The Capitals have announced "Furlough Friday," a promotion
which offers discounted tickets for Friday's game against the
Oilers to all federal employees (Capitals).... Mavericks Owner
Donald Carter said the way the Bulls and Blackhawks share revenue
50-50 at the United Center should be a model for Dallas (DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 12/20)....As Blazers Owner Paul Allen explores the
possibility of purchasing the Panthers, Blazer officials last
week sent surveys to season-ticket holders asking if they would
be willing to buy NHL tickets -- and, if so, how much they would
spend. Allen should decide by the end of the month whether to
buy an existing team, wait for the next round of expansion, or
take a pass (L.A. TIMES, 12/20).
Jets Owners Richard Burke and Steven Gluckstern officially
announced an agreement yesterday with Suns Chair Jerry Colangelo
to have the team play in America West Arena next season. The
team's lease at America West will run 15 years, depending on
undisclosed renewal options (USA TODAY, 12/20). According to a
the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, Jets President Barry Shenkarow has
signed a 10-year agreement to be a consultant to the club in
Phoenix. It was also announced yesterday that a contest will be
held to decide the name of the team. The team colors will
include purple (a staple of Colangelo teams), and the name will
include "Phoenix" rather than "Arizona." Gluckstern said some
names mentioned have been the Coyotes, Scorpions, Mustangs,
Posse, Outlaws, Dry Ice ... and Jets (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/20).
HOT SPORTS MARKET (BUT IT'S A DRY HEAT): ESPN's Bob Ley
called Phoenix "the newest burgeoning sports capital of the U.S."
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/19).
Orange County commissioners voted yesterday to create a task
force of Central Florida business, sports and political leaders
for a "last-ditch" effort to get the Bucs to move to Orlando,
according to the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The move comes after Orange
County Chair Linda Chapin's comments last week that they will not
offer a "sweetheart deal" to the Bucs. Still, the task force's
goals are vague -- the group has no negotiating authority and
mirrors the Orlando Area Sports Commission (Lawrence Lebowitz,
ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/20).
The Bears held another round of talks with officials in
northwest Indiana Tuesday, moving closer to a "memorandum of
understanding" committing the team to move to Gary if a local
income tax increase is approved, according to the CHICAGO SUN-
TIMES. Indiana stadium group spokesperson Colleen Dykes said an
agreement outlining terms under which the Bears would move could
be finalized in "two or three weeks." Bears VP Ted Phillips said
it could take as long as a few months for "major contingencies"
to be addressed to the team's satisfaction. Tuesday's
negotiations were the first since the Bears broke off talks with
the city of Chicago (Fran Spielman, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/20).
BLITZ: Proponents of a Bears stadium in Gary plan to launch
an advertising "blitz" this weekend, according to the GARY POST-
TRIBUNE. Readers of Sunday's Post-Tribune and Munster Times will
see full-page ads touting the $482M stadium. NIPSCO (the local
power company) customers will also get a similar ad in monthly
billing statements. The print ads, which cost $4,500, will be
paid for by the Dewey Parriman Construction Advancement
Foundation, the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and
the Northwest Indiana Forum. The Convention and Visitors Bureau
has earmarked $10,000 to market the stadium idea and is trying to
get its information to the public first. NIPSCO has already
spent $400,000 on marketing, consultants' fees, environmental
tests, architectural renderings and feasibility studies. NIPSCO
is counting on Northwest Indiana-Chicago Land Entertainment Inc.
repaying that money as residents are concerned utility rates will
go up with the stadium spending. Dykes says the money comes from
NIPSCO's economic development budget, set up to lure business to
the region (Peter Van Allen, GARY POST-TRIBUNE, 12/19).