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Volume 24 No. 157

Franchises

          Bullets & Caps President Susan O'Malley is the cover
     story in an extensive feature by Michael Abramowitz in the
     WASHINGTON POST MAGAZINE under the header, "Hard Sell."  The
     sub-head notes at 35, O'Malley "has risen to the top of the
     pro sports business.  She has turned her success into a
     public fable, a motivational speech.  But how much credit
     has she really earned?"  Abramowitz writes O'Malley is
     "arguably the most accomplished woman in her field.  She has
     much praise and criticism heaped upon her by others, but the
     only real claim she makes for herself in public ... is that
     she has helped raise the Bullets from the dregs of the NBA
     to box office success, building a platform for (still
     anticipated) on-court success as well."  Bullets & Caps
     Owner Abe Pollin: "She is very, very tough, but very fair,
     and that's the way I like it."  Abramowitz adds that
     O'Malley's critics "range from those who have clashed with
     her in office struggles or been forced out during
     reorganizations to colleagues in the NBA who have nothing
     personal against her but who question whether O'Malley's
     business achievements are all that they seem. ... Does
     O'Malley threaten some people in the pro basketball and
     hockey worlds because she is a woman in a position of power? 
     Definitely.  Does she deserve either as much credit as she
     gives herself or as much criticism as her enemies hurl at
     her?  Very much debatable -- and very actively debated."    
          FORCED SELLOUTS? Abramowitz notes that O'Malley
     "brought to the Bullets a definite philosophy about
     marketing the team: that the best way to create demand was
     to create the perception that Bullets tickets were scarce." 
     O'Malley says she set about "forcing sellouts," abandoning a
     plan that allowed partial season ticket holders to pick any
     ten games they wanted and, instead, picking the games for
     them.  Abramowitz notes the move "immediately ensured a
     sizable base of fans for at least a quarter of the home
     games."  Bullets attendance rose "impressively ... but soon
     the whispers started that her numbers were inflated, that
     the Bullets were giving tickets away to sponsors -- or at
     least discounting many so heavily that the turnstile numbers
     were meaningless. ... Such criticism is buttressed by
     sources who have seen confidential NBA financial data that
     show the Bullets' gate receipts remained among the lowest in
     the league, even as their reported attendance rose during
     O'Malley's tenure" (WASHINGTON POST MAGAZINE, 1/12).

          The Ravens "are close" to completing a deal with
     Western Maryland College to make it their training camp home
     for the next three years (Baltimore SUN, 1/14)....Reported
     Blue Jays suitor Murray Frum and his advisor, Capital Canada
     Ltd. CEO Robert Foster, said all the investors in their
     prospective group are Canadian.  Foster: "There is no U.S.
     money in the group" (TORONTO SUN, 1/14)....The Knicks
     received a new chartered plane, a "gift" from ITT.  They
     will share the plane with the NHL Rangers (NEWSDAY, 1/14).
     ...The Rangers introduced their new "alternative jersey"
     last night against the Islanders.  Jay Greenberg of the N.Y.
     POST: "Has hockey become so devoid of color that the only
     way to brighten it is by changing jerseys?  In the absence
     of new stars, do we have to settle for new teams with new
     schemes? ... Granted, the Rangers are only going to wear
     these things about six times a season.  For a team with
     their history, it is six times too many" (N.Y. POST, 1/14). 
     N.Y. DAILY NEWS columnist Frank Brown: "Under Lady Liberty's
     chin sat a brief, to-the-point 'NYR,' which made the whole
     thing look like a license plate" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/14). 
     ESPN's Linda Cohn, on the jersey: "Why do I think of the
     final scene of the Planet of the Apes" ("SportsCenter,"
     1/13)....The Dolphins will unveil their uniform and logo
     alterations today.  Fans linked to the Internet can ask team
     President Eddie Jones questions about the changes at 2pm ET
     at http//pwr.com/ dolphins (MIAMI HERALD, 1/14)...."CBS
     Evening News" ran an "Editor's Note" during last night's
     newscast on sexual assault charges being dropped against the
     Cowboys' Michael Irvin and Erik Williams.  CBS's Dan Rather:
     "In fairness, and for thoroughness and accuracy, we wanted
     to make sure you knew" ("CBS Evening News," 1/13).

          General Motors said it will drop its complaint against
     Reds Owner Marge Schott if her Chevrolet-GEO dealership is
     sold by February 20, according to Geoff Hobson of the
     CINCINNATI ENQUIRER.  A sale of the dealership is "imminent"
     to Joseph Auto Group, and GM is "expected" to approve the
     sale.  Meanwhile, the state of Ohio has "no plans" to pursue
     revoking Schott's dealership license despite GM's
     allegations she faked 57 car sales.  Jeffrey Coleman, chief
     of dealers licensing for the Ohio Motor Vehicle Dealers
     Board: "There is nothing in GM's motion or the accompanying
     affidavits which appears to constitute violations over which
     the Bureau has any jurisdiction."  Schott still faces a
     review by MLB, and one MLB owner told the ENQUIRER's Hobson
     that he "expected" the issue to be raised this week when the
     owners meet in Scottsdale, AZ (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/14).

          The Red Dogs, the nickname and mascot for the new AFL
     team in New Jersey, have "angered civic organizations
     dedicated to alerting the public to the dangers of alcohol
     abuse" but there is also the "situation of having a team
     associated with one brewing company playing its home games
     at a facility where another brewer enjoys exclusive beer-
     selling rights," according to Guy Sterling of the Newark
     STAR-LEDGER.  The name was selected in a franchise naming
     contest, and team officials liked the name, "both for its
     connection with football ... as well as its commercial
     potential."  "Red Dog" is a beer distributed by the Miller
     Brewing Co.  Team CEO Jim Leahy: "When we picked the name,
     we thought if we could go to Miller and get a sponsorship
     out of it, we'd have the best of all worlds."  Miller signed
     on as a sponsor, but the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority,
     overseer of the Meadowlands, is "not keen" on the team's
     choice.  The Red Dogs will play at  Continental Airlines
     Arena, where Budweiser holds pouring rights and Anheuser-
     Busch is a major sponsor of the NJSEA.  Authority President
     & CEO Robert Mulcahy III says the dispute between the
     brewing companies has yet to be resolved, but should be this
     week (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/12).