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Grizzlies Sale Finalized

May 11, 2000

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Michael Heisley officially became the owner of the Vancouver Grizzlies on Thursday.

Final details of Heisley’s $160 million purchase of the NBA team from Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment were completed Thursday. The Grizzlies are now owned solely by Hoops L.P., a company owned by Heisley, a Chicago businessman who has made millions turning money-losing businesses into profitable ventures.

Heisley said he expects to lose $25 million next season but wants to see the team back on its feet financially soon.

``I can afford to lose it for a long time,″ he said. ``How long am I going to lose it? Not very long. I don’t run my business to lose $25 million a year forever. That’s the reality.″

Heisley hopes to announce soon a new vice-president of business who will be called upon to boost ticket sales and corporate sponsorship.

On Wednesday, Heisley announced Vancouver’s new management team.

Dick Versace, a former NBA coach and broadcaster, assumed the president’s role while Billy Knight, a senior vice-president with the Indiana Pacers, became the club’s new general manager.

Former NBA coach Chuck Daly will act as a consultant.

At the same time, several executives of the former regime _ Noah Croom, the assistant general manager, Larry Riley, director of player personnel, and assistant coach Jack Nolan _ were all fired.

Orca Bay, owned by Seattle businessman John McCaw, still owns the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and GM Place. Heisley and Orca Bay have reached a lease agreement for the Grizzlies to play at GM Place.

Even though the Grizzlies set a franchise high for wins last season, they still finished with a 22-60 record. During its five-year NBA existence, Vancouver has a 78-300 record.

Coach Lionel Hollins, an original member of the Grizzlies, was fired Monday. Stu Jackson, the franchise’s first president and general manager, resigned Tuesday to take a front-office job with the NBA.

Heisley said he’s hired three people to replace Jackson and ease the workload.

``In my opinion Stu Jackson had more on his table than probably was fair,″ he said.

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