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While few MLB owners would say so, "it appears likely they will vote on a revenue-sharing plan today as meetings come to an end in Phoenix," according to this morning's ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Once put into action with union approval, revenue-sharing "should accelerate ongoing labor talks." The proposed plan calls for MLB's top 13 revenue-producing teams to contribute 22% of all ticket and local TV revenue to a central fund, with portions redistributed to the low-revenue teams. After the meetings, chief labor negotiator Randy Levine will take management's latest proposal to the union (Bob McManaman, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/21). However, in Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt cites a source involved in the revenue-sharing talks who says not to expect the "22% plan" to get approval. The source: "It will be something close. It will amount to the same thing." One detail to be worked out is superstation rights fees, with acting Commissioner Bud Selig saying the issue needs to be addressed before any vote on revenue-sharing (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL, 3/21). QUOTES OF NOTE: Astros Owner Drayton McLane, a "staunch backer" of revenue-sharing as Chair of MLB's Strategic Planning Committee: "We may be here until Saturday trying to work it out" (Alen Truex, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/21). AL President Gene Budig: "I expect the owners will take some action on revenue-sharing" (Rod Beaton, USA TODAY, 3/21). Rangers President Tom Schieffer: "Conceptually, there is a lot to be said for revenue-sharing. ... [But] I don't think it is absolutely critical that it be done at this time" (Ken Daley, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/21). OTHER ISSUES: Diamondbacks Owner Jerry Colangelo continued to push his idea of neutral-site World Series games, noting the advantages of having the media, fans and sponsors knowing where the games will be in advance. Colangelo also proposed an NBA- style rookie game during MLB's All-Star break (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/21)....Budig said the AL did not consider talks dead between Anaheim and Disney. Budig: "We continue to believe in the deal" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/21)....NL owners unanimously approved the sale of the Cardinals. ... Owners will decide in June on the placement of the Devil Rays and D'Backs. ... Budig approved the A's request to open in Las Vegas due to Coliseum construction, although that depends on a survey of field and lighting conditions (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/21).
CART officials "remained silent" yesterday regarding Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George's demand the body stop using the term "IndyCar." CART spokesperson Adam Saal: "It's gone to our lawyers, who will give it the once over." In his letter to CART, George, the founder of the rival Indy Racing League, whose qualifying rules are preventing CART drivers from participating in the Indy 500, said he expects CART to find a name "that [does not] falsely suggest a connection with the Indy 500." CART team owner Derrick Walker, who is convinced CART is "gone from the Indy 500 forever," suggests a new name: "The best cars." Three-time Indy 500 champ Bobby Unser agrees with George's goal of reduced costs, but believes he should not have used the Indy 500 as leverage (Beth Tuschak, USA TODAY, 3/21).
In Milwaukee, Dale Hofmann notes recent NBA public relations "brush fires" -- Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Dennis Rodman, etc. -- and writes, "Just when people start to think pro basketball is magic again, they're forced to wonder if it isn't as contentious and bratty as baseball" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/21)....On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear the NFLPA's argument that unions should be able to file antitrust suits against sports leagues if owners impose new work rules after CBA's expire. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr argues for the union (AP/VANCOUVER PROVINCE, 3/21)....In New York, Richard Sandomir examines the suit filed by the NBA against STATS Inc. and Motorola over the SportsTrax pager. Noting that the NBA has plans for its own pager with IBM and IDS, Sandomir asks, "Is a two-minute delay between live action and an update too close for infringement?" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21)....In Washington, Josh Young notes the drug use questions surrounding men's tennis after a London court upheld ITF-administered drug tests that showed Mats Wilander and Karel Novacek testing positive for cocaine during the '95 French Open (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/21). ....USA TODAY examines the resurgence of the Corel WTA Tour (Doug Smith, USA TODAY, 3/21)....Japan and South Korea have told Asian soccer officials they have no plans to co-host the 2002 World Cup finals (KYODO NEWS, 3/20).
NHL Breakout, the league's traveling street and roller hockey festival, begins its second season March 23-24 at Tampa's Busch Gardens, with stops in 16 North American cities. The tour combines competitive tournament play with a variety of interactive hockey activities, visits by NHL players, instruction and entertainment. USA Hockey InLine and Canadian Hockey are partners of the Breakout, which will conclude in L.A. on October 5-6. Sponsors: Bauer, Coca-Cola, The New Dodge and Nike. Hyper Wheels, Shock Doctor and Sports Specialties are considered tour supporters (NHL).