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The NHL released the schedule for its 80th season. Games will begin Friday, October 4, and the regular season will run to April 13 (NHL)....ESPN's John Kernan reported the IRL is looking to expand its schedule -- possibly to the Pocono Int'l Raceway. IRL President Tony George and two other IRL officials visited the raceway over the weekend ("SportsCenter," 7/22)....On the '96-97 premiere of "NFL Prime Monday," ESPN's Chris Mortensen quoted a source who told him NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is considering a six-eight game suspension for Michael Irvin because of the "exacerbating circumstances" concerning his drug case. Also, NFL officials are still deciding whether to order Irvin into rehab. Mortensen also noted that Nebraska coach Tom Osborne wrote to Tagliabue and all NFL teams saying that NFL scouts are banned from campus. Osborne is upset at the way the league handled the Lawrence Phillips and Christian Peter situations ("NFL Prime Monday," 7/22)....Average MLS attendance dropped below 20,000 for the first time. The league now averages 19,776, including two season low crowds the last week in Denver of 6,117 and 6,320 (USA TODAY, 7/23)....In Phoenix, Bob Cohn, on NBA free agency salaries, which he calls "laughable and ludicrous": "The sport is in serious danger of alienating many of the fans once so willing to embrace it" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/23)....The AHL has named Syracuse to host the '98 AHL All-Star Classic. Next season's event will be in St. John, New Brunswick (AHL)
The NBA won its lawsuit with Motorola, Inc. with a judge ruling the electronics company "engaged in unlawful conduct" with its pager-like device that gives action of games, called SportsTrax. Judge Loretta Preska, in her decision in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said Motorola must stop using SportsTrax. The lawsuit "alleged the service isn't licensed or authorized by the league." The NBA "sought and was granted a permanent injunction" against Motorola and Skokie, IL-based Stats Inc., the company that assembles the information. However, "unspecified damages and other claims of relief were denied" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/23). Motorola claimed SportsTrax was "simply another version of the evening news," but Preska called that "utterly unpersuasive" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 7/23). In Newark, Dan Wasserman notes, "The ruling clears the way for the NBA to pursue negotiations with ESPN and Time Warner about licensing an official sports beeper." It also jeopardizes the status of SportsTrax covering football and baseball. MLB and the NFL have also threatened suit against STATS and Motorola (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/23).