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Volume 24 No. 160


          The city of Charlotte held a public forum on the
     possibility of the Twins relocating to the area, and the
     "message" from the meeting was "if the Triad doesn't want"
     the Twins, Charlotte "will gladly step in," according to
     Foon Rhee of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  The meeting drew 150
     people, and representatives of potential Twins buyer Don
     Beaver used the positive response "to issue a warning to"
     Greensboro-area residents.  A Triad poll released Sunday
     showed public opposition to a May ballpark referendum and
     Beaver hopes to move an MLB team to the Triad in 2001 after
     two years in Knights Castle.  Beaver's NC Major League
     Baseball VP Tim Newman said, "The message to the Triad is:
     It's your ball, hit it. ... If you swing and miss, then
     there's some other options out there.  And I think there
     might be some options here" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/16).

          The Indianapolis City-County Council last night "firmly
     endorsed the negotiations to keep" the Colts in the city,
     according to Robert Bell of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS. 
     Following the council's meeting, which was attended by 12
     Colts players, Owner Jim Irsay said that he "hopes to have a
     letter of agreement" with the city by December 23.  Bell
     calls the show of support "good for the Colts" because city
     officials had said that "without council backing, they would
     stop" negotiations with the team (STAR-NEWS, 12/16).

          The Red Sox have been accused by a former employee of
     "fostering a racial climate hostile to black employees,"
     according to Adrian Walker of the BOSTON GLOBE.  Thomas
     Sneed, an African-American former employee of the team,
     "says the team failed to fully investigate several racially-
     based incidents in which he was targeted, and even asked him
     to keep quiet about them."  Sneed, who worked for the team
     for seven years, said that on two separate occasions
     pictures in his office of his white fiancee were "defaced,"
     once with a "racial epithet," and he says he "interpreted
     the message as a clear threat of physical violence."  In a
     statement, the Red Sox "acknowledged that Sneed had reported
     the incidents," but "denied that the club had not tried to
     stop them" (Adrian Walker, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/16).

          MLB: In FL, Michael Mayo writes on the Marlins trade of
     P Kevin Brown yesterday, another move in the "stripping" of
     the team: "We've been bludgeoned so much since the World
     Series that we're almost punch drunk.  But we're not stupid.

     So strip away.  If that's the alternative to the public
     financing a $350 million stadium, then so be it" (SUN-
     SENTINEL, 12/16)....In Orlando, Brian Schmitz writes that
     the Marlins year was "a glorious season soured by the bitter
     aftertaste of financial irresponsibility" (ORLANDO SENTINEL,
     12/16)....It took the Indians just nine days to sell out the
     "bulk of their individual game tickets" for next season.  In
     all, the team sold about 900,000 tickets before sales
     stopped on Sunday (BEACON JOURNAL, 12/16)...The Reds sold
     "more than" 24,000 tickets on Saturday, the first day
     tickets went on sale for next season.  Last year's first day
     sales count was 14,800 (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 12/14).
          NHL: The Pens have sold out only two of 15 home games
     this season and are "considering a slash in ticket prices." 
     Owner Howard Baldwin: "Maybe we've got these prices at a
     level they shouldn't be at" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/16).

          The Raptors announced their smallest SkyDome crowd in
     franchise history as 14,562 attended their game against the
     Pacers, a "testament to the team's struggles on the court
     and its wretched record," according to Doug Smith of the
     TORONTO STAR.  The team is 2-21 (TORONTO STAR, 12/16).  In
     Toronto, Steve Simmons: "Toronto is a fragile basketball
     market and has been from the start.  But the beginning seems
     so long ago, and what was once fragile is now even more
     tenuous."  Simmons adds that the city is "rapidly losing
     interest in the rancid Raptors, with all their stories and
     all their excuses and all their ownership fights and all
     their whining" (TORONTO SUN, 12/16).  Also in Toronto, David
     Israelson wrote on the Raptors under the header, "Raptors
     Need Some Better Marketing."  Season-ticket sales this year
     are in the 9,000-10,000 "range," down from 12,000 in the
     team's inaugural season (TORONTO STAR, 12/15).

          The Mets, "in an effort to be trendier and to appeal to
     today's kid-driven sports fashion market," will introduce
     black into the color schemes of their uniforms this spring,
     according to David Waldstein of the N.Y. POST.  The team
     will wear an "alternate black hat" with a blue brim and a
     blue and orange "NY" logo, and "will also wear a black shirt
     at times."  Mets VP & General Counsel David Howard said that
     there "is no set time" when the Mets will wear the new look,

     but added, "We want to be perceived as hip and updated to
     kids.  When kids walk around wearing your logo, it's like
     having a walking billboard" (N.Y. POST, 12/16).