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NO MLS IN INDIANAPOLIS? "Word out of Indianapolis is that Major League Soccer will not award the city one of its final two franchises, opting for Kansas City instead," according to Terry Armour of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Armour reports that Dallas is the leading candidate to receive the other MLS team (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/8). THE "HIPPEST SPORT"? Mountain biking "continues to climb in popularity" according to the Vancouver PROVINCE. A "fringe sport five years ago," it now has annual world championships and a 10- race World Cup series. It has "quietly become one of the hippest sports in the 90's," and can be seen on live TV in several European countries and attracts more than 50,000 spectators. The addition of the sport to full medal status for the '96 Olympics is also "expected to boost its popularity even more," and as the sport "grows, so does its attraction to sponsors, which in turn is attracting top cyclists" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 5/9).
MLB owners will meet in Chicago on Wednesday with the topic of a return to the bargaining table to renew labor negotiations reportedly on the agenda. According to the USA TODAY's Hal Bodley, the owners are also expected to "approve 1994 pension payments to the union that were not made last summer" (USA TODAY, 5/9). ESPN's Chris Berman added: "Maybe they'll discuss changing their legal team, which could be challenging the '88 Orioles for worst start of a season" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 5/8). FEHR SAYS ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE: MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr was interviewed on PRIME's "Talking Baseball with Ed Randall." Fehr said he did not think players would boycott the July 11 All- Star Game, but he wouldn't rule out the possibility of another strike later in the season. Fehr: "There are no 100% guarantees in life." Fehr stressed in that although "energies are focused on trying to get an agreement," the union would not close of any of its options during the season. The interview will be shown on Prime Network and SportsChannel this week (ST. LOUIS POST- DISPATCH/AP, 5/8). Agent Tom Reich was interviewed on PRIME's "Press Box" last night. Reich: "We can not heal this game until there is a new labor agreement, one. And, two, the parties [have to] try and get along and try and repair this sport, because it trails the other sports. This is the national was-time." On the present atmosphere: "Negotiating contracts right now is like trying to do a lease deal in the middle of Bosnia" ("Press Box," 5/8). SPARKY A BUD FAN: Despite his refusal to manage replacement players, Sparky Anderson is an admirer of Acting Commissioner Bud Selig. Anderson: "Bud is an outstanding man who's been under a tremendous amount of pressure. But there aren't many other men I've known in this business whose friendship I cherish more and whom I respect as much as Bud" (Drew Sharp, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/9).
While the quality of play is "better," WLAF attendance is down compared to te league's last season, 1992, according to Gordon Forbes of USA TODAY. Barcelona, which averaged 30,576 in '92, is only averaging 16,500 this year. Frankfurt, which averaged 36,247 in '92, is only averaging 28,021 this year. And finally, London, which averaged 21,901 in '92, and had 61,108 for the World Bowl in '91, has dropped to an average crowd of 8,763. WLAF VP of Operations Jerry Vainisi: "I don't know if it has been a shock or anything. It's similar to baseball. They saw us play, and then we dropped out (in 1993). Now we're back. There's a why-don't-you-wait-and-show-me factor." Vainisi notes the World Bowl is tentatively scheduled for Amsterdam, Netherlands, on June 17 or 18. But thin crowds could force the WLAF to change it (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 5/9).
The NFL yesterday asked a federal judge to grant a motion sparing it from a second trial on former Patriots owner William Sullivan's antitrust lawsuit against the league. The case is back in court after Sullivan's $51M award by a U.S. District Court jury was thrown out by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. League lawyers are arguing that the league and its teams could not be accused of conspiring to violate antitrust law because the NFL should be considered a single entity instead of a group of teams with separate goals (AP/ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/9).