Grizzlies May Leave Vancouver

Monday, February 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Vancouver Grizzlies, who will lose at least $40 million this year, were given permission by the NBA to explore moving to another city next season.

St. Louis, New Orleans and Nashville, Tenn., have been mentioned as possible destinations for the team.

Owner Michael Heisley, who paid $160 million to buy the team in 1999, met with commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik Monday at a Washington hotel to discuss the team's future.

Stern said the Grizzlies (13-36) will lose at least $40 million this year and even more next year.

``We agreed to assist Michael Heisley in exploring other North American cities which may be appropriate for Vancouver to look into,'' Stern said in a statement.

If the team wants to relocate by the start of next season, it would have to submit an application to the NBA by March 1, the league said.

Heisley bought the team from Seattle businessman John McCaw. Heisley has a history of buying under-performing companies and turning them into profitable operations.

The Grizzlies' average attendance slipped to 13,000 last year from 16,000 in their 19,193-seat arena. The team managed to sell around 5,000 season tickets for this year.

While Heisley would like to see GM Place sold out for every Grizzlies game, attendance alone won't pay the bills.