In his column in Sunday's BOSTON GLOBE, Will McDonough
writes that Seahawks Owner Ken Behring "has been working covertly
to get his team" to L.A. Behring reportedly told NFL owners of
his desire to move South during discussions about the Raiders'
deal in Hollywood Park. After Raiders Owner Al Davis told his
colleagues "the deal was so good for the league in the long run
that he would step aside and let any owner make it," Behring
reportedly "volunteered to take it." McDonough reports that "he
then told the owners he had been in Los Angeles scouting
locations for a new stadium." While Behring's Kingdome lease
does not expire in the near future, McDonough writes that
"Behring said he felt his lease had been breached, which would
make it possible for him to move anytime." McDonough reports
that if the Seahawks joined the Raiders, they would move to the
NFC, while the Rams, would move to the AFC (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/28).
BASELESS IN SEATTLE? Seahawks President David Behring, son
of Ken, denied the rumors, calling McDonough's story "truths,
half-truths and falsehoods." Behring said his father did
"verbally spar" with Davis, and told Davis that he got "a heck of
a deal." The younger Behring said if Davis leaves L.A., "there's
going to be seven or eight teams" looking to fill the void.
Behring also denied his family owned land in the L.A. area and
were looking at possible stadium sites there (Tacoma NEWS
REVENUE SHARING CONTROVERSY: The league's decision to limit
revenue sharing was a "another financial blow" to the Bengals'
chances of survival in Cincinnati, according to the Vito Stellino
of the Baltimore SUN. Stellino writes that the owners' decision
to limit revenue sharing to a pool of 40% of visiting club-
seating revenue -- combined with the Rams relocation fee -- has
Bengals President Mike Brown saying that he's "running out of
time." Brown: "A small market team without a grade A stadium is
not going to work in the NFL for very much longer" (Baltimore
SUN, 5/27). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that the new
revenue sharing plan will mean more income for the Vikings. Team
President Roger Headrick said that the addition of the two new
teams and the Rams' move puts the Vikings 24th in revenue, and
eligible for "additional income between $500,000 and $800,000
each season" (STAR-TRIBUNE, 5/28).
PHANTOM CBA TALKS? In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli reports that
last week's reports that NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw and NFL
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue were working to extend the current
CBA are untrue (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/28).
"For years, the Broncos have rolled out John Elway, pocketed
the television money, split the gate receipts with the opposing
team and gone about their business," but Denver's changing
marketplace has spurred the team to start marketing themselves,
according to Jim Armstrong in Sunday's DENVER POST. Armstrong
writes that "after two decades of unchallenged supremacy, the
Broncos have begun positioning themselves to hold their own in a
market that ... has four major-league sports franchises fighting
for a diluted entertainment dollar." The Broncos did not have a
marketing department from '89-'95, and when they did -- in '86 --
they promoted their equipment manager to marketing director.
However, within the past year, Rosemary Hanratty was hired as
marketing director and has begun a program to "engender a
positive image." Hanratty: "We're trying to build a fan base of
those young people out there who've maybe turned to the [IHL]
Grizzlies or Nuggets" (DENVER POST, 5/28).
MILE HIGH MALAISE: The future of Mile High Stadium, where
the Broncos receive no stadium revenue and compare the atmosphere
to a heavy-metal concert, is also a top priority. Armstrong
reports that the Broncos "have been victimized by their own
success." Owner Pat Bowlen: "We've got a whole generation of
people who have grown up not being able to see a game in Mile
High Stadium because they couldn't get a ticket." Bowlen says
that has created a generation of fans who will demand many of the
comforts of their homes at a stadium. His solution is for the
Broncos to take over the management of Mile High from the city.
Bowlen says the city would stand to generate the same amount of
revenue from the stadium, but the team would take in more revenue
and have more control over the atmosphere. Broncos COO Robert
Hampe says the luxuries avaliable just a short distance away at
Coors Field will be a "double-edged blade" for the Broncos.
Hampe: "People are going to Coors Field and saying 'Wow!' Our
games have become Megadeth concerts. If something is going on in
the stands short of a homicide, we let it go." The Broncos hope
that Mile High will be replaced in the near future, and will seek
to extend the .01% sales tax that was used to build Coors Field
to help finance a new $220M stadium, with $60M in private
financing. The city has said it will cost $264M to keep Mile
High in working condition for 30 years -- adding weight to
Bowlen's insistence that replacing Mile High makes sense (DENVER
John Labatt Ltd. has "formally rejected" a C$2.3B takeover
bid from Onex Corp., according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Labatt is searching for a "white night" willing to pay more for
the company (De Santis & Greenberg, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/30).
Onex VP Anthony Melman: "If Labatt management truly wants a
higher bid, they should be looking everywhere, including (Onex)
since we are the only company that has put money on the table"
(Paul Brent, FINANCIAL POST, 5/30). Labatt President George
Taylor is said to be "courting" other brewers, broadcasters and
financial firms as suitors, writes Marina Strauss in the Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL. If a broadcasting acquisition takes place, it
would "likely entail" finding partners with each buying a piece
of Labatt's properties, which include The Sports Network and the
Discovery Channel (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/30). It is
"increasingly likely" the Blue Jays will be sold as Labatt fights
off Onex (Jim Proudfoot, TORONTO STAR, 5/30).
DEVILS REVEL: The Devils, headed to the Eastern Conference
finals, are still being grilled in the New York/ NJ area for the
prospect of possibly moving to Nashville. In Sunday's N.Y.
TIMES, Dave Anderson calls the possibility "a low blow."
Anderson believes that McMullen will keep the team in the area
and that he should. Anderson: "In an era when small-market
sports franchises are pleading poverty and hoping to move to a
big-market area ... McMullen would be skating backward: from one
of sport's biggest markets to one of its smallest markets."
Anderson suggests the Islanders -- who finished behind the
Devils in the standings and attendance -- move to Nashville if
one team must move out of the New York market (N.Y. TIMES,
5/28)....PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Gary Miles writes that "if the
Devils don't head south, look for the NHL to end up placing an
expansion team in Nashville" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/28).
SOON-TO-BE RENAMED NORDS SETTLE: In Denver, former Comsat/
Nuggets exec Tim Leiweke told a panel last week that Denver's
population could "probably not" support all four pro franchises.
However, Leiweke stressed that teams must market to the 25
million people who live in the 10-state Rocky Mountain region.
Leiweke: "The teams who don't do that are going to be in trouble"
(Norm Clarke, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/28). Nords players are
"laughing all the way to the bank" about the team's move,
according to Alan Adams of the CANADIAN PRESS. CO's income tax
is estimated at its highest to be 39%, compared with the 55%
players had to pay in Quebec. Agent Steve Bartlett estimates
players will be making as much as 10-15% more for that reason
alone (CP/Hamilton SPECTATOR, 5/30). In Quebec City, although
police patrolled Marcel Aubut's suburban home regularly, there
was little public outcry (CP/EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/27).
JETS METTLE: The deal to keep the team in Winnipeg will
reportedly be signed sometime this week, according to Winnipeg
Mayor Susan Thompson (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/29). Meanwhile,
CanWest Global Communications Chair Izzy Asper, who headed the
drive to save the Jets, told a Toronto group the effort was "all
done for the people of Manitoba." Asper: "I don't go to hockey
games" (TORONTO STAR, 5/27).