Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 117

Franchises

          The MLB Cardinals "are counting on Mark McGwire's
     prodigious power to energize ticket sales this year,"
     according to Christopher Carey of the ST. LOUIS POST-
     DISPATCH.  McGwire has been "the main catalyst" for a 16%
     jump in home attendance, an increase of nearly 4,800 more
     fans per game than in '97, but better weather, a better
     record and special promotions have also contributed.  The
     Cardinals are projecting $83M in revenue this year, "with
     gate receipts ranking as the primary source."  Cardinals
     Secretary/Treasurer Andrew Baur estimates that McGwire's
     pursuit of the home run record last season was worth 5,000
     fans a game for the Cardinals.  Carey writes that if the
     "McGwire inspired crowds continue at the same pace through
     the summer, the Cardinals will draw about 390,000 more fans
     this season than last" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21).
          FROM BUSCH STADIUM TO THE BUSCH CIRCUIT: McGwire has
     joined teammate Gary Gaetti and former Cards Andy Benes and
     Danny Sheaffer "as a backer" of Bobby Hillin's stock car
     team in NASCAR's Busch Series.  McGwire's name will "adorn
     the back of the Chevrolet's deck lid" along with "his up-to-
     date home run total" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21).

          Vince Piazza, the father of Mike Piazza, is considering
     joining Don Smiley's investment group trying to buy the
     Marlins, according to Mike Berardino of the Fort Lauderdale
     SUN-SENTINEL.  The elder Piazza said this week that he has
     had "preliminary discussions" with Smiley.  But Smiley
     downplayed Piazza's interest yesterday, saying, "I haven't
     talked to Vince in a long, long time.  I can't say any more
     than that."  In '92, Piazza and Philadelphia-area business
     exec Vincent Tirendi were part of a group led by Vince
     Naimoli that wanted to buy the Giants and move them to St.
     Petersburg.  The sale was blocked, and Piazza and Tirendi
     filed a defamation and antitrust lawsuit against MLB that
     was settled out of court in '94 (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/21).
          THE WORST OF TIMES: In the Marlins' first home game
     since Friday's trade, "just" 17,560 attended last night's
     game against the D'Backs.  Two "particularly displeased fans
     were removed from the stands for wearing paper bags on their
     heads."  One bag read "Trade me next."  The other, "From
     champs to chumps" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/21)....The Marlins have
     changed Sunday's giveaway: a Charles Johnson collector's
     card.  Instead of fans being given the card by ushers upon
     entering the stadium, tables will be set up throughout the
     concourse where they can pick up the card of the former
     Marlins C (Clark Spencer, MIAMI HERALD, 5/21).
          BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: Marlins C Mike Piazza took
     out a quarter-page ad in yesterday's sports section of the
     L.A. Times thanking Dodgers fans.  A display ad of that size
     runs $18,898.  The ad read: "An Open Letter to Dodger Fans 
     -- It's never easy to say goodbye.  But from the bottom of
     my heart, I want to thank you for the overwhelming support
     you have shown during my years in Los Angeles.  I leave with
     nothing but great memories and deep appreciation. 
     Sincerely, Mike Piazza" (AP/N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/21).  Piazza
     spoke to the L.A. TIMES' T.J. Simers yesterday in Miami
     about the trade.  Asked if the trade would have happened had
     Peter O'Malley not sold the Dodgers: "In my opinion, no, it
     wouldn't have happened" (L.A. TIMES, 5/21). 
          OH, NO, IT'S MR. BILL: Bill Murray was on "Up Close"
     where he called the Marlins situation "just a terrible thing
     for the people down there, and for all the players." 
     Murray, on Marlins ownership: "You know, if you're not ready
     to have pets, don't get them" (ESPN, 5/20).

          Falcons President Taylor Smith dismissed a rumor
     yesterday that his family intended to sell the team: "I have
     no idea how it all got started, but it's absolutely not
     true" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/21)....In Minneapolis, Twins
     Owner Carl Pohlad said that he entertained "two Charlotte
     businessmen in the past week who remain interested in moving
     the Twins" to NC.  One was Charlotte Regional Baseball
     Partnership Chair Johnny Harris (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21)....In
     L.A., WNBA Sparks President Johnny Buss said the chances are
     "better than 50-50" that his team will move into the Staples
     Center, probably in 2000, joining the Lakers, Clippers and
     Kings.  Previously, he had said the team would remain at the
     Forum (L.A. TIMES, 5/21)....In Chicago, the MLS Fire drew
     10,520 yesterday against the Galaxy, its smallest crowd of
     the season (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/21)....Of Red Wings C Sergei
     Fedorov's $12M, up-front bonus, $4.9M "most likely" will go
     to the IRS (USA TODAY, 5/21)....ESPN's Peter Gammons
     reported that while the Padres "are working so hard" to try
     to get the November referendum for a new ballpark passed,
     some Padres people "are so worried" about the vote that a
     few members of the board, including Calvin Hill, are already
     looking at a Washington, DC, location in case they have to
     move there in the 2000 ("SportsCenter," 5/20)....Sabres CEO
     Tim Rigas said that the team "makes an average" of $300,000
     to $350,000 per home playoff game.  A trip to the Stanley
     Cup finals would mean up to $4M in net revenues "for a team
     that is struggling" with an $81M debt (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/20). 
          QUESTIONING A FULL HOUSE: In Tacoma, Frank Hughes wrote
     that the organization of the Ackerley Group, parent of Full
     House Entertainment and the Sonics, has recently become
     "murky."  When Bill Ackerley, who oversaw "aspects" of the
     Sonics Full House Entertainment (FHE), resigned two weeks
     ago he cited family reasons, but sources within Ackerley say
     he "resigned because he has had ongoing disputes with [his
     father] Barry Ackerley about the Sonics."  An Ackerley Group
     spokesperson "vehemently denied" any disputes among the
     family.  Bill Ackerley could not be reached for comment, but
     Hughes wrote that with him gone, "there has been
     speculation" that FHE President John Dressel, who is close
     to Bill Ackerley, "could lose his job."  However, both
     Dressel and an Ackerley spokesperson said Tuesday that "that
     was not the case" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 5/20).

          The NFL on Wednesday accepted the withdrawal of Tom
     Clancy's $200M bid to purchase the Vikings, according to
     Banks & Parrish of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE.  NFL
     Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: "I think they're back to close
     to square one, or square one.  There's no transaction
     currently there."  New potential bidders for the team
     include Vikings President Roger Headrick, Twins Owner Carl
     Pohlad and former Spurs/Nuggets Owner Red McCombs.  But one
     Vikings co-Owner said that at least five co-Owners are
     opposed to Headrick buying the team: "I don't think Roger
     can count on but one vote, maybe two."  Pohlad, on the
     Vikings: "I'm interested in talking to them if they're
     interested in talking to me" (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).   Cowboys
     Owner Jerry Jones said that McCombs "would be good for the
     NFL.  He's talented, substantive and has proven he
     understands sports" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21).
          OTHER PLAYERS: In Houston, John Williams reports that
     business exec Bob McNair said "he may try to acquire a small
     portion" of the team now that Clancy has pulled out.  Such a
     purchase "would allow McNair greater access to other [NFL]
     team owners," which he said he hopes "would improve his
     chances of attracting an expansion team to Houston."  McNair
     said that after talking with Tagliabue yesterday he "likely
     will ask" to join Headrick's investor group (HOUSTON
     CHRONICLE, 5/21).  In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports that
     one NFL source said he expects T-Wolves Owner Glen Taylor to
     become a Vikings bidder (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/21).  In
     Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that Flyers/76ers Chair Ed
     Snider "might be interested if he could negotiate rather
     than bid for the team" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21). 
          CLANCY DEBRIS: In Minneapolis, Don Banks cites an NFL
     finance committee member who said that Clancy "not only
     didn't have the extra [$40M] or so that the league prefers
     its owners to have in case of emergency, he didn't have
     close to the money to swing the deal itself" (Minneapolis
     STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).  Sid Hartman writes of Clancy's partner
     Marc Ganis, "[D]on't be shocked if Ganis ... sues" the
     league (STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).  A STAR TRIBUNE editorial, on
     Clancy's bid: "[T]he whole affair wound up being a sorry
     fiasco" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21).