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Volume 24 No. 116

Franchises

          AL President Gene Budig "resigned from the board of
     Western Resources Inc. on Wednesday to avoid any possible
     conflict of interest" concerning the company's joint bid
     with Lamar Hunt for the Royals, according to Martin
     Rosenberg of the K.C. STAR.  Budig had been on Western's
     board for 11 years (Martin Rosenberg, K.C. STAR, 4/30).

          Edmonton investors looking to purchase the Oilers have
     "reached and may exceed their goal" of C$60M in equity,
     according to Jac MacDonald of the EDMONTON JOURNAL.  The
     group had to reach C$60M by yesterday in order to obtain
     C$50M in bank financing necessary to close the deal by May
     5.  Three more partnership units were acquired, bringing the
     total number of unit holders to 27 and the number of people
     to 34 (Jac MacDonald, EDMONTON JOURNAL, 4/30).
          MOLSON ICE: Molson Breweries announced a seven-figure
     marketing partnership with the team yesterday.  The deal
     will incorporate broadcast, advertising and sponsorship
     components.  Molson said the deal "doubles the brewery's
     cash commitment to the team."  Molson VP/Marketing Brent
     Scrimshaw: "It's fair to say it's seven figures and above. 
     It really gives us a proprietary position that no one else
     in the industry can match."  The two-year deal makes Molson
     the team's "prime" sponsor and the Oilers' official beer. 
     It also keeps sponsorship rights to all locally televised
     Oilers games.  Molson also gave a check worth C$276,187 as
     the proceeds from its campaign to save the Oilers.  Molson
     had donated C$1 from the sale of every 12 Molson Canadian
     and Molson Canadian Ice beers sold in Alberta from mid-
     February to March 13 (David Bray, EDMONTON SUN, 4/30). 

          BASEBALL: The Dodgers have opened an office in Tokyo,
     "the first such office ever opened" by an MLB team.  The
     Dodgers' Eizaburo Kohrogi will oversee the new office under
     his new title of Dir of Asian Relations (L.A. TIMES, 4/29).
     ...In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that Mike Veeck and
     his partners will continue to operate the St. Paul Saints of
     the Northern League this season, "because nobody has stepped
     up to pay the big price being asked for the franchise"
     (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/30)....In Toronto, Garth
     Woolsey writes that the Blue Jays are "surely" worth less
     now than when a group led by Murray Frum offered what was
     thought to be more than C$150M to buy the team from
     Interbrew.  With attendance, TV viewership and "prospects"
     down and the competition "getting tougher," Woolsey writes
     there "has to be unease at the top and it's only a matter of
     time until it should be raining down on everyone in the
     organization" (TORONTO STAR, 4/30).....Red Sox 3B Tim
     Naehring was to meet with Red Sox CEO John Harrington about
     creating a miniature Fenway Park in Boston.  Naehring's
     company, Athletes Reach Out, already has built a Little
     Fenway in Cincinnati (Providence JOURNAL-BULLETIN, 4/29).
          NOTES: Viacom Chair Sumner Redstone, on his interest in
     buying a sports franchise: "I think what I won't do that
     others have done -- I won't risk Viacom.  I'll take a lot of
     risks, but I never could take it to the point where Viacom
     is at risk" (L.A. TIMES, 4/29)....In Minneapolis, Sid
     Hartman reports that Vikings co-Owner Wheelock Whitney
     denied a recent report that he and other members of the
     Vikings board sold the team to Tom Clancy "to make sure that
     Roger Headrick didn't get it."  Whitney also disputed
     Hartman's sources, who claim that Clancy won't be approved
     by the NFL because of his lack of financial backing
     (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/30)....RDV Sports VP/Marketing
     Cari Coats said that the Dazzle and Illusion are two of the
     top six names being considered for Orlando's WNBA expansion
     team.  Other names "thought to be discussed are Spirit, Oz
     and Miracle."  Meanwhile, more than 2,000 season tickets
     have been pledged for next season (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/30).
     

          Despite the "sticky situation," Marlins VP/Sales &
     Marketing Jim Ross said that the team will not dodge using
     former Marlins returning to FL with rival teams in their
     promotions, according to Alan Snel of the Fort Lauderdale
     SUN-SENTINEL.  Ross says jokingly: "See the '97 champion
     Marlins when San Diego and Houston come to town."  Former
     Marlins/current Padres P Kevin Brown gets billing in a
     newspaper ad promoting Friday's game, but the ad does not
     mention Brown's past or include a picture of him.  Ross:
     "Even though we're not going to mention 'ex-Marlin ace Kevin
     Brown,' people will know Kevin Brown was a former Marlin. 
     We'll mention him when we say, 'Come see Brown vs.
     Hernandez.'"  Former Marlins reliever Robb Nen is mentioned
     in ads touting next week's Giants series, which call him
     "last year's Marlins flame-thrower" (SUN-SENTINEL, 4/30).  

          Despite a published report, MLB sources indicated
     yesterday that the league has not given Reds Managing
     General Partner Marge Schott "an ultimatum or deadline" to
     sell the team, according to Hobson & May of the CINCINNATI
     ENQUIRER.  Although her fellow owners "would be delighted"
     if Schott sold the Reds, MLB officials "have not asked her
     to sell."  In fact, MLB has "backed away" from its 
     investigation into Schott's alleged misuse of team employees
     in a GM fraud case since she broke her hip in a March 31
     fall.  Schott could not be reached for comment, but a source
     close to her said that she won't sell until the Reds get a
     stadium deal with Hamilton County.  The NL yesterday called
     a report in the Cincinnati Post that MLB is trying to
     persuade Schott to sell the team "Poppycock."  NL President
     Len Coleman, through a spokesperson: "Totally not true. 
     Nothing to it" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/30).  On Wednesday,
     the POST's Bill Peterson cited sources with the Reds and MLB
     who said MLB "is trying to persuade" Schott to sell the team
     before her voluntary suspension ends November 1.  The
     sources said that if Schott does not put the team up for
     sale before then, MLB "will pursue extending her suspension"
     by citing her GM fraud case (CINCINNATI POST, 4/29).
          OUTFIELD WALL ADS: The Reds have put ads on the
     outfield wall at Cinergy Field for the first time this
     season.  They've added a Hewlett Packard logo and Budweiser
     ad, and Reds Marketing Consultant Cal Levy said that the
     team might add "as many as two more ads" on the green
     outfield fence (CINCINNATI POST, 4/29).  

          For the first time, Lightning Owner Takashi Okubo
     responded to questions from the Tampa Bay media about the
     team, its financial state and the sale process.  The ST.
     PETE TIMES and the TAMPA TRIBUNE submitted questions for
     Okubo to the Lightning in late March and early April,
     respectively, which were forwarded to him in Japan.  Okubo's
     responses were released by the Lighting yesterday.
          YOU WANT ANSWERS? Okubo, asked about the financial
     state of the Lightning: "The Lightning is losing money, but
     I'll continue to support the team until it is sold" (Tom
     Jones, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/30).  Okubo, who has never
     been to Tampa Bay or seen an NHL game in person, on his
     absentee ownership philosophy: "In Japan, owners commit
     their money, then appoint managers to supervise their
     financial holdings.  I have been told that American owners
     do not operate in such a manner.  I suppose it is simply a
     difference in our two cultures."  On recent articles that
     included allegations that Okubo is a "gangster": "From what
     I am told, no one has ever come forward to personally make
     such an accusation.  It's easy to say 'people' or 'they'
     have made accusations.  The people that my company and I
     conduct business with know there is no truth to those
     nameless and faceless accusations" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/30). 
          CT SUITOR: Team attorney Stephen Wayne said that a
     potential suitor from CT recently inquired about purchasing
     the Lightning "but was told in strong terms that the team
     could not be relocated from the Ice Palace."  The suitor's
     interest "quickly ended" (Ira Kaufman, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/30).
     

          The MLB Rangers introduced their new online ticket
     service three weeks ago, and since April 6, more than 6,300
     tickets have been purchased on the Internet, according to
     John Harris of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM.  The service, at
     www.texasrangers.com, allows fans to buy up to 24 individual
     tickets to any available home game via credit card.  There
     is a handling fee of $2 per ticket for using the service --
     $1 less than the fee for buying seats at area department
     stores (John Harris, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/29).