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MANDALAY SUITS UP

Guber, others partner in minor league teams

Peter Guber’s Mandalay is putting on a baseball uniform. Or is that hockey?

The former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and his Mandalay partner Paul Schaeffer have teamed with two sports industry executives to buy two minor league baseball teams and one minor league hockey squad.

Mandalay Sports Enterprises, a joint venture established with veteran minor league execs Hank and Ken Stickney and Schaeffer, have bought the Las Vegas Stars, the Triple-A baseball affiliate of the San Diego Padres; the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Single-A baseball affil of the Anaheim Angels; and the Las Vegas Thunder of the Intl. Hockey League.

Mandalay Sports, which is a division of the parent Mandalay, will announce in early 1997 a strategic plan and will appoint a major sports exec as prexy and chief operating officer. The office will be located in L.A.

Guber, who has long wanted to get involved in sports, unsuccessfully negotiated for SPE to buy the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Kings when he was chairman a few years back.

Guber and Schaeffer would not divulge how much money Mandalay was investing in the teams, but noted it would climb into the tens of millions of dollars.

He and Schaeffer are taking a 50% interest in the three minor league teams. It was unclear how much financing the Stickneys were providing, but Guber made it clear that all four partners were investors as well.

Guber, who created Mandalay Entertainment after ankling as chairman of SPE in 1994, added that Sony has no stake in the investment.

“We were looking for an entry point into pro sports entertainment,” Guber said. “This is just something we were really intrigued by.

“I have always believed that professional sports was an entertainment attraction.”

Schaeffer said Mandalay – which is already involved with film, publishing and legit efforts – was eager to exploit sports as an investment.

“We actually believe that minor league sports is going to be the future in the sports business,” Schaeffer said. “There are a lot of cities in this country where they don’t have major league sports. This is a happening. The games are a happening. They’re just fun.”

Schaeffer said Mandalay grew interested in the idea about six months ago after they were introduced to the Stickneys, longtime owners and execs with numerous pro sports teams including the Palm Springs Angels ball team.

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