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Volume 24 No. 115

Franchises

     The uncertain future of the Winnipeg Jets is the best
opportunity the Twin Cities have in landing an NHL team,
according to Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE.  With
expansion franchises "expected to go" to Phoenix, Houston,
Atlanta and Denver, Hartman writes that NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman "is looking favorably on Minnesota landing another hockey
team."  Hartman said there are buyers ready to put up money to
bring hockey back to the area (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 3/15).

     The Diamondbacks "are on target to become the hottest sports
ticket in town," writes Eric Miller in today's ARIZONA REPUBLIC.
As of Tuesday, the number of orders for season tickets for the
MLB expansion team had hit close to 18,000.  The team began
taking orders, with a $50 deposit, on Friday.  Diamondbacks
spokesperson Ray Artigue: "I think the Colorado Rockies were in
the low 30,000s going into their first season, which is great.
They broke expansion records.  We're more than halfway there in
only three days."  Artigue estimated the cost of a season-ticket
will average about $12.50 a game, or $1,012.50, and their goal is
to have season-ticket holders pay for tickets and select seats by
the end of '96 (Eric Miller, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/15).

     The CFL franchise in Birmingham announced that it will be
named the Barracudas -- "never mind that there is no salt water
within about 200 miles of Birmingham."  Team Owner Art Williams
said the choice was based on the reputation of the fish, and not
geography.  Williams: "It's an animal that's vicious and mean.
No other team in pro sports is called the Barracudas" (AP/N.Y.
TIMES, 3/15).

     The Cowboys have raised ticket prices and parking fees for
next season.  Ticket prices will see a 15% increase from the past
two years, with the average price up to $39.98, from $34.20.  The
top-priced seats will increase from $38 to $46 and other sideline
seats will also increase by $8, up to $42.  Parking passes will
increase variably, with VIP passes going from $15-$20, and the
lower-proced lot from $5 to $7.  Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said
fans should not be "alarmed" about the increase, and that their
prices are in relation to the league (Dwain Price, FORT WORTH
STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/15).
     COWBOYS IN THE SKYDOME:  The Cowboys will play the Bills in
Toronto's SkyDome on the weekend of August 13-14.  But it looks
as though the NFL won't stage a game in Mexico this summer,
"partly because of Mexico's economic woes" (Tim Cowlishaw, DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 3/15).

     The ECHL's Richmond Renegades were one of five ECHL teams
formally asked to join the AHL.  But a "sticking point" appears
to be money, with the AHL apparently asking for a "substantial"
expansion fee, reportedly in the high six figures.  ECHL teams
had been led to believe that they would not have to pay a high
fee to become members of the AHL, according to the RICHMOND
TIMES-DISPATCH.  The AHL will allow ECHL teams to pay an
expansion fee over time, but sources say the AHL is not giving
them "long to think about the proposal."  Charlotte and
Greensboro are "virtual locks" to join the AHL, while others
"aren't as anxious."  Charlotte President Carl Scheer said he has
"no choice" but to move, citing the IHL's inquiries about setting
up an expansion franchise in Charlotte.  Scheer: "The IHL has
been very aggressive all over the country. ... We just have to
protect our territory and we're being forced into some early
decisions" (John Packett, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/14).

     In an action delaying a vote on Adelphia Communications
Chair John Rigas' bid for the Pirates, Wertheim Schroeder, the
investment bank handling the sale of the franschie, is trying to
"pry offers" from both Northern VA groups interested in acquiring
the team.  One of those groups, Virginia Baseball led by William
Collins (favored to get expansion in the next round), wants to
move the team to the DC suburbs.  Homestead Baseball, led by
Robert Johnson and affiliated with Capital Baseball -- another
group seeking an  expansion team -- has said they would keep the
team in Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh City Councilmember Dan Cohen:
"It's outrageous and offensive to all Pittsburghers for the
owners to have any discussions at all with people who would move
the team out of Pittsburgh."  The Council has introduced a
resolution demanding that Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy "appoint
one or two council members to participate in all talks pertaining
to the sale."  Murphy selected Rigas as his choice to buy the
Pirates last November (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE,
3/15).

     While discussion of the Rams move continued at the NFL
owners meetings in Phoenix, Raiders Owner Al Davis asked the
league to approve the idea of a new football stadium.  Davis said
he needs approval for the new stadium, to be located between
Hollywood Park and The Forum in Inglewood, within ten days or it
cannot be built.  "Owners winced," writes Bill Plaschke and T.J.
Simers of the L.A. TIMES, "but, with the prospects of losing a
Los Angeles team increasing every hour, they seemed eager to
embrace the report."  The proposed $200M facility would be
privately financed by NC-based NationsBank.  But Raiders and
Hollywood Park officials claim that "it is not possible to pay
for the stadium" without revenue from at least two Super Bowls,
which would have to be played there during a five-year period
after '97.  Oilers Owner/Finance Committee Chair Bud Adams:
"We'd love to help him out ... we just need to see a little more"
(L.A. TIMES, 3/15).  Davis has spoken with Orioles Owner Peter
Angelos in recent days about his attempt to get an NFL team in
Baltimore (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/15).  Although
Davis gave "the impression" he would play at Anaheim Stadium
until the propsoed new stadium opens in '97 (should the Rams move
get approval), he did not commit to any stadium for '95 -- a
"factor that has NFL owners worried."  Davis: "I think I could
play in any facility I wanted to next year. ... That doesn't mean
just Los Angeles" (Michele Himmelberg, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER,
3/15).

     Despite Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's recommendation that
NFL owners vote against the Rams move, the "tone changed" in
Phoenix yesterday as the Rams and owners tried to negotiate a
settlement that would compensate the league for lost revenues.
Save-the-Rams Leader Leigh Steinberg:  "I'm frustrated.  I feel
our message is not getting through" (Steve Bisheff, ORANGE
COUNTRY REGISTER, 3/15).  The league has reportedly asked the
Rams for $25M, while the Rams are "considering an offer" of $13M.
Browns Owner Art Modell: "The Rams have not been given any figure
(yet).  Television remains a major factor" (Michele Himmelberg,
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/15).  The Rams would like to spread the
payment over 40 years, while the league would like it in four
years (Plaschke & Simers, L.A. TIMES, 3/15).  ESPN's Chris
Mortensen reported the Rams expect the league will want $20-30M
to approve the move, and they are willing to negotiate because
they also want to stay out of court ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/14).
In Boston, Jack Craig reports that Fox will seek a rebate of $14M
for '95 if the Rams move, $500,000 per team.  But it "would not
be much of a hit, considering that each team is scheduled to
receive $42 million from Fox over the last three years of Fox'
contract" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/14).
     ALL THOSE IN FAVOR:  49ers President Carmen Policy and
Chargers Owner Alex Spanos spoke in favor of the move during
meetings that lasted over five hours (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 3/15).  Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones:   "Right now my
vote is up in the air.  I'm very much for teams having the right
to make their own decisions ... We need an NFC team in Los
Angeles" ("Up Close," ESPN, 3/14).
     YOU PROMISE?  Will Leigh Steinberg and Save the Rams "wangle
a promise for an NFC expansion franchise in the next three
years?," asks Steve Bisheff of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER.
Bisheff predicts that owners will approve the Rams move in order
to keep their leverage to build new stadiums, and adds if an L.A.
expansion bid is approved, Save-the-Rams would want Disney's
Michael Eisner to head up the team (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER,
3/15).