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).