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Volume 24 No. 112

Franchises

      The Red Wings fans and season ticket holders are
"exhibiting the bad taste the lockout has left in their mouths,"
according to Cynthia Lambert of the DETROIT FREE-PRESS.  Lambert
looks at the Red Wings' attendance figures, adding that between
1,500 and 2,000 seats were empty at a recent home game, many in
the lower bowl:  "That to me shows more damage than fans not
wanting to shell out money just yet.  We're talking about people
who have already paid for their tickets, yet opted not to go."
Citing the Leafs' Fan Appreciation Giveaway, Lambert writes that
other NHL teams "should take note" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/29).

     "The end of a season generally is dictated by lack of
performance.  The Hartford Hellcats' season ended Monday because
of a lack of money," according to Roy Hasty in this morning's
HARTFORD COURANT.  The Hellcats' ownership, the Hartford Sports
and Entertainment Group Inc. (HSE), ended operations Monday,
causing the CBA team to fold.  The HSE ran out of money to
operate the team and couldn't meet the payroll over the weekend.
HSE was "hoping to get help from the Connecticut Development
Authority (CDA), which was negotiating with three groups
interested in buying" the team, but none of the offers were "firm
enough" to reach a deal.  HSE Spokesperson Tom Drohan said the
group owes about $200,000 in addition to its loan commitments of
$1.25M to the state, which guaranteed the loan package through
the CDA.  Although the CDA currently operates the Connecticut
Coyotes of the Arena Football League, CDA spokesperson Joseph
Cohen said the authority did not want to assume control of the
Hellcats because the team "has been bleeding large amounts of
money over an extended period of time."  Cohen:  "The Hellcats
were just too far gone."  The CBA also has a "provision to take
over the operation" of a failing team, but refused to do so. CBA
Commissioner Tom Valdiserri: "This situation does not and will
not deter the CBA from continuing our efforts in moving the
league in a positive direction" (Roy Hasty, HARTFORD COURANT,
1/31).  Drohan on the Hellcats' failure:  "We didn't sell enough
tickets ... And we didn't get the corporate support we needed.
... We know how hard-pressed the corporations are in this
community" (Owen Canfield, HARTFORD COURANT, 1/31).  ESPN's Keith
Olbermann reported the story last night, quoting a team official:
"There is no money to go forward, there is no reason to go
forward" ("SportsCenter," 1/30).

     ITT Corp. said it has reached a "general understanding" with
NHL and NBA officials to "eventually stop taking sports bets at
Caesars Palace and its other Nevada casinos," according to this
morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The agreement reportedly leaves
open the "possibility that ITT will be able to help its customers
place sports bets at other casinos."  ITT's deal for Madison
Square Garden -- which includes the Rangers and Knicks -- could
be finalized this week.  The deal had been delayed since ITT's
acquisition of Caesars World, as both the NHL and NBA "bar team
owners from owning businesses that take bets on sporting events"
(WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31).

     Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, "distressed" to find his
comments on the state of his franchise on the front page in the
BOSTON GLOBE on Sunday, said he gave no "ultimatum" for the state
to help his team.  Kraft said comments attributed to him asking
for state financial help or he would have to sell or move the
team are not accurate.  Asked if selling the Patriots is an
option, Kraft said: "No.  Of course not" (George Kimball, BOSTON
HERALD, 1/30).  MA Gov. William Weld said he did promise
assistance to Kraft, and he "intends to honor that promise."
Weld said within the next 30 days he would submit "a legislative
package to pay for a combination" of highway and parking
improvements around Foxboro Stadium.  Although the team wants
help building new luxury seats, Weld said the state was not
prepared to "go that far" (Kindleberger & Black, BOSTON GLOBE,
1/30).

     A random "straw poll" taken during Super Bowl week in Miami
showed most NFL owners reluctant to take a position on the Rams
move to St. Louis.  "A handful refused to respond.  A majority
declined to comment saying they wanted to wait" for Commissioner
Paul Tagliabue's report.  The "most promising statement for Rams
fans" came from the Cowboys' Jerry Jones.  Jones: "When I'm
looking at Los Angeles I'm saying where are our two teams?  Yes,
two.  Los Angeles is huge for the NFL, huge.  I am very
sympathetic to the Rams' position and their circumstances.  But
this will have to be one in the best interests of the league, not
just the Rams or Cowboys or any other team."  49ers President
Carmen Policy said the league is "concerned the Rams have not
done well" in L.A. and if the Rams meet the guidelines the league
has set for relocation, "the NFL will be hard-pressed not to say
yes" (Michele Himmelberg, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/31).  In St.
Louis this morning, the POST DISPATCH runs an extensive Q-and-A
piece for fans interested in personal seat licenses (Tim O'Neil,
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/31).

     The Sharks will hold their first ever Sharks Fan Fest on
Sunday, March 12 at the San Jose Arena.  In what the team bill's
as an "interactive extravaganza," 6,000 fans will have the chance
to interact with Sharks players, wives and coaches in a carnival-
style environment while raising funds for the Shark Foundation.
Sponsors of the event include Cellular One, Smythe Buick Pontiac
and GMC Truck, KICU-TV and SportsChannel (Sharks).