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Volume 24 No. 160

Franchises

          Calvin Murphy, who has served as the Rockets' TV
     analyst and a "cornerstone" of the team's community-
     relations efforts, "apparently has submitted his
     resignation."  It is "unknown" what "prompted Murphy to
     resign" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/23)....Larry Makelki, former
     co-owner of the oil-patch supply company BMW Monarch, has
     "added his name" to the team of nine local investors vying
     to buy the NHL Oilers (EDMONTON SUN, 1/23)....The Capitals
     will debut their new third jersey on Sunday at the MCI
     Center against the Bruins.  The jersey is mostly black, with
     a stripe of bronze across the torso bottom (Capitals).
          

          Disney's sports empire is examined by USA TODAY's Bill
     Meyers, who writes, "Flexing its monetary muscle ... has
     enabled Disney to outpace corporate rivals such as Time
     Warner and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. as it builds the most
     powerful empire in the $200 billion sports world."  Disney
     Chair Michael Eisner: "Sports is entertainment.  It gives
     you continuing seasons, which is like Sequel City."  Meyers
     writes that it is Eisner "who has written the script for
     Disney's current sports success," between its ownership of
     the Angels and Mighty Ducks, its investment in ESPN, ESPN
     retail outlets and ESPN Magazine, and its $500M pact with
     major college bowls.  Eisner is also "integrating Disney's
     sports empire into its entertainment kingdom," and "blending
     ... athletics and entertainment" (USA TODAY, 1/23).

          Minnesota's NHL expansion team unveiled its new name,
     the "Wild," along with its logo, including the official
     colors of Iron Range Red, Forest Green, Harvest Gold and
     Minnesota Wheat (Wild).  In Minneapolis, John Millea reports
     that 3,500 fans attended the team's ceremony, where the name
     was introduced to Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild."  Wild
     merchandise went on sale "immediately after" the event
     outside, and will be available today at retail.  Wild CEO
     Jac Sperling: "The identity is the wilderness.  It's one of
     the good things about Minnesota; the rugged natural
     wilderness and the enthusiasm of the fans" (STAR TRIBUNE,
     1/23).  Also in MN, Patrick Reusse writes that after an
     effort to get the name "North Stars" back from Dallas
     failed, and the expansion team's owners "showed no interest
     in reviving" the old St. Paul "Fighting Saints" name, the
     moniker is "certain to be a disappointment" to MN's hockey
     traditionalists: "The name offered no link to St. Paul, no
     link to the NHL's Minnesota past" (STAR TRIBUNE, 1/23).
          OFF-ICE: Wild Managing Partner Bob Naegele "declined
     comment" on reports that he had "more than doubled" his
     initial $10M investment in the franchise when other
     investors withdrew (Charley Walters, PIONEER PRESS, 1/23).

          L.A. City Councilmember Nate Holden, who was "ridiculed
     for stirring up a scare that the Raiders were leaving
     Oakland went even further yesterday, claiming the move is
     'imminent,'" according to Rick DelVecchio of the S.F.
     CHRONICLE.  Holden, at a news conference at the Coliseum,
     said that Raiders Owner Al Davis will "prevail" in his legal
     battles with the NFL and "as a result will win the right to
     take the team south."  Raiders Exec Assistant Al LoCasale
     said that the Raiders "are not planning to move anytime
     soon," while NFL VP/Communications Greg Aiello termed
     Holden's comments "ridiculous."  L.A. City Councilmember
     Joel Wachs: "We need the Raiders like the Titanic needed an
     iceberg" (Rick DelVecchio, S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/23).  

          A new San Diego Union-Tribune/KNSD-NBC poll found that
     many locals are going to fewer pro games than they did five
     years ago, according Gordon Smith of the SAN DIEGO UNION-
     TRIBUNE.  The poll, which surveyed 603 San Diego residents
     January 9-15, was conducted by CA-based Richard Hertz
     Consulting, and had a margin of error of +/- 4%.  Among the
     results, 64% said there are "major benefits to having pro
     sports in San Diego," with women being "as emphatic about
     the benefits of pro sports as men;" 43% attend the same
     number of games as they did five years ago, but a
     "significant" 33% attend fewer games; 41% said their
     interest in sports is affected by player attitudes; and 51%
     said the city should share "at least" some of the costs of a
     new ballpark for the Padres, while 42% said the Padres
     should cover all costs.  The Padres maintain "a strong
     positive image in the community," as 64% think they are good
     corporate citizens, compared with 51% who say the same about
     the Chargers.  And 39% said the current Padres ownership "is
     doing a better job than the previous owners at making
     baseball good for San Diego" (UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/22).