Vancouver NBA franchise may retain Grizzlies name in Memphis

Wednesday, May 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VANCOUVER (CP) _ Should Vancouver's NBA franchise move to Memphis, it may retain the Grizzlies name for at least one season

The Vancouver Province, quoting unidentified sources, said the name may remain the same temporarily owing to the late date and the arduous process of having new merchandise approved by NBA Properties.

Federal Express has pledged about $100 million US for team and arena naming rights to the ownership group headed by owner Michael Heisley. There had been widespread speculation the franchise name would switch to the Express from the Grizzlies.

Despite operating in Vancouver for just one season, Heisley has accrued substantial lease costs that he will have to deal with should the franchise leave for Memphis.

Besides the four years and $8 million left on lease payments at GM Place, there is almost $1 million left on the lease agreement at the team's former practice site in suburban Richmond.

The Heisley group did not have its Vancouver practice site finished in time for the start of the season, and were thus forced to renew _ at a five-year term _ its lease in Richmond. There are still 4 1/2 years remaining on that lease at approximately $200,000 per year.