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Volume 24 No. 155

Franchises

     Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner stepped to the plate
yesterday as he submitted an 11th hour offer to buy the Bucs.
Steinbrenner, who offered a reported $170M-$180M for the team,
said "he is the organizer of the group, but not the majority
partner."  NFL rules prohibits cross-ownership with other major
pro sports teams, but Steinbrenner said, "We have handled that
within our group so that is not going to be an issue."  He refused
to disclose any of his partners, although they are to believed to
include former Chrysler Chair Lee Iacocca, Twins Owner Carl
Pohlad, billionaire investor Lester Crown, and Steinbrenner's two
sons.  The Yankees owner would not disclose numbers, only saying:
"I don't go into it unless I think it's right.  It's the right
price."  Bucs trust spokesperson Steve Story called the bid "a
competitive offer, but it's a different kind of offer."  He said
it would be considered along with the three other bids already on
the table (Marc Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/13).  On the "CBS
Evening News" last night, Steinbrenner reiterated his hope to keep
the team in Tampa: "To lose the pro football team would be
devastating.  Because it would be a stigma that would be attached
to this community that we wouldn't lose quickly" (CBS, 1/12).  The
bid by the Steinbrenner group came as the trustees "apparently
were nearly ready to accept" an estimated $192M offer from Palm
Beach financier Malcolm Glazer.  Steinbrenner, on whether his
offer was competitive with Orioles Owner Peter Angelos: "I don't
like to lose, whether it's to the Orioles or Peter, who is a
worthy competitor."  Local officials praised the bid, but
Steinbrenner "shrugged off" suggestions he is Tampa's savior: "I'm
not a white knight.  I'm a gray-haired old man" (Henderson &
Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/13).

     Cablevision and ITT have been given approval to buy Madison
Square Garden from Viacom.  The U.S. Department of Justice has
approved the proposed $1.075B acquisition "without requiring any
modifications to the sale."  MSG is the parent company for the
Knicks and Rangers, and the deal still needs the backing of the
NHL and the NBA to be finalized.  Teri Washington, a spokesperson
for the NBA, said it was not clear whether a vote on the transfer
of the Knicks will be held at the next Board of Governors meeting
on February 13.  A team sale requires 3/4 approval from the NBA's
27 team representatives.  A spokesperson for the NHL said a vote
by that league could be "months away" (Elizabeth Sanger, N.Y.
NEWSDAY, 1/13).

     New Padres Owner John Moores and CEO Larry Lucchino held a
news conference to speak on the state of the franchise.  Their
$80M purchase of the team was approved on December 22, and they
discussed what the future holds for "their small-market team."
Moores said he has no intention of moving the team; he will hold a
consulting position with the team and attend home games as "often
as possible."  Lucchino, who  will run the day-to-day operations,
said the club will "renew efforts to market the Padres in Mexico,
and talked about making Jack Murphy Stadium more "user-friendly
for Spanish speaking patrons."  Moores on buying the team during
the strike: "I was a little nervous, frankly. ... But if I thought
there was going to be a lot of fallout, I wouldn't be here"
(Buster Olney, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/13).  The two received
high marks from columnist Tom Cushman:  "If Moores and Lucchino
deliver as well as the personalities project, a pennant should
soon be flapping atop a Mission Valley flagpole" (Tom Cushman, SAN
DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/12).

     "Barring the unexpected, FANS Inc. plans a 2pm CST news
conference Tuesday in St. Louis to announce" that the Rams intend
to move.  However, there is "one hitch."  According to the ST.
LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, FANS Inc., the civic group negotiating to
bring the Rams to St. Louis, must sell 40,000 permanent seat
licenses (PSL's) by the NFL owners meetings in March or the team
has the option to stay in Anaheim.  That would give the group just
about eight weeks to finalize the deal.  FANS has also pledged to
sell 50,000 PSL's by the Rams season opener in September.  Upon
completion of legal documents, and the final approval of Rams
Owner Georgia Frontiere, the plans for the news conference call
for MO- based businessman Stan Kroenke to be introduced as the new
minority owner of the team.  Kroenke will reportedly pay up to
$80M for 40% of the franchise.  The sale of the PSL's is vital, as
the revenue will be used to pay off the cost associated with the
team's move, including a relocation fee, and stadium improvement
debts at Anaheim Stadium, the team's current home (Jim Thomas, ST.
LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/13).