IS GEORGE A BIDDER FOR ISLES OR JUST GRABBING "HEADLINES"?
Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner yesterday "confirmed
a published report" that he has had discussions with John
Pickett about buying the Islanders, according to Jim Smith
of NEWSDAY. Steinbrenner's publicist Howard Rubinstein:
"People have approached Steinbrenner about purchasing the
Islanders but George does not want to discuss specifics."
But Smith reports that NHL sources "scoffed" at the report,
saying Steinbrenner is attempting to "get headlines" from a
phone inquiry made about 10 days ago. One NHL source: "I
don't think there's much to it. I wouldn't go crazy about
it." Pickett could not be reached for comment (NEWSDAY,
8/27). In N.Y., Marc Berman reports one source said that
Steinbrenner "is not willing to come close to matching" the
$165M purchase price John Spano and Pickett agreed upon.
The source: "Spano's price doesn't set the market price
because Spano would've promised anything" (N.Y. POST, 8/27).
CAVEATS: Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan said that any
Isles deal would have to include its long-term SportsChannel
contract, valued at $85M. Dolan said that the SportsChannel
deal negotiated with Spano "is still binding." But he
added, "It would be marvelous to have George in hockey" (Joe
Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 8/27). But Marc Berman writes that
status of the SportsChannel deal "is still undetermined"
(N.Y. POST, 8/27). MSG President Dave Checketts, on
Steinbrenner: "It would help firm up the [Rangers-Islanders]
rivalry, unlike some of the other names I've heard. He
knows how to run a sports team" (N.Y. POST, 8/27).
OTHERS IN THE MIX: A member of a group led by Marquee
Group CEO Bob Gutkowski, speaking on the condition of
anonymity: "We've had some good discussions with (Pickett).
... We have to decide if we're going to go forward on our
own or with others. If we decide to go forward, we'll pull
it off. The money is there." NEWSDAY's Jim Smith reports
that Robert F.X. Sillerman is no longer in contention for
the Islanders. Sillerman's spokesperson Tim Klahs: "I don't
think it is very likely for us to be there. There are
certain powerful motivators that would disincline us from
going forward." Klahs, asked if he meant the $200M asking
price: "That's getting pretty high" (NEWSDAY, 8/27).