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The Atlanta Sports Council is "taking a crack at luring" the U.S. Open Tennis Championships away from New York, and has already sent a proposal to the USTA to build its center in Stone Mountain, GA. The USTA has plans and a budget to renovate Flushing Meadows, the current U.S. Open site. In their proposal, Atlanta officials estimated that a GA facility would cost about $75M less than New York because of lower construction costs. The Atlanta proposal calls for using the 12,000-seat Olympics tennis venue as part of the U.S. Tennis Center. The 130 acres next to the venue would be available to the USTA so it could construct a stadium with a retractable roof. Atlanta Chamber President Gerald Bartels: "It's a long shot, but it would be really neat if we got it." John Niemeyer, speaking for the Southern Tennis Association, believes Atlanta's chances are not good, because he said the "old guard" would fight to keep the Open in New York. Jimmy Connors: "Atlanta would love it and support it. But ... it's always been the 'U.S. Open in New York.'" But the USTA is also aware many players, especially the younger ones, do not like New York because of the jet noise, traffic, expense and getting in and out of Flushing Meadows (Saporta & Brice, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/18).
"Baseball ownership presented a new contract proposal to striking players yesterday, but it appears the long-awaited alternative to management's salary cap proposal will not lead to a quick settlement," according to Peter Schmuck in this morning's Baltimore SUN. The MLBPA may have a response today, "but only if they are satisfied they have enough information to properly analyze the ownership proposal" (Baltimore SUN, 11/18). MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "We need to spend some time analyzing a 102-page document that we saw for the first time today. ... The owners have had their time at the plate. It's our half-inning" (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/18). REAX: "The tax concept puts the owners and players on the same philosophical footing, but the severity of the tax -- believed to climb above 100% -- works in the same manner as a cap and might make a compromise difficult" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 11/18). "It could be a starting point, but days, maybe weeks will be needed to make it workable for the players" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 11/18). The tax proposal is a "step towards agreement, philosophically, if not practically" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 11/18). KEEPING THE CAP ON THE TABLE: The owners also revised, but did not withdraw, their salary cap. Removed was the $1B guarantee in players' salaries; added were fixed salaries for 1st through 4th year players. "The changes would make it easier for the owners to implement their proposal" if there is no settlement (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 11/18).
Negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA resumed yesterday in Boston with plans for the two sides to meet again today. And, according to Joe Gordon in today's BOSTON HERALD, the "lockout logjam might have been effectively broken." One source "close to the negotiations" reports that the owners "were prepared to pull their demand for a restrictive payroll tax off the table in exchange for a quid pro quo that would be a deal-maker." The source: "I know (ownership) was ready to pull the luxury tax off the table (yesterday) afternoon. They wanted something in return in the area of arbitration. I don't think the players would settle for the elimination of arbitration, but I believe they were willing to listen to a proposal that would make it something like baseball arbitration. A player could file for it after three of five years" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/18). CP's Alan Adams also cites "unconfirmed reports that the owners were going to make a meaningful offer with the absence of the controversial payroll tax. But whether that meant the owners were going to remove the tax or put it on a shelf until progress was made on other substantive issues wasn't clear" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18). CLIFF NOTES: Several observers noted the positive effect of Maple Leaf President & GM Cliff Fletcher's presence. In Toronto, Bob McKenzie writes that NHL brass would have not brought Fletcher in "if they didn't think his inclusion is critical to the process" (TORONTO STAR, 11/18). Also in Toronto, Al Strachan writes Fletcher "may have provided the push that was needed" to get the talks moving again (TORONTO SUN, 11/18). Panthers Player Rep John Vanbiesbrouck called Fletcher "a common-sense, compromising authority" (Joe LaPointe, N.Y. TIMES, 11/18). PRE-THANKSGIVING CARVING: The NHL announced that it has canceled 10 more games, meaning that maximum number of games a team can play in '94-95 is 60 -- 30 at home, 30 on the road (NHL). According to the N.Y. POST, the league is considering shrinking the first two playoff rounds to best-of-five. That could allow for a 56-game schedule starting as late as January 14 (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 11/18). "HOCKEY NIGHT IN EUROPE": A deal is "imminent" with CBC to air games from Wayne Gretzky's planned NHL all-star tour of Europe (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/18).
Plans for an "ambitious" new int'l golf tour were announced yesterday, "setting up a monumental battle with the PGA Tour over control of the highest and richest realm of professional golf" (Dave Sheinin, MIAMI HERALD, 11/18). THE PARTICULARS: At a news conference, Greg Norman and John Montgomery, formerly of Executive Sports, announced an 8-event, $25M tour for the top 30 players in the world set to begin in March '95. Plans call for each event to have $3M in prize money; the player of the year will receive a $1M bonus. In addition, each player who commits to the tour will receive a $50,000 travel allowance. The SONY rankings will determine the top 30 players. World Tour event sponsors will be allowed 10 exemptions to expand tourney fields to 40. Montgomery said he has spoken with Jack Nicklaus and that Nicklaus would be open to playing under an exemption. Montgomery will be the tour's Exec Dir. His father, John Montgomery, Sr., remains head of Executive Sports, a FL- based event management firm that puts on several tournaments on the PGA, Senior PGA and LPGA Tours (Thomas Bonk, L.A. TIMES, 11/18). PLAYERS, MONEY, SPONSORS: So far the World Tour has "no sponsors, no schedule, no sites and no players, except for Norman." Norman, who would not identify players who said they would play: "The response has been overwhelming." He read a message of support from Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain. Plans call for four events in the U.S. and one each in Canada, Scotland, Spain and Japan. Initial scheduling is for events to be played the week before major tournaments. Norman said the first event is planned the week before the Masters, April 6-9. Nick Price said he stands behind Norman, "but with reservations": "He has my total support, as long as my position on the PGA Tour isn't challenged." Price's "influence is vital to the new tour" since he is the PGA's leading money winner and the No. 1 SONY ranked player (L.A. TIMES, 11/18). Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros reportedly have agreed to play. Norman also noted that Fred Couples and Arnold Palmer were among U.S. players that expressed support. But Couples' agent, Lynn Roach, said, "At this time, one would not be advised to do it and risk losing their membership in the PGA Tour by joining the tour." Both the PGA Tour and European Tour have gone on record as "opposing the new venture." Montgomery said that dates and sites would be released within the next 60 days (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 11/18). FOX'S ROLE: Fox Broadcasting has agreed to underwrite and televise the tour. Montgomery said Fox telecasts would run in the same time periods as PGA Tour events (L.A. TIMES, 11/18). Rudy Martzke notes that Fox's Pat Summerall will likely be the Tour's lead announcer (USA TODAY, 11/18).