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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

          NBA: Last night's Nets-Cavs game drew 12,860 at Gund
     Arena, the smallest crowd since the arena opened, and the
     smallest at a Cavs game since December '92 at Richfield
     Coliseum (BEACON JOURNAL, 11/17)....In N.Y., Peter Vecsey:
     "Those fleeing the Warriors maintain the team can't possibly
     be resuscitated unless owner Chris Cohan sells or removes
     himself from all decision making" (N.Y. POST, 11/16).  
          NFL: Vikings board member Wheelock Whitney disputed a
     report that Red McCombs had increased his offer for the team
     to $185M (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/15).  McCombs would
     not comment on his offer, but said that although his "first
     goal" is for San Antonio to have an NFL team, he has "no
     intention" of moving the Vikings out of MN should he gain
     control of the team (S.A. EXPRESS-NEWS, 11/15).  
          NOTES: Lamar Hunt's attorneys have appealed a Columbus
     judge's ruling that "closed Hunt out as an owner" of the NHL
     Blue Jackets (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/15)....Anaheim Sports
     President Tony Tavares said that Disney would "take a look
     at ownership" of an MLS franchise (L.A. TIMES, 11/14). 

          Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner "is quietly trying to
     convince" Marge Schott to sell her shares in the team,
     according to Bill Straub of the CINCINNATI POST.  If Schott
     decides to sell, her 6 1/2 shares of the Reds would be
     offered to the Reds' limited partners, including Lindner,
     who holds 1 1/2 shares.  Sources also said it was Lindner
     who advised Schott to announce her support for a renovated
     Cinergy Field over a new ballpark (CINCINNATI POST, 11/15). 
     

          Owners of the Cowboy's Sports Cafe, including former
     Cowboys Tony Dorsett and Everson Walls, "are pleading with"
     Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones to lift the ban of Cowboys players
     from the restaurant, as business "is down $50,000 a month"
     since Jones imposed the ban, according to Tony Hartzel of
     the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  As recently as last week, cafe
     owners "had hoped to resolve the matter" without filing a
     lawsuit, and just before the owners "planned to remove the
     Cowboy's sign as part of a tentative agreement, the deal
     fell apart."  Dorsett says the ban is "unfairly singling"
     out the restaurant and hurting business.  But Jones said
     that the team still uses the Cafe and "maintains a positive
     relationship with the former players" (MORNING NEWS, 11/15).
          KEEPING UP WITH MR. JONES: Jones said that he will take
     a "more active role in a hybrid" coach/GM capacity next
     season.  Jones: "I won't do any head coaching.  I can see me
     being more productive and involved on game day being in the
     coaches box" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/15)....Jones was
     profiled by Todd Shapera in the FINANCIAL TIMES under the
     header, "The Creaking House That Jerry Built" (11/15).

          Lease negotiations between the Nets and the N.J. Sports
     & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) "are set to begin" in the
     next few weeks, according to Jon Gelberg of the Newark STAR-
     LEDGER.  The Nets hold the option of opting-out following
     the '99-2000 season and Sunday's STAR-LEDGER featured 
     separate Q&As with NJSEA CEO Robert Mulcahy and Nets
     President & COO Michael Rowe.  Rowe, on possible renovation:
     "The Sports Authority has to prove to us they can
     successfully renovate it and (that) the kind of cash flows
     that are needed will be there."  Rowe said that the Nets
     paid $1.5 million in state sales taxes last year and added,
     "[Y]ou can buy at least one player with that."  Rowe, on the
     threat of relocation: "There have been a number of
     unsolicited offers to purchase the team in the last few
     years.  The shorter the lease, the more attractive the
     franchise.  We've not been on the footsteps of any city hall
     in the Sun Belt or the Midwest.  The Sports Authority is
     smart enough to know what's out there" (STAR-LEDGER, 11/16). 
          NJSEA VIEW: Mulcahy said that he expects the Nets talks
     to be "frank and cordial."  Mulcahy, asked if the state
     could provide a subsidy or tax break to the team: "There has
     to be another stream of revenue to keep the complex as
     competitive as it is now. ... That's a significant question
     that has to be resolved."  Mulcahy, on whether NJ would "be
     better off" with a new arena: "You have to take a close look
     at the economic realities.  I'm not sure what the market is. 
     You can talk about having a facility with 200 luxury boxes
     and hundreds of club seats, but that won't do you much good,
     in terms of producing revenues, if those boxes and seats are
     empty" (Jon Gelberg, Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/16).
     

          Walter Payton, Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey each
     responded to a Friday report that they were part of a group
     trying to buy the Bears, according to Dan Pompei of the
     CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.  Payton: "I am not looking in the very
     near future to be the owner of a football team. ... I don't
     know how this got started."  Winfrey's Harpo studio issued a
     statement that said, "Oprah is not interested in buying any
     sports team at this time" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/15). 
     Jordan: "I've always said I'd never own a team.  I'm going
     to hold true to that, because I can't afford to pay that
     money to all those athletes" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/15).

          The relationship between the Coyotes and Suns is "so
     tattered" that Coyotes Owner Richard Burke and Suns
     President/CEO Jerry Colangelo "no longer speak," according
     to Kent Somers of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC.  The Coyotes are in
     the second year of their lease at America West Arena, and
     the team says that the number of obstructed-view seats and
     current advertising and sponsorship deals prevents them from
     "making money" and leads to "higher ticket prices for their
     fans."  Colangelo, however, "disputes nearly every one" of
     the Coyotes' assertions, contending that they have a "very
     favorable" lease, and says that their attitude shows a "lack
     of gratitude for his efforts" in bringing the team to AZ.
     While Coyotes officials are "careful when discussing their
     situation at America West," the team says that the revenue
     streams they were promised have amounted to "trickles" and
     that the situation "has to change or they will move to
     another arena."  But team officials would prefer to stay
     where they are.  One of the "main sticking points" between
     the two clubs is the fact that the Suns have the right to
     sell exclusive corporate sponsorships.  The Coyotes say that
     since they signed their lease the number of such exclusive
     categories has gone from nine to 21, which they say "limits
     the scope of packages they can offer advertisers." 
     Colangelo: "Look, my door is always open. ... I've been in
     this business for 32 years.  Some people are novices in the
     sports business" (Kent Somers, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/15).