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Volume 24 No. 155

Franchises

          Orioles Owner Peter Angelos is profiled by Peter
     Schmuck of the Baltimore SUN in the first of a three-part
     series on the team's front office.  Angelos "is a shrewd
     negotiator with a knack for getting what he wants and a
     stubborn streak when it comes to doing what he thinks is
     best for business."  He has "steered" the Orioles "into
     regular contention and -- it appears -- into a new era of
     stability and tranquility."  Angelos, on the team's payroll:
     "We might end up with the highest payroll in baseball, but
     it won't be comprised of players who make $10-$12M per year.
     ... Baseball cannot support $10 million players unless
     baseball reaches the average ticket level of basketball,
     football and hockey, which is two to three times the average
     ticket price of baseball" (Baltimore SUN, 2/24).   

          NHL: In Edmonton, local investors' pitch for C$14.2M
     from the city council in exchange for 22% of the Oilers was
     rejected by Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and the municipal
     affairs minister "as against the rules."  In addition, a top
     NHL official said that the league "won't like" such a move
     (EDMONTON SUN, 2/24)....The Sabres are looking into charging
     current ticket prices "for a top draw -- and discount
     tickets for lesser attractions" (THE SPORTING NEWS, 2/23
     issue)....In Ottawa, an estimated 600 fans attended the
     Senators' open practice Saturday (OTTAWA SUN, 2/22)....In
     Calgary, more than 500 fans attended Skate with the Flames
     Saturday, and proceeds from the skate and a C$100-a-plate
     brunch totalled about C$15,000 (CALGARY SUN, 2/22).
          NOTES: The U.S. national soccer team unveiled its new
     World Cup uniforms Friday, and for the first time since the
     early '50s, the U.S. will wear red jerseys on a regular
     basis (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/21)....In MN, a bill
     authorizing a $100M state loan to buy the Twins was approved
     Monday by a House Government Operations subcommittee.  The
     bill faces "one or two" more committee votes before it would
     get to the House floor (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/24). 
     Meanwhile, former West Publishing exec Vance Opperman said
     that he thinks Twins Owner Carl Pohlad might end his
     negotiations with NC businessman Don Beaver "as soon as the
     March 31 deadline passes."  Opperman: "I think it is a
     distinct possibility that that falls apart" (PIONEER PRESS,
     2/23)....In Chicago, Bulls Dir of Marketing Steve Schanwald,
     on the demand for season tickets: "We have 25,000 names on
     our season-ticket waiting list. ... We have 550,000 names in
     a database that we have collected over the years of people
     we have identified as potential Bulls ticket purchasers. ...
     Once a season ticket-holder gives up the tickets, they are
     not likely to ever get them back" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/23). 

          The T-Wolves announced their '98-99 ticket prices
     Monday, with increases in most seat locations ranging from
     15-25%, according to Steve Aschburner of the Minneapolis
     STAR TRIBUNE.  Team President Rob Moor: "Clearly, increasing
     ticket prices has to do with increasing expenses.  Payroll 
     -- I don't think we can duck that issue -- is one of the
     increasing expenses."  The largest increases will be felt by
     ticket holders in the lower bowl, where fans will pay from
     $4 to $30 more next season.  Upper-level seats will go from
     $17 to $25, $32 to $33 and $17 to $19, with $10 seats
     remaining the same (STAR TRIBUNE, 2/24).  Other increases
     include: $194 to $225, $77 to $102, $50 to $63 and $32 to
     $40.  The T-Wolves have 14 ticket categories in all (Ray
     Richardson, ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/24).   

          Penguins co-Owner Roger Marino was interviewed in
     Sunday's Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW.  Marino has "been making
     himself heard lately" as he was "the man behind" the Pens'
     signing of Jaromir Jagr and the team's decision to reduce
     season ticket prices next season.  He also "had a hand in
     relieving" Team President Donn Patton.  Marino said that a
     move to replace Patton won't be made "until after the
     season, and he and co-owner Howard Baldwin "will become more
     involved" in the team's day-to-day operations.  Marino, on
     the ticket price reduction: "One of the messages we kept
     hearing from the fans was that ticket prices were too high. 
     We tried to shape that into reality, even though it turns
     out we have the 13th-highest ticket prices in the league.
     ... One thing we have to do next season is market the team
     correctly."  Marino called the team's arena situation
     "livable," and added, "If we keep doing the things we want
     to do to upgrade our building, 17,100 or 17,200 seats will
     be OK" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/22).

          The NHL ruled Monday that the Hurricanes' $38M offer
     sheet to Sergei Fedorov was invalid, according to Jason La
     Canfora of the DETROIT FREE PRESS.  The case will be heard
     by arbitrator John Sands in a conference call Wednesday. 
     The league based its ruling on a clause in the deal that
     would make a $12M portion of Fedorov's $26M signing bonus
     payable in whole should the team that signs him make it to
     the conference finals this year (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/24).

          With the proposed sale of the Islanders in jeopardy,
     Nassau County Exec Thomas Gulotta called on PA-based
     Spectacor Management Group (SMG) "to drop its demands for a
     written statement that it is not in default" of its Coliseum
     lease, according to Ken Moritsugu of NEWSDAY.  SMG must
     approve the Isles sale to Steven Gluckstern's group.  SMG
     CEO Wes Westley: "We hope to get this worked out."  Sources
     involved in the negotiations said that "little if any
     progress was made yesterday" (NEWSDAY, 2/24).  Westley said
     that SMG's position has been misrepresented: "We like the
     new ownership group and we're excited about them coming in. 
     All we've asked them for is a letter either stating what
     they see as any deficiencies in the building, or that there
     are no deficiencies at this point in time" (Ralph Vacchiano,
     N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/24).  More Westley: "We just want to
     protect our rights.  I would challenge anyone that says
     Nassau Coliseum is not clean and in very good shape for a
     25-year-old building" (Tarik El-Bashir, N.Y. TIMES, 2/24).