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Volume 24 No. 117

Franchises

          Ascent Entertainment Group held its annual meeting
     Monday, and Ascent Chair & CEO Charlie Lyons said that '97
     "was a year where our strategic investments outweighed our
     disappointments," according to Stephen Keating of the DENVER
     POST.  Lyons and entrepreneur Peter Barton were reappointed
     to three-year terms on the Ascent Board of Directors.  Among
     items at the meeting, Ascent announced that the $160M Pepsi
     Center may be financed, "in large part," by borrowing
     against future revenue streams, including naming rights and
     luxury-suite payments.  Lyons described the 11-71 record of
     the Nuggets as "horrible" and specifically cited the
     "mishandling" of former Nugget Antonio McDyess, who was
     traded to the Suns before the season (DENVER POST, 4/28).

          In K.C., prospective owners "are supposed to submit
     their initial bids today for the Royals" (K.C. STAR,
     4/28)....The Red Sox, "joining an industry trend," have
     placed signage on the padding behind home plate, a house ad
     promoting a number to call for tickets (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/28).
     ...In K.C., Jeffrey Flanagan writes that a source said IHL
     Blades Owner Dan DeVos and the Blades "could be looking to
     boost their image in the city by asking" George Brett to
     become a partial owner of the team (K.C. STAR, 4/28)....In
     Philadelphia, columnist Bill Lyon calls on the 76ers to re-
     sign President Pat Croce: "Under Croce's stewardship, the
     Sixers have recaptured fan interest.  It would be foolhardy
     not to retain him" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/28).

          Last Friday was the "final date" for early renewal of
     more than 200 suites at the United Center which would "take
     advantage of an estimated $15,000 discount," according to
     Sam Smith of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.  Early renewal means a
     suite at mid-level, near center-court, would cost $184,000
     per year starting for the '99 season.  The cost would be
     increased to $202,000 per year if not renewed until after
     April 22.  But there has "been some concern expressed among
     suite-holders" over the quality of the product they would be
     paying for, especially if Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
     leave the Bulls.  Smith writes that suite-holders would be
     more willing to renew if they were guaranteed they would be
     seeing Jordan's final year and "that's why many ... are
     waiting to see what happens."   Smith: "The Bulls say they
     have had excellent response and even a majority of renewals,
     but several suite-holders contacted say they know of few
     suite-holders who already have renewed."  One corporate
     exec: "We want to see who's going to be on the team."  Smith
     writes, "That's why there could be consideration of offering
     Jordan and Pippen two-year contracts.  That would guarantee
     both would be with the Bulls in the 1999-2000 season, which
     would be the first in the new lease period for at least 200
     suite-holders" (Sam Smith, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/28). 

          Molson Breweries and the Senators have entered into a
     comprehensive four-year marketing alliance that extends from
     on-ice and in-arena activities to promotional and community
     events.  As part of the alliance, a 400-seat area at the
     Corel Centre will be established where Molson will
     underwrite more than half of the cost of the ticket.  Seats
     in the section, which will be sold as a 12-game ticket
     package, will cost C$22 each, instead of the usual C$45. 
     Molson will also be heavily involved with the team's TV
     broadcasts, and will be the title sponsor of next season's
     home opener.  Molson Regional Manager/Ottawa Region Cam
     Atchison: "Molson wants to play a larger role with
     individual clubs like the [Senators] that goes further than
     our previous NHL TV advertising package could" (Senators). 
     In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch reports that Molson will be
     involved "with virtually every promotion" the club does. 
     The deal "could now clear the way" for the team to complete
     its local/regional TV packages.  The team's local deal with
     CHRO is up and Molson will now title sponsor the broadcasts. 
     Senators President Roy Mlakar said his team is the "first
     team to sign this type of deal" (OTTAWA SUN, 4/28).   
     

          The sale of the NHL Oilers to the Edmonton Investors
     Group LP was approved unanimously by the NHL Board of
     Governors yesterday.  Final closing of the sale remains
     subject to further documentation satisfactory to NHL 
     Commissioner Gary Bettman and league counsel (NHL).  In
     Edmonton, Stock & MacDonald report that the local investors
     must pay the US$65M balance on the US$70M deal to acquire
     the team on May 5.  Just "over half" of that amount has been
     raised; the remainder will be borrowed.  The group "will now
     move to keep key personnel," such as President/GM Glen
     Sather (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 4/28).  The local buyers now have
     31 people in their group, including three new investors
     (Terry Jones, EDMONTON SUN, 4/28).  The trio of new
     investors are pilot Don Hamilton, "trucking magnate" Simon
     Sochatsky and "oilpatch tycoon" Wally Kuchar.  The latter
     two put up C$1M each (Bernard Pilon, EDMONTON SUN, 4/28).