In a deal that is promised to bring "sweeping changes" to
the Heat, the Arison family Friday bought out managing partners
Lewis Schaffel and Billy Cunningham for an estimated $60M. The
deal still requires the approval of the NBA, which Micky Arison
said he expects within two weeks. Upon approval, Micky Arison
would become managing general partner. Although he "may not find
the right person until after the season is over," Arison wants to
hire a GM to run the team "as quickly as possible." Under the
new deal, Micky's mother, Lin Arison, will hold 100% of Florida
Basketball Association, "the general partnership that controls
the team and has rights to 50 percent of its profits and losses."
Also, she "will hold 88 percent of the limited partnership that
has rights to the remaining 50 percent of profits and losses."
Julio Iglesias, Raanan Katz, Robert Sturges and Amancio Suarez
will remain as limited partners of the team, continuing to hold
12% of the limited partnership (Ted Reed, KNIGHT-RIDDER, 1/29).
In Miami, Bob Rubin writes that the "air of uncertainty has hung
over the franchise since Whit Hudson's failed bid to buy
operating control has cleared" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/28).
STAYING IN MIAMI? Contrary to Schaffel's belief that the
team could not "survive economically" in Miami, Arison is
"determined to keep the Heat in Miami, either playing in Miami
Arena or nearby." Arison has not ruled out the possibility of
working with Panthers owner Wayne Huizenga to build a new
downtown arena (Bob Rubin, MIAMI HERALD, 1/28).
The Expos have lost one of their minority shareholders due
to "conflict of interest guidelines set out by the commissioner's
office." Versa Services, a Toronto-based food-concession
business that holds the food rights at Olympic Stadium, has been
"advised that it cannot own part of two teams" after its U.S.
parent, Aramark, recently purchased a portion of the Red Sox
through its acquisition of Harry M. Stevens. Versa had put close
to $5M into the Expos, when it become a minority partner with 13
other shareholders when the "consortium purchased the franchise"
in '91. Versa will retain its Olympic Stadium contract for the
'95 season. The Expos lost close to C$22M last season, and
owners still owe on a C$13M loan from the city of Montreal and a
C$18M loan from the Province of Quebec. Despite the financial
problems and the labor work stoppage, the Expos "consortium
appears unified" and there is no indication anyone of them wants
to sell. But since the group bought the team, no partner has
"poured additional money" into the team and no new owners have
"come on board" (Danny Gallagher, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/30).
The CBA's Hartford Hellcats' season could end today unless
the Connecticut Development Authority (CDA) "advances enough
money to sustain the franchise," according to Roy Hasty in this
morning's HARTFORD COURANT. The Hellcats will fold unless a
group puts up the capital to buy the team from the Hartford
Sports & Entertainment Group, "or the CDA decides to help" (Roy
Hasty, HARTFORD COURANT, 1/30).
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, who told the BOSTON GLOBE that
his team lost over $13M in '94, has called on the State of
Masssachusetts to back up promises made to him when he bought the
team last year. In a front page exclusive, Kraft said
"commitments he thought had been made to him prior to buying the
team have drowned in a sea of political rhetoric," and has left
him "pondering the Patriots' future, both short-term and long-
term." Kraft said Gov. William Weld and state officials have
"abandoned promises of $15 million" in state aid for improvements
to Foxboro Stadium and Route 1, and that a plan to "relieve the
stadium's financial situation must be worked out within six
months or he will have to decide to sell or move the team."
Kraft: "I can last like this maybe two or three more years, but
if I don't see something happen in the next six months I'll have
to do some planning." Kraft originally thought $15M in state aid
would go to short term stadium improvements, while plans for a
megaplex in Boston moved forward. Those plans "appeared to die
last week" when a summit of legislative leaders announced that
private sector backers had four months to come up with money to
finance a domed stadium. If there is no megaplex, Kraft is
seeking "roughly $50 million in state backed financing" to allow
renovation of Foxboro Stadium, including new luxury suites and
club seating. Although Kraft states he "cannot go on like this
indefinitely," he wants to stay in MA: "I am a local boy. I
grew up in Boston" (Ron Borges, BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29).
Reports this morning out of Pittsburgh indicate that Pirate
owners rejected Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas' latest
bid to purchase the team. Rigas had increased his initial offer
to close to $90M. But the Pirates said Rigas proposed no "extra
cash for the owners" instead offering stock in the team and a
"pledge to try and find other investors who want to buy their
stock." With both sides facing a deadline of Sunday night,
negotiations increased over the weekend. Pirates owners said
they would continue to talk to Rigas, made possible by a clause
extanding the deadline by two months, but they would also ask
their investment bank, Wertheim Schroeder of New York, to solicit
other bids (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/30).
On Saturday, ESPN noted a story in the ST. PAUL PIONEER
PRESS that Vikings coach Dennis Green and assistant coach Richard
Solomon were named in a 1993 lawsuit "alleging the coaches
participated in sexually inappropriate behavior toward women."
The suit was filed by a former employee of the Vikings. KSTP-TV
in Minneapolis reported that the team settled out of court and
that neither Green nor the team admitted guilt in the matter, but
felt it was in their best interests to settle. The Vikings
released a statement: "We have had a formal and comprehensive
anti-harassment policy, with training, in place since June of
1993. There has not been a single complaint under the Vikings
anti-harassment policy since the adoption of that policy" (ESPN,