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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

What's an Extra $30 Million Among Friends Anyway?

July 30, 1999|MARK HEISLER

Did you ever notice that those people who proclaim all the benefits of a sports franchise to cities don't have much to say about Oakland?

Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers will have to pump an additional $30 million this year into the Coliseum sports complex, the San Jose Mercury News reported. This would make the taxpayers' bill for the last three years a staggering $82 million.

The problem was Raider seat licenses, which sold far short of expectations. On the bright side, the Mercury News notes stadium officials are "encouraged because the subsidy is lower than last year's."

Alameda County Auditor-Controller Patrick O'Connell told the Contra Costa Times that "unless fans start streaming into the stadium in unprecedented numbers," Oakland and the county are expected to keep posting annual losses of $16 million to $20 million.

Now, who was it around here who wanted the Raiders back?

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Trivia question: Who is the only player to lead a league in hits in his first three seasons?

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Not so boffo: The Minnesota Twins' announced attendance is supposedly up by 1,895 a game this season, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Jay Weiner reports that data from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission suggest that 33% of the ticket holders aren't showing up.

Not to worry? Twin Vice President Matt Hoy met with the MSFC to propose a new money-making opportunity: advertising in the rest rooms, which could mean up to $80,000 a season.

Notes Weiner: "And most everyone takes advantage of those seats."

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Mixed feelings: Seattle's new Safeco Field is a hit with the critics.

"This is not the community's most economical, rational and convenient effort," writes Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "That was the Kingdome, Seattle's monument to its Scandinavian Lutheran heritage of reticence. But, for better or worse, the Seattle of 1999 is markedly different from the Seattle of 1968 . . . The region's acute concentration of wealth and the growing prestige of its businesses and politics are manifest in the new stadium. This project is of, for and by those influences."

However, Mariner batters, who padded their numbers in the homer-friendly Kingdome, are hinting about leaving en masse if the club doesn't move in the fences.

"I think ownership will be smart enough to change the dimensions if they see a lot of guys start leaving or not want to come here," says Ken Griffey Jr.

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U-turn: The shortest tenure in the history of Washington Redskin publicists belongs to John Konoza, who got the job after new owner Daniel Snyder fired 25 front-office employees, and resigned after two sleepless nights, citing the pressure of the job, according to the Washington Post.

Snyder's personal spokesman, Karl Swanson, will take over on an interim basis. "We don't really see it as a problem," said the battle-hardened Swanson. "It's too bad, but you shrug your shoulders."

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Trivia answer: Johnny Pesky of the Boston Red Sox in 1942 and 1946-47. Pesky did not play from 1943-45, when he served in the military.

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And finally: Mariner outfielder Jay Buhner, on the expansive new clubhouse at Safeco Field: "You take a wrong turn in this place, you could be lost for a week."

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