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Volume 24 No. 158

Franchises

          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).