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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

          TICKET PRICES: WNBA Mercury officials will increase
     ticket prices next season and expect their season-ticket base
     to reach 6,000-8,000, up from 4,500.  Mercury VP/Operations
     Seth Sulka said there would still be 8,000 upper-level seats 
     for $8: "We're not talking about anything massive" (ARIZONA
     REPUBLIC, 11/19)....The ECHL Raleigh IceCaps announced a new
     ticket price -- $5 -- for youth 14-and-under and high school
     and college students with ID (NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/18).
          NHL: The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS reports that twice in the
     last week, the Sharks have played against teams with African-
     American players.  In each game, the Foreigner song "Dirty
     White Boy" was played when the African-American players were
     sent to the penalty box.  In San Jose, David Pollak asks,
     "Coincidence?  Pattern?  Two minutes for cluelessness?" 
     Sharks Exec VP Malcolm Bordelon: "Mistakes.  Embarrassing
     mistakes."  Bordelon said that the team has pulled the song
     from the playlist (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/18).

          Raptors Exec VP/GM Isiah Thomas "admitted ... he's
     negotiating for a job with NBC-TV at the same time he's
     trying to cut a better deal for himself with team owner Allan
     Slaight," according to Smith & Young of the TORONTO STAR. 
     Speaking last night, Thomas "refused to put a deadline" on
     the talks with both parties, but a "high-level" NBA official
     said that the situation "should be cleared up by Friday"
     (TORONTO STAR, 11/19).  In Toronto, Craig Daniels writes that
     Thomas "is waiting to see what gives. ... [W]hether Slaight
     will pony up the okay to spend money, specifically on Damon
     Stoudamire ... and generally on the bevy of free agents
     available this summer" (TORONTO SUN, 11/19).  NBC Sports VP
     Ed Markey: "We have no deal with Isiah Thomas, I don't know
     where the report came from.  Maybe somebody at Isiah Thomas's
     office" (Michael Grange, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/19).
          A CLEAN SLAIGHT? In Toronto, Bill Harris writes that
     Slaight "isn't panicking and won't be pushed."  Slaight: "We
     have a contingency plan in place."  He "reacted strongly" to
     suggestions that he had vetoed trades or signings due to a
     "lack of funds."  Slaight: "Those accusations outrage me." 
     Raptors President Richard Peddie: "In my time here there has
     not been a single time when a salary request or player move
     has been flatly turned down" (TORONTO SUN, 11/19).  
          REAX: In Toronto, Stephen Brunt: "Perhaps Thomas sees
     the writing on the wall.  He doesn't have a close
     relationship with Slaight.  He has no relationship with
     Peddie.  It's his own dough that's on the line, and the cash
     calls to get the arena built are proving to be a financial
     strain."  Brunt adds "the biggest threat to the Raptors long-
     term success isn't one man's absence," but "it's an ownership
     that's so strung out financially trying to pay off the
     remaining franchise fee and finance its own arena that it
     doesn't have the wherewithal to compete" (GLOBE & MAIL,
     11/19).  Also in Toronto, Dave Perkins: "[T]he Raptors are
     this close to being in a fight for their very survival in
     this town. ... This is strictly about money ... Whether or
     not Slaight wants to pay for players isn't what matters right
     now; the cash is not there.  The cash is at Lakeshore and
     Bay. ... Both men will be painted as villains, but put the
     extra coat of the stuff on Slaight" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19). 
     In Toronto, Chris Young adds this "is one power play that
     Isiah Thomas can't win" (TORONTO STAR, 11/19).  

          Twins Owner Carl Pohlad said that he "is committed to
     selling the team" to a group of investors who plan to move it
     to NC after next season, according to Patrick Sweeney of the
     ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS.  In Phoenix, MLB owners appointed a
     five-man committee Tuesday to guide the team through the
     "sport's relocation rules and expedite the sale."  Committee
     Member/Rockies Chair Jerry McMorris: "We really don't want to
     give up on Minnesota.  But the bottom line is you have to do
     what you have to do."  Carl Pohlad's son, Bob, said that MLB
     owners "probably will not take a final vote on the sale until
     mid-February or early March and that owners could reject" the
     sale to NC business exec Don Beaver if MN legislators "agreed
     to build a ballpark by that time" (PIONEER PRESS, 11/19).
          CHARLOTTE'S WEB: The Charlotte Chamber yesterday hosted
     "a private meeting for about 15 business and civic leaders
     who decided to put together a plan to bring baseball to
     Charlotte, including an uptown ballpark" that could cost more
     than $200M, according to Moore & Rhee of the CHARLOTTE
     OBSERVER.  The group "found itself in the delicate position
     of trying to ready a plan -- but not appearing to undermine
     the Greensboro area's efforts to land a team."  Chamber Chair
     Sharon Decker: "The Triad is sitting in the driver's seat
     right now.  We will look at alternatives if there is a need
     for one" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/19).   Beaver said that he
     was "encouraged" by the news out of Phoenix and Charlotte:
     "All of this is a confirmation of our efforts and a signal to
     move ahead" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 11/19).