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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:  Nashville Sounds President & GM
Larry Schmittou will go ahead with his Michael Jordan ads this
season, even though Jordan has officially retired from baseball.
Schmittou:  "Heck.  I paid too much money for those ads not to
use them."  Schmittou hired an ad agency three weeks ago to
produce four 30-second spots when Jordan was expected to play for
the Sounds (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 3/15).
     BISONS SETTING NEW STANDARDS:  The AAA Buffalo Bisons this
season will become the first professional baseball organization
to use the "SportSoft/SQL" ticketing system.  The system,
designed by HILL Arts & Entertainment, will bring all the team's
ticket transactions and information in-house.  The team claims
immediate benefits will be better customer service and lower
rates, while long-term gains include direct mail and database
marketing (Bisons).
     EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT:  The AHL Syracuse Crunch
are sponsoring a program called "Newspapers In Education" this
season.  With the program, the team donates over 20,000
newspapers to area schools.  Teachers then use them to teach
reading, math and current events.  Crunch players also go to the
schools to talk with students about the rewards of working hard
and staying in school (Crunch).
     HERSHEY DOESN'T TAKE AMERICAN EXPRESS:  Hersheypark Arena
and the AHL Hershey Bears have announced the arrival of a new
Hershey Bears VISA card.  The card features an aerial view of the
arena and offers discounts on such things as season tickets and
admission to Hersheypark (Bears).
     HERE'S A STORY, OF A TEAM NAMED AEROS ... The IHL Houston
Aeros offered "Brady Night at the Aeros" last week.  Susan Olsen,
who played the Cindy on the original TV show, was on hand.
Anyone attending the game whose name was Mike, Carol, Greg,
Marsha, Peter, Jan, Cindy, Bobby, Alice, or Brady received a
ticket discount (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/10).
     HOW 'BOUT THEM GRIZZLIES:  The IHL Denver Grizzlies were on
a pace to set a Denver pro hockey attendance record during their
game last night against the Kansas City Blades.  The Grizzlies
will surpass the NHL Colorado Rockies' previous record of 391,535
in '79-80.  The team has also sold over $1 million in merchandise
(IHL).

     Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie has recently sold $35M worth of
stock he owns in Harcourt General Publishing Co., raising
questions about his financial situation, according to the
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS.  Is "Lurie experiencing cash-flow
problems that could affect his long-term operation of the
franchise or is he simply seizing an opportunity to catch up on
the huge debt he incurred with the purchase [of the team] and
rising interest rates?"  Lurie says the sale has "had no effect
on financial decisions related to the football operation" (Kevin
Mulligan, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/15).

     NFL owners voted 21-3 to reject the Rams move to St. Louis.
Only the Bucs and the Bengals voted with the Rams, with six teams
abstaining.  The vote left the Rams "to contemplate legal action
and another year of football somewhere in Southern California"
(Simers & Plaschke, L.A. TIMES, 3/16).  The owners, "especially
the old guard,"  voted to "seemingly and uncharacteristically
defend such old fashioned principles as faith, loyalty, and
ethics," feeling that they had to "draw a line" to prevent
"poorly managed teams" from moving to new cities.  49ers VP
Dwight Clark: "We didn't want to reward mediocrity" (Steve
Bisheff, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/16).  NFL Commissioner Paul
Tagliabue said opposition was based on three main issues:  The
Rams' unwillingness to share a large percentage of the $74M in
PSL money they raised in St. Louis; the objection of Fox to
losing a team in the 2nd-largest TV market; and the Rams' refusal
to contribute to a "non-profit trust fund" the league wanted to
aid in stadium renovations (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST,
3/16).  In what "sounded like the opening salvo for an
anticipated court battle," Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere said,
"I'm not going to forget what has gone on here" (Len Pasquarelli,
ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/16).       NO DEAL:  The Rams offered to
pay owners 24% of the PSL money, approximately $26M, but "failed
to meet the other conditions" (Clark Judge, SAN JOSE MERCURY
NEWS, 3/16).  Frontiere called the league's demands "arbitrary
and capricious and not based on precedent" (Kent Pullian, KANSAS
CITY STAR, 3/16).   Oilers Owner Bud Adams said after studying
the Rams/St. Louis deal, "it became obvious that the Rams were
not oppressed, but opportunists" (Plaschke, L.A. TIMES, 3/16).
NFL officials went to Rams President John Shaw late Tuesday night
"in a last-ditch effort to hammer out an amicable settlement,"
but Shaw rejected their offer and told the league "he expected to
have the move vetoed" (Len Pasquarelli, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
3/16).  Yesterday, Shaw "sounded as though the league had
mounted" a campaign to oppose the move, and used Fox's opposition
as an example.  Shaw: "Fox had no opposition to this several
weeks ago" (Dave Caldwell, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/16).  Shaw:
"I don't think they (NFL) had any interest in negotiating"
(ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/16).  The move would have hit each NFL
owner "deep in the pocket ... perhaps by two sources," a rebate
to Fox and a higher salary cap based on St. Louis' PSL "windfall"
(Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 3/16).  LEGAL EAGLES:  Frontiere said
she would consult with groups in St. Louis before making a
decision on whether to file a lawsuit, but later, "in what may
have been a slip of the tongue," she said, "I'm afraid you will
have to wait and see what the court will decide" (KANSAS CITY
STAR, 3/16).  Shaw described himself as "extremely confident" the
team would win a lawsuit against the league (Ira Miller, SAN
FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 3/16).  But ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported
that NFL litigator Frank Rothman "told the owners that they now
have some rulings that work in their favor.  Most recently, and
critically in this case, the Minneapolis U.S. District Court
blocked the Minnesota Timberwolves from moving to New Orleans"
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/16).  Tagliabue was hopeful to avoid
litigation, saying the league was "not trying to be
confrontational.  We are trying to be fair."  But "he was vague
on the next step" (R.B. Fallstrom, WASHINGTON POST, 3/16).  The
league is hoping the Rams will reopen negotiations, as "through
conference calls and faxes, an outcome can be reached in days"
(L.A. TIMES, 3/16).
     BEHIND THE VOTE:  Cardinals General Counsel Tom Guilfoil, on
Tagliabue's recommendation to vote against: "I've always said the
commissioner might not have enough votes to ensure a move, but
he'll always have enough support to kill one" (Steve Schoenfeld,
ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/16).  Save-the-Rams Chair Leigh Steinberg:
"They're scared to death about leaving Los Angeles to the mercies
of Al Davis" (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/16).  Bills
Owner Ralph Wilson:  "We have rules and regulations and sometimes
we have to live up to those" (ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER, 3/16).
Browns Owner Art Modell:  "I'm a football man, No. 1, and No. 2,
I'm a TV man.  Having an NFC team in Los Angeles is critical to
the NFC package" (S.D. UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/16).
     WHAT TO DO IN ST. LOU?  Officials in St. Louis said "it was
possible" that FANS, Inc. might have to return the $74M it raised
in PSL sales "until a resolution is in sight" (KANSAS CITY STAR,
3/16).  Frontiere to fans in St. Louis: "I need them to believe
in me.  It will make me stronger" (Bernie Miklasz, ST. LOUIS
POST-DISPATCH, 3/16).
     MEDIA REAX:  In L.A., Bill Plaschke calls on Frontiere to
sell the team:  "All they (NFL) want you to do is leave something
behind besides a stench. ... Shut up, Georgia.  Pay the money and
get out" (L.A. TIMES, 3/16).  In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli writes
that Tagliabue's "sudden empathy with Rams fans is ironic," as
the club has not enjoyed much support over the last few years.
Pasquarelli:  "Fox's concern is also dubious, since the network
was forced last year to black out all of the Rams' home games
locally" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/16).  In St. Louis, Bernie
Miklasz writes, "The NFL recently sent a letter to Fox, asking
the network if it wanted that rebate if the Rams moved!
(Collusion, anyone?)" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/16).  Stephanie
Huff, a marketing exec in St. Louis: "It's a good thing the NFL
doesn't have an embassy in St. Louis.  We would burn it down"
(ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/16).
     CAN YOU GO HOME AGAIN?  Tagliabue admitted the problem the
Rams would have in returning to Anaheim in '95:  "Once the
bridges have been burned and people get turned off ... it is
difficult to get it back" (NEW YORK TIMES, 3/16).

     Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said he is "outraged" by reports
that Wertheim Schroeder, the investment bank handling the sale of
the Pirates, is soliciting bids from groups interested in moving
the team.  Murphy:  "Investment bankers from New York have no
loyalty to Pittsburgh.  Their only allegiance is to the almighty
dollar and making as large a fee as possible on the sale of our
team."  Yesterday, the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reported that
Wertheim Schroeder was delaying a decision on an offer by
Pittsburgh-based Adelphia Communications Chair John Rigas to
allow other bidders to come forward, including Virginia Baseball,
a group interested in moving the team to the DC suburbs
(WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/16).

     Fallout from the WALL STREET JOURNAL article on the death of
Reggie Lewis continues, as Jack McCallum of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
examines the story's credibility.  Despite the attention given to
allegations that Lewis was a drug-user, the "most serious"
questions raised by the story are that the Celtics "may have
allowed financial and public-relation concerns to take precedence
over Lewis's medical care," and that the NBA's drug policy failed
to display "an accurate assessment of his condition."  Donna
Harris Lewis, the wife of the basketball star, was interviewed
for SI's piece. Regarding the Journal's claims that Lewis refused
drug testing, Harris Lewis says that if doctors would have "told
us this was something that had to be done, Reggie would've
complied."  Harris Lewis also states that he had submitted to a
test when taking out a life insurance policy with Prudential
Insurance Company in '90.  SI also spoke with other medical
experts who support the diagnosis of a common cold virus leading
to Lewis's death, and not cocaine abuse.  Nugget forward Reggie
Williams, Lewis' high school teammate, said Lewis never thought
about drugs and that "he wouldn't even drink a beer."   The
Journal story could have consequences to the Celtics, as a
"who's-in-charge-here atmosphere pervades the club, the
consequences of which were evident in a disastrous press
conference" held last week (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 3/20 issue).