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Volume 24 No. 112

Franchises

          The Bears were examined by John Mullin in the CHICAGO
     TRIBUNE under the header, "Are Bears Losing Their Grip On
     City?"  Mullin: "The Bears have lost more than games over
     the last several years.  Along the way, they have begun to
     do the once unthinkable: lose Chicago.  The city has always
     been a Bears town.  It is not anymore.  On and off the
     field, the Bears are a franchise at a crossroads."  Last
     year's average of 9,900 no-shows was the most since '83, and
     the '97 home-opener crowd of 59,263 was the smallest since
     '84.  Last Sunday's game drew a local 22.5 TV rating,
     "barely half what the Bears regularly attracted a decade
     ago" and down about 20% from the second game in '96. 
     Mullin: "Bears games simply are no longer the focal point of
     fall Sunday afternoons in Chicago.  The obvious reason is
     losing."  Bears VP/Marketing Ken Valdiserri: "We live in a
     society of what have you done for me lately.  We're feeling
     a little of that" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/14).  Yesterday's
     Lions-Bears game had 7,797 no-shows (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/15). 
     

          NHL: In Hockey Player magazine, Broncos Owner Pat
     Bowlen is mentioned as a possible suitor of the Oilers.
     Bowlen, a native of Alberta: "I don't have any comment on it
     at this time" (Sam Adams, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 9/14).
          NFL: Nancy Irsay filed suit on Friday "seeking at
     least" $13M in damages from the Colts and the executors of
     her husband's estate (Susan Schramm, STAR-NEWS, 9/13).
          NBA: In Toronto, William Houston reported that Raptors
     President Richard Peddie is "writing a book" about "how he
     built the Raptors into what they are today."  Houston also
     noted that current Raptor ticket ads "do not even mention
     the team or its players."  Houston: "The largest type in the
     ad reads: 'Great Bulls seats'" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).
          MLB: The Devil Rays "unveiled their 53-foot traveling
     exhibit," the Devil Rays Express, which will cost "about"
     $500,000 and will be used at team -- and sponsor-related
     events throughout the state (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/12).

          Miami "won't be among" the WNBA's two expansion teams
     next summer, according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. 
     Heat President of Business Ops Jay Cross says the Heat
     "decided to concentrate on the construction" of its new
     arena "before pursuing a WNBA team."  Cross: "It's best that
     we wait until we have the new arena."  Jackson added that
     the Heat "is having enough trouble just negotiating its own
     lease for the 1998-99 season.  Cross said discussions are
     'moving slowly' but he isn't discouraged -- yet."  The team
     is hopeful that construction of the bayfront arena will
     start in January and be completed by the start of the '99-
     2000 season.  In other Heat news, Cross added that the team
     has "topped last season's season-ticket sales" of 8,700, and
     he said that it "won't replace" Exec VP Pauline Winick, who
     will retire on October 1 (MIAMI HERALD, 9/14). 

          The Islanders introduced Coyotes co-Owner Steven
     Gluckstern as "the newest would-be owner" of the team on
     Friday, according to John Valenti of NEWSDAY.  Gluckstern
     and partners, New York Sports Ventures, signed a letter of
     intent for the team and its cable TV package worth $195M. 
     Islanders GM Mike Milbury: "The last guy who came in here
     brought enthusiasm.  This guy brought cash with him, too." 
     Valenti: "Not to mention a stage presence, sense of humor
     and human touch that was noticeably lacking in the often-
     dour [John] Spano."  Gluckstern said that of "significant
     appeal" to him and his partners in the purchase was the
     chance to redevelop the 70-acre Mitchel Field parcel at
     Nassau Coliseum.  Gluckstern: "This is about three things
     that were attractive to us.  The franchise, a unique
     television contract and the 70 acres we're sitting on top of
     now."  New York Sports Ventures also includes "two major" NY
     real estate developers, Howard Milstein and Stephen Ross, as
     well as NY businessman Dan Doctoroff.  The group hopes to
     have the deal approved by the NHL Board of Governors by
     December, but a league source said Friday that a "more
     realistic timetable" would be January (NEWSDAY, 9/13). 
     Brett Pickett, son of current Isles Owner John Pickett, will
     continue to operate the club until the end of the year
     (Michael James, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/13).  
          RAVE REVIEWS: NEWSDAY's Fessenden, Valenti, et al.
     write that Gluckstern "heads what may be one of the most
     overqualified ownerships in the most blue-collar of
     professional sports."  Islanders co-Chair & CEO Bob
     Rosenthal: "Gluckstern is a no-nonsense man.  He's already
     in the business, he wanted the Islanders, he negotiated in a
     very fair way, a very tough way" (NEWSDAY, 9/14).  NEWSDAY's 
     Steve Jacobson: "[I]mmediately, there is stability for a
     team that is now growing into a competitive level after
     nearly 10 years in the doldrums" (NEWSDAY, 9/14). 
          SLOW TRACK: Gluckstern said it will take five years to
     replace the Nassau Coliseum, but NEWSDAY's Ken Moritsugu
     wrote that the tentative sale "has renewed hope among"
     Nassau execs for a "private sector-led major redevelopment
     of the Coliseum property in Uniondale, including a new
     arena, an exhibition hall, a hotel and sports and
     entertainment-related retail stores" (NEWSDAY, 9/13).
          COYOTES UPDATE: In AZ, Coyotes CEO Richard Burke, on
     losing Gluckstern: "Things will not change, as far as the
     operation goes. ... But my role will lesson."  The
     REPUBLIC's Tim Tyers: "Perhaps a bigger question is whether
     the ownership change will also affect the Coyotes'
     relationship with Suns President Jerry Colangelo.  His
     management company hold the Coyotes' lease at America West
     Arena."  Burke said that any talk about a possible move out
     of America West Arena is just talk, "at least for the near
     future" (Tim Tyers, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/13).
            

          The NHL Hurricanes drew 6,046 fans at the 21,000-seat
     Greensboro Coliseum Saturday for an exhibition game versus
     the Islanders, according to Steve Politi of the Raleigh NEWS
     & OBSERVER, who wrote that despite the fact that the
     Coliseum was "less than a third full," it "didn't look
     embarrassingly empty" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/14).  In
     Greensboro, John Nagy called it "a respectable crowd"
     (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 9/15).  Greensboro Coliseum
     Events Coordinator Carl Ellison Jr., on the NHL in
     Greensboro: "We still have some redneck in us, but I think
     the awareness is growing quite a bit.  More people know
     about hockey than used to" (John Valenti, NEWSDAY, 9/14).
          HOCKEY NIGHT IN CHARLOTTE: In Charlotte, 7,474 fans
     attended Saturday's Panthers-Bruins exhibition at
     Independence Arena (David Neal, MIAMI HERALD, 9/14).

          The Celtics said Saturday they are "on the verge of
     severing their relationship with Fleet Financial Group in
     favor of archrival BankBoston Corp. or Providence-based
     Citizens Financial Group," according to Tina Cassidy of the
     BOSTON GLOBE.  The move would be a "public relations blow to
     the region's largest bank, particularly given that the team
     plays in the FleetCenter, an arena that cost the bank" $30M
     for naming rights.  The Celtics say they are "unhappy" with
     Fleet because many of the bankers in its sports lending
     division with ties to the team have resigned after the John
     Spano incident; the team also "wants a larger marketing
     contract than Fleet was allegedly willing to provide" after
     the team signed Rick Pitino.  Source close to the situation
     say the team may be trying to get more from the bank than
     its $50M "borrowing business is worth."  They add the team
     is looking for $6M worth of marketing over five years, while
     it "generates only $250,000 in revenue per year for the
     bank."  Celtics Chair Paul Gaston has met with BankBoston
     Chair Charles Gifford, and BankBoston had the team's account
     for about 10 years before Shawmut took it over in the early
     '90s.  Citizens Chair Lawrence Fish is also eyeing the
     account (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14).  The WALL STREET JOURNAL's
     Jeffrey Krasner values the account at $120M.  Fleet Dir of
     Corporate Marketing & Communications Anne Finucane: "You can
     see where it would be very attractive to someone that didn't
     have the name Fleet in the arena, but our name is everywhere
     in that building" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/15).

          While News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch's offer to buy
     the Dodgers still faces "formal scrutiny" by MLB owners, the
     transaction "is already beginning to look like a done deal,"
     according to Hiltzik & Newhan of the L.A. TIMES.  Hiltzik &
     Newhan: "[N]o concerted opposition has emerged among the
     owners. ... They will probably take a final vote on the deal
     by the end of the year."  The only teams "to have openly
     expressed concerns about the deal" are the Padres and
     Giants.  Padres Owner John Moores "is concerned" that any
     increase in the number of Dodger games on TV could "cut into
     his team's attendance," while the Giants have expressed
     "similar sentiments."  While Murdoch and Time Warner Vice
     Chair Ted Turner have feuded publicly in the past, "at least
     one Turner confidant said last week that he would not be
     surprised to see Turner abstain or vote against the Dodgers
     deal 'just to be ornery' if his vote would not be deciding. 
     He might, however, be less likely to cast a 'nay' vote that
     would actually kill the transaction" (L.A. TIMES, 9/14).

          Vikings President Roger Headrick spoke before the NFL
     Management Council and told members "how difficult it is for
     the Vikings to remain competitive," according to Sid Hartman
     of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Headrick was "very upset"
     when Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Henry
     Savelkoul "killed any chance of building a new multipurpose
     stadium for the Vikings and Twins," and "is equally upset"
     that officials "can't agree on a price to sell the Met
     Center land so that the Vikings ... could get some reduction
     in rent for the Metrodome."  Headrick: "I have not explored
     the possibility of the Vikings moving to Cleveland, [L.A.]
     or Houston and don't have any plans to do so.  The NFL
     doesn't want franchises to move" (STAR TRIBUNE, 9/14). 
     CNN's Peter King reported that if the Twins get a ballpark
     deal, the Vikings "will be forced to move; there's a lot of
     skepticism in that organization, whether they can last in
     Minnesota. If the Vikings move, I think there's no question
     it will be to Cleveland" ("NFL Preview," CNN, 9/14).
          NO THANKS: The Vikings "rejected" a $50,000 offer from
     WFTC-Fox to buy the remaining tickets for Sunday's game to
     lift the local blackout (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/13).
     

          Don Beaver, who is looking to bring an MLB team to NC,
     was in Minnesota to "let Twins owner Carl Pohlad know that
     Charlotte is interested in either buying the Twins or
     encouraging Pohlad to relocate there," according to Sid
     Hartman of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Hartman: "The
     Pohlads refused to confirm Beaver's visit.  But rest assured
     Beaver spent a long time with the Pohlads."  Hartman noted
     Pohlad's "great relationship" with the Charlotte banking
     community as another possible lure (STAR TRIBUNE, 9/13).