NBA: The off-the-court troubles of the NBA Wizards are
examined by Mike Wise on the front-page of the N.Y. TIMES.
Wise reports that the Wizards' "informal contract with the
city has turned out to be worse than the empty cliche it has
often been elsewhere. ... [F]or many fans in the city, the
Wizards, rather than an example of rebirth, have been one
more expensive failure" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/14). In S.F., David
Steele wrote that crowds at the MCI Center "are dwindling
and growing hostile," while the "immediate future of the
franchise is suddenly grim" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/14)....The
T'Wolves, who had a 96% season-ticket renewal rate last
year, are finishing current renewals and project a rate of
92%-93% (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/14).
NOTE: Columbus, OH, investors in the NHL Blue Jackets
"won a major victory" when a federal judge ruled that a
legal dispute over ownership of the team must be tried in
Franklin County, OH, Common Pleas Court. The trial is
expected to begin April 20 (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 4/10).
The Indians have sold-out individual game tickets for
the rest of the '98 season. The Indians consecutive home
sellout streak now stands at an MLB record 211 straight
games (Indians). In Boston, Peter Gammons called the
Indians' IPO "troublesome because it sends a message that it
isn't enough to sell out the ballpark every night, have
creative sources of revenue, and provide one of the most
entertaining teams in the business. So what does that say
about Detroit and Milwaukee when their parks open?" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 4/13). In Cleveland, Glenn Gamboa reported that in
the Indians' public offering application with the SEC, the
team said it earned $100,000 from ad sales on their Web
site, www. indians.com, in '97 (PLAIN-DEALER, 4/13).
MLB NOTES: Reggie Jackson said that he and a group bid
$300M to buy the Dodgers last year, but lost out when team
Owner Peter O'Malley accepted the $311M bid from Rupert
Murdoch's Fox Group (NEWSDAY, 4/13)....Expos President
Claude Brochu, on team payroll: "We'll double the payroll
next year and again the year after" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/13).
Magic Johnson "has decided not to sell" his 5% stake in
the Lakers and "instead will remain in his current position
that also includes" the title of VP, according to Scott
Howard-Cooper of the L.A. TIMES. Johnson was looking to
sell his stake "to divest himself of NBA holdings as a
prerequisite to the planned opening of a sports management
firm," which Howard-Cooper writes is "either history or on
the back burner" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14).
The Red Sox are "seriously considering" a public stock
sale that would give buyers a piece of a new Fenway Park
"but not the team," according to Will McDonough of the
BOSTON GLOBE. While the Red Sox "do not want to give up any
part of the team [they] would jump at an opportunity to sell
stock in a new park if they felt it would give them a major
financial boost" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/11).
HUB NOTES: The Celtics have sold out 13 consecutive
games at the FleetCenter, and 19 of their last 21 (THE
DAILY). The GLOBE's McDonough added that with the success
of the Celtics and Bruins this season, FleetCenter President
Richard Krezwick "is breathing a little easier." Many of
the original premium seat-holders have three-year contracts
which expire August 31, and with both teams struggling last
year, "renewals didn't look promising." Now, Krezwick said
he is expecting 100% "renewals on the suites" (BOSTON GLOBE,
4/11). However, hockey writer Kevin Paul DuPont said the
fact that the B's are averaging about 3,000 below capacity
at the FleetCenter shows "that the average Boston hockey
fan, contrary to decades past, won't put up an average of
$50 to see just a good product" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/11).
Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan, a Cleveland native,
"has met with NFL officials and intends to file an
application to own" the expansion Browns with his brother,
Lawrence Dolan, according to Grossi & Lubinger of the
Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER. NFL rules forbid corporate
ownership or cross-ownership of teams in other pro leagues,
unless the teams are in the same market, but the Dolans
"intend to own the Browns as a family enterprise." Charles
Dolan: "There is no strategic reason for (Cablevision) to be
involved with the Browns. Our interest has nothing to do
with Cablevision." The Dolans are the fourth group to come
forward as candidates to own the Browns. Lawrence Dolan, a
corporate lawyer who lives in suburban Cleveland, said the
brothers "would not need partners," but they would not rule
out "some strategic alliances that would be appropriate."
Charles Dolan, on a potential $500M expansion fee: "All of
this is subject to reasonableness. If it becomes
unreasonable, obviously we can't do it" (PLAIN-DEALER, 4/9).
NEWSDAY's Feigenbaum & Sanger reported that the Dolans "are
preparing to bid about" $350M (NEWSDAY, 4/10).
NO BID BY LERNER? In Akron, Terry Pluto wrote that he's
heard that MBNA Chair Al Lerner "is reluctant to make a bid
for the Browns. His family does not want him to end up on
the public stage where he would be subject to another round
of criticism about his involvement with Art Modell's move to
Baltimore" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/12).
The estate of former Redskins Owner Jack Kent Cooke has
"agreed to pay" his widow $20M to settle her challenge to
his will, according to Finn & Shear of the WASHINGTON POST.
The settlement provides Marlene Ramallo Cooke with financial
security, and "ensures that most" of Kent Cooke's estate,
which is estimated at $500M-825M will go to a charitable
trust, as he had instructed. The agreement "also will make
it easier" for Redskins President John Kent Cooke to
purchase the team from the charitable foundation, since
legal experts had speculated that if Marlene Cooke's lawsuit
had been successful, the team might have been sold to
"generate the cash to pay her off." John Kent Cooke said
the settlement "allows me to pursue my plans to purchase
control of the Redskins" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/14).