While two Houston groups, one led by Rockets Owner Les
Alexander and the other by Aeros Owner Chuck Watson, "are in
the process of putting together proposals" for the NHL
Oilers, "in both cases, the team would be bought outright --
but with a promise to keep the team in Edmonton as long as
it maintains a positive cash-flow situation," according to
Al Strachan of the TORONTO SUN. Strachan writes that
"reliable sources" say that the NHL "is heavily involved in
the negotiations and is working to make sure the Oilers stay
in Edmonton." Strachan adds that the NHL "is willing to
modify its long-range plan and allow a further expansion in
the early part of the next century if doing so guarantees
the stability of the Oilers." For that to happen, the
"successful purchaser" would have to "guarantee the league"
that the Oilers will stay in Edmonton for "a certain period,
probably three years." If the team continues to have a
positive cash-flow, then the owner would be allowed to sell
the Oilers, and "in return," be "sold the rights to an NHL
expansion team in Houston" (TORONTO SUN, 10/23).
As the Ravens play their second season in Baltimore,
its "flock is neither as large or as zealous as many NFL
watchers had expected and Ravens officials had hoped,"
according to Ken Denlinger of the WASHINGTON POST. He adds
that MD fans are "reluctant to totally embrace the Ravens"
for "three reasons," one of which is "guilt" over the way
the team came to Baltimore. Another "is that the Ravens
aren't the Colts," but "probably the major blame" is team's
performance. One "prominent" team exec said, "At some
point, product matters." The team has recently launched a
campaign to sell the remaining 12,000 PSLs with the theme,
"The Best Is Yet to Come." But MD Stadium Authority Chair
John Moag said the "only objective measure of fan interest
is ticket sales" and that's been "extremely positive" for
the Ravens. Moag notes the team has sold 87 of 100 luxury
boxes and all 7,900 club seats for its new stadium, set to
open next season (WASHINGTON POST, 10/23).
Greg Sorbara, a former Ontario cabinet member, and
Lawrence Dale, who was VP/Business Development & General
Counsel for SkyDome from '91 until he left last month,
confirmed "that they are part of a consortium attempting to
buy" the Blue Jays, according to Tony Van Alphen of the
TORONTO STAR. Dale said that he "initiated and is leading"
the group, which has "at least" six investors, "including
two former owners" of "major" U.S. sports franchises, one of
whom "previously owned" an MLB team. Sorbara, a real estate
developer, said that he would be a minority shareholder, and
would be "putting up his own money" if the group's bid is
successful. Dale: "All I can say is that we have the
financial ability to complete a deal for the Jays and the
expertise to operate a franchise of this stature. That's
critical to the team and the fans" (TORONTO STAR, 10/23).
In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes that the "sands seem to be
shifting" in terms of the Jays deal, and that "despite the
continuing optimistic talk from [Murray] Frum, there remain
indications that ... the proposition is a whole lot more
complicated than it first appeared" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/23).
In N.Y., Op-Ed columnist Sidney Zion writes in response
to a column by Harvey Araton of the N.Y. Times on Yankees
Owner George Steinbrenner's relationship with the Hispanic
community. Zion writes the facts show that the Yankees have
the third most Hispanic players in MLB. Zion: "How could
Araton miss this? ... Say what you will about George
Steinbrenner, you simply can't label him a racist" (N.Y.
DAILY NEWS, 10/23)....Hoping to "refocus fans on the ...
Hornets -- and away from owner George Shinn's troubles," a
group of Charlotte businesses are putting on an open-to-the-
public "pep rally" where fans can lunch with the team and
hear coach Dave Cowens speak at the Charlotte Coliseum.
Charlotte Chamber President Caroll Gray: "[W]e want to make
sure the team doesn't get confused with the other P.R.
problem they have" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/23)....Only 1,009
attended the ABL Xplosion-StingRays game in Long Beach, CA
last night (Earl Gustkey, L.A. TIMES, 10/23).
The Chargers are teaming up with Qualcomm to buy enough
tickets to lift a local TV blackout on three of six
remaining home games, according to Ray Huard of the SAN
DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Qualcomm and the team will give their
tickets to county schools, to be used as rewards to
students. Mayor Susan Golding: "This solves a lot of
potential problems for this year." But the UNION-TRIBUNE's
Huard notes, however, that the ticket-buying deal "still
leaves the city on the hook for the controversial ticket
guarantee that is at the heart of the stadium deal." Under
the guarantee, the city must give the Chargers a rent credit
when fewer than 60,000 general admission tickets are sold
for home games. Golding's Press Secretary Todd Harris said
that the guarantee "already has cost the city $705,900 in
rent credits" through the Chargers first two home games.
With the new ticket deal, officials "estimate" that the city
will wind up deducting $1.2M by the end of the season from
the estimated $5.7M the Chargers will pay in rent (Ray
Huard, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/23).