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Coasting to a Profit

June 17, 1986|Bill Ritter

There's a $100-million, 2,400-ton floating oil drilling platform off the coast of Australia that, with the oil glut, isn't getting much use these days.

So its owners, Midland & Scottish Marine Investments Ltd., are trying to come up with ideas to keep it working until the oil industry turns around.

Enter San Diego's Hal Kolker, whose Spectator Marketing will receive 25% of the proceeds from the following brainstorm: Convert the platform into a floating sea-stadium so that sailing fans can watch, first-hand, the America's Cup races later this year.

The venture--International Sea Stadium Ltd.--will feature a 500-seat stadium, 12 sky boxes with a dozen seats each, 120 staterooms, a 265-seat restaurant, a movie theater, a satellite linkup and a helicopter that can transport passengers back to shore at any time.

With computerized engines, the vessel can reach speeds of 11 knots and can "turn on a dime," Kolker said.

The Australian government has given the go-ahead for the vessel to follow the Cup participants off shore during the race, scheduled to last from October through February. During that time, three television specials will be filmed on board, Kolker added.

Prices will start at $150 per day per person in October and climb to $600 per person per day toward the end of the gala.

Sports fans will remember Kolker as the San Diego Clippers marketing vice president who dreamed up a pie-throwing contest in 1978, with sports commentator Ted Leitner as the target. Kolker's scheme earned him a censure from the National Basketball Assn. because it delayed the Clippers game.

Kolker has made some strides since then. His Spectator Marketing has signed dozens of corporations as sponsors of billboards and scoreboards at arenas and stadiums across the country, and has made Kolker a successful businessman.

Next on Kolker's agenda: a 76-week U.S. tour and a two-year world tour of "The Wizard of Oz," playing in indoor arenas in a Disney on Parade format. The show's opening is to be in September, 1987, at the San Diego Sports Arena.

Deadline Near in Zoo Labor Dispute

Progress in contract talks between labor and management of the Zoological Society of San Diego has been "very slow--but we're moving forward, we hope," according to state mediator David Hart.

Both sides were scheduled to meet "all day and probably all night" Monday in an effort to meet a deadline this morning to send out contract ballots to the society's 922 unionized workers (about 71% of its labor force).

The issues of pay cuts, random drug testing and co-payment of health benefits remained unresolved as of last week, Hart said.

The contract--with members of the Teamsters Union Local 481--expires at month's end. Should there be a strike, both the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park will remain open, society officials say.

Employees have walked off their jobs only once since zoo workers unionized 24 years ago. The 1965 strike lasted only two days.

Another Savings & Loan Saga

Yes, the Van D. Greenfield who plans to infuse $10 million into troubled Progressive Savings & Loan in Alhambra is the same Greenfield who tried unsuccessfully--several times--to infuse money into troubled Sun Savings & Loan in San Diego.

It's the same $10 million, as well, Greenfield mused last week.

His capital contribution will give him about 61% of Progressive's stock.

Seeing the Solar Light

Former SDG&E chief Robert Morris has been called many things, having steered the utility during a period of record-high energy rates and accompanying howling from consumers and activist groups.

But he does like to think he's capable of changing positions.

Exhibit A: Several years ago, his Energy Factors toyed with acquiring Cogeneration National Corp. (CNC), which boasted a couple of solar energy projects. But Morris pooh-poohed the notion because he "didn't believe" in solar energy.

But things, and positions, change. In April, Energy Factors paid $9 million to acquire Concord-based Cogeneration National.

Quipped Morris: "Damn it . . . (CNC's) two solar projects really work. It proves that you can be wrong."

An Intelligent Move

International Robomation/Intelligence is known in business circles as IRI, and on the stock market as ROBT, its trading symbol.

That has changed.

The company has switched symbols to IRIN, portraying, officials say, the firm's name and its emphasis on the word intelligence.

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