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  • BASEBALL NAMES FIVE FOR EXPANSION PRESENTATIONS

         MLB invited five groups to make formal presentations to the
    expansion committee on November 1 in Chicago.  The groups
    selected to make presentations:  St. Petersburg, Orlando,
    Phoenix, and two groups from Northern Virginia.  The five were
    not called finalists for the next round of major league
    expansion, "but privately, baseball officials said it's
    reasonable to assume these are the groups still in the running"
    (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 10/22).  Phoenix and St.
    Petersburg are widely believed to be the favorites if baseball
    expands by two teams as early as '96. Red Sox General Partner
    John Harrington, chair of the expansion committee, said, "The
    decision to expand has not yet been made.  These are preliminary
    interviews" (MLB).
         ST. PETE: Group Attorney John Higgins: "If you put the facts
    down, they favor the Tampa Bay area -- a season ticket base, an
    existing facility, a strong ownership group and a long baseball
    tradition."  Harrington, in an interview with the ST. PETERSBURG
    TIMES:  "We are going to get into their financial information.
    We want to know who their decision maker will be."  Harrington
    also said the expansion issue is agreeable to the MLBPA, saying
    the union "previously made a proposal that called for expansion."
    Harrington: "It has been brought up in discussion with them
    [players union] that we would like to have included in the next
    basic agreement the ability to expand.  They didn't reject that"
    (Mark Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/22)
         ORLANDO:  Paul Jacobs, a partner in the effort to bring
    baseball to Orlando: "We knew the process was moving along. It's
    the next step.  It's a big step."  Orange County Chairman Linda
    Chapin: "We've got to feel good that Orlando is recognized as an
    important, vibrant, growing community.  That is what the owners
    appear to be saying here" (Lawrence Lebowitz, ORLANDO SENTINEL,
    10/22).
         VIRGINIA:  Attorney Bart Fisher, head of Capital Baseball
    Inc.: "What it says is that baseball is interested in the area.
    We're against three other cities.  I would hope they add four
    teams.  But even if they only add two, I feel good about our
    chances" (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 10/22).  William
    Collins, head of Virginia Baseball Club said, "I think Major
    League Baseball is very serious about baseball in Northern
    Virginia" (Kevin Lyons, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/22).  Both said if
    they are awarded a franchise they would play in RFK Stadium while
    a Virginia ballpark is under construction.  Several local
    officials and activists said it was time for Fisher and Collins
    "to level with the public about where a local stadium might be
    built" (Eric Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 10/22).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB
  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 24: SECRET TALKS, PASS IT ALONG

         While both sides are denying that the resumption of talk is
    imminent, "there will be a secret meeting early this week"
    between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
    Goodenow "at an undisclosed location," according to a report in
    this morning's TORONTO STAR.  One top player agent:  "This is a
    very important week" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 10/24).  It is
    believed the league "is prepared to bring a new proposal" to
    meetings this week (Roy Cummings, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/22).
    Meanwhile, the league is taking its case to agents sending them
    information on their proposal and the state of negotiations.
    While Murray Chass refers to it as "Phase II" of the NHL's effort
    to generate support on the opposing side, one agent said it was
    just a "propaganda package" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/24).  Agent Don
    Meehan:  "I am a little tired of both sides trying to convince me
    of how right they are and I'd like both sides to direct some
    energies to sitting down and finding out a way to resolve these
    issues" (CANADIAN PRESS/VANCOUVER SUN, 10/24).
         NHLPA ALL-STAR GAME:  The NHLPA has made preliminary
    inquiries regarding the availability of Copps Coliseum in
    Hamilton, Ontario, in late November for a possible exhibition
    all-star game (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/22).
         EUROPE & THE MINORS:  The Swedish Elite League effectively
    "froze out" NHL players by announcing that it would allow them to
    compete only if they committed to an entire season (CHICAGO
    TRIBUNE, 10/23).  In New York, Joe LaPointe examines the "hands-
    off" policy taken by the IHL owners toward signing NHL players.
    Agent/former player Brian Lawton:  "Part of it is fear.  The NHL
    is very powerful."  Agent Mark Gandler:  "They are just looking
    for excuses.  I say it's a bunch of baloney.  I will give them
    another few days and then I will look at a legal recourse" (N.Y.
    TIMES, 10/23).  In Newark, Walt MacPeek writes, "It is only a
    matter of time, perhaps a week, before an agent or a player sues
    one of the minor leagues, along with the NHL, and then the whole
    labor-management dispute could become further tangled in the
    courts" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/23).
         CAN'T TELL THE OWNERS WITHOUT A SCORECARD:  In Toronto,
    William Houston breaks ownership into three groups:  Hawks, Doves
    and Fence-Sitters.  THE HAWKS:  Bruins (Jeremy Jacobs), Devils
    (John McMullen), Red Wings (Mike Ilitch), Blackhawks (Bill
    Wirtz), Flyers (Ed Snider), Jets (Barry Shenkarow), Panthers
    (Wayne Huizenga), Whalers (Peter Karmanos) & Penguins (Howard
    Baldwin).  THE DOVES:  Maple Leafs (Steve Stavro), Mighty Ducks
    (Michael Eisner), Rangers (Charles Dolan), Kings (Jeffrey
    Sudikoff), Canucks (Arthur Griffiths), Flames, Canadiens
    (Molson), Islanders (Robert Rosenthal and Stephen Walsh) & Oilers
    (Peter Pocklington).  THE FENCE-SITTERS:  Blues, Capitals,
    Sharks, Stars, Nordiques, Sabres, Lightning & Senators.  Baldwin
    went from Dove to Hawk after becoming upset with Goodenow's
    "obstinance."  Pocklington changed his stance after getting  a
    more favorable lease (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/22).
         SAVE THE SMALL-MARKETS:  Milwaukee-based sports-valuation
    expert Michael Megna sees a "high probability" that within a
    decade there may only be three Canadian teams remaining --
    Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver -- with others moving to bigger
    U.S. cities such as Denver and Phoenix.  Buy Bruins President &
    GM Harry Sinden calls that prospect "the worst thing we could
    do."  Noting that 2/3 of NHL players are Canadian, Sinden says if
    the NHL leaves smaller Canadian cities, "the kids in those areas
    would lose interest, and the NHL will eventually run short of
    players" (William Symonds, BUSINESS WEEK, 10/31 issue).
         FROM THE SIDELINES:  If the season is canceled, the city of
    Detroit will lose more than $1.5M in ticket surcharge and parking
    revenues generated by Red Wings games (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS,
    10/17-24 issue).  SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Michael Farber suggests
    the players agree to a rookie cap and give up on salary
    arbitration, and the owners concede to a larger non-compensation
    free agent pool.  According to a "high-placed" NHL exec, such a
    deal "would go a long way to getting owners to open the doors"
    (Gare Joyce, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/24).  In Vancouver, Mike
    Beamish nominates Harvard Law Professor Paul Weiler as a
    potential mediator.  Weiler:  "A mediator isn't any good unless
    both sides want one.  My worry is they're waiting to see what
    goes on in baseball first" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/22).  San Jose
    Mayor Susan Hammer and mayors from 16 other NHL cities called on
    both sides to end the lockout.  San Jose faces the potential loss
    of the All-Star Game (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/22).
    

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  • MLS HUNTING BIG-NAME FRANCHISE SPONSORS

         Charlie Stillitanom, who was venue director for the World
    Cup games at Giants Stadium, has been in negotiations with a
    Major League Soccer potential owner in the NY area, according to
    a report in Sunday's Newark STAR-LEDGER.  "Although he wouldn't
    say who it is, he did admit that it isn't Time Warner Inc., the
    corporation that still owns the Cosmos' rights."  It seems Time
    Warner is not interested in owning a MLS franchise, but they are
    interested in being involved in a marketing contract similar to
    the World Cup.  the STAR-LEDGER's Ike Kuhns notes that "time is
    becoming critical" for MLS if it is to be "marketed properly" for
    an April '95 startup.  Kuhns adds to expect announcements in
    early November (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLS, Time Warner
  • NEW PROPOSAL BY BASEBALL OWNERS TO CREATE MORE IRE?

         "The salary-cap proposal that triggered the strike that
    killed the World Series is about to become even less appealing to
    the players," according to a weekend report in the N.Y. TIMES.
    According to a memo sent from MLB's Player Relations committee to
    the clubs last week, the owners plan to withdraw the $1B in
    guaranteed total payrolls they offered players in their original
    proposal.  The guarantee was a "significant element of the plan
    in which the owners would give the players" 50% of their revenue
    for salaries and other players costs.  The $1B figure was based
    on the projected players' share of the owners' estimated $1.78B
    revenue this year.  The elimination of the $1B guarantee "comes
    as no surprise.  The guarantee was offered on the contingency
    that revenues in future years would not fall below this year's
    total" of $1.78B (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23).   ESPN's Gary Miller:
    "Basically [the owners' plan] has been redesigned so owners can
    unilaterally implement it, which they are expected to do, next
    month" (ESPN, 10/22).
         OTHER MEMO ELEMENTS:  The memo also attaches figures to the
    part of the owners' proposal that deals with "escalating minimum
    salaries in their first four years.  First year players would
    receive $115,000; 2nd 175,000; 3rd $500,000; 4th $750,000.  The
    union has proposed raising the league minimum to at least
    $175,000, with nothing set beyond that level (Murray Chass, N.Y.
    TIMES, 10/23).  Mediator Bill Usery will not convene a joint
    bargaining session until he understands each side's position (USA
    TODAY, 10/24).
         GOOD NEWS?  In Boston, Peter Gammons reports that a group of
    nine "powerful agents" met with MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr in New
    York on Thursday, and left "feeling good" about a December 1
    settlement and being able to start signing free agents next week.
    One player rep said Friday "that the union office was optimistic
    about spring training, and indications are strong that several
    big-market owners are increasingly restless about the strike
    being prolonged by small-market self-interests" (BOSTON GLOBE,
    10/23).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Walt Disney
  • NFL NEWS & NOTES: REALIGNMENT; UPSHAW IN DENVER

         Steelers President Dan Rooney has come up with his "fourth,
    and final" realignment plan to be voted on by owners when they
    have their fall meeting in Chicago on November 1-2.  Rooney's
    latest plan has the Seahawks (NFC West) and Buccaneers (AFC East)
    switching conferences and the Falcons (NFC East), Cardinals (NFC
    West), Colts (AFC Central) and Oilers (AFC West) switching
    divisions.  That would put the Panthers in the AFC Central and
    the Jaguars in the NFC Central (Timothy Smith, N.Y. TIMES,
    10/23).
         UPSHAW IN DENVER:  NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw stopped in
    Denver as part of his tour of NFL cities explaining the salary
    cap system to the rank-and-file.  Upshaw: "It's a performance-
    based system.  If you do well, you'll get paid.  If they don't
    want to pay you, you can go somewhere else and play" (Rick
    Morrisey, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 10/23).
         JONES VS. THE LEAGUE:  In Boston, Will McDonough reports
    that Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones "has been calling up some of the
    newer owners in the league" -- such as the Patriots' Robert Kraft
    and the Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie -- "trying to enlist their aid" in
    Jones' push to change the rules on the division of profits from
    NFL Properties.  Jones wants to divide the money in proportion to
    sales per team  (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/23).  Speaking at the
    Smithsonian Associates series on the NFL's 75th Anniversary last
    week, former Cowboys GM Tex Schramm took exception to Jones'
    plan:  "The League has been built down through the years by
    people who put the League first and their own franchise second.
    ... You are getting different people in the League today.  Now, I
    don't know what's going to happen, but I know what I would do if
    I were Wellington Mara or Chicago, let's say.  I would tell
    Jerry, 'You know, you got a darn good idea.  You keep the
    Properties' money, but we'll keep New York's share of the
    television money'" (THE DAILY).
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Edmonton Oilers, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New England Patriots, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Vulcan Ventures
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