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).