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Volume 24 No. 157

Franchises

     The greatest obstacle the Baltimore NFL team faces in terms
of getting ready for the coming season is, "pure and simple,
time," according to David Cope, recently hired as the team's VP
of Sales & Marketing.  Cope, who was General Sales Manager for
Capitol Sports from September '94 until March '96, acknowledged
there is a challenge in terms of selling PSLs to buyers who
already know they are getting a team.  Cope told THE DAILY that
PSL buyers "are not going to be sold on their dollars attracting
the team," but rather on the fact that their purchase is
necessary to cover the expenses of moving.  Cope, who said they
will stress the "investment" aspect of PSLs, added, "It is up to
us to put the proper educated word out."  On competing for
corporate dollars with the Orioles, for whom he worked as Dir of
Marketing from '91 to '94, Cope expects a "great amount" of
cross-over.  In '93, when Baltimore was going through the NFL
expansion process, Cope said he and the O's wanted "nothing to
do" with the return of the NFL to the city.  But what was clear
then and now, according to Cope, is the "passion" shown by
Baltimore's fans and the corporate community for football.
Choosing a name remains the top priority, with Cope admitting
that NFL Properties is eager for a decision.  As reported, the
short list is Ravens, Mustangs, Americans and Marauders -- with
Bulldogs an outside possibility.  A decision is expected this
week.  As for playing in Memorial Stadium, Cope said one early
concern is finding ways to accommodate premium seat holders, with
off-site entertainment options being explored (THE DAILY).

     Hillsborough County Commission Chair Jim Norman proposed
yesterday that the county's $2.9M ticket shortfall guarantee to
the Bucs as part of a new stadium deal be contingent on the team
having a winning record.  Joe Henderson reports in this morning's
TAMPA TRIBUNE that team officials had no reaction to the idea,
which Norman says would be an incentive to win.  Stadium
negotiators agreed to grant the Bucs the revenue guarantee if
sales levels fall below certain levels.  Norman pointed out,
while the club was one of the most profitable during the '80s, it
hasn't had a winning season since '82.  In addition to Norman's
clause, Henderson reports two "sticking points" to a deal: 1) The
team's desire to take over stadium operations and receive a $4M
subsidy each year for maintenance; and 2) What happens if the
deal collapses -- the Bucs want the right to leave without being
sued if the county cannot commit to the project by September.
Meanwhile, Tampa-area state legislators indicated the 5% local
rental car tax will have a "tough time" getting approved (TAMPA
TRIBUNE, 3/19).

     Because of the "attractiveness" of an over-arching deal for
the Flyers, Sixers, CoreStates Spectrum and CoreStates Center,
Comcast agreed to set the value at $500M, about $40M more than
the value of the individual parts.  In Philadelphia, Joseph
Daughen reports that Flyers Owner Ed Snider is seeking that $40M
as a "premium" for putting the package together.  Snider
reportedly is looking forward to no longer having an interest in
the team or arenas.  However, sources tell the DAILY NEWS that
the $40M premium "is the tricky part," as 76ers Owner Harold Katz
"is going to want his share of that money."  The source added,
"Anytime you have anything involving Ed Snider and Harold Katz,
it has the potential to blow up" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/18).
In a separate piece, Phil Jasner notes a 76ers sale could please
NBA officials, as some suggest the team :hasn't kept pace with
its brethren in the marketing and promotion departments"
(PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/18).  It is possible the deal "could
be wrapped up this week" (Sokolove & Rozansky, PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 3/19).
     THE TV STORY:  In today's INQUIRER, Mike Bruton notes
Comcast wants the teams "for programming so it can get some elbow
room just like Turner Sports used the Braves and Hawks to
expand."  Bruton also notes Phillies Owner Bill Giles has been
"talking to Comcast for some time" about joining the Flyers and
Sixers on a cable sports channel.  There is  "angst" at local
RSN, Prism, which is owned by SportsChannel Philadelphia, as
Prism currently televises all of Sixers and Flyers home games,
and several road games.  Bruton:  "A new sports cable outlet
would leave Prism with a bunch of old movies."  One "optimist" at
Prism said Comcast "might swallow up the entire Prism operation"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/19).  Comcast stock rebounded from
Friday, as shares rose $.25 to $18.375 (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
3/19).

     The Angels plan to "close the door" today on their
unsuccessful sale to Disney and possibly investigate other
buyers, according to USA TODAY.  Angels Exec VP Jackie Autry was
reportedly angry at reports Seahawks Owner Ken Behring was
interested in buying the Angels and building a "Sportstown
complex" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 3/19).  Autry believes Behring
"is responsible for undermining" the Disney deal and has said "no
way" to Behring's reported interest in buying the Angels ("Sports
View," CNBC, 3/18)....The Rangers have filed tampering charges
against the Blues because of remarks Blues President Jack Quinn
reportedly made to THE SPORTING NEWS after the Gretzky trade.
Quinn detailed the Rangers' offer for Gretzky and noted they had
decided not to re-sign Jeff Beukeboom and would use that money
for Gretzky.  The Rangers contend that remark has affected
contract talks with Beukeboom (Helene Elliott, L.A. TIMES,
3/19)....The city of New Britain, CT, will charge fans of the
Double-A Hardware City Rock Cats $2 per game to park at
Willowbrook Park (Matthew Brown, HARTFORD COURANT, 3/18).

     NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is "worried the same thing
may occur" with the Steelers that happened to the Browns in
Cleveland if a new baseball-only stadium is built for the
Pirates, according to the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE.  In an
interview with the GAZETTE's Ed Bouchette, Tagliabue noted
"similarities" between the Pittsburgh's recent agreement with new
Pirates Owner Kevin McClatchy to fund a new stadium within two
years and the building of Jacobs Field and Gund Arena in
Cleveland.  Tagliabue called for Pittsburgh to build a multi-
purpose stadium to house both teams, in the hopes that the city
can "set an example for the country" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE,
3/17).

     NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue yesterday summoned Seahawks
President David Behring to New York for a Friday meeting after
the team began off-season workouts in Anaheim.  Seahawks attorney
William Temko released a statement saying the workouts were "in
the best interests of the team," and that they wished to conduct
workouts "away from the media circus" if they remained in
Seattle.  Tagliabue called the Anaheim workouts "pre-emptive and
supportive" of the February 2 move announcement.  Tagliabue:
"The Kingdome safety issues raised by the Seahawks have no
relationship to the club's ability to conduct training programs
in its Kirkland facilities" (Boren & Farnsworth, SEATTLE P-I,
3/19).  In L.A., Steve Springer reports the team will not conduct
draft activities in Anaheim, as previously planned, "to not
further offend the league" (L.A. TIMES, 3/19).
      MOVING EXPENSES:  Meanwhile, the club's undetermined status
for next season is costing owner Ken Behring plenty.  The SEATTLE
P-I reports the team is down $6M it normally would have from
season ticket deposits, while Behring still must pay $275,000 to
lease the Anaheim training complex and more than $12,500 a week
to house players in a CA hotel.  Behring insisted yesterday the
team was not for sale, though the P-I reports "he would listen"
if offered enough money (Farnsworth & Boren, SEATTLE P-I, 3/19).
The TACOMA NEWS-TRIBUNE reports that Microsoft Co-Founder Paul
Allen is reportedly weighing the "emotional value" of owning a
team in his hometown.  Allen's representative Bob Whitsitt said
he expects no action in the near future while Allen decides
(Clayton & Foster, TACOMA NEWS-TRIBUNE, 3/18).