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Volume 24 No. 113

Franchises

          The A's have "quietly slapped" the city of Oakland and
     Alameda County with a $48M claim over the renovation of the
     Coliseum, according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. 
     The claim, sent yesterday to lawyers for the city and
     county, includes 23 demands and "comes at a time when the
     team's future in Oakland is already in question" following
     "unsuccessful talks" between team and stadium execs.  Among
     the demands are $12M for "lost ticket sales allegedly
     caused" by the elimination of bleacher seats, $12M in "lost
     'club seat' revenues," $9.5M for "lost ticket, food and
     merchandising sales" from diamond-level seats that were not
     built after disputes between the team and contractors, and
     $5M for "lost 'general attendance'" during the '96 season,
     which the A's claim was caused by constant renovation.  A's
     execs were unavailable for comment, and Matier & Ross write
     the case is "certain to fuel speculation about the team's
     future" in Oakland.  Under their lease, the A's have until
     July 1 to "extend their stay" until 2004 or "exercise a
     year-to-year clause," which would allow them to "sell or
     move the team within two years" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/22).

          The AA Aeros have signed a lease agreement with the
     city of Akron that "ends months of bickering between Aeros
     owner Mike Agganis and city officials," according to
     Charlene Nevada of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL.  While terms
     were not released, a tentative deal reported earlier said
     Agganis would pay the city $1.1M over three years and agree
     to sell "cheaper bleacher tickets for all games, even if not
     all of the reserved seats had been sold out."  Agganis "got
     some of what he wanted, including more leverage to put up
     advertising and permission for auxiliary billboards."  Last
     year, the Indians AA team set an Eastern League attendance
     record by drawing over 470,000 (BEACON JOURNAL, 1/22). 
 

          Maple Leafs Board member Brian Bellmore said that the
     Leafs hope to announce a new COO for Maple Leaf Gardens
     around the end of February (TORONTO SUN, 1/22)....The
     Packers have sold about one-quarter of the 400,000 shares of
     common stock, at $200 each, raising an estimated $20M
     (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 1/22)....In St. Paul, Charley Walters
     writes that Roger Headrick, "trying to hang on" as President
     of the Vikings, "has not only aligned himself" with
     potential investor Dr. Larry Lemak of Birmingham, AL, "but
     also is trying to team up with" Flyers and 76ers Chair and
     potential Vikings investor Ed Snider (PIONEER PRESS, 1/22).
          

          In Nashville, "several" Metro Council members Tuesday
     night "voiced" concern about the NHL Predators' "slow ticket
     sales," according to Rob Moritz of the NASHVILLE BANNER. 
     The members "tried to defer" a vote on the $21M bond issue
     to pay the city's portion of the NHL's $80M franchise fee
     for the team.  Members also tried to "amend the bill to
     require" that the $21M be "returned to Metro if the team
     leaves within five years."  But Councilmember Eileen Beehan
     told the group that the deal was approved two years ago, and
     added, "We made this pledge."  Two resolutions appropriating
     the bonds were then OK'd by a voice vote.  The $21M will be
     in an escrow account and the team "will use the money as
     collateral to borrow additional money to help pay its share
     of the franchise fee."  If the team doesn't sell the 12,000
     season tix mandated by March 31 and does not receive a
     franchise, the city will get the $21M back (BANNER, 1/21).

          Rumors that the Raiders "are contemplating" a return to
     L.A. "are groundless -- not to mention ludicrous," according
     to officials in both L.A. and Alameda County cited by Rick
     DelVecchio of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  L.A. City Councilmember
     Nate Holden, who said only that he was holding a press
     conference to discuss pro football in L.A., is being branded
     "as at best ill-informed and at worst a flake who could land
     the city in legal trouble for interfering with the Raiders'
     contract to play in Oakland for the next 13 seasons."  L.A.
     City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas: "On no occasion has
     [Raiders Owner] Al Davis or the Raiders organization
     indicated an imminent return to the Los Angeles market"
     (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/22).  NFL President Neil Austrian called
     the report "a lot of rubbish and rumor" (L.A. TIMES, 1/22).