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Volume 24 No. 156
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          The NHL will hear eleven presentations from nine cities
     bidding for an expansion team over the next two days in New
     York City, according to Damien Cox of the TORONTO STAR. 
     Each group, including three from Houston, will have 30-45
     minutes to "make its pitch," then another 30-45 minutes to
     answer questions.  The cities: Atlanta; Houston; Nashville;
     Raleigh-Durham, NC; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Columbus, OH;
     Hampton Roads, VA; Hamilton, ON; and Oklahoma City, OK.  Cox
     notes Atlanta "is regarded as the favorite along with
     Houston ... mostly because it is believed the league is
     looking to improve" its TV presence.  But those two do not
     have "perfect arena arrangements" and "only Nashville has
     everything in place" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13).  USA TODAY's
     Kevin Allen notes that with the NHL looking to land "a far
     more lucrative" TV deal in two years, "they will be looking
     to expand their national ratings potential with this round
     of expansion.  That's why Atlanta is considered the favorite
     ... Houston also seems like a certainty."  The "conventional
     wisdom" is for the NHL to expand by four teams by the 2000,
     two in '98-99 and two in '99-00 (USA TODAY, 1/13). 
          LOCAL REAX: In Houston, Neil Hohlfeld: "Perhaps it is a
     coincidence, but the [Executive Committee] will hear the
     bids from the Houston groups in the order that probably is
     how they rank in terms of winning the expansion battle:" 
     IHL Aeros Owner Chuck Watson, followed by Rockets Owner Les
     Alexander and then the Maloof family (HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
     1/12).  In Atlanta, Henry Unger notes that Turner
     Broadcasting's bid "is viewed as one of the strongest by
     league observers" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/13).  St. Paul
     Mayor Norm Coleman: "It wouldn't surprise me if the league
     announces Atlanta and Houston would join as expansion teams
     in '98 and leaves 2000 open to wait for the resolution of
     the Hartford situation."  The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE's
     Curt Brown notes St. Paul "is considered a prime relocation
     city because the league has been inclined to waive hefty
     transfer fees," as much as $20M, for teams returning to
     former NHL cities (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/13). 
          COL. KURTZ?  In Toronto, Damien Cox, on expansion: "The
     horror.  The horror" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13). 
          ALL-STAR DOUGH: In San Jose, city officials estimate
     that "direct spending" at the NHL All-Star weekend "will
     exceed" $5M and "indirect spending should exceed" $10M (SAN
     JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/12).