W A S H I N G T O N, Feb. 12, 2001 -- The Vancouver Grizzlies, who will lose atleast $40 million this year, were given permission by the NBA toexplore moving to another city next season.
St. Louis, New Orleans and Nashville, Tenn., have been mentionedas possible destinations for the team.
Owner Michael Heisley, who paid $160 million to buy the team in1999, met with commissioner David Stern and deputy commissionerRuss Granik today at a Washington hotel to discuss the team'sfuture.
Stern said the Grizzlies (13-36) will lose at least $40 millionthis year and even more next year.
"We agreed to assist Michael Heisley in exploring other NorthAmerican cities which may be appropriate for Vancouver to lookinto," Stern said in a statement.
If the team wants to relocate by the start of next season, itwould have to submit an application to the NBA by March 1, theleague said.
Heisley bought the team from Seattle businessman John McCaw.Heisley has a history of buying under-performing companies andturning them into profitable operations.
The Grizzlies' average attendance slipped to 13,000 last yearfrom 16,000 in their 19,193-seat arena. The team managed to sellaround 5,000 season tickets for this year.
While Heisley would like to see GM Place sold out for everyGrizzlies game, attendance alone won't pay the bills.