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Volume 24 No. 160

Franchises

     Ken Griffey Jr.'s catch that resulted in wide praise and a
broken wrist Friday could be disastrous for local efforts to pass
a referendum in King County to build a new stadium for the
Mariners, according to many reports.  In this morning's N.Y.
TIMES, Timothy Egan writes that with Griffey's injury "went many
hopes for building a new stadium ... and maybe even for keeping
major league baseball in the Pacific Northwest."  Egan calls
Griffey the "not-so-secret weapon" in supporters' fight to
convince voters to approve a referendum on a tax for the new park
(N.Y. TIMES, 5/31).  In Denver, Tracy Ringolsby writes, "Baseball
will recover, but will Seattle?  This is a city that is on a
baseball life support system" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/31).  Hal
Bodley calls Griffey's injury "devastating," and writes that
"seldom has one player meant so much to so many aspects of the
game" (USA TODAY, 5/31).  In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz calls
Friday's event "one small catch for man, on giant leap backward
for baseball" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/31).  In Seattle, Laura
Vescey profiles Orlando's Norton Herrick, who would be interested
in moving the Mariners to Orlando. Vescey, on local support for
the stadium referendum:  "Joe Namath had more support wearing
those women's stockings than the proposal for the Mariners' new
stadium has received so far in Seattle" (SEATTLE POST-
INTELLIGENCER, 5/28).

     Onex Corp. said yesterday they may be forced to lower their
C$24 a share offer for John Labatt Ltd. should the brewer proceed
with a "reorganization" of The Sports Network that would burden
any purchaser not approved by Labatt officials with a C$150M tax
liability.  Under the reorganization, TSN would be broken out
into a separate ownership structure.  Onex claims Labatt created
the scenario after rumors of a takeover bid.  Onex CEO Gerry
Schwartz:  "Labatt management has adopted a 'scorched earth
approach.  Instead of showing us information that might let us
raise our price, they have created a reason for us to reduce our
price."   One source close to Labatt told the FINANCIAL POST that
"the company could move the broadcast assets into their formal
ownership structure at its discretion."  The source: "It's a
C$150-million tax liability the black knight would get tagged
with that a white knight wouldn't."  Meanwhile, Labatt's Board
released a circular yesterday giving 11 reasons shareholders
should not "tender to Onex's play for the company" (Paul Brent,
FINANCIAL POST, 5/31).  Onex may have to lower their bid by up to
C$1.60 a share (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/31).  In
Toronto, Labatt's possible breakup has columnist Bob Elliott
wondering to whom the Jays may be sold.  Elliott suggests that a
candidate step up and buy the ballclub from Labatt before the
brewer is sold (TORONTO SUN, 5/31).

     Raiders officials toured the Oakland Coliseum yesterday
"examining the details" of the $85M proposal by Oakland to
upgrade the facility for football, according to this morning's
OAKLAND TRIBUNE.  David Li and Dave Newhouse report that the plan
would increase football seating to 65,000 and require the team to
sign a 16-year lease.  Raiders Owner Al Davis was not among the
Raiders contingent.  Coliseum President George Vukasin: "The
officials are here just to get a better focus on what's happening
here" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/31).  In San Francisco, columnist Art
Spander advises in dealing with Davis:  "Rule No. 1:  Al Davis
would dare to do anything, not that this means he would be
leaning toward Oakland over the 'mortal lock' in Southern
California.  Rule No. 2:  When you think you know everything,
refer to Rule No. 1" (S.F. EXAMINER, 5/30).
     OAKLAND BELIEVERS: BOSTON GLOBE columnist Will McDonough
thinks the chances are "60-40" that Davis will leave L.A. and
return to Oakland.  McDonough believes that the $20M a year Davis
stands to make in Oakland, or possibly Baltimore -- before
Hollywood Park is built -- will pull the Raiders out of L.A.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen:  "I think the Oakland move is more of an
option than people think.  At the league meetings I was told that
Oakland has a very sweet offer."  However, Mortensen says, "in
the end," he believes Davis will stay (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY,
5/31). In Seattle, where Seahawks Owner Ken Behring reportedly is
interested in joining Davis in L.A., columnist Art Thiel agrees
Davis could leavel: "If he finds a city as shameless as St. Louis
-- Oakland, Baltimore, San Antonio, Memphis and Toronto would
make that list -- he will leave and create a second void that
would have owners selling their children wholesale to get to
L.A." (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 5/31).
     NOBODY WALKS ON L.A.?  The Raiders' potential deal at and
Hollywood Park leads this week's "Scorecard" in SI.  "In its
desperation to retain at least one franchise in the nation's
second-largest TV market," SI states, "the NFL is buying into a
fantasy that owes a lot more to 'Field of Dreams' than to what
passes for real life, even in Los Angeles."  The magazine
proposes that building a winner is more important in L.A. than a
nice stadium (SI, 6/5 issue).