Cincinnati Investment banker William DeWitt and his partners
will sell their limited interests in the Orioles to principal
owner Peter Angelos for the approximately $4M originally
invested. DeWitt, who "nearly became" the club's controlling
owner in '93, combined with Angelos' group later that year when
the Orioles were auctioned by a U.S. Bankruptcy court. Angelos
said once the deal is completed, the club will be "100 percent
owned by Maryland investors" (Mark Hyman, Baltimore SUN, 5/24).
DeWitt attributed the reason for the sale to his proximity: "We
enjoyed being a part of the franchise. But we just don't get a
chance to get to Baltimore" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 5/24).
Nordiques spokesperson Jean Martineau said yesterday's
scheduled meeting between Nordiques President Marcel Aubut and
Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau was postponed because Aubut was
out of town on business. The CANADIAN PRESS said the delay
"looked more like another round of one-upmanship between the
equally strong-willed Parizeau and Aubut than a sign of a
breakthrough in efforts to keep the Nordiques in Quebec."
Parizeau: "All I could say was yes. If that's what you want,
you'll have your meeting on Thursday" (CP/TORONTO STAR, 5/24).
In Montreal, the GAZETTE's Don MacPherson writes, "One has to
wonder why Parizeau is allowing himself, and the office of
premier, to be jerked around by a would-be carpetbagger like
this." MacPherson notes that Parizeau "seems to care more about
the Nordiques than Quebec City does" (Montreal GAZETTE, 5/24).
Shares of John Labatt, Ltd. "continued to rise to record
highs for the year as investors expect a bidding war for the
brewing and entertainment giant," writes Marina Strauss in this
morning's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. In Toronto, shares closed at
C$25.62, up C.50 cents from the previous day in heavy trading.
Strauss reports that one of the brewers that may be interested is
Carlsberg AS of Denmark. Labatt makes Carlsberg under an
agreement in Canada. Anheuser-Busch is also frequently mentioned
as a possible bidder (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/24). Labatt is
part owner of the SkyDome, 90% owner of the Jays, and full owners
of the Argonauts and sports cable network TSN.
Tuesday's Nashville TENNESSEAN examined whether or not
Nashville has what it takes for the NHL to survive there. Harold
Huggins reports that while the city has many positives the league
is looking for, there are doubters.
THE PROS: Positives such as a new downtown arena and strong
corporate presence by Gaylord Entertainment are Nashville's
biggest strengths. NHL VP/Public Relations Arthur Pincus told
the TENNESSEAN: "The cities have to make the decision that they
want to have a major league team. What you've got is a very big
part of that. It's very important." In addition, Huggins writes
that Pincus said that downtown districts with nightlife "are
especially good," because "that helps create excitement."
THE CONS: Huggins writes, "Hockey is a sport that's foreign
to Tennessee. No youth leagues, no high school programs, no
college teams. ... the question remains: Will Nashville buy
hockey?" Greg Lutz, COO of the ECHL Nashville Knights: "I don't
see how a market like Nashville could support an NHL team. I
think the city's a long way from a venture with the ticket prices
they have in the NHL." Larry Schmittu, owner of the minor league
baseball AAA Sounds: "Most people have heard of Gretzky, but he's
not going to be here every night. You're looking at trying to
attract thousands of fans here for 30, 40 or 50 games a year at
$25 or so per ticket." A survey of local sporting goods stores
found no interest in NHL merchandise (TENNESSEAN, 5/23).
APPROVAL FROM ABOVE? In this morning's N.Y. POST, Phil
Mushnick writes that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "was reciting
a string of reasons as to why it makes little sense for the
Devils to stay in Jersey," during an interview on SportsChannel
Monday night. During the interview, Bettman pointed out that
only the NHL has a market with three teams, and that hockey is
"No. 4, which means we have the seventh, eighth and ninth pro
teams in New York." Bettman said that "it's difficult (for the
Devils) to get media attention, it's difficult for doing your TV
contracts, it's difficult for attracting fans to your building,
so I think that presents some problems." Mushnick writes
Bettman's comments may have been "designed" for the Devils'
landlord -- the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (N.Y.
MIDDLE AGE BLUES? The Bergen RECORD analyzed the role of
the 20-year-old NJSEA, and the problems they face satisfying
Devils Owner John McMullen's demands. NJSEA spokesperson John
Samerjan: "The four-franchise occupancy is a great draw, but it's
a very difficult business balancing act" (Fitzgerald & Hirsch,
Bergen RECORD, 5/21).
The new owners of the Jets, "in a gesture of appreciation
for the grassroots campaign" that raised C$13M to help keep the
team in Winnipeg, will likely add two fans to the team's board of
directors. Sources say the team will not have a majority owner,
but instead be run by a 15-16 member board (Samyn & Douglas,
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/24). ARENA DEAL: The Jets are expected
to sign a 20-year lease for the new, C$111M arena that will be
built with public funding, with arena profits shared equally
between the public and private sector (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS,
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES: In his GLOBE & MAIL column this
morning, William Houston writes that "a European syndicate was
prepared to buy the Jets and keep them in Manitoba," but Jets
owner Barry Shenkarow "refused to do business with [the buyer]
after an initial discussion." Michael Largue, a former Swiss
League player and CEO of M.A.L. Associates, says the fact that
Shenkarow did not want to negotiate with him signals that he
"never really wanted to sell the team" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
CELTICS: The Celtics will charge up to $125 for front-rowsideline seats at the new FleetCenter, according to a report inthis morning's BOSTON HERALD. It was believed the team's topticket price at the new facility would increase from $50 to $70(Steve Bulpett, BOSTON HERALD, 5/24). HEAT: The Heat have announced "across-the-board" ticketprice increases. This season's prices for season-ticket holdersranged from a top price of $34 to $10.50. The new prices will be$39, $26, $19 and $12. Tickets purchased for a single game willalso be $2 higher in all categories (Bob Rubin, MIAMI HERALD,5/13). NUGGETS: The team announced yesterday a ticket priceincrease for all seats next year. The largest increases will beseen in courtside seats, from $115 in '94-95 to $150 in '95-96;and end courtside seats, from $85 in '94-95 to $115 in '95-96.Lower- and upper-end balcony seats will see the smallestincreases. Lower-end balcony seats will rise from $12.50 during'94-95 to $14.50 for '95-96. Upper-end balcony will go from$8.50 to $9.50 in '95-96 (Nuggets). MAVERICKS: Late last week, the Mavs announced across-the-board ticket price increases for '95-96. The increases averageabout $4 per ticket, but will not affect current season-ticketholders who renew by June 16. According to GM Norm Sonju, evenwith the increases, the team's new ticket prices are "below lastyear's NBA average in every seating category" (Brad Townsend,DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/20). MIGHTY DUCKS: The team announced a revised season- ticketpolicy for next season. Prices will increase by an average of7.9% with an average price in the lower/upper bowl of $34.51 aticket (Mighty Ducks). LIGHTNING: Club level seats that cost $36 last season arebeing raised to $38. Tickets that were $30 last season are now$33, and $21 tickets are $24.50. Reserved upper-deck ($12) andgeneral admission ($9.99) seats "may rise as well." Ice-levelseats of $52 and $36 will stay the same and none of the changeswill affect season tickets (Tom Jones, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/13). EAGLES: In Philadelphia, the Eagles are offering ticketpackages next season to attract new paying customers. But unlikethe season-ticket packages, the three and four-game special packsdo not offer discounts. Tickets in the packs are still $40apiece -- unlike the $20 price for each season ticket in the 700level, where most seats are available (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,5/14). LIONS: The Lions have reduced ticket prices for the 5,000upper-level seats from $30 to $19.95. Lions Dir of Sales FredOtto: "With these new, more affordable ticket programs, I wouldexpect us to have the lowest average ticket price in the NFL thisyear" (Lions).