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Be Wolf Blitzer for an evening

If you're a fan of Cable News Network, here's your chance to experience the thrill of chasing stories across the Middle East without leaving the house. Well, maybe CNN: The Game won't be quite as thrilling as the real thing, but then, it won't be as expensive or dangerous, either.

The new board game is a strategy and trivia contest. GamePlan Inc. of Northbrook, Ill., says the game will sell for less than $30.


Magical industry

tour, step this way

Okay, so maybe it's not a weekend tour package.

The local chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks is sponsoring _ what else? _ a bus tour of local office and industrial parks.

For $50 ($40 for association members) you can take the bus trip from 12:15 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday.


Older and wiser

in saving banks

When New York banker Doug Ebert was hired in 1990 to help save Florida's Southeast Bank, he was a tenderfoot in the land of bank turnarounds.

While Southeast's executives fiddled with small issues, the bank burned. In 1991, Southeast became Florida's biggest bank failure when it was seized by federal regulators and sold to First Union. Overnight, Ebert found himself out of a job.

Rookie no more, Ebert has since built a new career resuscitating troubled banking companies. After reviving and selling off an Indiana-based institution, Ebert is now breathing life into Michigan National Corp. _ an institution very close in size to the former Southeast.

Last week, Michigan National unveiled Project Streamline, which, under Ebert's hand, will cut about 1,000 jobs or a fifth of the bank's work force.

If only Ebert had known three years ago what he knows now.


Mayor's reach

may match grasp

As Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman approaches the end of her reign, she is running out of time to get one thing she has been working on practically since she took office in 1986: a convention center hotel.

That this is on her mind was clear at last week's meeting of the Tampa Port Authority board, of which Freedman is a member.

Chairman Joe Garcia recounted a recent visit to Baltimore, saying Tampa is "Baltimore just a few years back."

He noted the proximity of downtown to the waterfront attractions, including an aquarium, that have given Baltimore's Inner Harbor its identity.

"It took 20 years in Baltimore," Freedman said.

"That's right," agreed Garcia, who continued, "And it looks like there are five or six new hotels . . . "

"I just want one," sighed the mayor.

She may get her wish Thursday, when the City Council votes on a hotel proposal. It is expected to pass.