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Volume 24 No. 115

Franchises

     Ravens emerged yesterday as the Baltimore NFL team's likely
name, according to this morning's Baltimore SUN.  Ravens will be
put up against Americans and Marauders in a public preference
vote, probably through a phone poll.  Tentative plans called for
a Friday news conference to announce the name.  While several
team officials believed that Ravens will be the name, one source
said there "is some dissent within the team, and officials are
willing to listen to the fans" (Morgan & Preston, Baltimore SUN,
3/26).

     The plan to keep the Bucs in Tampa gained "a key player"
when Hillsborough County Commission Chair Jim Norman pledged his
support, according to this morning's TAMPA TRIBUNE.  Norman had
previously opposed the deal, but was "converted after a Sunday
meeting with Bucs' officials where the team agreed to contribute
up to $100,000 annually to the county's youth sports programs."
The proposed deal, which will use public funds for much of the
proposed $168M stadium, still needs approval from the Tampa City
Council, Tampa Sports Authority, and County Commission.  NFL
President Neil Austrian will be at today's Authority meeting to
push for approval.  Norman had backed a controversial guarantee
linking on-field performance to public funding, but the NFL
rejected that idea last week.  The team has agreed to contribute
$7,500 for every regular season victory, or up to $100,000 per
year, to charity from '98-07.  The team will also set aside 1,500
seats for a family section which would cost no more than $150 per
season for Hillsborough residents (Jim Kenyon, TAMPA TRIBUNE,
3/26).  The ORLANDO SENTINEL notes the team also agreed to
"freeze" advance season-ticket prices for the new stadium through
May '98 and relinquish management rights to Legends Field and the
Ice Palace (Charean Williams, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/26).

     Magic VP/Operations John Gabriel could be leaving to rejoin
the 76ers.  TAMPA TRIBUNE's Bill Fay writes Gabriel has spoken
with new 76ers President Pat Croce, but nothing was "officially
discussed."  Gabriel is in the final year of his Magic deal.  He
his career with Philadelphia, is a friend of Croce, and has
family in the city (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/26).....The Eagles agreed to
move their training camp from West Chester Univ. to Lehigh Univ.
An NFL source said it is likely the team will save $10,000
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/26)....The GLOBE & MAIL examines the
payrolls of the Expos and Blue Jays.  The Jays currently come in
just over $31.5M, compared to $43M last year.  The Expos stand at
$15.5M, compared to $10.5M in '95 (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/26)....The new
Western Professional Hockey League franchise in El Paso will be
called the Buzzards (WPHL)....The N.Y. POST's Neal Travis reports
Mets Co-Owners Nelson Doubleday Jr. and Fred Wilpon "have reached
the stage where they don't speak to each other."  Speculation is
that Doubleday may seek a buyer for his stake (N.Y. POST,
3/26)....MLS hopes for a sellout crowd of 26,000 for their league
opener April 6 in San Jose.  Sales through Monday were at 24,000
(USA TODAY, 3/26)....A crowd of 17,603, the largest in NPSL
history, attended the Spirit-Ambush game Saturday night at Kiel
Center (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/25)....The Diamondbacks
announced a two-year working agreement with the Triple-A Mexican
League Owls (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/26)....Former Browns QB Bernie
Kosar wants to be part of a new Cleveland team, either as a part
owner or in a player-personnel role.  Kosar reportedly has
aligned himself with Cleveland financiers Bob Gries and Alfred
Lerner (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 3/26)....Asked about reports the
Sabres are planning to change team colors and logo, team
spokesperson Gil Chorbajian noted there will be some changes,
with an announcement in the "next month or so."  Details are
still being finalized (THE DAILY)....The Colonial Hockey League's
Brantford Smoke has been fined $25,000 and Owner Roger Davis
"could lose the franchise" after a recent forfeit (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 3/26).

     NFL representatives, led by NFL VP/Business & Football
Development Roger Goodell, Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson and
NFL Dir of Club Relations Joe Ellis, met with King County
officials regarding the future of the Seahawks.  Goodell said the
league expects the Seahawks to play the '96 season in Seattle
unless the courts find the Kingdome to be unsafe.  Citing their
lease obligation for the next 10 years, Goodell said, "The league
will do everything to keep the team in the community."  Alan
Elias, spokesperson for Seahawks Owner Ken Behring, called the
NFL's statement "posturing" (David Schaefer, SEATTLE TIMES,
3/25).
     DOME AWAY FROM HOME:  The NFL delegation "spent two days in
Seattle, dropping ideas for funding new stadiums and soothing
feathers ruffled by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's suggestion"
that a new stadium may be needed to keep the team.  Richardson
floated the idea of a new, privately funded facility -- a
proposal that "has sharply divided some business leaders,"
according to the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER.  One member of the
Metro King County Council called it "an absurd notion."  But
league officials "said they were not wedded to building a new
stadium."  Goodell said the point is for a competitive facility,
"but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a new stadium"
(Boren, Farnsworth & Thiel, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 3/26).

     Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy has been given a non-voting seat
on the Pirates Board, according to the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE.
New Owner Kevin McClatchy had promised Murphy the spot as part of
loan and lease concessions which raised the city's total
investment in the team to $40M.  Murphy said the city sought the
seat so it could "keep the good lines of communication going"
with team officials as talks proceed over a new baseball-only
stadium.  Other nonvoting members on the nine-person board
include race car owner Chip Ganassi (Steve Halvonik, PITTSBURGH
POST-GAZETTE, 3/25).