Talks to sell Bills tickets at Wegmans stores
throughout Western NY starting this summer "have all but
ended and now the team is leaning toward setting up kiosks
in malls," according to Leo Roth of the Rochester DEMOCRAT &
CHRONICLE. Bills VP/Administration Jim Miller said that the
stumbling blocks with Wegmans "involved concerns about
surcharges, software and internal control policies." A
spokesperson for Wegmans said that the surcharge proposed
"was highly competitive" (DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 5/8).
The Nets have received a bid from N.Y. Sports Ventures,
owners of the Islanders, which is believed to be in excess
of $150M, "within the past two months," sources told Richard
Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. But the NJ Sports & Exposition
Authority (NJSEA) believes that talks to rework the Nets'
Continental Airlines Arena lease "are going well, and that
there have been no recent problems to upset the Nets'
ownership." NJSEA President Dennis Robinson: "We've had
substantive and positive negotiations with the Nets."
Sandomir wrote that there is also "no guarantee" that the
Nets' seven owners would sell at this time, as they have "a
great attachment to the Nets and have fielded offers
before." Minority Partner Don Unger said, "We haven't even
had a board meeting on this" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/9).
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will meet in New York
today with prospective Vikings Owner Tom Clancy, along with
his adviser Marc Ganis "at the commissioner's request"
(Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/11)....The NFL Cardinals sold
550 season tickets the Monday following the NFL Draft
(BOSTON GLOBE, 5/10)....The brokerage firm of Raymond James
and Associates stated that -- thanks "largely" to a new
arena -- FL Panthers Holdings "should generate about" $29M
more in revenue next fiscal year than this fiscal year. The
firm's report says the extra revenue will result in a
projected $6.9M profit (MIAMI HERALD, 5/9)....Suns President
Jerry Colangelo said that his team "turned only about a $1
million profit last year" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 5/10).
The Brewers have set a "franchise record" by securing
9,062 season-ticket packages as of Sunday, according to Tom
Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The team has
sold 1.25 million tickets so far this season, about 250,000
more than at this point last year. Through 20 home dates,
the team has drawn 335,890, compared with 247,619 in '97
(Tom Haudricourt, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/10).
A'S: In San Jose, Howard Bryant reported that
attendance at the Oakland Coliseum is "consistently under
10,000 so far," and there are large, "macro issues that poor
attendance continues to push to the forefront -- negotiating
with the Oakland Coliseum Authority on a new lease, the
possibility of selling the team, moving to a new location
within the Bay Area or out of the region." Bryant reports
that various groups in the South Bay "are interested in
attracting baseball" to Silicon Valley, and "[p]rivately,
the A's believe a new start ... would allow them to be
competitive with the bigger spenders" in the AL (SAN JOSE
MERCURY NEWS, 5/10). In Oakland, the TRIBUNE examined the
sparse attendance, as the A's are on pace to draw fewer than
one million for the first time since '80: "Is it the
attitude of the current owners? ... Is it the coolness and
distance of [co-Owners Steve] Schott and [Ken] Hofmann? ...
Is it ownership's failure to express unconditional
commitment to the area?" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/10).
MARLINS: Marlins President Don Smiley, on his plan to
reduce payroll to $12-16M in '99: "This is restructuring.
There is no doubt about it. It's just like any other
company restructuring that's in trouble. You must make
difficult decisions and you must accept the rough water that
goes along with it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/10). ESPN's Peter
Gammons, on the team's payroll reductions: "What's so stupid
to me is that, you know, you never get that attendance bump
the year that you're going for it for the first time ... you
get it the year after. ... I don't see that they've done
anything for that franchise" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/10).
OTHER MLB NOTES: In N.Y., Murray Chass, on New York
City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's calls for increased attendance at
Yankees Stadium: "Does he know the Mets exist? He has been
so busy tub-thumping for the Yankees that maybe he has
forgotten that they do" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/11)....The Devil Rays
drew 42,486 Saturday versus the Orioles, their second
biggest crowd of the season (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/10).
....The Phillies announced during yesterday's game versus
the D'Backs, which was played during inclement weather, that
all used or unused tickets for the game could be exchanged
for a future game (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/11)....The
Pirates held their second "meet and greet the fan night"
Friday, but it didn't go "quite as well" as last year's
event, when the team was "mobbed by enthusiastic fans and
the idea gained national media attention." Paid attendance
Friday was 13,848 (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/9).
Cracks "are already surfacing" in the new $140M
Warriors arena deal, and "once again, it looks like
taxpayers will get stuck," according to Matier & Ross of the
S.F. CHRONICLE. The Warriors, who have been negotiating
with Oakland and Alameda County to take over the management
of the renovated Oakland Coliseum Arena, "have asked that
the deal be put on ice for at least a year" due to "fear of
a possible NBA players strike next season." East Bay
officials "are scrambling to find an outside firm to manage
both the arena" and the Oakland Coliseum stadium, and two
names "being mentioned for the job" are SMG and Ogden Ent.
Meanwhile, Joint Powers Authority officials overseeing the
arena "say they don't know if it's operating in the black,
and they've brought in an outside auditor to look at the
books." Matier & Ross also report that the Warriors "are
only guaranteeing to pick up" about $7.4M of the $11.4M in
annual costs from the new arena. The team says it "hopes to
cover" the remaining $4M from a 5% ticket surcharge and from
the sale of naming rights (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/11).
Lawyers for the Twins, MLB and the MN Attorney
General's office "were ordered Friday to work out an
agreement on the scope of a preliminary antitrust
investigation by the state against the team and the game's
owners," according to Jay Weiner of the Minneapolis STAR
TRIBUNE. Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan
told both sides to report to her today on any agreement they
may reach, but Weiner reported that "resolution seemed
unlikely." Lawyers from the Attorney General's office said
they were willing to "scale back" their earlier request for
dozens of documents dating back to '61 and answers to
questions to Twins Owner Carl Pohlad, Acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig and others, and would instead settle
for information from MLB dating to '83. But Twins lawyer
Roger Magnuson said, "We believe the law requires that there
be no discovery in this case" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/9).
SHOW HIM SOME MONEY: Pohlad, on rumors that he turned
down a $100M offer to buy the Twins: "Nobody has made any
offers to me. ... Clark Griffith and others talk, but I have
never seen the color of their money." On Wednesday, though,
Mike Veeck "will meet" with Pohlad's financial adviser, Bob
Starkey. Veeck: "We have the financial backing to buy the
club if it is for sale" (Sid Hartman, STAR TRIBUNE, 5/9).
On "Baseball Tonight," ESPN's Peter Gammons reported the
Twins may be "able to work something out [and] eventually
get a ballpark in either St. Paul or somewhere around
Minneapolis, but in the meantime, why lose money with a $27
million payroll if you're going to finish fourth in the
division anyway?" Gammons said it is "likely" that the
Twins will pare down payroll to "maybe" $12 to $14 million
and try to rebuild ("Baseball Tonight," 5/10)