John Connaughton, the UNCC economist whose economic impact
studies assisted in efforts to bring the Hornets and Panthers to
NC, has been hired by N.C. Baseball Committee Inc. -- the group
attempting to bring an MLB club to Greensboro, NC, according to
the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The organization, which has
raised over $600,000 since January to pay for consulting fees and
studies, has also received the help of Jefferson-Pilot Corp. CEO
David Stonecipher and Wachovia Bank President Walter McDowell.
The ownership group is headed by Don Beaver, who owns four minor-
league clubs, as well as a share of the Pirates (Erik Spanberg,
CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/27).
Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, on lagging attendance: "I
don't know if it's location or New York's just not a baseball
town anymore" (N.Y. POST, 5/29).... Pirates Owner Kevin McClatchy
says a new stadium would be seat 35,000-37,000 at a cost of about
$160M. McClatchy said the park will be "the smallest new ball
park in baseball," but with the "best sightlines" (N.Y. TIMES,
5/28)....Citing the Astros' rising attendance (but still about
5,000 short of what owner Drayton McLane said he needs to keep
the team in Houston), the DALLAS MORNING NEWS questions whether
MLB will let the club leave if the goal is almost met (DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 5/28)....Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. has received a
merger proposal from MLG Ventures Ltd. aimed at "taking the
Gardens private" (TORONTO STAR, 5/28).
The bid to reach 13,000 season ticket sales in Edmonton by
Friday to qualify for an NHL subsidy shows the Oilers at 11,600 -
- "and the team seems likely to make the cut," according to Neil
Campbell of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The NHL has promised up to
$7M a year in aid to help meet the cost of doing business in a
small market; the Oilers had only 6,200 season ticket subscribers
six months ago. But as the deadline approaches, "tensions are
mounting and businesses are being pitted against each other. ...
Those who do not wish to buy tickets feel they have been
intimidated, even threatened." Campbell writes no previous
ticket campaign in Canada had "either the aggressiveness or
emotion" of the Oilers', organized by a group of volunteers
called Friends of the Oilers. The volunteers took up the drive
to deflect focus away from controversial owner, Peter
Pocklington. Friends has singled out several companies which
have not bought tickets, including Canadian Airlines. Friends
Co-Chair Cal Nichols said several of his associates have switched
their business to Air Canada. But Canadian Airlines spokesperson
Diana Ward said they have been talking to the Oilers about some
kind of sponsorship, and they "will continue to do so" (Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 5/29).
Kentucky coach Rick Pitino was offered a five-year contract
worth $30M to become coach, GM and part owner of the Nets,
according to the N.Y. TIMES. Pitino would likely receive $20M in
salary and an ownership stake worth close to $10M (5-10%) with an
option to purchase more (Selena Roberts N.Y. TIMES, 5/26). Nets
President Michael Rowe hopes to have an answer by today.
However, several sources said Pitino might wait to see if the
Magic show any interest. But the "consensus" seems to be Pitino
is leaning toward the Nets because of the nature of the deal
(Selena Roberts, N.Y. TIMES, 5/29). The Nets have "assured"
Pitino he would have complete operational control of the team and
that a new practice facility would be either built or purchased.
In another "perk," the Nets would make mortgage payments for up
to 18 months on Pitino's home in KY, while providing moving
expenses and a home in NJ (Fred Kerber, N.Y. POST, 5/25). One
potential holdup could be questions surrounding the Nets current
ownership as Pitino would like Nets Chair Henry Taub to remain in
charge and for owners Alan Aufzien, Don Unger and Bernie Mann
(who own 32.5% of the franchise) to be bought out. However, an
expected buyout has yet to come to fruition (Ian O'Connor, N.Y.
DAILY NEWS, 5/27).
The Ravens have "tentatively" selected a uniform design that
incorporates purple and white jerseys, black helmets and black
pants, according to the Baltimore SUN. Jon Morgan reports the
helmet will have a shield-like logo on the side and two
"distinctive" patches -- one featuring a streaking raven landing
claw first on a football and the other containing the colors of
the MD state flag -- are being considered for the front pocket
and hip areas. The final design, which still needs the approval
of owner Art Modell, will be unveiled June 5 (Baltimore SUN,
NOT SO FAST: The Ravens PSL policy is criticized by the
SUN's Vito Stellino and John Steadman. Stellino writes the
"convoluted, two-step selling process is only going to confuse
the fans," as fans buying tickets won't know what the final PSL
fee will be. Steadman compares PSLs to "white-collar crime"
(Baltimore SUN, 5/26).