SBD/2/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • "PARTNERSHIP" IS STRESSED IN UNVEILING OF UNITED LEAGUE

         Backers of the United Baseball League, a new league to rival
    MLB, "unveiled their plans yesterday and said they were on track
    to start their ambitious and expensive project in 1996.  But
    despite the optimism" of two of co-founders Dick Moss and Andrew
    Zimbalist, the UBL "faces major hurdles before getting to its
    first season, including signing quality players and finding
    first-rate stadiums" (Mark Hyman, Baltimore SUN, 11/2).  At a
    news conference in New York, UBL founders stated that they would
    start with 10 teams in '96 -- eight from the U.S. and one each
    from Canada and Mexico.  The long-term plans are to grow to 20
    teams by '99 with franchises in Venezuela, South Korea and Japan.
    UBL co-founder/former U.S. Rep. Bob Mrazek said there are 20
    cities "capable of supporting a team" and each is larger than
    Cincinnati and Milwaukee (WASHINGTON POST, 11/2).  Moss:  "We're
    not here to prod the establishment and we're not here to replace
    it.  We're here to coexist with it" (Mult., 11/2).  Former U.S.
    Rep./UBL co-founder Tom McMillen:  "We have competition in
    everything in America, so why not baseball?" ("SportsCenter,"
    ESPN, 11/1).
         CRUNCHIN' NUMBERS:  UBL founders "say partnerships among
    owners, players, fans and cities would avoid the labor troubles
    that plague the major leagues" (Simon Gonzalez, FT. WORTH STAR-
    TELEGRAM, 11/2).  Projected starting costs for the UBL "are
    modest":  Avg. salary: $520,000; Avg. crowd: 17,500; Avg. ticket
    price: $8.  Franchises would be offered for $5M and player
    payrolls are expected not to exceed $13M per team.  The players
    would split 35% of the equity of each teams' pretax profit.
    Franchise cities, in exchange for helping with facilities, would
    receive 15% of the pretax profit.  League founders estimate that
    clubs could generate $31M in their first season (Thomas Stinson,
    ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/2).  Jerome Holtzman notes that the UBL
    plans a salary cap on management salaries to "put a lid on
    excessive owner compensation" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/2).
         MINORITY INVOLVEMENT:  Eric Vinson, VP/U.S. Trust Company
    and a UBL co-founder: "Minorities in the [UBL] will be able to
    step from the batter's box to the owner's box."  Former
    ballplayer Curt Flood: "We need an alternative league.  America
    deserves an alternative league. ... I need an alternative league.
    Baseball's owners have shut me out for 25 years" (Murray Chass,
    N.Y. TIMES, 11/2).
         POSSIBLE CITIES: In the U.S.: D.C., Phoenix, Charlotte, Long
    Island, Riverside/San Bernadino, Indianapolis, Orlando,
    Sacramento, Tampa/St. Pete, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Buffalo,
    Portland, Salt Lake, Northern NJ, San Antonio, Fresno, Columbus,
    Hartford, Raleigh/Durham and Louisville.  Foreign cities:  Mexico
    City, San Juan, Caracas, Vancouver, Monterrey, plus any cities in
    Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China and Cuba (Mult., 11/2).  Since
    the UBL says it "could fetch" a $49M national broadcasting
    contract, it will try for franchises in L.A. and NYC (ATLANTA
    CONSTITUTION, 11/2).  Moss called that "imperative" (L.A. TIMES,
    11/2).
          WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES?  MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr:
    "Obviously, you hope it will be a success" (SAN JOSE MERCURY
    NEWS, 11/2).  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "We'll just wait
    and see what happens to it" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/2).  Agent Ron
    Shapiro: "It's more viable than I originally thought -- because
    they're not trying to shoot out of the box and play this year.
    They're trying to do this right" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/2).
    Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Donald Trump tried a league
    that didn't work, and he's a very successful guy" (USA TODAY,
    11/2).  USFL Founder David Dixon, on their projected figures:
    "You just can't make it with that kind of arithmetic. ... I think
    they have a tough road."  FINANCIAL WORLD's Michael Ozanian said
    "the key thing to this league, besides keeping the salary
    structure down, is to have good stadiums to play in. ... I'm
    talking about a lot of skyboxes and luxury suites and in-stadium
    advertising" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/1).  Tom Boswell calls the
    UBL "all facade with nothing behind it" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/2).
    

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  • EXPANSION COMMITTEE HEARS PRESENTATIONS FROM FOUR CITIES

         Members of MLB's Expansion Committee heard presentations
    from two groups from Northern VA, and one each from Tampa/St.
    Petersburg and Phoenix, all vying for a possible expansion
    franchise.  The Arizona group "was the first to makes its pitch.
    Next was Tampa-St. Pete.  Coincidence or not, these are the two
    front-runners for expansion" (Bob Cohn, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/2)
         PHOENIX:  NBA Suns Owner Jerry Colangelo led the AZ
    contingent in making its first formal presentation, which
    included a scale model of the proposed stadium, with a working
    retractable roof that "reportedly wowed members of the
    committee."  Colangelo said the committee was interested in his
    investment partnership, which includes Phil Knight of Nike, and
    some wanted assurances that it would not be fragmented and that
    Colangelo would "be in control of things."  Colangelo: "They
    threw a couple of hooks out there, and I didn't bite. ... We will
    be one of the most successful franchises in baseball, if given an
    equal playing field, because we know how to market" (Bob Cohn,
    ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/2).  Colangelo also said construction
    requirements on a $273M stadium would make '98 the earliest
    possible start time (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/01).
    "Colangelo's group made the most impressive presentation" (Paul
    Sullivan, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/2).
         TAMPA BAY:  Tampa Bay Baseball introduced two new investors
    in their bid: Florida Progress, a diversified utility holding
    company, and P.J. Benton, a minority businesswoman from St.
    Petersburg.  Tampa Bay's managing general partner, Vince Naimoli,
    said the group was "delighted to have her (Benton), not because
    she is a woman or African-American, but because of her business
    acumen."  The group delivered a video and oral presentation on
    what the area had to offer, "such as market, stadium [Thunder
    Dome] and ownership."  Naimoli:  "Everything we were asked we
    were 100% prepared for. ... We can be ready in 100 days."  AL
    President Gene Budig said the presentation went "very well," and
    NL President Len Coleman said, "Tampa was great" (Mark Topkin,
    ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/2).
         VIRGINIA:  The "competition" between two Northern VA groups
    vying for an expansion franchise "took a surprising turn" when
    Washington attorney Bart Fisher, head of
    Capital Baseball, Inc., said a "syndicate of African-American
    investors would be the team's largest shareholder" if they were
    awarded a team.  That group is led by venture capitalist Robert
    Johnson.  Fisher and William Collins, head of Virginia Baseball
    Club, both made presentations.  Sources said, of the two groups,
    Collins "received higher marks from the expansion committee."
    But Fisher's announcement "may place considerable pressure on
    baseball, which often has been criticized for its lack of
    minority interest" (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 11/2).
    Fisher: "We have laid down a challenge to major league baseball"
    (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/2).  Officials "familiar with
    the presentations questioned the strength of the Fisher group."
    One anonymous official on the Fisher plan: "It was heavy on
    demographics but short on specifics.  The difference between the
    two groups was like night and day" (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON
    POST, 11/2).  Phillies owner Bill Giles, without specifying which
    group he was referring to:  "The most surprising thing was that
    Northern Virginia's proposal was better than most thought it
    would be" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/2).  In regards to a
    stadium, Fairfax, VA, County Chair Tom Davis said "a resident
    task force would be created to find a stadium site to showcase
    the team."  The team would play at RFK Stadium on a short-term
    basis (Michael Scully, FAIRFAX JOURNAL, 11/2).
         WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?  Expansion Committee Chair John
    Harrington hopes the committee will make a recommendation to
    owners by January about whether to expand and what the franchise
    fee should be.  If expansion is approved, committee
    recommendations on cities could follow as soon as a month later.
    Harrington "hinted" franchise fees could be around $140M per
    team.  Harrington also said a decision will be made on two-tiered
    expansion, with two teams starting in '96, '97 or '98, and two
    teams playing later (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 11/2).
    

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  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 33: NEW YEAR'S DEADLINE?

         On ESPN Radio yesterday, NHL Senior VP & Dir of Hockey Ops
    Brian Burke indicated that a major cancellation of games is
    coming.  Burke was then asked if he agreed with those who say
    there is no sense in starting the season after Jan. 1:  "That's
    pretty close to being accurate ... if we don't have a deal by
    that point in time, there is a risk ... a very real, substantial,
    significant risk that we won't have a hockey season."  Burke said
    at least 50% of the 84 regular season games must be played
    ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/1).  CP's Alan Adams writes, "A deal to
    celebrate New Year would allow the NHL to rejig its schedule to
    allow for a 45-game season and still finish in April."  Mighty
    Ducks President Tony Tavares:  "If you are not going to get in at
    least half the games, then why bother."  Others are even more
    pessimistic.  One unnamed GM:  "We are about one month away from
    having a meltdown" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/2).
         SO, WHAT ARE THEY DOING ABOUT IT?  One source familiar with
    the recent talks between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA
    Exec Dir Bob Goodenow characterized them as "beyond the term
    'fruitless'" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/2).  The secrecy
    "might indicate that they are intent on hammering out a deal
    rather than conducting a public-relations campaign.  If you can
    adopt that, consider yourself an optimist" (Gare Joyce, Toronto
    GLOBE & MAIL, 11/2).  But some did see cause for optimism.
    Boston-based agent Steve Freyer:  "The guy who normally tells me
    what's going on said he can't tell me what's going on. ... At
    least they're talking, and they're serious enough to have put on
    a mutual gag order."  Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden:  "The
    less people who aren't actually part of the actual negotiations
    know, the better. ... I hope this means something" (Stephen
    Harris, BOSTON HERALD, 11/2).
         ROOKIE CAP OFF THE TABLE?  Burke said owners "will never
    yield on the issue of a luxury payroll tax even if the players
    agree to a rookie salary cap and a more limited system of salary
    arbitration."  Burke:  "If you've got gangrene in your hand,
    cutting off two fingers doesn't solve the problem."  Writes Dave
    Fuller in this morning's TORONTO SUN, "A handful of players,
    frustrated by the impasse, were expected to press Goodenow on the
    rookie salary-cap issue, but there's no need now" (TORONTO SUN,
    11/2).
         SOLIDARITY WATCH:  A fax from NHL Senior VP & general
    Counsel Jeff Pash to all 26 clubs notes the union is suggesting
    owners "will cave in" if the lockout goes past January 1.  Jets
    GM John Paddock calls that thinking "a foolish mistake":
    "There's no chance.  Not one little bit."  Meanwhile, the NHLPA's
    solidarity "should get a booster shot" in Toronto today from a
    day-long "informational meeting" expected to be attended by
    several hundred players (Tim Campbell, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS,
    11/2).
         MIGHTY ANGRY DUCK:  Tony Tavares was upset at the  league's
    handling of the termination of the players' group health
    insurance coverage.  Mighty Duck Tom Kurvers learned of the lapse
    upon taking his pregnant wife to the hospital after an auto
    accident.  Tavares:  "It was not one of the league's shining
    moments.  I think it was mishandled and I let my feelings be
    known" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/2).
         REPLACEMENT PLAYERS:  Whalers GM Jim Rutherford floated the
    idea of replacement players in '95-96 should the '94-95 season be
    canceled.  The NHL's Burke would not say whether the league has
    discussed using replacement players.  Burke:  "I will say this,
    it's not something we're considering at this point in time" (Viv
    Bernstein, HARTFORD COURANT, 11/2).
    

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  • NFL OWNERS DISCUSS BUSINESS OUTSIDE CHICAGO

         NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said that a decision on the
    divisional placement of the expansion franchises in Jacksonville
    and Charlotte will be made today.  The owners will determine
    which conference and division the expansion teams will play in,
    by either a vote of the clubs -- which now seems highly unlikely
    -- or by the commissioner  exercising his powers if no consensus
    can be reached.  All indications are that Tagliabue will place
    Carolina in the NFC West and Jacksonville in the AFC Central.
    But Tagliabue maintained support is gaining for realignment:
    "People are beginning to realize that realignment can be a very
    positive aspect of our league" (Thomas George, N.Y. TIMES, 11/2).
         NFC WEST WILL BENEFIT:  If Carolina joins the NFC West, as
    expected, then the resulting five-team division would feature at
    least two of the NFL's highest-paying franchises in terms of
    revenues doled out to visiting clubs:  Carolina, which will
    guarantee $1.28M per game to visitors, and San Francisco, which
    currently has the league's largest payout, $890,000 (Len
    Pasquarelli, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/2).
         DECISION ON '99 SUPER BOWL:  NFL owners will also decide
    today whether to award the 1999 Super Bowl to either San
    Francisco or Miami.  Several sources suggested yesterday that the
    league is "poised" to choose San Francisco if concerns about
    Candlestick Park are satisfied.  Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen: "It
    all depends on how the membership looks at Candlestick.  We're
    very satisfied with the city itself.  I think we'd like to go
    back there."  But Super Bowl Policy Committee member Jim Irsay
    maintained that Miami is still "the town to beat" (Greg Cote,
    MIAMI HERALD, 11/2).
         OTHER ISSUES BEING DEBATED:  Among other issues discussed by
    the owners yesterday were corporate ownership; revenue sharing;
    whether to reduce the two-thirds voting requirement now in place
    to pass or defeat major issues; and scheduling for the '95 season
    (N.Y. TIMES, 11/2).
    

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