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  • BAIUL STAYING PRO COULD DEAL A HUGE BLOW TO AMATEUR SKATING?

         '94 Olympic Gold figure skater Oksana Baiul must apply to
    the Int'l Skating Union for reinstatement of her "amateur" status
    by April 1.  Failure to do so would make her ineligible for
    future ISU World Championships and the Olympics.  According to
    Philip Hersh in this morning's CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Baiul could "tip
    the balance of power in the sport even more toward the
    professional promoters" if she decides not to declare her amateur
    status.  Baiul is the only one many thought would reinstate and
    give the ISU the "marquee female skater it badly lacks in current
    'amateur' events."  White Sox Vice Chair Eddie Einhorn, who
    negotiates TV contracts for the ISU:  "The key to the whole thing
    is Oksana.  If we don't come up with something to keep our
    eligible skaters and get Oksana to come back, we will have
    trouble soon getting enough attractive skaters for the World
    Championships and Olympics to satisfy TV and the ISU sponsors."
    ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta: "Who is Oksana Baiul?  She is
    not God.  We will not be blackmailed by Oksana Baiul.  If we lose
    her, we will create other Oksana Baiuls" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/23).
         THE POSITIVES:  In the current issue of NEWSWEEK, Martha
    Duffy examines the popularity of the sport.  In addition to new
    talent, like the "saucy" 17-year old Nicole Bobek -- who
    possesses a "tantalizing combination of child and woman" -- the
    additional coverage of network TV has added to the sport's
    popularity.  But, with the money and TV, comes producers who set
    up their own tournaments that ignore most traditional rules, drug
    tests, and credentials of entrants.  Duffy: "Like tennis, figure
    skating seems to be leaving behind such niceties as the
    distinction between amateurs and pros. It will be several years
    before the sport's new profile is defined" (NEWSWEEK, 2/27
    issue).   Chicago tourism officials hope to "cash in by hosting a
    championship contest for the next Olympic incarnation of the
    sport: team figure skating."  The city is hosting the '95 Mid-
    Western Precision Championship this week as a dress rehearsal for
    team skating nationals, which could be held in Chicago next year
    (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 2/26 issue).
         OFF-ICE CAPERS:  SI's "Scorecard" tracks recent off-ice
    incidents.  The pairs team of Elizabeth and Jerod Swallow
    recently admitted they successfully interfered with a Societ
    rival's efforts last winter to gain U.S. citizenship.  Bobek, who
    recently won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Providence,
    is in the news for allegedly walking out of another skater's
    house last November with money that did not belong to her.  At
    the "very least these two incidents make it clear that [Tonya]
    Harding is far from the only bete noire in a sport that looks
    more and more like boxing with makeup and sequins" (SI, 2/27
    issue).
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago White Sox, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Sports Illustrated
  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 196: IT'S ON TO SCOTTSDALE

         "The two days in Milwaukee may just have been the two most
    productive days of the labor dispute thus far," writes Andy
    Fenlon in this morning's MILWAUKEE SENTINEL.  Rockies Owner Jerry
    McMorris, who had a "positive" feeling after the talks:  "I don't
    want to be portrayed as being too optimistic, though.  I think
    we'll have a better sense at the talks next week when we get into
    some negotiating.  We haven't had any negotiating here.  It's
    mostly been just clearing the air."  Notes Fenlon, "That may
    appear to be very slight progress.  But any amount of progress
    with these two groups could be considered a monumental step
    forward" (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/23).  The two sides agreed to
    resume formal talks Monday in Scottsdale, AZ.  Officials from
    both sides left Milwaukee "convinced that everyone involved would
    like to make a serious, last-gasp effort to compromise" before
    the owners implement their replacement player plans (Mark Maske,
    WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).  The Scottsdale talks will reportedly be
    held at a secret location, "off-limits to the media" (Hal Bodley,
    USA TODAY, 2/23).  ESPN's Bob Sirkin  reported that acting MLB
    Commissioner Bud Selig will be in AZ, but that Special Mediator
    Bill Usery had no comment when asked if he will continue to
    mediate ("SportsCenter," 2/22).    SHATTERING THE CALM:  MLBPA
    Exec Dir Donald Fehr said he would prefer to "ignore" comments
    from White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf that he has "a pathological
    hatred for baseball owners."  In an interview with the CHICAGO
    SUN-TIMES, Reinsdorf said the only hope of saving the season "is
    if the players come to the realization that they are being misled
    by Fehr" (Dan Bickley, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/22).  Fehr:  "Nothing
    does my credibility more good with the players than to be
    criticized by Reinsdorf. ... Listen, Jerry wants to pick a fight
    and he's entitled to try.  But I'm at a stage (where) I prefer to
    ignore him" (Mike Kiley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/23).  In New York,
    Murray Chass writes that the "goodwill and wishful thinking"
    expressed by Fehr and Selig "could be buried" by Reinsdorf (N.Y.
    TIMES, 2/23).  In Washington, Mark Maske writes, "That kind of
    animosity is what the owners' and players' representatives were
    trying to overcome in their meetings" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).
    CNN's Mark Morgan in Milwaukee:  "An otherwise pleasant
    atmosphere was darkened a little bit" ("Sports Tonight," CNN,
    2/22).
         MORE FROM REINSDORF:  On charges they are trying to bust the
    union:  "Nobody wants to bust the union.  We need a union.  If
    this one didn't exist, we'd have to have another. ... But we
    would like the players to say to the union, 'You're not serving
    us properly.'"  On the view he is behind the owners' position:
    "I fail to understand why the union is setting me up, other than
    they need a common enemy."  On the future:  "The interesting
    thing is we have an asset that has a perpetual life, and that's
    the franchise.  The players have an asset that's diminishing.  We
    have forever to recover what we're losing.  The players have only
    the balance of their careers" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/22).
         WHAT'S SO FUNNY?  Jay Leno: "Did you ever read the
    inscription on [the Statue of Liberty]? It says send us your
    poor, your tired, your weak, your hudled masses and we will make
    them major league baseball players! ... If those replacement
    players were smart, they should go on strike and demand more
    money.  What are the owners going to do, hire replacement-
    replacement players" ("Tonight," NBC, 2/22).
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Cablevision, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NBC, New York Liberty, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- PART II: TBN'S SURVIVAL WATCH

         Phillies President Bill Giles told USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke
    that he's "confident" the regular players will be back on the
    field by the time The Baseball Network is scheduled to have its
    first telecast -- the July 11th All-Star Game.  But Martzke notes
    that the TBN "will fall short" of the two-year goal of $330M in
    ad sales.  Giles:  "There will be a decision by [MLB] in August
    on the future of The Baseball Network.  All of us on the TV board
    want to continue the venture.  But there are rumors on the street
    about interest from Fox and CBS, although we've not heard from
    them."  If the owners decide to reopen the TV deal, ABC and NBC
    would have an "exclusive 60-day negotiating period" to construct
    deals.  But Martzke notes the "lure of Fox's or CBS's money might
    be too strong" (USA TODAY, 2/23).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, CBS, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NBC, News Corp./Fox, Philadelphia Phillies, Viacom, Walt Disney
  • MLB EXPANSION: WAS THERE QUID PRO QUO FOR NORTHERN VIRGINIA

         Following yesterday's WASHINGTON TIMES report that Northern
    VA was promised a team by MLB Expansion Committee Chair John
    Harrington, this morning's WASHINGTON POST reports that VA Sen.
    John Warner has "agreed to withdraw his support of a plan to
    limit" MLB's antitrust status.  According to Grayson Winterling,
    one of Warner's top aides, the senator "was kind of bought off."
    Harrington could not be reached for comment, but acting MLB
    Commissioner Bud Selig said, "We are not in the habit of
    promising teams to people."  VA's other senator, Democrat Charles
    Robb, said "he was not taking a position on the antitrust
    exemption at this time, partly because recent discussions with
    baseball officials led him to believe that Northern Virginia
    would get a team so soon."  Robb:  "There was no quid pro quo,
    but it was sort of an informal understanding that baseball was
    coming to Northern Virginia."  MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr on the
    owners:  "Whenever they feel pressure on the antitrust exemption,
    they want to try to buy off votes.  I just hope that people on
    the Hill understand that for what it is" (Lipton and Maske,
    WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).
         GAINING MOMENTUM:  Northern VA's bid for an MLB expansion
    team gained "momentum" this week as the VA General Assembly
    approved the creation of a stadium authority Tuesday that "sets
    in motion the financing system needed to build a ballpark" in the
    area.  The VA Baseball Stadium Authority would have the power to
    issue bonds and oversee operations of a state-built ballpark.
    Gov. George Allen is expected to sign the legislation (WASHINGTON
    TIMES, 2/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB
  • NHL CLAIMS AVERAGE ATTENDANCE IS UP OVER LAST YEAR

         "The early results from the NHL turnstiles indicate that
    there's a widening gap between the haves and the have nots,"
    according to Gare Joyce in today's GLOBE & MAIL.  NHL VP of
    Corporate Communications Bernadette Mansur reports that average
    attendance "is up against last year's numbers, approximately
    14,800 per game."  The "unofficial numbers" for this season prior
    to Tuesday's games are 15,667.  But Joyce notes there are also
    teams still struggling.  Those "long-suffering" franchises who
    "fought hardest for equalization" during the lockout -- Hartford,
    Ottawa, Edmonton, Washington and Winnipeg -- are "among the
    hindmost at the gate" so far this season.  The teams which have
    drawn well thus far include the Mighty Ducks and Sharks.  Mighty
    Ducks Public Relations Dir Bill Robertson:  "After the lockout
    ended, we had a lineup a block and a half long for available
    seats.  The support here has been incredible" (Toronto GLOBE &
    MAIL, 2/23).
    

    Print | Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Anaheim Sports, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL, San Jose Sharks, Walt Disney
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