that Thomas accompany him to his box. The son and the attaches didn't seem to
like the idea, but Thomas went anyway. "Here's a fat cat!" Turner
announced to the sizable crowd milling about in his box. "Remember. Earl, I
was nice to you when I thought you were drunk. Last year Earl made—what was it,
bleep, $1.64 billion," said Thomas amiably. He confided that he was moving
his headquarters to Atlanta. He also predicted Fulton County was going to
legalize pari-mutuel betting.
"I don't know
if that's a good idea," said Turner. "I'll have to speak to the
Thomas said it
was a good idea and that he was going to be buying land around Fulton County
where people could keep their racehorses. Neither he nor Turner was paying any
attention to the hockey game.
Turner sent word
to Cousins that the man who was talking about buying the Flames was in his box.
Cousins hustled over, looking like a man who wouldn't mind talking to a hockey
buyer with $1.64 billion.
Turner, where is this guy?" said Cousins.
disappeared," said Turner. Thomas had gone off into the hockey crowd with
his son and attaches. Cousins said he'd never heard of him, much less ever
negotiated with him before.
A few days later
the story went out over the AP wire from Columbus, Ohio, that Thomas was out to
buy the Flames. Cousins still hadn't heard from him. It was a mystery. Maybe
Thomas had disappeared into one of the gaps. Maybe a cannonball had hit him. It
was a shame, if only because he and Turner had so much fun together.
city Sherman burned is promoting itself as " Atlanta, a city without a
limit." To be sure, Atlanta is an almost futuristic setting compared to the
brown-shoe downtown of 10 or 12 years ago. Maybe all those glittering overheads
and expectations create a vacuum that nature is bound to fill. But it takes
more than a setting to produce sports teams that people will take to their
to have a winner," says Rankin Smith. "Turner can get out there and
smile and ride ostriches all he wants to, but if he doesn't give the fans a
winner he's going to be the next Rankin Smith."