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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

          Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge John Bessey
     issued a "directed verdict" against Lamar Hunt in the NHL
     Blue Jackets contract dispute "without giving the case to
     the jury," according to Bruce Cadwallader of the COLUMBUS
     DISPATCH.  Attorneys for both sides had asked for a directed
     verdict.  Bessey ruled that Hunt "wasn't improperly forced
     out of the ownership group" of the Blue Jackets, and that he
     committed a "'flagrant' violation of the business contract
     by taking legal actions against" former partners John
     McConnell and John Wolfe "without consulting other members"
     of the ownership group Columbus Hockey Limited.  Hunt claims
     that McConnell and Wolfe breached their contract with him by
     obtaining the Blue Jackets without him.  Anthony Celebrezze
     Jr., Hunt's lead attorney, said, "We're going to review the
     ruling, but it's safe to say there will be an appeal on this
     part of the case and we'll be appealing again the contract
     issues which we've said all along are the critical issues in
     this case."  A second trial will be called "to determine
     financial damages against Hunt" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/15). 
          ESCAPE TO NEW YORK: Hunt is pursuing a similar suit
     against the NHL and Nationwide Mutual Insurance in New York,
     which seeks $50M in damages and aims to prevent the league
     from placing a team in Columbus.  But John Zeiger, one of
     the attorneys for McConnell and Wolfe, said, "We think the
     New York court will be very respectful of Judge Bessey's
     ruling today" (Bruce Cadwallader, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/15).
          

          The Pirates are using a CD-ROM software device, D&B
     MarketPlace, to assist them in targeting corporations for
     group ticket sales.  The team began using the business-to-
     business marketing tool, produced by MA-based iMarket, in
     '96.  Pirates Marketing Systems Analyst Jim Pappas said it
     has helped him develop better leads for sales reps by
     allowing him to segment the Pittsburgh market by criteria
     such as company size, revenue or number of employees. 
     Pappas: "I had no idea how many viable companies were in
     Pittsburgh."  Aside from the initial software fee and
     quarterly updates, users are charged on a per-lead basis
     based on what is downloaded.  The cost of leads varies from
     $.10 to $.35.  In their first year, the Pirates paid about
     $10,000 for such leads.   While the Pirates have generally
     had a 4% success rate with targeted lists, Pappas said the
     team has had success rates as high as 10-12% with D&B, and
     he hopes to have had a 6-7% success rate with D&B for a 16-
     week direct marketing campaign the team recently completed. 
     The campaign targeted 100,000 businesses, and Pappas
     estimated the team spent $15,000 to $20,000 on D&B leads. 
     Final results of the campaign have yet to be completed. 
     Overall, group ticket sales have increased by 25% since the
     Pirates started using D&B two years ago.  In addition, the
     team's full-season equivalents this year have increased from
     6,800 to 7,800, which Pappas partially attributes to the
     software.  The White Sox also use D&B (THE DAILY).   

          49ers co-Owner Eddie DeBartolo had a "nice sit-down
     meeting with his team's longtime nemesis," Raiders Owner Al
     Davis, according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. 
     The meeting "was set up by DeBartolo's right-hand man,"
     former Raider Ed Muransky, "who sources say has been
     pushing" DeBartolo not to give up his "fight to keep control
     of the football team."  Sources say that Davis and DeBartolo
     discussed issues ranging from possible preseason games
     between the two teams to "how DeBartolo might handle his
     fight to regain control of the 49ers."  Muransky denied the
     meeting had "anything to do with DeBartolo's current
     problems with the NFL," saying only, "They were there to
     talk about old times and friendships."  Matier & Ross add
     that DeBartolo opened a new pizza restaurant this week in
     Santa Clara called Tomatina (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/15).
          COLD WAR OVER? The Raiders have "accepted a city and
     county offer to break a seven-month-old silence and discuss
     a 'comprehensive proposal' aimed at restructuring" the
     team's current deal with both agencies.  The sides will meet
     in the next couple of weeks" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/14).

          The popularity of the Sabres among women fans was
     profiled in the BUFFALO NEWS under the header "Hockey
     Heartthrobs -- Those Hot Young Sabres And The Women Who
     Chase Them."  Sabres VP/Marketing Christye Peterson said
     that women are "snapping up the jerseys and merchandise and
     programs" in the gift shop this season (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/13).
     ...Tickets to Market Square Arena for Games Three and Four
     of the Pacers-Bulls series sold out yesterday in five
     minutes (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/15)....The Maple Leafs
     are looking into buying or owning an Ontario Hockey League
     team outright as a tenant in Maple Leaf Gardens after the
     Leafs move to Air Canada Centre (TORONTO SUN, 5/15).

          Tom Clancy's bid to buy the Vikings "appeared on the
     verge of collapse Thursday as new deal-breakers emerged,"
     according to Don Banks of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. 
     Vikings owners say that "potential flaws" include: an effort
     by Clancy to lower the $200M purchase price by about $15M;
     the inclusion of Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander in Clancy's
     group; and "continuing concerns that Clancy, who is going
     through a divorce, does not have the personal fortune to own
     a team."  Three NFL owners said that the current deal "will
     not be approved by the owners," and "several" Vikings co-
     owners said that the inclusion of Alexander "could prompt
     them to vote against the final sale agreement."  Clancy
     spokesperson Marc Ganis dismissed the possibility that the
     deal was in trouble and said, "A lot of what is coming out
     is over-reaction" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/15).  
          DETAILS & QUESTIONS: In St. Paul, Jeff Seidel reports
     that some Vikings owners were "irked" that Ganis tried to
     modify the deal by requesting to have part of the payment
     deferred because the team has assumed additional debt re-
     signing free agents.  Ganis said that the changes he
     requested amounted to less than 10% of the purchase price. 
     He said that the proposal "has been withdrawn, but several
     owners called it a sticking point in negotiations." 
     Meanwhile, reports have varied on how much Alexander and
     Clancy would invest and sources said that the NFL's concern
     about approving the deal "stems from the fact Alexander
     would have more cash invested in the team than Clancy." 
     Vikings co-Owner Wheelock Whitney said that Clancy needs to
     have a $60M commitment to get league approval. Whitney: "We
     didn't sell the team to Alexander; we sold it to Clancy." 
     But Ganis said $60M was not an accurate figure for Clancy's
     investment (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).  In St. Paul,
     columnist Bob Sansevere: "Ganis has put the deal together. 
     If this deal flies, it will be because of Ganis.  If it
     fails, it will be because of Ganis" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).
          MORE NEWS: In Houston, John Williams reports that NFL
     officials said yesterday "they will take steps" to make sure
     the Vikings stay put, "including making their next owner
     promise not to break the team's Metrodome lease."  Williams
     adds that while Alexander has entered the picture, Houston
     businessman Bob McNair said he "dropped his interest" in the
     Vikings after being told they have a performance lease
     locking them to MN.  In "the past two weeks," McNair offered
     $200M for the team "amid speculation Clancy's proposal would
     crater" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/15).  If Clancy's deal does
     fall through, San Antonio business exec Red McCombs said
     "he's ready to make a cash transaction."  McCombs: "We could
     close in 24 hours" (Charley Walters, PIONEER PRESS, 5/15).
     ...In their divorce proceeding, Clancy's wife Wanda
     estimates in her counterclaim that Clancy's current holdings
     and contracts for future books are worth "at least" $191M. 
     She hasn't said how much she wants, only that she is aiming
     for her "fair share" (Annie Gowen, WASHINGTON POST, 5/15). 

          Media reports out of Tampa varied as to the status of
     Pistons Owner William Davidson's bid for the Lightning.  In
     St. Pete, Tim Buckley reports that the Lightning has
     received "a formal, written offer" from Davidson, but the
     Lightning's ownership "has yet to decide if it will accept
     or reject the bid" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/15).  In Tampa,
     Ira Kaufman reports that Davidson "did not tender a
     conditional offer" yesterday.  But he adds that Sunshine
     Network GM Jim Liberatore has recently discussed the team's
     contract with a Davidson rep, "assuring the executive of the
     viability of Tampa Bay's NHL market."  The Lightning owes
     the net an estimated $5M for its TV deal, but Liberatore
     said that Sunshine is open to renegotiating terms of the
     deal "in exchange for adding years" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/15). 

          NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani yesterday called Wednesday's
     attendance of 23,142 for the Yankees-Rangers game
     "pathetic," according to Robert Hardt of the N.Y. POST. 
     Giuliani: "This just can't go on forever and forever" (N.Y.
     POST, 5/15).  Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner: "People
     say, 'Don't leave Yankee Stadium.' ... Tell me why I should
     stay here.  If you're a decent, smart businessman, you have
     to say, 'Why should I stay?'"  Steinbrenner "alleged" he is
     losing money, but he would not say how much.  Steinbrenner:
     "It would probably shock some people" (Bergen RECORD, 5/14).
          REDS: In Cincinnati, Geoff Hobson reported that Reds
     limited partner Carl Kroch, who owns one of the team's 15
     shares, said that he believes that none of the team's owners
     will align with Managing General Partner Marge Schott's 42%
     to help her keep a majority after the current partnership
     expires December 31, 2000.  Kroch: "I'm perfectly willing to
     let her keep her 40 percent, as long as she's a silent
     partner.  We need someone who is professional, can run a
     business, and really knows baseball."  Kroch said "his
     impression is none of the other limited partners wants to
     run the team."  He added that Managing Exec John Allen has
     "done a good job but he hasn't thought about a potential
     candidate" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/14).
          D'BACKS: HBO's "Real Sports" airs Tuesday with a
     segment on the controversy over the $253M public subsidy
     toward construction of the $350M Bank One Ballpark.  In
     N.Y., Steve Zipay writes that the report "can be viewed as a
     warning" to all politicians looking to publicly subsidize
     new facilities (NEWSDAY, 5/15).  During an interview with
     HBO's Armen Keteyian for the piece, D'Backs Managing General
     Partner Jerry Colangelo walked off the set.  But HBO Exec
     Producer Ross Greenburg commended Colangelo "for calling me
     to apologize" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 5/15).  
           NOTES: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports that Twins
     President Jerry Bell estimates the team will lose $12M this
     season (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/15)....The Devil Rays
     announced a season-low crowd of 24,296 for last night's game
     against the Royals (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/15).