Japanese firm to own NHL's Tampa Bay...


Japanese firm to own NHL's Tampa Bay club

A Japanese real estate company has acquired majority ownership of the NHL expansion Tampa Bay Lightning, a company official said yesterday. The $50 million deal, which was approved by the NHL last month, is to be formally announced in Tampa, Fla., tomorrow, said Kokusai Green Co. board member Isamu Motojima.

According to Motojima, Kokusai Green will take a 60-percent fTC stake in the team. He said the other 40 percent will be divided among the Nippon Meat Packers Co., Tokyo Tower, George Steinbrenner and others. Motojima said the deal would make Kokusai Green president Yoshio Nakamura the first Japanese owner of a major U.S. professional sports franchise.

Pro basketball

Michael Jordan has told the NBA it may no longer sell apparel bearing his image, giving Nike Inc. those rights exclusively. The Oregonian of Portland reported Jordan's decision, confirmed by the league. The move, unprecedented in the NBA, means millions of dollars.

Though the NBA no longer may sell Michael Jordan T-shirts, Jordan wear will continue to be sold by Nike, which already makes about $200 million a year on Jordan's image. Jordan has been on the Nike payroll since 1984. He will earn $21.2 million this year for hawking products ranging from Nike shoes to Wheaties cereal to Gatorade sports drink, according to published reports.

Industry sources told The Oregonian that Nike, the world's largest marketer of athletic shoes and clothing, persuaded Jordan to end his apparel licensing involvement with the NBA.

* Magic Johnson, who plans to compete in the NBA All-Star game and the Olympics, said he feels great and reiterated he hasn't given up the idea of returning to the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson, who retired after testing positive for the AIDS virus, said: "I haven't ruled out coming back at all. The only thing that would keep me from playing is myself. . . . It's not up to my doctors, because everything is great. My doctors can advise me, but they're not in my body."


Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes wants a title shot as soon as possible, and he said he could be ready for a May date with Evander Holyfield if the champion doesn't reach an agreement to fight Riddick Bowe first.

* Promoter Stuart Satosky has added an eight-round junior middleweight bout between Les Johnson (14-1) of Rockville and William Galliwango (15-1) of Norkfolk, Va., to his Feb. 19 boxing card at the Pikesville Armory.

Vincent Pettway (34-4) of Baltimore will meet Gilbert Baptist (23-12) of San Diego for the vacant United States Boxing Association 154-pound title in the scheduled 12-round main event. Tickets are priced at $30 for reserved and $20 for general admission. Call (410) 528-1932 for reservations.


Minnesota Vikings running back Herschel Walker, already the brakeman, or pusher, for one of the two American four-man bobsled teams, has been named to the two-man team, also as a brakeman.

* Revelstoke, British Columbia, a community of about 8,300 located in the snow-laden Monashee Mountain range about 120 miles west of Calgary, plans to make a bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Mayor Geoffrey Battersby said that a board of directors is being set up to prepare a formal bid to take before the International Olympic Committee in October.

College football

Lou Saban, 70, a former NFL coach and the coach last year for Peru (Neb.) State, won't return to the college next season, school officials said. The college wants to go back to a teacher-coach, and Saban was hired as head coach without teaching responsibilities, college president Robert Burns said. Saban guided the Bobcats to a 7-4 mark and the semifinals of the NAIA Division II playoffs.


Michael Stich will miss Germany's Davis Cup match against Brazil this weekend with an arm injury. Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion and the third-ranked player in the world, tried to practice late Monday in Munich but later said the injury to his right arm would prevent him from playing in the match in Rio de Janeiro.

Winter sports

Olympics-bound Tim Tetreault of Norwich, Vt., won the U.S. Nordic combined title in Lake Placid, N.Y., out-jumping everyone and then easily keeping the lead in a 10-kilometer ski race. Tetreault, 21, who took leave from the University of Vermont last summer to train for the Olympics, finished 30 seconds ahead of training mate Joe Holland, another Norwich skier. They were also 1-2 in the jumping phase.


Boston Bruins right wing Cam Neely, who missed much of the season because of injury, is expected to sit out another week after being examined for a swollen knee.

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