At a memorial service for Falcons Owner Rankin Smith
yesterday, the "unwavering love of his birthplace and
football team and, most important, his family, both nuclear
and extended, were common themes," according to Len
Pasquarelli of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The service was
"so well-attended that the crowd filled every pew and
spilled over into a nearby chapel." Commissioner Paul
Tagliabue and "at least" 10 NFL owners attended, and
"virtually" every franchise was represented at the service.
Before the service, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said that
part of the city's Super Bowl XXXIV festivities will include
"honoring Smiths's role" in bringing two Super Bowl games to
the city (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/29). Tagliabue, on
Smith's legacy: "It is hard to balance. The most visible
thing was the won-lost record. What was less visible was
his laying the groundwork for the future. The bringing of
the NFL to Atlanta. The Georgia Dome. The Super Bowls.
I'm sure it was his great wish that [son] Taylor and the
rest of the family turn around that record. That would make
him smile most of all" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/29).
Former Labatt exec Don McDougall, a "key player" in
landing the Blue Jays in '76, is part of Lawrence Dale's new
group trying to buy the team (TORONTO STAR, 10/29)....The
Hawks will play the Bulls on November 7 in front of "the
biggest home crowd in franchise history." Hawks Exec VP Lee
Douglas said the lower decks at the Georgia Dome are sold
out of more than 21,000 tickets and that the team is now
selling $10 tickets for Dome's upper deck (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 10/29)....In Sacramento, R.E. Graswich wrote
that Kings Owner Jim Thomas "is a proud man, tough and
tested ... but the nonsense with the Kings is getting to
him." Graswich added that people close to Thomas "indicate
he's nearing the end of his rope" (SACRAMENTO BEE,
10/28)....The Padres have increased ticket prices for the
'98 season. The "biggest increase" is $2 for skyboxes and
infield field-level seats that will cost $18. Ticket prices
for "nearly half of the seats" at Qualcomm Stadium "will not
go up" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/25).
The Vikings "are for sale and secretly have been on the
market for at least two months," according to two team
sources cited by Don Banks of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.
Vikings Vice Chair and part Owner Philip Maas and a "second
team source" said that the team's Board members have
"already entertained four out-of-state prospective buyers"
and have "received and rejected" a $150M bid for the team.
The interested suitors represent L.A., Toronto, Birmingham,
AL, and one other "unidentified area." But Banks writes
that no group representing Cleveland "is involved." The
Vikings' Maas said the four potential buyers "have already
visited the Twin Cities," and the second source "confirmed"
that the initial bid came from the "unidentified area." It
is "believed" that the bidder "intends to keep" the team in
MN. The asking price for the team is "estimated between"
$150-210M, "depending on how an offer is structured to
include the team's debt." Team President Roger Headrick
"declined to comment" on the report (STAR TRIBUNE, 10/29).
BOOK REPORT: Maas and two other Vikings' owners said
that Coach Dennis Green "could help diffuse" the controversy
surrounding his new book by "giving his explanation,
although they are not demanding an apology," according to
Jeff Seidel of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Green is
scheduled to meet with reporters this afternoon (PIONEER
PRESS, 10/29. Controversy surrounding the book "has helped
spark an explosion of interest" as Barnes & Noble "decided
this week" to distribute the book nationally and has
"ordered additional copies." The book had a first printing
of 10,000-15,000, and David Kasel, Dir of Marketing of
Sagamore Publishing, the book's publisher, said that
"[a]bout" 25% of the print run has gone out this week, and
"that's very good" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/29).