever
it takes" to keep the Bucs from leaving.  According to an
independent poll of 300 residents of Hillsborough and Pinellas
counties by Phil Balducci & Associates, if that means a tax
increase, a majority would support it.  The poll had a margin of
error of +/- 5.8%:       CITY SHOULD DO WHATEVER IT TAKES
          78%
     CITY SHOULD GUARANTEE "SUFFICIENT ATTENDANCE"     69%
     USE TAX $ TO GUARANTEE TIX FOR HOME GAMES         53%
     WILL PAY $50 IN TAXES TO IMPROVE TAMPA STADIUM    54%
     WILL PAY $25 IN TAXES TO IMPROVE TAMPA STADIUM    65%
     Pollster Balducci:  "The results kind of caught me off
guard.  There's a lot stronger community support for the Bucs
than I might have thought.  It appears that as long as the tax
increase stays small, the community is absolutely for it."  Tampa
Mayor Sandy Freedman said the results show how important the team
is to the area and that she has been working on "several funding
options for stadium improvements or replacement, including a tax
on restaurant sales" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/23).

     Save the Rams, the local group trying to keep the team in
the L.A. area, held a press conference yesterday at which Co-
Chair Leigh Steinberg admitted, "It has become abundantly clear
to us in recent weeks that the Rams plan to make a move to St.
Louis."  The group announced "Phase II" of their strategy:  They
plan to meet the other 29 NFL owners, plus NFL Commissioner Paul
Tagliabue and representatives of Fox, to discuss their offer to
the Rams and try to gather up the eight votes they would need to
block the team's move to St. Louis.  The booster group will
explain their offer, which includes a list of companies that
might build a $200M football stadium in bankrupt Orange County
and names of people "willing to invest" in the team.  Save the
Rams will also ask CA political leaders to help, and a
spokesperson for Gov. Pete Wilson said the governor -- who
received a $20,000 contribution from Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere
in his '94 re-election -- is working "behind the scenes" to keep
the team in CA (Himmelberg & Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER,
12/23).  Rams President John Shaw could not be reached for
comment, but sources close to negotiations said a Rams agreement
with St. Louis will not be done before January (Jim Thomas, ST.
LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/22).