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).