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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

          The ABL Blizzard was profiled by Greg Garber in a
     front-page piece in Sunday's HARTFORD COURANT.  The Blizzard
     have drawn eight of the 11 largest crowds in ABL history
     this season at the Hartford Civic Center.  Garber wrote that
     ticket prices, which average around $11, have "something to
     do" with the team's success, while the success of the UConn
     women's basketball team has been another "significant
     factor."  The team, which has "only" 24 full-time employees,
     saw its season-ticket base in Hartford "swell" from 1,900 to
     5,088.  Garber added that a Blizzard crowd "isn't anything
     like a Whalers or UConn men's crowd."  Garber: "You can buy
     a beer in about 30 seconds, but you'll have to invest some
     time in the line for ice cream sundaes."  ABL CEO Gary
     Cavalli said that women's basketball is most popular with
     "[f]amilies with female children, professional women who are
     single, and senior citizens."  Blizzard GM Pam Batalis added
     that the sport "gives the gay and lesbian community a
     legitimate sports environment."  Batalis: "We fill a very
     large void or niche in the marketplace. ... Seniors, gay and
     lesbian groups, families with girls, never had this outlet
     before" (Greg Garber, HARTFORD COURANT, 1/11). 

          Former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox has filed a $6M
     lawsuit against Seahawks Owner Paul Allen in L.A. Superior
     Court, claiming "he helped broker" Allen's $200M purchase of
     the team "and didn't get the commission he was promised"
     (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/12)....Detroit's WNBA team will be
     called the Shock and be coached by Nancy Lieberman-Cline
     (DETROIT NEWS, 1/11)....The ABL StingRays drew 6,006
     Saturday at The Pond in Anaheim, but StingRays GM Bill
     McGillis said, "We're still committed to Long Beach as our
     home" (L.A. TIMES, 1/11)....In Philadelphia, Phillies Chair
     Bill Giles: "Somebody told me they heard on TV we'd be sold
     by opening day.  I can tell you unequivocally that nobody is
     talking to us, and even if they did, we have no interest
     whatsoever" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/11).

          Devils Owner John McMullen "appears to have renewed his
     pitch" to buy the Nets "as part of a bid to secure a
     secondary tenant for his proposed arena in Hoboken," a
     "highly placed source" told Steve Hirsch of the Bergen
     RECORD.  McMullen, who met with members of the Nets
     ownership group on Friday: "I'm just not going to discuss my
     private affairs anymore."  One source, on McMullen: "His
     ultimate goal is to buy the team.  I think it's a question
     of how high the Nets' price is.  I've heard it's $150
     million.  The question is whether they cop out at $125
     million because they want the money" (Bergen RECORD, 1/10). 
     In N.Y., Fred Kerber reported that the Nets' meeting with
     McMullen was "not to hear an offer to buy the team, but
     rather a proposal to join the Devils in Hoboken" (N.Y. POST,
     1/11).  The Nets are due to begin talks with the state
     within two weeks, and the RECORD's John Rowe wrote that NJ
     Gov. Christie Whitman most likely "will extend [NJ Sports &
     Exposition Authority Chair] Robert Mulcahy's contract beyond
     its Jan. 31 expiration date so that Mulcahy can sit on the
     other side of the bargaining table from Nets President
     Michael Rowe, his former right-hand man" (RECORD, 1/11). 
          MULCAHY TO RUTGERS? Whitman has proposed that Mulcahy
     take over Rutgers' athletic department, according to Abby
     Goodnough of the N.Y. TIMES.  While Whitman and others said
     Rutgers President Francis Lawrence should "snap up" Mulcahy,
     whose NJSEA term ends this month, Lawrence said he would
     conduct a nationwide search for a new AD (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).

          Flyers & 76ers Chair Ed Snider met last week with the
     Vikings' Wheelock Whitney and other members of the committee
     appointed to sell the team, according to Sid Hartman of the
     Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  Whitney "refused to confirm the
     visit," but Hartman wrote that Snider "did tour the
     Metrodome and is a serious candidate to buy the club" (STAR
     TRIBUNE, 1/10).  In St. Paul, Charley Walters reported that
     it's "a decent bet" that Snider "would form a management
     company to operate the Metrodome if he can acquire the
     Vikings."  Walters: "If Snider, regarded in the professional
     sports business as a fair and good operator with a 'regular
     guy' reputation, were to purchase the Vikings, he could
     manage the Metrodome, as well as its concession service,
     under a 20- to 30-year lease" (PIONEER PRESS, 1/11).

          The Marlins' "unsettled ownership situation should be
     clarified by the end of January," according to Barry Jackson
     of the MIAMI HERALD.  Speaking through a spokesperson, Owner
     Wayne Huizenga said that Marlins President Don Smiley will
     have "significant meetings" this month, and then he will
     decide "whether to abandon efforts to put together an
     investment group to buy the team."  Smiley would not
     comment, but Jackson wrote that "he is believed to be trying
     to borrow from banks to help finance the deal."  However, NL
     rules say financing of a sale must have two parts equity to
     one part debt (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 1/11).