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Speedway Motorsports President Humpy Wheeler, who says NASCAR's "popularity" has "about eight years left in the power curve," is "rushing to build his business before that power curve flattens a little," according to Clifford Glickman of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Although the company has most recently added more seats to its group of speedways Wheeler added, "There's a couple of other things we got in the hopper." Wheeler: "I think in '98 you'll see the first couple of tracks break through with naming rights." While Wheeler said that he is talking to "traditional" NASCAR sponsors, "he thinks the most likely sponsor might be someone new to NASCAR." Wheeler also said that new TV rights fees will bring in more revenue. Most of the TV contracts for Speedway tracks "don't expire until 2000, and Wheeler wants to consolidate all Winston Cup events into a single contract." Currently, most tracks negotiate TV deals individually (Clifford Glickman, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/24).
In possibly her final news conference as the WTA Tour's CEO, Anne Person Worcester discussed the state of the Tour before the Chase Championship finals yesterday. WHO'LL FOLLOW THIS LEADER? Regarding the search for a new CEO, Person Worcester said that a search committee will put forward candidates in the next two weeks for review by the Tour board. Person Worcester: "We are very confident that a new CEO will come out of those meetings." If a new CEO is unable to start by January 1, board member Bob Arrix will handle interim duties. But Person Worcester reported that the board has eliminated the requirement for unanimity in its CEO search. The new CEO vote now requires only a "super majority" of seven of 10 affirmative votes. Person Worcester, asked why the search has taken so long: "There's clearly been different opinions about whether the person should be an insider or an outsider. ... I completely believe an outsider could do this job. The staff is very strong. The board has plenty of tennis experts on it. I think a fresh perspective would be healthy for this sport. So I don't share the view that an outsider could not do this job. I also happen to have believed along the way that there were some insiders who could do the job. The search committee didn't share my view" (THE DAILY). TITLE SPONSOR: IMG will conduct a search for a title sponsor to replace Corel, who will end its three-year, $12M sponsorship at the end of '98. Person Worcester noted that IMG holds the exclusive marketing rights to the Tour through '99, at which point the Tour board will decide "whether they want to continue with" IMG or "perhaps take the marketing and television in-house or do it partly with an agency and partly in-house." While "very confident that we will find a Tour sponsor," Person Worcester added "the financial viability of the WTA is not based on a Tour sponsor. ... The Tour is in very, very, stable financial health" (THE DAILY). TV TIME: CNBC's Garrett Glaser examined the Tour's search for a title sponsor. While Chase Manhattan, "along with 10 other sponsors will spend more than $1 million" on the WTA Tour -- "a record" -- it is "facing an uncertain future." Tennis Week Publisher Eugene Scott: "Surely the WTA is anxious about replacing such a grand sponsor as Corel ... and you will find that you need at least two years, maybe three years, to replace an underwriter of that magnitude." Glaser: "Part of the problem, some say, is that today's tennis lacks the personalities and rivalries of past seasons. ... The WTA's solution? Build name recognition and popularity of the players through autograph sessions, clinics with sponsors and fans [and] community outreach, where strong female players are presented as role models." WTA Tour Dir of Communications Joe Favorito: "We have no concerns about competing for dollars because we know that women's tennis has a niche that no other organization has. We have the history, we have the 25 years, we have the Martinas and the Billie Jeans. And it's something that other sports have been aspiring to." Glaser reported that "it appears Tour strategy is on target" for now, as the WTA Tour has $100M in worldwide sponsorships, "more than three times the WNBA's reported $30 million" (CNBC, 11/21).
NFL: In N.Y., Mike Freeman reported that Giants GM George Young "is expected" to take a high-ranking NFL front office job for next season. The position will be similar to a VP or Deputy Commissioner (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23)....NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue "apparently is getting nowhere in his efforts to get owners and players" to extend the CBA to seven or eight years "and use it to get more money" from TV (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/23). GENERAL: Univ. of TN junior Chamique Holdsclaw, the "greatest player in women's college basketball," was profiled by Jere Longman of the N.Y. TIMES. Although both the WNBA and ABL have criteria against drafting college players, ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said it would be "hard to speculate how one would react" if Holdsclaw left school early. Cavalli: "At the point Chamique made her decision, we would re-evaluate" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23)....NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said it would challenge the fine and three-game suspension imposed by the NBA on Blazers G Isaiah Rider for allegedly spitting on a fan while in Detroit. Hunter claimed Rider was provoked by a drunken fan who "threatened" Rider and his family. Hunter: "While no one condones spitting, the League must behave responsibly by fully investigating the circumstances, rather than acting first and asking questions later" (NBPA).