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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     Negotiations between the Angels and City of Anaheim for a
new stadium "have been put on the back-burner," according to this
morning's L.A. TIMES.  Angels President Richard Brown said he
continues to receive "feelers from other cities interested in
attracting the team."  Brown said the Angels and the city are
still about $4M a year in debt service apart on a deal for a
$215M, 43,000-seat facility, which the team hopes build next to
Anaheim Stadium by '99.  The team has asked the city for
concessions in their current lease, which would let them retain
more stadium revenue, but the city will only amend it if the team
makes a long-term commitment to the new stadium.  Brown: "We
still have plenty of time to reach an agreement to have a stadium
ready for the 1999 season" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 4/27).

     As the May 1 deadline by Jets Owner Barry Shankerow to sell
to a local owner approaches, officials in Winnipeg are scrambling
to work a deal to keep the team in Manitoba.  Meanwhile, rumors
are swirling from Minneapolis to Atlanta.
     ELECTION OPTIMISM:  On Tuesday, the Progressive Conservative
party retained a majority in the Manitoba provincial elections,
increasing the likelihood "that the NHL Jets would remain in
Winnipeg and not bolt for Minnesota or other parts south,"
according to Jay Weiner in the Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE.
However, Weiner reports that "big problems" still must be
resolved before the deadline, namely determining whether the
government is willing to pay for a new arena, and if Manitoba
Entertainment Complex (MEC), the group seeking to buy the team,
has enough money to close a deal.  Jets officials told city
leaders Tuesday that the NHL was "concerned" MEC might not be
able to gain NHL approval because of lack of funds (Minneapolis
STAR TRIBUNE, 4/26).
     FROM ABOVE:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told David
Shoalts in Toronto that the NHL "wants assurances" from local
governments that the Jets will "remain healthy and in Winnipeg
for a minimum of 10 years or it would have to look at moving the
team."  Bettman was not specific, but "left the impression" that
certain levels of luxury box seating and season tickets are key
(Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/27).
     MEC BUYOUT:  In Winnipeg, the FREE PRESS' John Douglas
reports that MEC is willing to let the city and province "buy
their way out" of their obligation to cover team losses in
exchange for the governments' 36% share in the club -- estimated
to be worth C$18M (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/27).

      Pirates ownership made a "startling about face" yesterday
and will try to sell the Pirates to Adelphia Communications Chair
John Rigas by early May.  Reports as late as yesterday had team
ownership contemplating taking the team off the market after
Rigas refused to increase his $85.15M bid for the team.  But
yesterday Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy "changed the owners' mind"
by promising an additional $7-8M in city-backed funding.  Team
owners also found out at their quarterly meeting yesterday that
the team "is nearly out of money and another loan backed
personally by the owners was needed" to keep the team in
business.  Pirates Chair Vincent Sarni: "We're very optimistic
for an agreement within a week to 10 days" (WASHINGTON POST,
4/27).