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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     Prior to the groundbreaking of his new arena in downtown DC
this fall, Abe Pollin will merge the business aspects of his
sports holdings into one entity, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY has
learned.  That entity will be called "Washington Sports" and will
be headed by Susan O'Malley.  Pollin started a consolidation
effort last year when sponsorship sales for his teams were
brought together under Capitol Region Sports Marketing.  In
describing the outline of the new changes, Bullets Dir of Public
Relations Matt Williams said it was a "first step in a
streamlining process" prior to moving into the new building.  In
addition to the two teams, the Centre Group, which manages
operations at USAir Arena, Baltimore Arena and the Patriot Center
will also fall under Washington Sports.  O'Malley will remain as
President of the Bullets, while Wes Unseld, presently Exec VP of
the Bullets, will add the No. 2 position at Washington Sports to
his duties.  The basketball and hockey operations will not be
changed, meaning Capitals President Dick Patrick will continue to
oversee the "hockey side" of Pollin's business.  While the change
is aimed at "streamlining" business operations, Williams said
there have been no decisions made yet on the elimination or
merging of positions on the staffs of the the two teams (THE
DAILY).

     The Chargers appear ready to translate their appearance in
Super Bowl XXIX into front office success.  The team's season-
ticket base sits at an all-time high of 55,000 -- an increase of
13,000 from the beginning of the '94 post-season -- and their 79
skybox suites are essentially sold-out due to an aggressive
marketing strategy.
     SUITE SALES UP:  The city of San Diego owns Jack Murphy
Stadium, but the Chargers control the master lease on the
skyboxes and are responsible for the year-round leasing and
management of the skyboxes.  Under this deal, the Padres receive
revenue from stadium signage.  Two years ago, suite occupancy for
the Chargers hovered around 50%, but the team's success and new
marketing techniques have led to a virtual full house, according
to Ted Sprink, Chargers Dir of Executive Sales.  Sprink, who
handles the year-round leasing and management of the suites at
Jack Murphy, told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY of the challenges
selling to the San Diego market.  Sprink: "We don't have a strong
Fortune 500 presence here and San Diego has always been known as
a branch town.  So, only a fairly narrow segment of the business
community candidates to fully utilize the boxes."
     THREE CATEGORIES:  Sprink said the team took the economic
realities into consideration by placing the 79 suites into "three
different products for three different buyers."  One was the
annual lease which runs from $30,000 to the mid $50,000's.
Sprink said most of their skyboxes are leased on a annual basis,
but the club also has leased suites on a single-event basis,
primarily through Chargers games.  Sprink:  "A company that just
doesn't have the entertainment needs or budget for a full-season
skybox, can get all the amenities for a single event. ... It is a
different market.  It is a higher margin deal for the club as
well."  For single-event suites this year, prices run from $3,275
per game for a small box to $6,000 for large boxes.  The third
category is suite-sharing, essentially a time share, where fans
can buy a couple of tickets or a small company can buy four or
six tickets.  That cost is $2,750 per season, or a ten-game
package for $275 per game.  Sprink said San Diego's warm weather
climate creates less of a need for skyboxes, putting more
emphasis on the need for alternatives and aggressive marketing
(THE DAILY).

     The San Jose Mercury News is asking the courts to force the
city of Oakland and Alameda County to release financial figures
they used in determining that the Raiders' deal was a "virtual
no-risk" for taxpayers.  The paper sued Alameda County Superior
Court Wednesday over release of the documents.  Earlier this
month, Oakland Deputy City Manager Ezra Rapport was asked for
projections, but he refused, saying the information "would be
kept secret because it could be easily manipulated by a hostile
press."  According to the paper, public officials "have been
allowed to see the papers but were ordered to return them to the
private consultants so the city and county would not be obligated
to release them" (AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/28).

     Despite the lockout of NBA players, the Timberwolves "sent
out letters to season-ticket holders this week asking them to pay
the remaining balance on their accounts for the 1995-96 season,"
according to the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  The letter says the
team is "proceeding with the upcoming season as planned.  This
includes maintaining the previously established season ticket
payment schedule."  The letter also says, if games are canceled,
ticket holders can receive refunds or apply them to '96-97
tickets with a credit to the account of an additional 5% over the
face value of tickets for canceled games (Minneapolis STAR
TRIBUNE, 7/27).

     In the second part of a two-part piece, Pat Jordan examines
the on- and off-field progress of the Rockies and Marlins in this
week's THE SPORTING NEWS.  Jordan writes that while the Rockies
are now enjoying success in the books and in the standings, the
Marlins were originally expected to be the team competing for a
title first.  Jordan credits the signings by Rockies GM Bob
Gebhard and record attendance in Denver for the team's success.
However, the Marlins' lack of on-field success has translated
into a drop in attendance and made it necessary for GM Dave
Dombrowski "to tighten his purse string at the same time the
Rockies are loosening theirs."  Some of the fan apathy in Miami
may be due to fans "punishing" owner Wayne Huizenga, "one of the
hardest of the hard-line owners" during the strike.  In addition,
Jordan blames Huizenga's over-emphasis on marketing.  Jordan, on
the signing of Miami-native Andre Dawson:  "As a businessman,
Huizenga is determined to make a profit with his team, and if
that means signing a 40-year-old Miami native rather than a 25-
year-old Californian in order to draw fans, then so be it" (TSN,
7/28 issue).

     The Winnipeg City Council defeated a motion to grant
charitable tax status to an endowment fund set up by the Spirit
of Manitoba to cover losses for the Jets until a new arena is
built, according to today's WINNIPEG FREE PRESS.  Mayor Susan
Thompson, warned the vote could cost taxpayers nearly C$18M, as
the team may now be sold and moved with the city responsible for
next year's debt.  Councilman Jae Eadie, a one-time supporter who
voted against, said his vote was symbolic of Spirit's failure to
live up to a promise to raise the necessary money to buy the team
in exchange for public arena financing (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS,
7/28).
     IS THE SPIRIT WILLING?  Spirit President Cam Osler, whos
group claims to have over C$42M raised towards an endowment, said
they will proceed with three options:   continue to raise funds
without a charitable ruling and approach the council at a later
date; find another vehicle for getting a tax break; or admit the
attempt to save the Jets has failed (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 7/28).