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Volume 24 No. 134


          One of the Expos' ballpark project's "high-profile
     promoters has cast aspersions on Expos president Claude
     Brochu and on the near-impenetrable veil of secrecy
     surrounding the project he was recruited to sell," according
     to Stephanie Myles of the Montreal GAZETTE.  In a radio
     interview, Jean Coutu said, "I think Brochu is a very good
     administrator, but maybe he should step aside and let
     someone else promote the project."  Brochu would not
     comment.  Coutu joined the Expos' ballpark effort in March,
     but he now says he is "no longer active in the project." 
     Coutu: "It's excessively difficult to put that good name we
     [he and the other businessmen assisting in the ballpark
     push] have into something we don't understand ourselves. 
     Who will own the stadium?  We don't even know.  It smells a
     bit like what went on in Quebec City with the Nordiques." 
     Coutu: "They haven't known how to sell it to business,
     government and the fans."  Meanwhile, the Expos have invited
     members of the business community to accompany them to
     Baltimore today to tour Camden Yards (GAZETTE, 8/19).  

          With a 30-day window for potential buyers of the Twins
     open to September 14, the two who had "publicly declared
     interest in acquiring" the team say they "are undecided
     about whether they will make an official bid," according to
     Tom Powers of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS.  Minneapolis
     lawyer Clark Griffith, son of former Twins Owner Calvin
     Griffith, said he will "take the next two weeks to decide
     whether to make an offer."  Mike Veeck said he will take
     part in a conference call with his financial partners today. 
     But Powers writes that Veeck "no longer seems interested" in
     buying the team (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/19).  
          TWINS PEAKED? In his column, Powers notes that the
     Twins drew an average of 2.3 million fans from '87-93, and
     writes that the lack of a new ballpark is "not the reason
     Carl Pohlad has lost millions of dollars the past five
     seasons."  Powers: "Let's get real.  The reason Pohlad has
     lost a lot of money is his team stinks.  His team stinks
     because he won't spend enough to make it competitive. 
     Period.  Quit blaming the market for everything. ... The
     point is, instead of trimming the payroll from $26 million
     to $20 million, why not invest in the team by signing some
     much-needed talent?" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/19).

          Today is the day that "seven aspiring owners of the
     Browns pitch themselves in front of all 30 NFL team owners"
     in Atlanta, according to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland PLAIN
     DEALER.  Grossi: "No prize is awarded at the end of the day,
     but a good presentation could sway some votes when the owner
     is selected in another month."  Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver:
     "I think it's kind of a dog-and-pony show. ... We all will
     form opinions and impressions.  And when it comes right down
     to it, it seems to me what they say and what they present
     will become fairly significant.  Because in the final
     analysis, there won't be a great disparity in the bids." 
     Grossi writes that while the first bids are "signed and
     sealed," the second bids -- due after each applicant visits
     the NFL "data room" in New York -- will "separate the
     field."  If the bids "are close," an NFL owner speculated
     within $50M of each other, "factors such as Cleveland
     connections, minority participation and likability could
     play a larger role."  Through a draw from a hat, Cleveland
     developer Bart Wolstein will go first (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19). 
     Wolstein: "From what I've been reading, the price is going
     to be the most important thing" (BEACON JOURNAL, 8/19).  
          WHO ARE THE ODDS-ON FAVORITES? Grossi reports that
     while Al Lerner "looks like the front runner ... nothing is
     always what it seems in the NFL" (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).  USA
     TODAY's Gordon Forbes lays his odds, putting Lerner at 3-1;
     Wolstein at 7-2; Charles/Larry Dolan at 9-2; Howard Milstein
     at 6-1; Richard Jacobs at 10-1; Thomas Murdough at 15-1; and
     Jeremy Jacobs at 25-1 (USA TODAY, 8/19).  In an AKRON BEACON
     JOURNAL survey, Murdough was the fans' pick to become the
     Browns' owner, receiving 27% of the vote.  The Dolans got
     22%; Lerner 16%; Wolstein 14%; Milstein 12% and Richard
     Jacobs 4.5%.  Lerner "drew the strongest response, both pro
     and con" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/19).  In St. Pete, Hubert
     Mizell calls Lerner the "best bet" (ST. PETE TIMES, 8/19).
          STADIUM LOAN: With a 5-2 vote, OH's Controlling Board
     approved a $21.8M loan to help finish the Browns' stadium. 
     The loan -- "in effect, a cash advance on a state
     construction budget" -- will be repaid with stadium aid
     appropriated in the November budget (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).

          Alberta Treasury Branches paid a C$4M "break-up" fee to
     Rockets Owner Les Alexander "after he lost out on his bid"
     to buy the NHL Oilers in May, according to Jac McDonald of
     the EDMONTON JOURNAL.  Alexander "is entitled to" another
     C$4M if the agreement keeping the Oilers in Edmonton until
     2004 is "relaxed in any manner," making it easier for the
     club to be relocated.  The fee agreement, obtained by the
     JOURNAL, says that the additional money is due "whether or
     not the club is then relocated."  The fees "were part of
     Alexander's second offer to purchase the Oilers."  Treasury
     Branches spokesperson Darlene Dickinson "confirmed" that
     Alexander received the C$4M, out of the C$100M proceeds of
     the sale.  Dickinson: "It was his requirement that if the
     local buyers succeeded in purchasing the team, he would
     require a break-up fee.  This is quite normal under
     transactions of this type" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 8/19).