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Sturm Group Completes Avalanche-Nugget Deal

July 28, 1999| From Staff and Wire Reports

A group headed by billionaire banker Donald Sturm purchased the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets for $461 million on Tuesday after a Wal-Mart heiress dropped out of an auction for the teams.

The move ended a four-month tug-of-war over Ascent Entertainment Group's efforts to sell the teams and the Pepsi Center arena, due to open next fall.

Sturm is a major shareholder in telecommunications giant Level 3 Communications.

In a statement, Bill Laurie and his wife, Nancy, an heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, said they were not prepared to match the Sturm group's offer, backing out of an open auction set for today that would have pitted the Lauries against the Sturm group.

The Sturm offer is not subject to the approval of shareholders, an Ascent spokeswoman said.

In March, the Lauries purchased the Ascent assets for $400 million, triggering two shareholder lawsuits that claimed other potential bidders were not solicited and the teams and arena should have fetched a higher price.

Sturm was part of a group initially rebuffed in favor of the Lauries.

On Monday, Sturm won the right to compete against the Lauries by edging Saudi Princess Thara Al Saud, who offered $450 million, and a group that included retired Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway.

The Lauries will receive $8.2 million from Ascent as part of an agreement reached when the bidding process was reopened last month.

Golf

Saying she needs a break, Annika Sorenstam withdrew from this week's du Maurier Classic at Calgary, Canada, the fourth and last LPGA major championship of the year.

Sorenstam won the Michelob Light Classic three weeks ago. Mark Steinberg, Sorenstam's agent, said she needed two weeks off and there was no other convenient time on her schedule because she intends to play in the Weetabix Women's British Open starting Aug. 12.

Boxing

The Senate approved legislation aimed at protecting professional boxers from unscrupulous managers and promoters and cleaning up the tarnished image of the sport. The bill, long sought by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was approved without opposition. A companion bill is working its way through the House.

The measure would require promoters and organizers of major boxing events to disclose more financial information and inform state boxing commissions of charges, costs and fees they take out of boxers' purses.

It states that no boxing contract can extend longer than a year, making it more difficult to tie fighters to long-term contracts. Fighters also would not be required to hire a manager associated with a promoter. The legislation, named after former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, would standardize physical exams that boxers must undergo before each match and make a brain CAT scan every two years a requirement for obtaining a license.

Tennis

Top-seeded Carlos Moya of Spain advanced to the second round of the Croatia Open, beating Italy's Davide Sanguinetti, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 at Umag.

Felix Mantilla of Spain also was forced to three sets, beating countryman Jacobo Diaz, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

American Jeff Tarango beat Tomas Zib of the Czech Republic, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, the Australian Open champion, outlasted Slava Dosedel, 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 6-3, in the second round of the Generali Open at Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Defending champion Albert Costa of Spain won his 11th consecutive match in the clay-court event, beating Germany's Michael Kholmann, 6-4, 6-4.

In other second-round matches, Slovakia's Karol Kucera beat Australia's Wayne Arthurs, 6-3, 6-4, and Australia's Richard Fromberg defeated Russia's Marat Safin, 6-3, 6-2.

Names in the News

Spanish marathon runner Julio Rey tested positive twice for the prohibited steroid mesterolone, a Spanish athletics federation official said. The International Amateur Athletic Federation announced last week that he had failed a drug test but did not reveal the substance. He was suspended from competition and faces a two-year ban. . . . Sean Elliott of the San Antonio Spurs is waiting for definitive word that a kidney donor has been found. Elliott, 31, needs a kidney transplant to avoid dialysis. . . . In Lausanne, Switzerland, a tired-looking Lance Armstrong was soundly beaten by Alex Zuelle of Switzerland in his second race since winning the Tour de France.

Veteran right wing Joe Sacco signed a one-year, $450,000 contract with the Washington Capitals. . . . Sergei Krivokrasov, the leading scorer for the Nashville Predators last season, re-signed with the team. . . . Sweden's Anna-Karin Kammerling broke her own world-record in the 50-meter butterfly by clocking 26.39 seconds at the European Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

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