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Volume 24 No. 160

Franchises

          The CP's Neil Stevens reports that the return of RW
     Pavel Bure to the NHL increases the league's average yearly
     player salary to $1.3M when factoring in his previous $8M
     salary with the Canucks.  The Panthers, who acquired Bure in
     a trade with the Canucks, gave him a new contract for the
     rest of the season "believed to be worth about" $3M.  Agent
     Mike Gillis "will try" to negotiate a five or six-year deal
     worth around $10M per year for Bure after this season (CP,
     1/19).  In Toronto, Geoffrey York writes that Bure's "lavish
     lifestyle of endless partying and nightclubbing" during his
     holdout "made him a controversial figure" in his native city
     of Moscow (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/19)....The Atlanta Arena Co. took
     out an ad in the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Southeast edition
     promoting Thrashers club seats at the new Atlanta Arena:
     "Impress Customers.  Terrify Competitors" (THE DAILY)....In
     San Jose, Clark Judge writes that NFL Dir of Football
     Development Gene Washington's hiring by the 49ers "likely
     will be put on hold until the NFL resolves the future of co-
     owner Eddie DeBartolo."  It is "believed" that Washington
     would be named as an Exec VP (MERCURY NEWS, 1/19).

          The NBA Kings announced Friday that the Maloof family
     of NM "will assume controlling interest" of Capital Sports &
     Entertainment, the company that includes the Kings and Arco
     Arena, effective July 1, according to Martin McNeal of the
     SACRAMENTO BEE.  After the deal was announced, Gavin and Joe
     Maloof said that they had "no plans" to move the team from
     Sacramento.  Current majority Owner Jim Thomas said he will
     remain as the company's CEO until July 1 and will work with
     the Maloofs "to help ensure a smooth transition."  Though no
     financial terms of the deal were disclosed, Thomas is
     "expected" to retain a small part of the team.  The Maloofs
     purchased a 25% share of the team in January '98 for
     approximately $40M.  Thomas said his decision to sell his
     stake in the Kings was "influenced" by new business
     interests he wants to focus on, as well as the team's
     "cloudy position" in the free agent market.  Thomas: "[The
     free agent situation] had some bearing on it.  We have been
     talking with some people who wanted to know about what the
     future would be like for the team.  So once I made the
     decision, it made sense to get the Maloofs involved so we
     could have a united front" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16).
          DOUBTING THOMAS? Thomas, who took control of the Kings
     in '92: "I'm glad I had the experience.  I'm disappointed
     with the level of success.  I truly believed and expected
     that we would be in the NBA Finals in three to four years. 
     I had no idea about the salary cap and a lot of other
     impeding things" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16).  
          MALOOFS NOT ALOOF: Gavin Maloof said that his family
     "plans to be aggressive in the pursuit of talent."  Maloof:
     "We're pro-active.  We've got money, and we're committed to
     putting a better product on the floor" (Martin McNeal,
     SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16).  Also in Sacramento, Mark Kreidler
     suggested that the Maloofs establish residency in
     Sacramento, as Thomas was perceived by the local fans as a
     "complete outsider" because he never left L.A. to establish
     residence in the city (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/16).

          The Heat are offering several incentive packages during
     the shortened season, including two free tickets to two
     games to every season-ticket account and $10 upper bowl
     tickets that include a voucher for free concessions on
     opening night.  The Heat also announced there will be no
     price increase for playoff tickets or for the '99-2000
     season (Heat).  For next season, the Heat will sell about
     3,100 upper bowl seats at its new arena for $5 per game,
     cheapest in the NBA.  Heat President of Business Operations
     Jay Cross said the $5 price "likely" would be available for
     half of the team's home games and "possibly more."  The $5
     seats would be for games against "marquee opponents," and
     for other games, the 3,100 seats might be closed off.  The
     Heat have sold around 9,300 season-tickets this year,
     compared with just under 10,000 last season.  About 120 new
     orders have been received by the team since the lockout
     ended on January 6 (MIAMI HERALD, 1/16).
          CHARLOTTE: The Hornets plan to pay a 6% rebate for all
     tickets used by season-ticket holders this season and will
     use bar-coding to track whether or not the game ducats are
     used.  The team will send out the rebate checks after the
     season based on usage of the tickets (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER,
     1/18).  In Charlotte, Eric Spanberg reported that the
     Hornets lost "at least" $10M due to the lockout.  The team
     was hurt most by $8.1M in lost ticket sales from the
     cancellation of 16 home games (BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/15).
          DENVER: Ascent Entertainment "expects to have" the
     Pepsi Center's 1,854 club seats, with season-ticket prices
     of $5,590 to $8,600, sold out by the time the arena opens.
     With companies and individuals buying an average of four
     tickets per order, Ascent "has already sold half the seats."
     Ascent VP Paul Andrews: "Now that the lockout has ended, we
     see renewed enthusiasm" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 1/15).  Club-
     seat prices include both Nuggets and Avalanche games.

          The NFL wants John Kent Cooke to own the Redskins, a
     league official said Sunday, but a rep for the trustees of
     the Jack Kent Cooke estate said that they will "stand" by
     their agreement to sell the team to the group headed by
     Isles co-Owner Howard Milstein and MD business exec Daniel
     Snyder, according to George Solomon of the WASHINGTON POST. 
     Cooke's final bid of about $680M was not only less than the
     Milstein/Snyder group bid of $800M, but also less than that
     of AZ business exec Sam Grossman, who offered $720M.  The
     NFL believes the trustees "should be flexible" in allowing
     Cooke to increase his bid if he wants to.  NFL Senior
     VP/Communications & Government Affairs Joe Browne: "The
     current (Cooke) ownership has a proven track record.  The
     continuity of this ownership would be a plus for the league,
     if it can be accomplished to the satisfaction of the
     trustees."  However, a rep of the trustees said they had a
     "binding contract" with the Milstein group "that precludes
     our submitting any other proposals to the [NFL]."  The NFL's
     Finance Committee wants the trustees "to consider submitting
     a proposal from Cooke" and has asked them "to explain at a
     meeting in Miami later this month under what circumstances
     they could submit a bid" from Cooke and "why they chose the
     Milstein group over [him]" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/18).
          SHOW ME THE MONEY: In DC, Tony Kornheiser questions
     where Cooke can "come up with" an additional $120M. 
     Kornheiser: "This thing could end up strung out in court for
     years.  It seemed like the Milsteins bought the Redskins
     fair and square" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/19).