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).