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San Diego Sportscene

If You're Among the Idle Rich, This Toy Can Be Yours

February 12, 1986|Dave Distel

Somewhere in San Diego, someone must be in the market for a new toy.

This is a toy for the person who really has everything. This is not a toy for anyone who does not own yachts, Arabian horses, Van Gogh originals or at least two hotels on Park Place and a railroad.

Of course, this toy does not have to be purchased individually. You can get a group together and pretend it is a time-share condominium.

Frankly, I cannot afford one of these toys. No one in my social (and economic) circle is quite ready for such a splurge. In fact, the collective wage-earners in almost any downtown skyscraper would probably fall short of coming up with sufficient loot.

This is an open letter to Mr. or Ms. Big, whomever he or she may be. Call it an unclassified advertisement.

I am not exactly sure what this toy will cost, but what difference will it make? You know what they say about having to ask the price. It may be a pittance of $25 million, or may be $35 million.

Don't ask me about financing. My idea of a complicated financial transaction is trying to charge a pair of shoes on a piece of plastic and hoping the purchase does not get rejected as over the limit. Ever had a clerk say you've got just enough credit left for the shoelaces?

Let's forget about financing. Let's say the cash is there, and this is a toy you feel you have to have.

First of all, you have to make a $100,000 deposit with folks we will call the manufacturers. This lets them know you are serious, and you better be. This is money you will never again see.

No problem, you say, just chalk it off what you owe when you pick up your option to buy. One small problem, however. To buy is not your option. In this case, the "manufacturers" of these toys will decide whether they will condescend to sell one to you.

Should you be given such an opportunity, you will be told how fortunate you are.

And, for awhile, you may agree. You may own three hotels in Las Vegas, two in Honolulu, one in Paris and two in Rio de Janeiro, and only 8 hotel managers, 16 desk clerks and 2 custodians will recognize your face when you walk into a room. Buy one of these toys, and you get your picture on the front of sports sections throughout the country.

With this toy comes fame and notoriety.

However, this toy also comes packaged with a problem or two. And there are no money-back guarantees.

For one thing, you may not want to bring this toy home. For example, some of its components may think a sugar bowl is a good place to store--and serve--cocaine. We're not exactly talking about Cabbage Patch dolls here.

If you are lucky enough to get a toy with no such tainted parts, you have to hope none of the parts break down. This toy will take a brutal beating, sort of like a new electric train in the hands of a 4 year old. This toy has 24 legs, with heaven knows how many muscles to pull. It has 120 fingers and toes and 24 arms. Things can go wrong with all these parts, even if the noses (12 of them) are clean.

Obviously, we're into high maintenance, more out of control than the most expensive yacht.

And we haven't gotten to what might be called "energy consumption." This toy does not run on batteries. You cannot just wind it up or stick a plug in a socket.

This toy runs on money. Each and every part must be paid. Some will be paid $300,000 a year, and these are not the important ones. The key parts will be paid $1 million a year, or they will shut themselves down and suggest you see how well the toy functions without them.

This may sound like a rather intimidating toy, about as much fun as an IRS audit, and just about as rewarding.

However, there must be someone in San Diego who would want such a toy.

Civic leaders, not to mention the management of the Sports Arena, are seeking just such a person. San Diego has been without a National Basketball Assn. team since Donald T. Sterling took his wine glass to Los Angeles, and a movement is afoot to attract another franchise.

Thus far, this movement is progressing about as swiftly as a glacier.

San Diego has everything it needs, it seems, to be a part of the NBA. It has a facility, which has been upgraded since its decrepit days with the decrepit Clippers. It has a growing population base. And it has civic pride.

It has everything except an owner, someone who is willing to buy a toy for the town--if anyone will sell him one.

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