JETS APPEAR GROUNDED IN WINNIPEG ... FOR NOW
The Jets, seemingly on their way to the Twin Cities after an
announcement by club Owner Barry Shenkarow on Friday, will stay
in Winnipeg for at least another year after Canadian officials
squashed the deal by threatening legal action, according to this
morning's Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE. Jay Weiner and Dennis
McGrath report that Shenkarow was "apparently unnerved" by the
Canadian government's assertion that he will be responsible for
the $13M in operating losses the government has covered for the
team since '91 if the team is moved. Winnipeg City Council
member Al Golden, who presides on the board that represents the
city's 36% interest in the team, said that the Federal Government
previously "had decided not to play that trump card because they
thought Shenkarow" was acting in the city's best interest.
However, when Shenkarow announced Friday that he was selling the
team to investors who wished to move the team to the Twin Cities
-- despite a last-minute bid by Winnipeg investors -- Golden said
"government officials decided to get tough." MN businessman
Richard Burke's group would still have the first option to buy
the club if it moves, but Burke said Sunday that this delay makes
it unlikely the team could move to the Target Center for '95-96.
Golden said the delay will give Winnipeg more time to demonstrate
its support for the team and raise more money. Burke: "I doubt
this is going to be the last twist or turn this thing is going to
take" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/22).
MORE GOVERNMENT HELP: Shenkarow's group has scheduled a
news conference for tomorrow to announce the terms of "the deal
to keep the money-losing club in Manitoba," according to David
Roberts in this morning's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. Roberts reports
that "the tentative deal ... is still shaky and requires further
government funding to cover the Jets' operating losses for one
more year, while the private owners retain an equity interest in
the club." CanWest Global Communications Chair Izzy Asper, who
is heading the local ownership group: "One jiggle and the whole
house of cards comes down" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/22).
HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT: Asper, whose group was jilted
by Shenkarow on Friday, apparently offered C$32M for the team,
including a C$10M deposit and offer to assume an C$8M loan (David
Roberts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/22).
THE MUSIC CITY'S JETS? Before yesterday's announcement that
the team would stay in Winnipeg, reports circulated that
prospective owners in Minnesota were taking "a hard look at
Nashville." Saturday's Nashville TENNESSEAN reported that Burke
had said that the city is a "strong option," and a source said
that "many in the NHL" view Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen's deal
to attract a team as as "irresistible" (TENNESSEAN, 5/20).