The "back and forth maneuvering" in the 49ers ownership
dispute "is mostly about money," according to Matier & Ross
of the S.F. CHRONICLE, who report, "Particularly at issue is
the soaring cost of the stadium-mall project, which some
insiders now put at $600 million to $700 million." But
"it's also a fight over who will control the deal," the
49ers or co-Owner Eddie DeBartolo's DeBartolo Entertainment.
In addition, Matier & Ross report that "there have already
been talks" between the 49ers and S.F. Mayor Willie Brown
"about having the city or the state come up with more money"
for the project. Brown "still stands firm" on capping the
city's contribution at $100M, which was approved by voters
last June. Denise DeBartolo York's statement on Tuesday
that her board of directors has decided to slow down the
stadium deal "until they got a better handle on the costs
... clearly caught team president Carmen Policy off guard."
On local radio yesterday, Policy was "trying to put the best
face forward on what clearly was a public relations
nightmare." Policy said it wasn't his "recollection" that
the board voted to hold up the facility, but that it needed
some "very, very serious and in-depth attention to some of
the numbers before we took the next step in terms of
securing interim financing." In light of the media "crush,"
Policy issued a press release in jest saying he was going to
Tierra del Fuego and the South Pole on a three-week
expedition study (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/29).
REAX: A S.F. CHRONICLE editorial states that even if
the DeBartolos "are getting cold feet" on building the
stadium/mall complex, "they should live up to the deal they
made with San Francisco taxpayers last year" (CHRONICLE,
1/29). In San Jose, Ann Killion: "The feeling last spring
that the stadium was a hurry-up, not-quite-thought-out deal
seems to have been correct. DeBartolo has moved a little
too fast in too many places, and now it seems, he's run
himself right into a wall" (MERCURY NEWS, 1/29).
The Penguins signed F Jaromir Jagr to a four-year, $38M
extension -- the "richest contract" in NHL history, and at
the same time "slashed season-ticket costs in seven price
categories for next season," according to Joe Starkey of the
Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The cuts will save ticket
holders "as much as $279.50 per season" over the '97-98
season prices. Gate prices "will not increase" next season,
and owners "promise to make playoff tickets more affordable
this season." Pens co-Owner Howard Baldwin: "[S]ome of the
concessions we're making (in playoff tickets) are very
dramatic." Starkey wrote that "this season's sagging
attendance at the Civic Arena made a bold statement to
Baldwin and fellow co-owner Roger Marino." The Penguins
have played this season to 89% capacity, selling out only
three of 24 games (TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/28). The highest-
priced tickets will be reduced from $60 to $57.70. Tickets
that currently cost $39 will be reduced to $32.50. Every
other ticket will be "cut by at least $1" (USA TODAY, 1/28).
BRAND JAGR? In a deal "similar to the one they struck
with [Mario] Lemieux in 1993, the Penguins and Jagr have
agreed to share his marketing rights." The team will "allow
Jagr to use the team's logo if he were to appear on a cereal
box or poster," and Jagr will split the extra revenue with
the team. As for Jagr's contract, the POST-GAZETTE's Dejan
Kovacevic wrote that the Penguins "are banking" that the NHL
"will double" its national TV revenue when its contracts
with ESPN and Fox expire after this season. Kovacevic: "Not
that Baldwin is expecting a deal such as the NFL's."
Baldwin: "I'd crawl from here to California and back for $73
million a year in TV money" (Pittsburgh POST-GAZETTE, 1/28).
REAX: Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix said that Jagr's
contract has him "worried." Lacroix: "The way it's going
you have to be concerned. Like any business, if you don't
have the potential revenue, somebody down the road is going
to get hurt. It's either the fans or the players. With
ownerships getting hurt, somebody else is going to have the
whiplash" (GAZETTE TELEGRAPH, 1/29). Commissioner Gary
Bettman: "[H]opefully, if Pittsburgh couldn't afford to pay
it they wouldn't have. ... It may mean long-term that some
high-paid players are basically taking away from some low-
paid players, but over time we think it will work out, and
over time we hope not to be ticket driven" (FSN, 1/28).
Packers President Bob Harlan told the Green Bay Press-
Gazette that he is "leaning" towards extending the sale of
Packers stock. Later, he told the AP: "If we are still
making money and it is a good business, we will consider
extending it for a period of time." The stock sale is
scheduled to end Saturday (PIONEER PRESS, 1/29)...L.A. City
Councilmember Nate Holden said he will continue to pursue
the Raiders and that he will work on the initiative alone,
as he said his City Council colleagues "are jealous of his
efforts" (L.A. TIMES, 1/29)....The Orioles unveiled their
altered logo. The "revised oriole, which will also appear
on the club's caps this year, has a bigger head and beak and
greater detail in the feathers" (Baltimore SUN, 1/29).
Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment committed to the
purchase of 500 NHL Predators season tickets, the largest
show of corporate support for the team to date. The
Predators must sell 12,000 season tickets, including 75% of
luxury suites and club seats, by March 31 in order to keep
their expansion franchise (Predators).
GOT TICKETS? Garth Brooks, Lorrie Morgan, Amy Grant and
Vince Gill are among the country music stars featured in the
Predators' new ad campaign. The ads, appearing on
billboards and in print, parody the "Got Milk?" campaign by
showing one of the performers, with missing front teeth,
over the tag line "Got Tickets?" (NHL Predators).