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Volume 24 No. 158

Franchises

          While the Capitals "have had to hustle to sell seats"
     at the MCI Center for the NHL Playoffs and are registering
     overall "flat" TV ratings, there is "new hope and
     opportunity for Washington's often ignored hockey" team as
     it plays in the Eastern Conference finals, according to
     Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST.  Team officials hope
     that the series against Buffalo will also help increase the
     team's "modest" season-ticket base of "about" 6,500.  As of
     late yesterday, there were 3,200 tickets remaining for Game
     One on Saturday and 7,400 for Game Two on Monday.  The
     league also changed the date of Games Five, Six and Seven
     because league and team execs "failed to realize the
     original date" of Game Five was reserved by WCW for a
     "Monday Nitro" event at MCI Center.  While the team has sold
     out four of its six playoff games, they "have had to work to
     do it," by offering discounted seats to season-ticket
     holders and other "inducements, including spreading some
     free tickets around town."  But Washington Sports President
     Susan O'Malley said, "Nothing helps ticket sales like
     winning" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19).  
          SCHEDULE SNAFUS: With the date changes, if the Caps-
     Sabres series goes to a Game Seven, it would be televised on
     ESPN2, not ESPN.  Since ESPN2 is not available to DC
     Cablevision customers, the NHL is seeing whether RSN HTS
     could carry it to "affected homes" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19). 
     In Dallas, schedule makers failed to notice a Champions on
     Ice show at Reunion Arena on June 2 and were forced to move
     Game Five from June 2 to June 3, and move Games Six and
     Seven back a day as well (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/19). 

          A feasibility study unveiled yesterday concluded that
     Charlotte "can make big league baseball work -- but only
     with a first-class uptown ballpark that could come at a
     steep price to taxpayers," according to Foon Rhee of the
     CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  The study, commissioned by the
     Charlotte Regional Baseball Partnership, projects that a
     team would draw an average of 25,000 and could raise $30M in
     PSLs from 10,000 season tickets.  Prospective Twins Owner
     Don Beaver's group "might come up with an additional" $70M
     or so through naming rights, parking and concessions, but
     that would leave another $100M of financing to be found
     (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19).  Muhleman Marketing's Max
     Muhleman, who conducted the study: "What we conclude is the
     Charlotte market at this time is likely to provide mid-level
     support of [MLB]" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/19).  NC Triad
     Business Journal Exec Editor Justin Catanoso writes, "The
     results, the advocates said, were encouraging but not
     overwhelming" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19).
 

          Prospective Vikings Owner Tom Clancy on Monday "asked
     for and was denied a one-week delay to address the NFL's
     concerns about his finances," according to Don Banks of the
     Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
     instead gave Clancy "until the close of business Wednesday"
     to provide written response to the league's concerns. 
     Clancy's group had been expected to make a preliminary
     presentation before the NFL's Finance Committee Monday at
     the league meetings in Miami, but neither Clancy nor his
     partner Marc Ganis attended.  Saints Owner Tom Bensen, on
     Clancy's absence: "If I were him and I was that interested,
     I'd be here.  That might send a bad message (otherwise)." 
     Ganis told Banks: "It didn't really make sense for us to
     come down there.  All we were going to do is say the same
     thing we said to the commissioner last Monday (in New York)"
     (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19).  NFL Oilers Owner Bud
     Adams: "We really have a lot of questions ... and even as
     prolific as (Clancy) is, I'm not sure that he can write fast
     enough to answer them all" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/19).  
          CLANCY REAX: In Minneapolis, Paula Parrish reports that
     Vikings co-Owners Wheelock Whitney and Jaye Dyer indicated
     Clancy's bid to buy the team "is all but finished" after his
     no-show.  Dyer: "From what I can put together, it sounds
     like (his bid) is deader than a doornail" (STAR TRIBUNE,
     5/19).  In Minneapolis, columnist Patrick Reusse writes that
     "it has turned out Clancy was a fraud" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/19). 
     In St. Paul, columnist Bob Sansevere writes that "even
     wackier than Clancy are the current millionaire owners of
     the Vikings.  What were these folks thinking?  A better
     question: Were they thinking?" (PIONEER PRESS, 5/19). 

          THE HILLS ARE ALIVE FOR BROWNS? In Akron, Terry Pluto
     writes on Calvin Hill and Paul Warfield joining Isles co-
     Owner Howard Milstein on a possible Browns bid: "If they
     have the money, they might be irresistible to the NFL. ...
     [D]on't be surprised if they end up as the next owners of
     the Browns."  Pluto adds that the "conservative" Hill and
     Warfield "don't make any moves without a great deal of
     thought and research. ... It's hard to imagine them joining
     any group that didn't have the bucks to pay the NFL's
     expansion ransom" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/19).  Also in
     Akron, Chris Tomasson writes on minority interest in the
     Browns under the sub-head, "Minority Ownership For New
     Browns Could Be More Than Mere Talk" (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/19).
          OTHER NOTES: In Miami, Cindy Krischer Goodman examined
     Florida Panthers Holdings (FPH) and wrote, "Though
     diversified, the bulk of its revenues now come from upscale
     hotel properties."  FPH Chair Wayne Huizenga has abandoned
     "plans he once had to create a sports/entertainment empire. 
     Now, all efforts are aimed at building a presence in the
     lodging industry. ... Next to go could be the company's
     name, Panthers Holdings officials said, to signal to Wall
     Street that the company wants to be a player in the resort
     business" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/17)....The current issue of
     BASEBALL AMERICA ranks MLB markets, listing the top three
     MLB cities as St. Louis, Boston and Chicago (Cubs). 
     BASEBALL AMERICA also ranks the best minor league cities,
     naming Rochester, NY; Durham, NC; and Reading, PA as the top
     three, respectively (BASEBALL AMERICA, 5/25 issue).       

          Two Marlins season-ticket holders yesterday "filed
     lawsuits seeking reimbursements," and one of the club's
     original sponsors said it was "canceling advertisements for
     the rest of the season," according to Barry Jackson of the
     MIAMI HERALD.  The separate class-action lawsuits were filed
     by Miami chiropractor Octavio Fernandez and Palm Beach
     attorney Henry Handler in reaction to Friday's payroll-
     cutting trade with the Dodgers.  Each suit seeks in excess
     of $15,000 in damages.  Meanwhile, Emilio Cruz, President of
     two Miami stores, Miami Shoes and Wilderness Country, said
     that he would "immediately pull his stores' advertising"
     that appears on JumboTron at Pro Player Stadium, as well as
     during Marlins broadcasts on SportsChannel FL and WQBA
     radio.  Cruz: "Our customers have been complaining.  They
     ask, 'What kind of organization is this that you're
     supporting?'  It hurts us in terms of image to continue
     advertising with the Marlins.  Why would we support
     something that's not supporting the community?"  Cruz's two
     stores are in the final year of a three-year deal.  The
     company pays $150,000 for two JumboTron ads per game,
     $100,000 this season for ads on SportsChannel FL's Marlins
     and NHL Panthers telecasts, and $70,000 for ads on WQBA
     (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19).  Huizenga Holdings spokesperson Stan
     Smith shrugged off the suits: "What will they think of
     next?" (Alan Snel, Fort Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).  In
     Miami, columnist Greg Cote also dismisses the suit as
     frivolous: "Your ticket, and by extension your season
     ticket, assures you nothing, just as the previous season's
     result assures nothing" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19).
          PR ADVICE: In Fort Lauderdale, Alan Snel examines the
     Marlins' PR problems and notes that "spin doctors" say the
     team "faces a stiff test" in trying to explain its moves. 
     Marlins VP/Sales & Marketing Jim Ross: "The biggest
     challenge is to educate people on what's going on.  We can't
     rely on anyone doing that for us."  FL-based Communications
     Group President Ray Biagiotti: "They need to be very clear
     and honest with the media.  The public is forgiving as long
     as you provide accurate information" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).
          I.L. ON THE D.L.: As part of their organization-wide
     cost-cutting measures, the Marlins will not field an
     Instructional League team this fall (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).

          Arthur Williams, a retired insurance "magnate" living
     in Palm Beach, FL, signed a purchase agreement on Monday to
     acquire the Lightning, rights to the Ice Palace and adjacent
     waterfront land, according to Ira Kaufman of the TAMPA
     TRIBUNE.  While the team "had been expected to sign off" on
     a $130M offer by Pistons Owner William Davidson, Williams
     "tendered a bid this weekend deemed more attractive" by the
     team's Majority Owner, Takashi Okubo.  Kaufman writes that
     sources close to the negotiations indicate the purchase
     price "mirrored Davidson's figure, but there are virtually
     no contingencies listed" in Williams' bid, while Davidson's
     "was linked to the modification of Lightning contracts with
     lenders and vendors."  The league will conduct due diligence
     on Williams and is expected to vote on his offer on June 25
     in Toronto (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/19).  In St. Petersburg, Tom
     Jones reports that Williams, whose net worth is estimated at
     $400M, agreed to pay $120M for the franchise and arena.  The
     deal "concludes a two-year search" to find a buyer for the
     team "that is more than" $102M in debt.  Lightning President
     & CEO Chuck Hasegawa: "Art Williams offered the most
     financially sound proposal of any of the groups who pursued
     the team."  Williams was traveling in Europe and was not
     present during the announcement (ST. PETE TIMES, 5/19).
          THE MOTOWN BLUES? Pistons President Tom Wilson said
     that Davidson expected to have a deal Monday: "It was a
     complete surprise to us.  There was no indication this was
     coming. ... It seems that they took our offer and went out
     and shopped it around.  We never played poker with them, we
     never played hardball, and we were very straight with them.
     ... I just hope now this is good for the community.  I'm not
     sure, though" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/19).  More Wilson:
     "We were very, very surprised" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/19).
          ART OF A DEAL: Williams founded A.L. Williams &
     Associates in '77 and built the company "into the largest
     seller of individual life insurance" in the U.S. (ST. PETE
     TIMES, 5/19).  He sold to Primerica in '89 for "about" $99M
     and has been retired since.  He was an unsuccessful suitor
     for the Bucs in '94 and owned the CFL Birmingham franchise
     for one year before it folded in '95 (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/19). 
     In St. Pete, Robert Trigaux calls Williams "charismatic and
     controversial," and adds that his "apparent ability to
     motivate people who work for him could serve him well" as
     the Lightning's owner.  Republicans in GA and FL have "even
     considered backing" Williams as a potential candidate for
     Governor.  But "his longstanding contempt for politicians
     and his affection for blunt language make even his
     supporters wary of political ventures" (ST. PETE TIMES,
     5/19).  In Tampa, Tom McEwen calls the agreement a "good
     deal all around.  Or, so it appears to be" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
     5/19).  Also in Tampa, Roy Cummings notes that Lightning GM
     Phil Esposito is "expected to stay on" through the June 27
     entry draft, "if not permanently" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/19).  

          Despite throwing a perfect game Sunday against the
     Twins, marketing experts say that Yankees P David Wells
     "does not make a perfect pitchman," according to William
     Neuman of the N.Y POST.  ProServ President Bill Allard: "He
     threw goose eggs all day Sunday, and he'll turn up goose
     eggs in the national marketing game as well.  It's a one-
     time situation.  What marketers are looking for is sustained
     success and consistency."  Neuman reports that the perfect
     game "did raise his value" in the New York market, "with
     experts speculating he could get $10,000 to $30,000 for one-
     day appearances" (N.Y. POST, 5/19).  Wells' agent, Gregg
     Clifton, said that he "is fielding offers for endorsements
     and speaking engagements."  Wells was scheduled to appear on
     the Howard Stern radio show and "Regis and Kathie Lee" today
     (N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).  Wells was a guest on the "Late Show"
     last night with David Letterman.  Letterman: "Usually, as
     you know, a perfect game at Yankee Stadium is when nobody
     gets hit with a chunk of falling concrete. ... After the
     game, Wells was pretty excited, as you can understand, and
     he celebrated by retiring 27 Heinekens in a row."  Wells
     said that while NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered him the key
     to the city, "I told him that's not a good idea.  Too many
     doors I need to open out there, and that wouldn't be a good
     idea.  I'd let all my degenerate friends in the city.  I
     think they would fit right in" (CBS, 5/18).  ESPN's Peter
     Gammons said that Wells has "become a working class hero,
     he's kind of an iconoclast, and I think now he's going to
     end up a Yankee for a long time" ("SportsCenter," 5/18).
          FIRST RATE: MSG Network drew a 4.52 rating for Sunday's
     game -- equivalent to about 305,350 homes -- exceeding the
     30-game season average of 3.44.  WNBC, which was showing
     Pacers-Bulls Game One, saw its rating drop from a 9.8 to an
     8.1 at 4:30pm, as the perfect game was coming to a close
     (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).  MSG's ratings rose
     "almost every quarter hour" starting with a 2.4 at 1:30 and
     reaching a 7.1 by the end of the game (N.Y. POST, 5/19).
          IF ONLY EVERY DAY WAS BEANIE BABY DAY: After drawing
     49,820 to Yankee Stadium for Sunday's Beanie Baby promo, the
     Yankees attendance is 26% ahead of last season, and "within
     reach of the all-time [Yankees] record."  Through 16 home
     dates, the Yankees have drawn 486,851, "well ahead" of last
     year's 385,670 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/19).  Giuliani: "When the
     [Orioles] are not giving out Valentino [Beanie Baby], they
     get 50,000 people per game (N.Y. POST, 5/19).