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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

          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).