DEADLINE PASSES WITHOUT DECISION ON JETS: DEAL IN LIMBO
Yesterday's noon deadline for a local group to buy the Jets
from Barry Shenkarow and keep them from moving to Minnesota came
and went without a decision. Local buyer Izzy Asper released a
statement suggesting "he was prepared to make an offer to
purchase the team, and would have further details next week"
(WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/19).
SHORT ON CASH: The Canadian Government failed to donate the
C$37M Manitoba and Winnipeg officials had hoped they would to
help fund a new C$111M arena for the team, instead contributing
C$20M. However, local officials were optimistic the shortfall
can be met, according to John Douglas in this morning's WINNIPEG
FREE PRESS. Douglas reports that in addition to the C$17M
shortfall for the arena, the C$110M needed from local buyer Izzy
Asper and the community was still C$28M short (WINNIPEG FREE
PLAYING FAVORITES? Yesterday's decision by the Federal
Government to allocate funds for an arena created an uproar in
Quebec, where the Nordiques have also threatened to leave if a
new arena is not built. In this morning's GLOBE & MAIL, Stephen
Brunt writes that Quebec's pro-separatist government will likely
use this issue as another way to blame the Federal government,
"just months before the referendum" on Quebec separation. Brunt
notes, the issue "is another card to play, and it will be played
if Canada sinks money into the Jets" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien denied charges of
favoritism, noting that the federal infrastructure funds
allocated to Manitoba for a new arena in Winnipeg had been used
for a convention center by the province of Quebec (Hugh Windsor,
GLOBE & MAIL, 5/19).
MEANWHILE, IN MINNESOTA: MN businessman Richard Burke, in
line to buy the Jets if the Winnipeg effort fails, allowed the
deadline to pass "because of the intensity of the day and the
potentially violent situation" in Winnipeg, where thousands
gathered downtown to await word on the sale, according to the
Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE. Jay Weiner writes it is "unclear if
Burke's option to buy the team expired Thursday, or if Shenkarow
simply pushed the purchase process into the future to calm
feelings and give the political and business communities one more
chance." Weiner also reports league officials were "semi
mystified" by the days events (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/19).
STAR-TRIBUNE Columnist Tom Barreiro writes there are two reasons
Burke did not demand a deal yesterday: "The first is that Burke
does not want to come off as the cold, heartless franchise-
robber, and figures that once it becomes obvious Winnipeg can't
close the deal, then he'll be able to take the team anyway. The
second, is that Burke, who has to know by now that it is no
better than a long shot to get the [state] aid he wants...is no
longer in a hurry to take the team" (5/19).