SBD/10/Leagues Governing Bodies

ABL, PART I: LEAGUE SEEKS GREATER EXPOSURE IN SECOND SEASON

          The ABL opens its second season on Sunday with its
     first game on Fox Sports Net (FSN) between the Glory and the
     Blizzard.  The league has expanded to nine franchises, with
     the Long Beach StingRays joining over the offseason. Today,
     THE DAILY previews the upcoming season.  
          OPERATIONS: ABL CEO Gary Cavalli told THE DAILY the
     league plans to double its marketing budget this year to
     more than $3M and has increased its player budget from
     $5.75M to $8M.  The league will boost its TV advertising 
     with spots on ESPN, BET, FSN and on broadcast networks that
     feature a new campaign from NY-based Action Sports Adventure
     with the tagline "Real Basketball."  A print campaign will
     run nationally throughout the year in USA Today, Conde Nast
     Sports For Women, SI Women/Sport and Women's Sports &
     Fitness.  On the investment front, Cavalli said the ABL is
     in "serious talks" with four potential investment groups and
     that an announcement is "close" on a S.F. business exec
     interested in investing $3M in the league and an option in
     team operating rights, most likely for the Portland Power. 
     Also, a deposit has been retained for operating rights to
     the Philadelphia Rage, and a Seattle group is close to a
     deal for operating rights to the Reign.  Cavalli said the
     league will expand by either one or three teams in '98 and
     is eyeing Chicago; St. Louis; K.C.; Nashville; Dallas or
     Austin, TX; and Long Island, NY, as possible markets. 
     Cavalli acknowledged that the league still has "some obvious
     holes" in its national sponsorship inventory and while he
     would like to fill the soft drink, beer and fast food
     categories, the soft drink inventory has been released to
     the teams for this season.  Cavalli said that the ABL will
     lose $1.5M this season, but added, "Next year, we're
     projecting a little bit more than break-even" (THE DAILY).
          ADDED EXPOSURE: The ABL's broadcast partners will air
     up to 36 games this season.  BET will air 12 games, up from
     eight last year, on Saturdays at 7:00pm ET.  In a new deal,
     FSN will telecast 16 regular-season games Sunday nights at
     7:00pm ET, the All-Star Game and seven playoff contests. 
     Cavalli: "This year we're going to have consistent airtime
     and full distribution."  Cavalli said the league also talked
     to ABC and CBS prior to reaching a deal with FSN, and he
     believes the ABL possibly can gain one or two games on Fox
     this year and have an over-the-air broadcast partner next
     season.  Sally Jenkins, Senior Contributing Writer for Conde
     Nast Sports For Women, said the FSN package helps the ABL.
     Jenkins:  "Their single biggest problem is media perception
     and their profile in the media. ... This is a question of
     getting in people's heads and living rooms" (THE DAILY).
          OUTLOOK: Cavalli acknowledged that the WNBA's success
     in its first season makes year two "crucial" for the ABL:
     "We have to have a good season at the gate.  We have to do
     well on television.  We have to have good ratings."  Conde
     Nast's Jenkins sees coexistence between the two leagues for
     the next three to four years, aided by the emerging market
     for women's sports: "The female sports audience has been
     really a hidden one.  The trick for the ABL is to make sure
     the WNBA doesn't get the lion's share [of sponsorships]." 
     Fordham Univ. sports law professor Mark Conrad said the ABL
     needs to be more entrepreneurial than the WNBA: "Mr. Cavalli
     has to be a little more clever, a little more daring and,
     yes, a little more aggressive."  To increase its exposure,
     Jenkins said the ABL should aim to build in mass markets:
     "The grassroots thing is great and very fan friendly, but
     it's not necessarily as media friendly" (THE DAILY).

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