Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 155

Franchises

          The Ackerley Group, parent of the Sonics, reported a
     record profit for '96, according to Greg Heberlein of the
     SEATTLE TIMES.  Ackerley's profit was $15.8M, or $.50/share,
     up from a year-ago loss of $2.9M, or $.09/share.  Sales were
     up 19%, to $280M.  Ackerley Chair Barry Ackerley said player
     salaries, marketing expenses for a World Wide Web site and
     name change cut fourth-quarter operating cash flow by $1M
     (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/30)....In Miami, First Union National Bank
     has partnered with the Dolphins to put a 10,240-square-foot
     sign on top of the Dolphins Training Facility at Nova
     Southeastern Univ. in Davie, FL.  The sign will be visible
     to all planes as they enter or exit Ft. Lauderdale Int'l
     airport (Dolphins). ...Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones issued a
     memo yesterday preventing anyone in the Cowboys'
     organization, including coach Barry Switzer, from discussing
     football-related matters with the media.  Taylor calls the
     move "the final step in a season-long trend by the Cowboys
     to limit media access" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/31)....The
     Brewers will hold a memorabilia sale out of their clubhouse
     Sunday, selling everything from team jerseys to Ken Griffey
     Jr.'s baseball pants (USA TODAY, 1/31)....In Dallas, the
     Mavericks are interviewing former Knicks coach Don Nelson
     for their GM position (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/31).

          Stock purchases made late last fall by four directors
     of Florida Panthers Holdings have attracted the attention of
     other investors, according to Cindy Krischer Goodman of the
     MIAMI HERALD.  Recently filed records reveal the execs
     bought $2.87M of the company's stock "just before" the
     announcement of a "key" acquisition drove up the stock.  The
     directors purchased 285,000 shares for $10.06/share from
     November 13-December 16, six days before the Panthers
     acquired two Fort Lauderdale resort hotels.  The shares are
     currently trading for $32.  Among the directors: Republic
     Industries Vice Chair Harris Hudson and President Steven
     Berrard; Huizenga Holdings President Richard Rochon; and
     Huizenga's Extended Stay America CEO George Johnson. 
     Huizenga spokesperson Stan Smith said there were no "insider
     purchases" of Panthers stock, adding the investors "have a
     lot of confidence in the company and the management."  But,
     some early investors are "miffed," and have filed suit in
     federal court in Ft. Lauderdale on behalf of those who sold
     their shares between the period in which the execs made
     their purchases.  They charge Huizenga and other officers
     with securities violations and misrepresentation of the
     company's short-term prospects (MIAMI HERALD, 1/30).

          In the midst of Hilton Hotels' hostile takeover bid of
     ITT, the economic value of MSG is examined by Sanger & Zipay
     of NEWSDAY.  Under ITT/Cablevision's ownership, MSG's
     financial performance "has vastly improved," as MSG CEO Dave
     Checketts drove revenues to $425M in '96, 10% higher than
     they were the year before.  However, with player salaries
     increasing, and possible renovation facing MSG, "future
     results may not be such a slam dunk."  Financial World
     editor Michael Ozanian notes the Knicks "have raised ticket
     prices so high, it's difficult to see much more revenue out
     of them.  The Rangers have more upside."  Ozanian adds MSG
     "is outdated in terms of the amount of revenues it can
     produce," adding if there is a new buyer for the properties,
     "they're going to have to think about redoing that building
     in three to five years: better suites, better locations,
     more advertising, better concessions" (NEWSDAY, 1/31).   
          TV TALK: Sanger & Zipay write that the MSG Network "is
     perhaps the most valuable of all the [MSG] properties."  And
     Checketts also desires a radio station.  Checketts: "I'd
     like to have a radio station to promote concerts and our
     productions and carry our sports.  I don't think we would
     build another WFAN, but we'll have a radio opportunity"
     (NEWSDAY, 1/31).  On "Moneyline," CNN's Sean Callebs
     examined the possibility that ITT "may be planning on an
     asset sale of its own" on "Moneyline."  Noting ITT's share
     of the Rangers, Knicks and MSG Network "may be up for
     grabs," Callebs mentioned News Corp. as a "potential buyer." 
     The Marquee Group CEO Robert Gutkowski: "Fox, from a cable
     standpoint, doesn't have much leverage to try and get
     exposure in this marketplace.  If they own MSG Network,
     certainly that will help them from a leverage standpoint." 
     Callebs also mentioned Walt Disney and Wayne Huizenga,
     although each owns an NHL franchise already, and is
     prohibited from buying another ("Moneyline," CNN, 1/30).  

          The WNBA Houston Comets unveiled their name and logo
     yesterday, according to W.H. Stickney Jr. of the HOUSTON
     CHRONICLE.  The Comets' colors will feature "Fireball Red"
     and "Galaxy Blue" trimmed with "Stardust Silver."  The logo
     is oval-shaped with stars and comets dotting the inner blue
     space and a basketball shooting through the oval and
     trailing a red comet tail.  Rockets Exec VP John Thomas said
     the Comets have already sold 1,000 season-tickets so far and
     said that each of the 15,000 Rockets season-ticket holders
     will be sent a five-minute videotape highlighting women's
     basketball (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/31).