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Volume 24 No. 159

Franchises

     Regardless of the results of an meeting today between
Baltimore NFL and NFLP officials to review polling and focus
group research on possible names, "Colts and Bombers are likely
to be ruled out," according to the Baltimore SUN.  Vito Stellino
reports Colts VP & GM Jimmy Irsay "simply has put too high a
price" on the Colts name ($25-50M), while "Bombers" presents too
many negative connotations.  "Steamers" was also ruled out after
it did not test well.  Names still on the list:  Marauders,
Mustangs, Ravens, Railers and Americans.  Team officials favor
the Americans, but they are "waiting to see how it does in the
poll."  Meanwhile, team officials are "likely" to hire Max
Muhleman to conduct their PSL campaign.  Muhleman, who headed PSL
drives in Charlotte, St. Louis and Nashville, will meet with
Baltimore execs today (Baltimore SUN, 3/14).

     Walt Disney Co. has abandoned its plan to purchase a
controlling interest in the Angels, walking away from
negotiations with the city of Anaheim over the renovation of
Anaheim Stadium, according to this morning's L.A. TIMES.  Both
sides confirmed yesterday "they had reached an impasse."  Disney
Sports Enterprises President Tony Tavares: "This deal is over.
The negotiations have ended."  The "surprise announcement," which
came as final details were being worked out, "stunned city
leaders."  The announcement forces owners Gene and Jackie Autry
to find a new buyer for the club.  However, acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig said the "deal might not be dead."
Anaheim City Manager James Ruth said several issues caused the
breakdown, with the two biggest stumbling blocks being Anaheim's
desire to bring the NFL back and its proposal to build a
"Sportstown Anaheim."  City officials had hoped to anchor
Sportstown with the renovated stadium.  Disney set a March 17
deadline to reach an accord on renovating Anaheim Stadium into a
baseball-only facility -- contingent on its January bid to
purchase the team.  But Disney officials said they were not
comfortable extending that deadline (Greg Hernandez, L.A. TIMES,
3/14).
     NEXT?  Former MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said he is
"ready to go" in an attempt to purchase the Angels. A Ueberroth-
led group failed in a previous attempt to buy the team (L.A.
TIMES, 3/14).  The team's Big A lease ends in 2001, and the
Autrys contend it is "one of the worst in baseball" with little
stadium revenue going to the team (L.A. TIMES, 3/14).  This
morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL reports Seahawks Owner Ken Behring
is among the parties interested in purchasing the Angels.  A
Behring spokesperson confirmed he has approached the city about
putting a group together (Thomas King, WALL STREET JOURNAL,
3/14).  In Toronto, William Houston reports O's GM Pat Gillick
tried to put together an ownership group for the Angels before
Disney entered, but it is mentioned whether Gillick would still
be interested in the club (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/14).
     WHO'S TO BLAME?  In L.A., Mike Penner writes, "After 41
years of Disney telling the city of Anaheim to jump and  Anaheim
asking 'How high?' the city finally came up with a different
response Wednesday, and it involved someone else going out and
taking a flying leap."  Penner notes Disney didn't want "any
part" of Sportstown, and that the 12,000 parking spaces that
would be eliminated from Anaheim Stadium under such a project
were unacceptable (L.A. TIMES, 3/14).
     WOULD THE NBA BE A BETTER FIT?  Penner also writes, "The NBA
-- even the Clippers -- intrigues The Mouse.  Fewer salaries,
controlled environment, cartoon uniforms, more stoppages of play
for crazed mascots to scare small children -- it's Disney's kind
of place" (L.A. TIMES, 3/14).

     Bucs Owner Malcolm Glazer has been "advised strongly" by the
NFL to continue negotiations with Tampa and "hammer out" an
agreement for a new $168M stadium, according to this morning's
TAMPA TRIBUNE.  Yasinskas & Pugliese report the league wants a
Bucs deal completed before it formally addresses the proposed
relocations of the Seahawks and Oilers at a special meeting in
April.  One NFL owner:  "Believe me, there is a lot of pressure
being applied on Glazer.  Everything that can be done is being
done.  The commissioner doesn't want that situation getting out
of hand like some of the others" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/14).

     Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga will sign a letter of intent
to have his team stay in South FL and play in Broward County, but
it "may not free him" from Broward's March 28 deadline to find a
buyer.  Broward County Administrator Jack Osterholt still wants a
buyer by March 28, as the NHL originally agreed to.  If Huizenga
were to take longer to identify a buyer, the "whole deal could
fall through."  And if he doesn't meet the March 28 deadline, the
Heat become the primary tenant of a new arena, and Huizenga would
have to negotiate with them (Karen Rafinski, MIAMI HERALD, 3/14).

     Oilers Exec VP Mike McClure said yesterday the team will
"likely" play the next two years in Houston, not TN. The team
awaits final NFL approval to move the franchise to Nashville,
where they will play in a new stadium in '99.  In the meantime,
the team was eyeing Memphis' Liberty Bowl (Rick Gosselin, DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 3/14).

     A marketing effort which would include a major initiative to
sell season tickets throughout CT may "ultimately decide" the
fate of the Whalers, according to the HARTFORD COURANT.  CT Lt.
Gov Jodi Rell will help coordinate the campaign, which has an
"unofficial" goal of doubling the team's season ticket base to
10,000.  Rell:  "I don't want to say it's do or die time here,
but we are at a crossroads" (Swift & Arace, HARTFORD COURANT,
3/14).