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Volume 24 No. 117

Franchises

          The Trail Blazers will close their "Blazers on
     Broadway" retail store August 23, "a victim of declining
     sales and changing tastes," according to Jeff Manning of the
     Portland OREGONIAN.  Blazers Senior VP/Marketing Services
     Harry Hutt: "It's become a marginal business for us.  We
     were putting all this time and money into it, and we were
     breaking even."  The 1,900-square-foot store opened in
     October '91.  A team employee said that the store's sales
     "peaked" in the early '90s at between $700,000-$800,000 a
     year."  By '97, sales "has slumped" to between $300,000-
     $400,000 annually.  Hutt said that another retail store
     "could be open for business in a cheaper location within six
     months to a year" (Jeff Manning, Portland OREGONIAN, 8/12).
          PAYING THE BILLS: The Bills opened a team store in
     Rochester, NY, which carries merchandise and sells tickets
     to the team's games (DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 8/11).

          The D'Backs' "impact on downtown business has been a
     big hit" in their inaugural season, according to Peter
     Corbett of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC.  A report by Phoenix's
     Finance Department shows that fans lured to Bank One
     Ballpark have helped contribute a 34.1% increase in the
     city's sales tax revenues in the downtown area for the first
     six months of this year, compared with the same period in
     '97.  Retail sales through June 30 in the downtown core were
     up 93.8% over the same six-month period in '97.  Downtown
     Phoenix Partnership Exec Dir Margaret Mullen, comparing the
     D'Backs to new ballparks in Denver and Baltimore: "When we
     started planning for the stadium in 1993, we felt that if we
     got half the impact of the other cities, we'd be happy.  Now
     it appears we're going to exceed both."  Restaurants and
     bars downtown have seen their food and beverage tabs
     "balloon" from $40.3M to $52.4M through June 30, a 30% jump
     from the year-ago period.  Hotels and motels in the one-
     square-mile area have shown a 6.6% increase, compared with a
     4.3% increase citywide.  The time frame of the sales-tax
     report includes the first three months of the MLB season and
     37 of the D'Backs' 81 home games (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/13).  

          Falcons President Taylor Smith is "determined" to "not
     only keep the Falcons in the Smith family but prove they can
     become a consistent winning team," according to Grimes &
     Barry of GEORGIA TREND, who profile Smith in a cover story
     this month, and write that "this is his autumn of destiny --
     the one that could determine the ultimate fate of the
     Falcons."  Smith admits that the team had a "shortfall" of
     $8-10M last year, and said the Falcons "can't afford many
     years like that.  We have to win games, sell tickets and
     generate revenue, no doubt about it."  While teams such as
     the Cowboys rely on the NFL's TV contract for "only about"
     40% of their revenues, 70% of the Falcons' revenues come
     from the league's TV deal, and Millard & Barry write that
     "tickets sold -- and actual attendance -- are major Falcon
     problems."  However, "despite attendance problems, the
     Falcons are in sound financial shape, with scarcely any
     long-term debt," and a gate increase of 20,000-30,000 per
     game "should bring in" $8-10M more in revenue.  Smith: "When
     the Falcons start winning consistently, the fans will come
     ... And it will be very special" (GEORGIA TREND, 8/98).
          PANTHER PRIDE: NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson is
     profiled by Dyan Machan of FORBES under the header "A Fast-
     Food Guy Caters To The Fans."  Machan writes that
     "financially, Charlotte is working" (FORBES, 8/24 issue).

          MLB: The Mets drew 218,404 and averaged 36,401 for the
     six games of their International Week, which took place July
     31 to August 5.  The 36,401 average is up 18% from the
     team's '97 International Week, which drew 153,745 and
     averaged 30,749 for five games (THE DAILY)....Reds Managing
     Exec John Allen and GM Jim Bowden both issued separate
     statements yesterday denying a Cincinnati Enquirer report
     that "a rift exists between them" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,
     8/13).  ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reported that Tommy Lasorda may
     be a Senior Dodgers adviser -- not the GM -- next year, and
     Bowden "could be a candidate to succeed him" (ESPN, 8/12).
     ...Stan Smith, a spokesperson for Wayne Huizenga, "disputed"
     reports that FL business exec John Henry "made an actual
     bid" for the Marlins.  Smith: "He expressed an interest." 
     Smith added that Huizenga "did not brush off Henry" (SUN-
     SENTINEL, 8/13).....In Chicago, more than 500 dogs are
     registered for the White Sox's third annual "Dog Day
     Afternoon" on Saturday.  White Sox Senior VP/Marketing Rob
     Gallas: "We get more letters from people who don't have
     dogs, telling us how much fun it is, than people who do
     bring their dogs" (SUN-TIMES, 8/13)....Last night's Brewers-
     Astros game, which featured the second home start of Astros
     P Randy Johnson, drew a crowd of 40,217 (CHRONICLE, 8/13). 
          DAVE'S TOP TEN: Among David Letterman's Top Ten Signs
     The Yankees Are Getting Arrogant: 7) Team's stated goal is
     to 'go out and give 41%;  5) Have been using team practices
     to rehearse their World Series victory hug; 3) New
     promotion: 'Get a refund plus $10,000 if the Yankees lose
     day'; 2) Tickets now read: 'Game starts at 7:30 -- Game
     finishes when the Yankees finish whoopin' ass' (CBS, 8/12).
          NFL: In Detroit, Becky Yerak reports that since moving
     preseason practices from the Pontiac Silverdome to Saginaw
     Valley State Univ. last season, Lions training camp
     attendance "has ballooned from about 12,000 to an expected
     120,000 this year, thanks largely to more consumer-friendly
     marketing efforts" (DETROIT NEWS, 8/13).  USA TODAY's
     Jarrett Bell reports that the Lions have been one of the
     "top fan draws" this summer.  The team "has marketed its
     camp aggressively, luring more than 20 sponsors and using a
     four-county billboard advertising campaign" (USA TODAY,
     8/13)....In DC, Michael Wilbon touts the Howard Milstein/
     Calvin Hill/Paul Warfield group vying for the Browns: "There
     are folks around the NFL who talk about being inclusive. ... 
     Here are Hill, Warfield and Milstein right in front of their
     noses."  Wilbon adds that if the NFL owners don't give the
     group serious consideration, "then it's safer than ever to
     assume the idea of inclusion is a concept to which all they
     can pay is lip service" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/13).

          Penguins co-Owner Roger Marino "backed off yesterday on
     any implied threat to move the team to" Kansas City, "should
     he be shut out of Plan B," according to Barnes & Kovacevic
     of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE.  Marino said that he "never
     intended" for his trip to K.C. and a tour of its Kemper
     Arena "to become public knowledge or for it to be viewed as
     a threat to move the team."  He also said yesterday that
     three months ago, he'd taken a trip to Houston.  Asked why
     he made such trips, Marino said, "Just to see what was out
     there."  Marino met with Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy
     yesterday, and afterwards, Marino said, "It was productive. 
     The mayor was miffed with me, and rightfully so.  We had a
     little bit of miscommunication."  Murphy said that although
     it was "too late to tinker with Plan B," he would consider
     any additional information Marino wanted to submit regarding
     a business plan for improving the Penguins' finances. 
     Marino said that he would submit such a plan in a few days
     (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/13).  Marino: "I feel that the
     mayor showed some willingness to help us" (Pittsburgh
     TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/13).  In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey reports
     that officials from the Public Auditorium Authority and SMG,
     which own and run the Civic Arena, respectively, "say they
     are willing to cooperate with the Penguins on a financial
     restructuring plan" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/13).
          BLADES GM DOUBTS K.C. READY FOR NHL: In K.C., IHL
     Blades GM Doug Soetaert, on bringing the NHL to town: "When
     I look at the economics of the IHL in Kansas City, that's
     very doable.  The economics of the NHL are far greater.  I
     don't know if there's enough revenue stream in Kansas City
     to support that" (Jeffrey Flanagan, K.C. STAR, 8/13).  

          Maple Leaf Gardens Chair Steve Stavro "denied in a rare
     interview yesterday that the hockey club plans to bid" for
     the Blue Jays in an effort to bring Toronto's four main pro
     teams "under the same umbrella," according to Geoff Baker of
     the TORONTO STAR.  Stavro: "I have no interest in it because
     we have enough on our plate."  MLG already controls the
     Leafs and Raptors and is finalizing construction on the new
     Air Canada Centre.  More Stavro: "I have respect for the
     sport of baseball, just no interest in the game itself"
     (TORONTO STAR, 8/13).  In Toronto, Robert MacLeod reports
     that one source close to MLG said that rather than purchase
     the Blue Jays outright, the Gardens is more interested in a
     scenario in the which the Blue Jays and its current
     ownership would join the Leafs and Raptors "under one
     umbrella organization" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 8/13).
          EXPLORATORY TALKS TOOK PLACE: While Blue Jays Chair Sam
     Pollock says the sale of the team is not imminent, "initial
     discussions with a prospective purchaser did take place
     three months ago," according to a report in the OTTAWA SUN. 
     In May, members of a group interested in buying the Jays
     flew to N.Y. to meet reps of Interbrew SA, which owns the
     team.  Pollock: "There's nothing on the table today.  But I
     can't answer about the future" (OTTAWA SUN, 8/13).

          The Colts are coming off of a "dismal" 3-13 season, but
     Mike Chappell of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS reports that the
     ticket base "is one of the team's strongest of the decade." 
     Colts Dir of Ticket Sales Greg Hylton "expects the team's
     season-ticket base to hit 40,000."  At midweek, it was
     between 38,000 and 39,000.  Last season's was 36,500. 
     Chappell cites new team leadership, in the form of President
     Bill Polian and coach Jim Mora, and the selection of No. 1
     draft pick QB Payton Manning, as reasons for the sales.  The
     team had a 90% renewal rate from last year's ticket holders. 
     They are also offering mini-packages this year, and to date,
     2,600 five-game sets and 1,200 three-game sets have been
     sold.  Hylton: "We're up all across the board."  The Colts
     increased their ticket sales staff this year to include five
     people who "pound the pavement full-time" and four more who
     work "primarily" in-office (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 8/13).