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Volume 24 No. 159

Franchises

     In what Bengals and Hamilton County officials call the
completion of the "third quarter" in stadium negotiations, the
Bengals have agreed to stay in Cincinnati through the 2025 season
and contribute $44-48M toward a new stadium, according to Anne
Michaud of THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER.  The team will occupy the new
facility by August 1, 2000.  The agreement "sets in motion"
finding an architect, but doesn't set a location for the new
facility.  The deal calls for the team contributions to come from
$20-24M in PSL revenue, $5M from the sale of naming rights,
$11.7M in rent over nine years, and $4M in ticket surcharges.
The 20-page memo of understanding also includes: a promise that
the team will not enter into any contract to play elsewhere
without permission from the county; the team can not apply to the
NFL to relocate; all parking, concession and ticket revenue goes
to the team; the county is responsible for maintenance and
upkeep; the team must sell 80% of their luxury boxes for ten
seasons and sell 50,000 season tickets by April 30, 1997, or
"they can walk away from the deal."  The county must sell $20M in
PSLs by the April '97 date or the team can get out of the deal.
The Bengals have the exclusive right to bring in a pro soccer
team for the first ten years of the agreement (CINCINNATI
ENQUIRER, 9/11).

     Astros Owner Drayton McLane says he will decide by the end
of the week whether to put his team up for sale, but has publicly
asked to first meet with Houston Mayor Bob Lanier to discuss his
situation, according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.
McLane has said if he cannot strike a stadium deal in Houston, he
will resume negotiations with VA Baseball Inc., who last year
offered a reported $160M for the Astros.  Meanwhile, Houston
Property Rights Association President Barry Klein, a local
opponent of publicly subsidized stadiums, said he will not
legally challenge a November 5 ballpark referendum approved two
weeks ago.  Klein is, however, organizing a political action
committee to oppose the referendum (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/11).  In
D.C., Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST reports the Astros and
Harris County officials are "inching closer" to a stadium funding
plan that would keep the team in Houston.  Negotiations continue
to focus on McLane's contribution to the project and which party
would be responsible for cost overruns.  Astros Senior
VP/Business Operations Bob McClaren: "Hopefully, we can get an
understanding in the next few days" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/11).
Noting Houston's civic and political leaders have "started to get
together," ESPN's Peter Gammons said "things look very good" for
the Astros and Harris County to come to a stadium deal possibly
"as early as this week" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 9/10).
     VA BASEBALL NEWS:  The POST's Maske reports that VA Baseball
"plans to abandon" its effort to secure a MLB franchise for the
Northern VA/Washington area if it is not awarded a team by the
end of '97.  Maske also cites sources within VA Baseball who note
the group has made "renewed inquiries" about the status of the
Pirates and Expos (WASHINGTON POST, 9/11).  But VA Baseball Exec
VP Mike Scanlon told THE DAILY the Post story "needed
clarification" in that the organization has made "no
determinations" about its post-'97 future and that "no decisions
and no deadlines will be made without talking with Major League
Baseball first." Scanlon added the group's "long-term strategy"
is to get a team, "one way or the other" (THE DAILY).

     ESPN's Peter Gammons, on the A's cutting ticket and parking
prices to lure fans back to the Oakland Coliseum:  "League
officials said that when the Coliseum forced the A's to open
their season in Las Vegas [during renovation at the Coliseum for
the Raiders], it was a violation of their lease, and the A's are
now free to move anywhere they want, anytime -- to Sacramento,
when they build a ballpark" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/10)....The
Cavaliers are taking advantage of hosting the '97 NBA All-Star
Game along with being the only pro franchise in town this fall by
offering a variety of new ticket plans and "inducements."  Cavs
VP/Sales & Marketing Jim Kahler:  "With football being gone, we
have a window of opportunity for three seasons.  We want to get
people who invested their money with the Browns" (CRAIN'S
CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 9/15 issue)....The financially troubled CFL
Ottawa Rough Riders will finish the season as the franchise
announced they have met its goal of 40,000 tickets sold for its
final four home games.  It also raised C$260,000 in corporate
sponsorships, C$110,000 more than a minimum amount needed to stay
in business (TORONTO SUN, 9/10)....Nashville columnist David
Climer, on Dick Evans' departure from Gaylord Entertainment to
become CEO at Huizenga Holdings:  "[Evans] was MVP for
Nashville's emerging sports marketplace. ... [His] departure ...
is like Michael Jordan signing with the Knicks for 10 kazillion
and leaving Chicago" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/8).

     NationsBank's $9B acquisition of Boatmen's Bancshares Inc.
could have an effect on the Blues, Kiel Center, Rams and
Cardinals, according to Josh Gotthelf of the ST. LOUIS BUSINESS
JOURNAL.  Boatmen's, which contributed an estimated $2.9M into
the Blues and Kiel Center in '95, is one of the "Big Four"
members of the Kiel Center Partners, holding about a 12% stake in
the arena and the club.  The other members are Anheuser-Busch,
Emerson Electric and Southwestern Bell and together, the four
control almost 50% of the group, while 15 other member companies
hold remaining shares.  This past spring, Boatmen's signed a
multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with the Cardinals to
remain a major sponsor of the team.  The agreement includes
signage, luxury boxes, group ticket packages, scoreboard
advertising, radio and TV broadcast sponsorship and the right to
place ATM's throughout Busch Stadium.  Boatmen's is also a "gold
level" sponsor with the Rams and the bank is in the second year
of a five-year deal in which it pays "well into six figures" for
a large signage package at the TWA Dome, commercials on the
stadium scoreboard, a luxury suite and the right to run
promotions during the game.  Further, the bank is a member of
Civic Progress, a civic group that has guaranteed the Rams
revenue from at least 85% of luxury suites and club seats.
NationsBank Senior VP Jim Nash noted the bank's role in the Kiel
Partners "won't be known" until the Boatmen's deal is
consummated.  However, he said the bank plans to honor prior
Boatmen's prior commitments to the Cardinals and Rams (ST. LOUIS
BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/9).  FEELING THE BLUES?  Calling this a
"make-or-break" season for Blues President Jack Quinn and GM/Head
Coach Mike Keenan, Tom Wheatley of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
examines how the departure of Wayne Gretzky and trade rumors
involving Brett Hull have effected ticket renewal rates.
According to Blues VP/Sales Bruce Affleck, last year the club
sold about 14,000 season tickets and 90% have been renewed for
'96-97, compared to 92% the year before and 94-95% in previous
years (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/11).