Marlins Owner Wayne Huizenga plans to meet with local
politicians in the next two weeks to "discuss the
possibility" of a publicly funded baseball-only new ballpark,
and if he gets one, "he will keep the team," according to
Mike Phillips of the MIAMI HERALD. With the World Series
heightening South FL's interest in the team, "not only" is
Huizenga considering keeping the team, but local politicians
"are approaching him for the first time" about a new ballpark
(MIAMI HERALD, 10/26). In Fort Lauderdale, Larry Lebowitz
reports that a team of Huizenga lobbyists is "looking at a
variety of possible public funding options and sites" (Ft.
Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 10/26). Huizenga, on his expected
losses: "Right now I'm in for $235 million and we're trying
to sell the Marlins for $160 million. So, if I get my price,
I'll still lose $75 million. It's been a pretty bad
experience for five years" (USA TODAY, 10/27).
POST-PARTY INTERVIEW: Huizenga was interviewed on NBC's
"Today" show. Huizenga, on the sale of the team: "I believe
that in order for us to get a stadium in this town that I
have to remove myself from the process" ("Today," NBC 10/27).
Falcons Owner & Chair Rankin Smith Sr. died in Atlanta
yesterday at the age of 72. In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli
writes that Smith "was remembered by colleagues Sunday as a
visionary who pioneered the rise of professional sports
franchises in the South," and remained one of the few
"'family' stewards in a sport in which corporate ownership
has increased." Smith, who purchased the Falcons in '65 for
$8.5M, was regarded around the NFL as a "mainstream" owner
who "rarely bucked the agendas of commissioners ... and
generally placed the good of the league above that of the
Falcons" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27). Soto & Payne write
that Smith "was the driving force behind the construction of
the Georgia Dome," and was "credited" with bringing two Super
Bowls games to Atlanta (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).
TEAM'S FUTURE: Pasquarelli also reports that "there were
no signs" on Sunday that Smith's death "would result in the
sale" of the team. Smith said recently that he had purchased
several high-premium insurance policies "to assist his heirs
in dealing with the sort of estate tax problems that have
plagued other franchises" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).
Twins Owner Carl Pohlad pledged $111M toward
construction of a new ballpark Friday, "an announcement that
left [MN] legislators unimpressed and talking instead about
acquiring the team from him," according to Weiner & Whereatt
of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Because reaction to
Pohlad's offer was "cool," legislators and Gov. Arne Carlson
"instead began talking about having a charitable foundation
created by the state take ownership of the team and build a
scaled-down stadium." Pohlad's offer of $111M includes "at
least" $35M in upfront revenue from selling the naming rights
to the stadium and vendor rights (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25).
DETAILS: Pohlad's $111M offer toward the $411M ballpark
"matched exactly" the recommendation by a legislative task
force earlier this month. However, Weiner & Whereatt add
that the offer is based on certain conditions: the team
"would have to control all stadium revenue, if and when it's
built; the team's Metrodome lease would have to be changed to
increase team revenue by "at least" $3.5M a year while a new
ballpark is being built and the business community would have
to "guarantee" the purchase of 40 of the stadium's 50 luxury
suites, and 22,000 season tickets in 2002, when the stadium
would open -- "more than double the current season ticket
sales." Sources say that Pohlad "would recoup his investment
in about 20 years by receiving all of the revenue generated"
by the $411M stadium (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25).
NOTES: Despite Pohlad's offer, MN Senate Majority Leader
Roger Moe said ballpark approval remains a "long shot" in the
Senate and is also unlikely in the House (ST. PAUL PIONEER
PRESS, 10/26)....In MN, Sid Hartman wrote that with his
pledge, Pohlad has secured the "guarantee that baseball
owners would not block a possible move to" NC, if his offer
is rejected. Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on Pohlad's
offer: "By comparison, this is extraordinary and generous"
(STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25)....In Minneapolis, Dick Youngblood:
"[T]he most distinctive aspect of the rancorous debate over
financing a new Twins stadium has been the all-but-total
absence of participation by the business community" (STAR
TRIBUNE, 10/27)....For the '97 season, the Twins had gross
ticket revenue of $14,498,337, an increase of $1,025,961.
Concession revenue was down $195,798 from $2,307,142 in '96
to $2,111,344 this year (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).
While Vikings Coach Dennis Green said a scenario in his
autobiography, "No Room For Crybabies," for taking over the
team "was not meant as a threat, one of the Vikings' owners
said four team owners want to fire" him, according to Jeff
Seidel of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The anonymous owner
said he feels three other owners "won't commit to
disciplining" Green because "they fear" a lawsuit, and that
three other team owners want to keep him (PIONEER PRESS,
10/27). Vikings Vice Chair Philip Maas: "My personal opinion
is that he's shot himself in the foot. I know if one of my
employees did that he'd be gone tomorrow. Or gone this
afternoon" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/25). Green: "I
talked about buying the team as an afterthought ... kind of
thinking out loud. ... I didn't threaten anybody as far as
what I would do" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/27).
REAX: ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "[I]t's clear there are
several board members, several part owners, who want Dennis
Green fired at the end of this season. So this is going to
get messy" ("NFL Countdown," 10/26). In MN, Sid Hartman
speculates that Green, "convinced that he will be fired at
the end of this season unless he wins a couple of playoff
games, has decided to put himself in position to get a big
contract settlement from the Vikings" (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).
Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander said Sunday that his
purchase of the NHL Oilers "could be finalized within a
week," according to Eddie Sefko of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.
Over the weekend it was reported that Alexander has a
"handshake agreement" to purchase the team from Peter
Pocklington for $85M. Under the deal, the Oilers will remain
in Edmonton for "at least" three more seasons. Sefko adds
that during its three year stay in Edmonton, if the team
makes a profit, it will remain in Edmonton, Alexander will
sell to a local buyer and he will receive an expansion
franchise in Houston. If the Oilers lose money, Alexander
will be allowed to relocate the team to Houston. The three-
year stay in Edmonton should also "provide enough time for a
new arena to be built in Houston" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/27).
If Alexander owns the NHL and NBA teams in Houston, "the
fight" between Alexander and Chuck Watson of the IHL Aeros
and Arena Operating Co. over control of a new arena "would
effectively become moot" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/25).
FROM EDMONTON: Pocklington: "This is the one (offer)
that will probably get done. This is the one I like the
best" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/25). Stock & MacDonald reported that
sources said Pocklington "wants to remain part of the Oiler
organization under" the new ownership (EDMONTON JOURNAL,
10/25). Dan Barnes reported that the deal "would allow"
Pocklington to keep a 10% stake in the team, receive some of
the $12M in "expansion revenues due to the Oilers over the
next few seasons and perhaps make a reappearance in the
process three years from now" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/25). In
Toronto, Al Strachan wrote the NHL "will make sure that it is
more profitable for Alexander to start a new team in Houston
than to move the Oilers there" (TORONTO SUN, 10/25).