The Devils, who have been conducting an audit of the NJSEA's
books, may be "seeking to replace the NJSEA and become the
[Brendan Byrne] Arena's managing agent," according to this
morning's N.Y. POST. Larry Brooks reports that a December 22
letter sent by the NJSEA during the NHL lockout -- called "an
attempt to suspend the team's lease" in a recent news report --
"has prompted the audit and intensive negotiations with Nashville
as a site for franchise relocation." Brooks writes that "there
is reason to believe that shared revenue -- specifically from
suite sales -- is at the center of the notice. The Devils' lease
with the NJSEA includes a mutual 'hold-harmless' clause regarding
labor disputes." Brooks, on the leverage the team may have: "If
the Sports Authority did indeed breach the lease, if the Dec. 22
notice becomes the 'smoking gun,' the Devils may not only be in
control of the agenda but on their way to control of the Arena,
as well" (N.Y. POST, 5/25).
THE RED-JERSIED STEPCHILD: In a report on the Devils'
finances, Richard Sandomir calls the team "hockey's local
stepchild to the Rangers ... in terms of attendance, attention
and corporate cache." The team has also made marketing mistakes
by selling themselves as a New York rather than a New Jersey
team, according to Mike McCall, Devils Head of Marketing and
Sales. McCall: "[Team Owner John] McMullen said he felt he was
buying a team in the Big Apple. That's proved not to be the
case. North Central Jersey is our primary area" (N.Y. TIMES.
Some close to the Jets negotiations "are concerned" that
Owner Barry Shenkarow may be "trying to put off signing the final
agreement" to sell 42% of the team to a local group "in hopes of
upping the ante," according to this morning's WINNIPEG FREE
PRESS. John Douglas reports that The Spirit of Manitoba, Inc.,
the company created by the Manitoba Entertainment Complex and
other local investors, has met Shenkarow's previous demands, but
that Shenkarow wants "a memorandum of understanding" instead of a
purchase and sale agreement. A source close to the deal told
Douglas "an attempt to raise the price was the only reason he
could think of for the delay" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/25).
Montreal's LA PRESSE, Quebec City's LE SOLIEL, LE JOURNAL DE
QUEBEC, the DENVER POST, and Denver's CBS Affiliate all report
that the Nordiques have been sold to Comsat Video Enterprises,
owner of the Nuggets. According to the POST and LE PRESSE, Nords
President Marcel Aubut flew to Comsat's Bethesda, MD, HQs
yesterday, "where he completed the deal." The POST reports Aubut
told a close friend: "I had to sell it, that's it." Denver's
KMGH-CBS reported yesterday that the deal was "imminent," and an
announcement coming as soon as today, according to the POST
(CANADIAN PRESS, 5/25). LE PRESSE reports that the deal is worth
$75M, and "the only details left to be worked out have no
potential to torpedo the agreement" (TORONTO SUN, 5/25).
JUST FOR SHOW? Aubut is to meet today with Quebec Premier
Jacques Parizeau in what is being called "a last-ditch effort" to
keep the team in Quebec. LE SOLIEL says the meeting will be "for
show only" (TORONTO SUN, 5/25).
FIRST CLASS OR COACH? Yesterday's ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
reported that Comsat's President Charlie Lyons and Media
Relations Dir Paul Jacobson were booked on a flight this
afternoon from the Washington area to Denver. The NEWS also
reported that there was "plausible speculation" that a news
conference to announce the sale could be held as soon as tomorrow
(ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/24).
HO-HUM: Nordiques spokesperson Jean Martineau, "frustrated"
at the lack of progress in negotiations with Quebec, said
yesterday that Provincial Negotiator Andre Joli-Coeur "wouldn't
have a heart attack if the Nordiques moved" (CP/OTTAWA CITIZEN,
REALIGNMENT: The DENVER POST reports the team would be
moved to the Western Conference's Central Division, with Toronto
moved to the Eastern Conference (DENVER POST, 5/25).