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Volume 24 No. 114

Franchises

     "The relatively subdued response to the Devils' threat to
leave New Jersey is fitting since the response to their presence
for many years was the equivalent of one fan clapping," writes
Mathew Purdy in this morning's N.Y. TIMES.  He notes that it is
ironic that while the Devils' winning has created a "surge in
popularity," their "lure" is peaking as the team is "slouching"
toward Nashville (Mathew Purdy, N.Y. Times, 6/12).  In an
interview with John Dellapina in Sunday's N.Y. DAILY NEWS, Devils
Owner John McMullen says it was a mistake to move the Devils from
Denver to New Jersey.  McMullen: "Then-Governor (Brendan) Byrne
came down to training camp with me with the Astros and he said,
if I could help, he'd be very appreciative if I brought a sports
franchise here.  But I made a mistake.  I shouldn't have done it"
(N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/11).  In Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, Joe Lapointe
compares the Devils' situation to the movie "Slap Shot" (N.Y.
TIMES, 6/11).  Kevin Paul Dupont reports in Sunday's BOSTON GLOBE
that McMullen, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman met recently in New York to discuss the move.  Dupont
writes the offer is so good in Nashville, the Devils "have to
take it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/11).  Dave Anderson writes in Sunday's
N.Y. TIMES that McMullen has said a deal is not done yet and that
NJ can still keep the Devils.  McMullen, to the NJSEA: "You know
what Nashville is offering.  Give us a proposal."  McMullen also
notes he won't make any moves until after the Devils' season is
completed (Dave Anderson, N.Y. TIMES, 6/11).  Saturday's
Nashville TENNESSEAN reports that NJ Gov. Christie Whitman asked
the Devils' owners to "put a counteroffer on the table" if they
are serious about wanting to negotiate a new lease with the NJSEA
(TENNESSEAN, 6/10).

     Raiders Owner Al Davis and Hollywood Park officials "are
finally 'on the verge of a final agreement' that would result in
the construction of a new stadium in Inglewood and a permanent
home [in L.A.] for the Raiders," according to Bill Plaschke of
the L.A. TIMES.  Davis was given a final proposal by Hollywood
Park officials on Friday, a proposal that they "expect him to
accept" (L.A. TIMES, 6/10).  The deal, however, is reportedly
being "held up" while Davis "seeks assurances from the architect
and contractor that the facility will be completed on time" (Tim
Trepany, L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/11).  Hollywood Park Chair R.D.
Hubbard said that Davis "has to have confidence" that the stadium
will be built by 1997.  Hubbard:  "Basically, the ball is now in
the Raiders' court and we will see what their decision is in the
next few days" (S.F. EXAMINER, 6/11).

     In an extensive interview in Sunday's MIAMI HERALD, Wayne
Huizenga, owner of the Marlins, Dolphins, Panthers and Joe Robbie
Stadium, said he would like to have the Marlins play in a new
park and that the Panthers are a money-losing proposition without
a publicly-financed arena.
     ON THE MARLINS:  Huizenga said there are worse baseball
parks than Joe Robbie Stadium, "but it isn't as good as the new
ones in Denver and Texas and Baltimore. ... JRS limits our
revenue.  I'm not whining.  I'm a big boy.  I knew what the rules
were when I got in, and you take it or get out, but we shouldn't
get blamed for some of the things we do.  The Marlins are trying
to keep ticket prices down, but our hands are tied with a stadium
that should be owned by taxpayers, a stadium not getting the
revenue it should from skyboxes and club seats [that revenue goes
toward bank loans]. ... Maybe I'm stupid, but I think we could
pay down the debt on the stadium, which is $90 million, so a few
years out, the Dolphins could carry that lesser debt."
     ON THE PANTHERS:  "As far as hockey goes, it happened so
fast, sort of like most things in my life that weren't calculated
or planned out, I was just in the right place at the right time.
Or, in the case of hockey, the wrong place.  ... With the
Panthers I just wanted to help, maybe lend somebody a little
money or take a little piece of the club. ... Before I knew it, I
was all the way in.  It happened that way, and I wish it hadn't
happened because we are losing our butt."  Noting the lack of NHL
TV revenues and the Miami Arena's lack of skyboxes, Huizenga
said, "When I see and read about this cheapskate Huizenga ought
to step up to the plate and build part of the damn [arena]
himself, say spend $50 million, well, at the end of the next
three years, I will have $100 million in hockey, and people want
me to make it $150 million and still [be] losing money?  There is
no way.  That's suicide."  While Huizenga gave a firm "no" when
asked if he would ever sell the Marlins or Dolphins, he said only
"I don't know" when posed with the same question about the
Panthers (MIAMI HERALD, 6/11).

     A group of Winnipeg businessmen calling themselves Spirit of
Manitoba Inc. made a formal offer to buy the Jets Friday.  The
offer reportedly "hinges" on a few points:  The signature of the
current owners, the approval of the NHL, about $20M more in
private-sector contributions, and a Revenue Canada ruling that
would make some contributions tax deductible.  Jets Owner Barry
Shenkarow is reportedly "disappointed the offer did not appear to
correspond to the terms of negotiation agreed to earlier."  Terms
of the deal include the Spirit group paying Shenkarow and his
partners more than $32M in cash and granting them another $22M in
equity in the new ownership group.  The current owners would
receive two seats on a new 10-member board, and the board would
decide whether Shenkarow "gets his wish to stay on as president."
Spirit, formerly know as Manitoba Entertainment Complex, is led
by Izzy Asper of CanWest Global Communications (CP/Toronto GLOBE
& MAIL, 6/10).  In Winnipeg, Nick Martin reports the city will
"refuse to pay" any further Jets' losses if Shenkarow turns down
the latest offer.  A "closed-door council session" has been
called by Winnipeg Mayor Susan Thompson for today to hear from
the Spirit group, Winnipeg Enterprises, the city's auditors and
senior administrators (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 6/10).  But Scott
Taylor writes that the Spirit deal is "not an offer to purchase.
It is only an option to purchase as long as certain criteria are
met and that criteria is completely out of the hands of the
vendor ... As it stands, this is a horrible deal for the seller"
(WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 6/11).