NEWSWIRE : Grizzlies May Be Headed to St. Louis After Sale to Laurie

From Staff and Wire Reports

The St. Louis Grizzlies?

Billionaire Bill Laurie's announcement Thursday that he is buying the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies quickly led to speculation that he will move the franchise to St. Louis.

Laurie was coy about his plans, saying only that his focus is on improving a team that went 8-42 during the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

Franchises wanting to relocate must submit a petition to the league before March 1 in order to move for the following season. The Grizzlies are prohibited by their expansion agreement from making such an application before May 15, 2000--an agreement that would seem to ensure they will continue to be based in Vancouver for the next two seasons.

Laurie and his family live in Columbia, Mo., about 120 miles west of St. Louis. His wife, Nancy Walton Laurie, is the daughter of the late Bud Walton, who with his late brother Sam co-founded Wal-Mart.

Earlier this month, the Lauries bought both the St. Louis Blues and their too-often-unused arena, the Kiel Center.

St. Louis hasn't had an NBA team since the Hawks left for Atlanta in 1968.


Muggsy Bogues signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Raptors, reportedly worth $1 million, the minimum for an NBA player with 10 or more seasons of experience. . . . George Shinn, owner of the Charlotte Hornets, will not be charged in connection with a woman's allegation that he sexually assaulted her at his home, a grand jury decided in York, S.C. . . . Delray Brooks officially became a fired coach when Texas Pan American officials denied the appeal of his dismissal.


With Patrick Rafter and Mark Philippoussis sidelined because of injuries, 18-year-old Lleyton Hewitt gave Australia a 1-0 lead against Russia in a Davis Cup semifinal with a 7-6 (7-0), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Marat Safin at Brisbane. The other semifinal, at Pau, France, will pit Belgium against France. The winners will meet for the Cup in late November. . . . Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport defeated Anna Smashnova of Israel, 6-0, 6-1, and second-seeded Monica Seles ousted Miroslava Vavrinec of Switzerland, 6-1, 6-0, to reach the quarterfinals of the Toyota Princess Cup at Tokyo. . . . Kim Clijsters, 16, defeated fifth-seeded Anke Huber of Germany, 6-1, 6-4, and joined four other Belgians in the quarterfinals of the Seat Open at Luxembourg.


A preliminary hearing date of Nov. 3 was set in Santa Barbara for unbeaten International Boxing Federation junior-middleweight champion Fernando Vargas of Oxnard and four others who face assault charges. Vargas, 21, and the others are charged with assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime stemming from a July 25 altercation at a home in Summerland, just outside Santa Barbara.

The use of drugs by athletes is out of control, White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey said. The director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy was in Salt Lake City to consult with Olympic organizers on their drug-detection plans for the 2002 Winter Games.

While a few teams continue to take hard stands with unsigned players, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denied there is an understanding among owners to hold the line on player salaries. . . . Former Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Bradley retired after 13 seasons because of post-concussion syndrome.

Jeff Cunningham scored two first-half goals to give the Columbus Crew a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire in a Major League Soccer game before 13,550 in Chicago. . . . An exhibition soccer game between the Miami Fusion and the Haitian national team was suspended abruptly after a referee's call against Haiti angered many fans, who trashed the field Wednesday night at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Eight months after William Joppy suffered a broken neck in a car accident, he will defend his World Boxing Assn. middleweight title against Julio Cesar Green of the Dominican Republic tonight at Washington.

Stacy Compton had a record lap of 161.803 mph to win the pole for the Orleans 250, his sixth pole of the year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Defending champion Ben Hian of Encinitas is among the nearly 200 runners who are expected to compete in the Angeles Crest 100-mile race starting Saturday at 5 a.m. in Wrightwood. The runners must finish the race, which follows the Pacific Crest Trail and ends in La Canada Flintridge, before 2 p.m. Sunday.

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