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Volume 24 No. 158

Franchises

          The A's "have commissioned a study on the feasibility
     of Las Vegas supporting" an MLB team, according to Steve
     Kettmann of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  The study was commissioned
     more than a year ago.  While sources think that San Jose
     "remains a favorite" to land the A's if they relocate, with
     Sacramento also a possibility, the "rapid expansion of Las
     Vegas ... has turned it into a possible big-league city." 
     A's co-Owner Steve Schott could not be reached, and A's
     President Sandy Alderson had no comment (CHRONICLE, 3/19).

          Alberta Treasury Branches has accepted the local
     investors' offer to buy the NHL Oilers for US$70M, according
     to MacDonald & Stock of the EDMONTON JOURNAL.  Investor Jim
     Hole said that the group has bid for all hockey assets: the
     Oilers, the Hamilton Bulldogs farm team and the ability to
     use Edmonton Coliseum.  Control of the building currently
     rests with Peter Pocklington's Coliseum Management Inc.
     (CMI), which acquired the operating rights to the arena
     through a license agreement with Northlands Park in '94. 
     Pocklington said the local group's offer does not include
     CMI and that he wants additional compensation if it is
     include in the sale.  But sources said that the local group
     "wants only to acquire the license agreement" (EDMONTON
     JOURNAL, 3/19).  Such a deal would give the local investors
     Northlands advertising and luxury suite revenues, plus arena
     naming rights.  Northlands "would get overall control" of
     the arena "and take over concerts and other events currently
     booked through CMI" (Bernard Pilon, EDMONTON SUN, 3/19).

          In a deal "that would stun the baseball world and give
     Cablevision an unmatched sporting empire" in N.Y., the
     company "has entered into discussions with George
     Steinbrenner about the possibility of buying the Yankees,"
     according to Heyman & Zipay of NEWSDAY.  Cablevision Chair
     Charles Dolan confirmed yesterday that he has met with
     Steinbrenner on several occasions over the past few months
     and discussed "all kinds of possibilities" and scenarios
     regarding a potential sale.  Another source said that the
     sides have been talking about a sale for six months.  While
     neither Dolan nor Steinbrenner would discuss a price range,
     two sources familiar with the discussions said that the
     potential deal would bring Steinbrenner and his partners
     "well in excess" of $500M, "perhaps close to double the Fox
     purchase price" for the Dodgers.  Dolan said that
     Cablevision, owner of the Knicks and NHL Rangers, is
     "absolutely" interested in buying the Yankees, but "there
     has been no real progress with any of the different ideas
     that have surfaced" (Heyman & Zipay, NEWSDAY, 3/19).
          GEORGE ON THE RECORD: Steinbrenner yesterday did not
     "completely rule out" the possibility of selling the
     Yankees: "We've talked about a continuing relationship with
     them.  Their TV contract with us [on MSG] is up in two
     years, and there are all sorts of rumors flying around
     because of that.  There is nothing definitive.  Naturally,
     if there is an interest in maintaining our relationship it
     stands to reason they'll have interest in extending the
     contract or owning the team."  If the sale were to happen,
     sources say that the sides are discussing the possibility of
     Steinbrenner being paid "an annual management fee of at
     least" $5M to help run the club for five years after the
     sale.  However, sources said that "there are still very real
     obstacles" to a sale, such as Steinbrenner's tax bill if he
     were to sell at $500M-plus profit.  The situation "is
     further complicated" by the partners' decision to borrow
     against future earnings stemming from Steinbrenner's $486M
     MSG TV deal.  Meanwhile, Steinbrenner also said that he has
     heard "from his league sources" about interest in the team
     from Westinghouse, CBS's parent company (NEWSDAY, 3/19).

          THIS STUFF KIXX: In Philadelphia, the NPSL Kixx lead
     the league in attendance.  The second-year team is averaging
     8,751 fans, almost 1,000 more than last season.  Kixx Owner
     Ed Tepper said that the team's popularity increased when
     Comcast SportsNet broadcast 12 home games: "That (TV) gave
     us a basis with the fans. ... It's been amazing.  We've
     already had seven games with over 10,000 in attendance. 
     This just goes to show that Saturday night soccer works in
     Philadelphia" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/19). 
          NBA: SI's Jackie MacMullan reports that the Warriors
     have hired a PR firm "to help them accentuate the positives
     of their franchise" (SI, 3/23 issue)....In NEW YORK, Jacob
     Lewis reports that a Nets exec was spotted recently at a
     Knicks game "attempting to poach some of the celebrities who
     are treated to courtside tickets" at MSG.  Lewis: "One well-
     known entertainer was offered choice seats at a Nets games
     and limousine service to and from the Meadowlands, as well
     as a ball-boy gig for his son."  Nets Dir of PR John Mertz
     said that the team was not trying to "steal" anyone, but
     conceded that Nets would not be above "providing
     transportation to and from the game" (NEW YORK, 3/23 issue).
          NOTES: IHL Las Vegas Thunders part-Owner Ken Stickney
     denied reports that the team was involved in negotiations
     with Promotion Management Inc. about a possible move to
     Green Bay, WI, where PMI is the contractor of a proposed
     11,000-seat arena scheduled to open in 2000.  Stickney did
     say that PMI has been dealing with Mandalay Sports
     Entertainment, the parent company of the Thunder and other
     minor-league franchises.  Stickney, on future plans for him
     and Mandalay Sports: "Our whole plan is to own 10, 15 teams
     in different sports, in different cities, at different
     levels. ... We're trying to look to expand our business"
     (LAS VEGAS SUN, 3/18)....In N.Y., industry sources said that
     the Yankees' payroll for the '98 season is an MLB high $72M,
     slightly more than the Orioles' payroll (N.Y. POST, 3/19).
     ...ESPN's Bob Ley reported that the NFL will award Cleveland
     an expansion team, and that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
     said that "the approval could come Sunday at the league
     meetings in Orlando" (ESPN, 3/18)....The MLS Fire have sold
     "about" 3,000 season tickets (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/19).