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Volume 24 No. 157

Franchises

          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).