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Pond Answers $50-Million Question

Analysis: Anaheim probably could meet Heisley's minimum revenue guarantee even with no concessions from Disney.

March 17, 2001|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even without a penny in concessions from Disney, the Vancouver Grizzlies could make an estimated $54 million annually in local revenue by moving to Anaheim, above the $50-million target said to be set by the owner of the NBA team.

Aside from similar revenue projections, Anaheim's bid also is believed to include $8 million from the city, covering land and construction costs for a practice facility, and $4 million from Ogden Corp., operators of the Arrowhead Pond, to add dressing rooms, office space and a team store for the Grizzlies within the arena. Ogden also is negotiating to pay an undetermined share of the $16 million believed to be needed to buy out the Grizzlies' lease in Vancouver.

Team owner Michael Heisley has asked cities competing to attract his team to demonstrate how the Grizzlies could make $50 million per year in town, New Orleans Arena General Manager Doug Thornton said this week. Heisley is expected to decide next week whether to apply for relocation to Anaheim, New Orleans, Louisville, Ky., or Memphis, Tenn. A majority of NBA owners must approve any proposed move.

Sacramento King co-owner Gavin Maloof said he would vote in Heisley's favor no matter what city he proposed but spoke enthusiastically of a potential move to the Pond.

"I think Anaheim would be a plus for the league," Maloof said. "The arena is beautiful. The market is so rich. Three teams in that market, it could handle it."

The New Orleans bid guarantees a sellout of the arena's 41 luxury suites for three years and pledges to buy 11,000 season tickets, according to The Associated Press.

Pond General Manager Tim Ryan declined to run a pledge drive, citing instead the Clippers' average attendance of 14,830 as part-time tenants from 1994-99. The Pond's 82 suites are sold out, with deposits required to remain on a waiting list.

Since all four finalists might meet the $50-million threshold, and with Louisville and Memphis also proposing new arenas, Ryan hopes to persuade Heisley that Southern California's booming population and economic vitality could best assure him of selling seats for years to come.

By selling 15,000 tickets per game at this season's average NBA price of $51, the Grizzlies would make $32 million at the Pond, assuming the same 7.5% rent payment the Mighty Ducks make. The Grizzlies also could make some $9 million per year from luxury suites and club seats, $6.5 million from local radio and television contracts, $4 million from new advertising within the Pond and $2.2 million from concessions and parking, according to interviews and an analysis of the Ducks' lease.

Disney also has offered to share an undisclosed portion of the $5 million to $7 million it controls from ads and naming rights. The Grizzlies' talks with Disney have extended beyond financial considerations to the logistical arrangements necessary for two teams to share an arena.

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