SBD/30/Leagues Governing Bodies

BASEBALL AT MEMORIAL DAY: LONG, HOT SUMMER AHEAD?

     During the Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the time when
interest in baseball begins to flourish, the sport's troubled
state was again a hot topic in the media.  In New York, Claire
Smith summed it up by writing that the strike "has clearly
alienated a paying public now suspicious of the national pastime.
The resultant backlash has sent ball clubs reeling as they ponder
all sorts of unhappy numbers for a game now entering its crucial
selling season -- Memorial Day to Labor Day" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/28).
     OPINION SAMPLER:  In Montreal, Jack Todd reacts to acting
Commissioner Bud Selig's assessment that "it's too early to make
snap judgments."  Todd writes, "Baseball is facing a fan
revolution and baseball is in big trouble.  If anything, it's
already too late" (Montreal GAZETTE, 5/27).  AL President Gene
Budig:  "The fans are still irritated. ... But I expect them to
start coming back by All-Star time" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE,
5/27).  In Chicago, Andrew Gottesman writes, "So far, neither
passions nor bargains have succeeded in filling seats."  Citing
factors such as emergency marketing efforts and a lack of group
sales following the strike, some team officials hope the summer
will bring fans back (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/27).  But Braves
President Stan Kasten notes that the teams in pennant races will
get attendance back up, but warns, "Many cities haven't seen the
worst" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 5/28).  In Toronto, Adam Meyers
sees "an industry heading for restructuring."  And Richard
Griffin writes that MLB needs a "Ruthian equivalent" to "make it
cool to love baseball" for a new generation of fans (TORONTO
STAR, 5/27).
     SOME TELLING STATS:  BUSINESS WEEK cites Disney's purchase
of a controlling interest in the Angels for "an unimpressive"
$30M as a signal of the "start of a series of lowball deals."
Sports Franchises Inc.'s Doug Metchick:  "The day of the
Baltimore Orioles selling for $175 million at auction are over."
TV ad billings have fallen as much as 30% in some markets, and
teams have lost up to half of their game-day promotion sponsors
(Greising & Palmer, BUSINESS WEEK, 6/5 issue).  TEAM MARKETING
REPORT estimates a 25-30% drop in radio and TV ad revenues, with
the losses as high as 30-40% in some cases.  As former MLB
broadcast head Bryan Burns notes, while rightsholders are being
hurt now, "it will all come around" -- in the form of lower
rights fees (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/30).  In
Toronto, Larry Millson estimates MLB's revenues could drop to
$1.4B this year, down from $1.88B in '93 (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
5/30).    HELP WANTED?  AD AGE leads the call for a marketing
director for MLB.  Jeff Jensen writes, "The perception is that
MLB's marketing is rudderless and in need of a visionary and
visible leader."  On the list to head MLBP is Arlen Kantarian,
Exec VP Marketing & Special Events for Radio City Music Hall
Productions.  However, with the MLBP job vacant since last year,
Kathleen Davis, MLB Dir of Market Development, has assumed a
"leadership role" and defends their efforts.  Davis:  "We are
getting things done.  With ['Welcome to the Show'], we're moving
in a direction we wanted to head even before the strike" (AD AGE,
5/29 issue).  Claire Smith faults baseball for not promoting the
positive images of its players.  Phillies President Bill Giles:
"The most amazing thing is that in my lifetime we've never had a
vice president of marketing or a marketing director" (N.Y. TIMES,
5/30).  George Steinbrenner named five owners who should handle
marketing:  Wayne Huizenga (Marlins), Drayton McLane (Astros),
David Glass (Royals), Jerry McMorris (Rockies) and Disney
(Angels).  Steinbrenner:  "Let them dictate what we should do,
and let those of us who evidently don't know what we're doing
stay aside" (NEWSDAY, 5/29).       NOMINEES FOR COMMISSIONER:
Peter Gammons reports that after reading Paul Kirk's "brilliant"
Declaration of Interdependence in the May 22 issue of THE
SPORTING NEWS, MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr met with Kirk -- the
former chairman of the Democratic National Committee -- and later
"made it clear he is one person the players would embrace as
commissioner."  Fehr, on Kirk:  "He is one of those rare people
who sees the big picture.  I am more than just impressed" (BOSTON
GLOBE, 5/28).  In Toronto, Jim Hunt floats Blue Jays VP Pat
Gillick, calling him "one of the most respected executives in
baseball among both players and owners."  Hunt writes that
Gillick might be interested -- "if the owners would give him the
same sort of power that the owners of the Blue Jays did" (TORONTO
SUN, 5/29).
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