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Owner of Grizzlies Tours Las Vegas

March 01, 2001|BILL SHAIKIN

The Vancouver Grizzlies' relocation tour reached Las Vegas on Wednesday, one day after team owner Michael Heisley led a delegation of team officials on a visit to Anaheim.

NBA owners Wednesday ratified an extension that gives Heisley until March 26 to apply to move his team next season; the original deadline was today. Heisley said Tuesday he has no plans to visit additional cities, and Grizzlies' executives are expected to compare this week's offers from Anaheim and Las Vegas against those previously received from Louisville, Ky., and New Orleans before negotiating further.

The delay also allows organizers of a "Save the Grizzlies" campaign to find a person or group that would buy the team from Heisley and keep it in Vancouver.

The extension applies to the Charlotte Hornets as well. The Charlotte City Council is scheduled to vote next week on a financing plan for a new arena. The Hornets have talked with Louisville officials about the possibility of moving there from North Carolina but are not believed to have negotiated with Anaheim.

Heisley met twice Wednesday with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, and the two men plan to speak again by phone today, a spokesman for Goodman said.

Las Vegas faces two major obstacles in its pursuit of the Grizzlies. Goodman has made clear the city would consider providing land for a new arena but would not consider paying for its construction. In addition, Commissioner David Stern is adamantly opposed to placing a team there unless casinos stop accepting bets on NBA games.

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