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The CISL has ceased operations after five years. The indoor soccer league had eight franchises at the time it suspended play. CISL Commissioner/Founder Ron Weinstein: "The remaining owners and myself still firmly believe that the CISL's concept of indoor soccer and the business approach that our league attempted to take gave the sport its best-ever opportunity for fiscal success. Unfortunately, some of our former owners chose to deviate from that path and it unfairly impacted on the other owners" (CISL). Three franchises had withdrawn from the league -- Portland, OR, Houston and Dallas, since the CISL season concluded at the end of October (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/24). KICKING THOUGHTS AROUND: In Houston, Joseph Durate wrote the former ownership group of the former CISL Houston Hotshots said "it has not been contacted about joining the newly formed Premier Soccer Alliance." A "current" plan has "a new league forming in time to begin play next summer, involving eight teams ... and consisting of few of the existing markets that were once CISL-operated." Portland Professional Soccer President Bill Lavelle said that the new league could change its name to "something other than Premier Soccer Alliance, possibly a sponsorship name such as the rumored Nike-sponsored league" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/24). In K.C., Bob Luder wrote the NPSL could absorb some of the CISL teams or its talent. NPSL Commissioner Steve Paxos: "There's a good possibility" (K.C. STAR, 1/3).
With the "possibility that a protesting Bud Selig would accept a draft and agree to remain as full-time commissioner, the committee searching for a replacement is close to making a final recommendation," according to Ross Newhan of the L.A. TIMES. Rockies Chair Jerry McMorris, head of the search committee: "I'm hopeful we'll have this all resolved and behind us in the next 60 days." Sources told Newhan that "a group of small-market owners continue to lobby" on Selig's behalf, hoping to persuade him to remain. McMorris: "I understand there's a group working to draft Bud ... but he continues to tell me he's not a candidate." Newhan: "The impression is that Selig is being pulled in several directions. There are [MLB COO Paul] Beeston and a group of small-market owners urging him to move to New York as commissioner. There are his Brewer partners urging him to stay in Milwaukee. ... There's also the possibility of a fight if Selig accedes to a draft" (L.A. TIMES, 12/20). NEW NAME: In his Sunday column, Peter Gammons called President Clinton's Senior Policy Advisor Bruce Reid the "perfect candidate" for MLB's top spot: "Reid is brilliant, he is purposeful, he knows people." Gammons also suggested an MLB "governing body to accompany Reid" consisting of eight owners, MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr, two players elected annually, Beeston, one TV network exec, one elected GM and "if they really want vision, Sandy Alderson." Gammons also advised naming an MLB Attorney General to "dismantle the pitiable league office system" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/4). ANOTHER CITY, NOT MY OWN: In Toronto, Richard Griffin wrote, "By the year 2002, the World Series will be played as part of a weeklong baseball festival at a neutral site. According to sources, major-league owners have already begun serious, if somewhat preliminary, discussions on this radical concept" (TORONTO STAR, 12/31). TAX DAY: Five teams will have to pay a luxury tax by January 31, as figures from the Players Relations Committee show which teams have to pay the tax assessed at a rate of 35% on any payroll amount over $55.587M. The Yankees will have to pay the most, $4.438M on a $68.267M payroll, followed by the Orioles at $4.033M ($67.111M), the Indians at $2.072M ($61.508M), the Braves at $1.306M ($59.096M) and the Marlins at $153,046 ($56.024M). The total tax on the five teams was $12.004M. The first $10M of the luxury tax goes to "fund the shortfall in revenue sharing." The remaining money will be divided among the five AL clubs with the lowest net local revenue in '96 (N.Y. TIMES, 12/25).
The WTA Tour officially named Ric Clarson as its new CEO. Clarson, who was the PGA Tour's VP/Tournament Business Affairs, will begin his four-year term this month (WTA Tour). In a teleconference with the media, Clarson noted some "boiler plate issues" facing the Tour: "Certainly, the umbrella sponsorship resell is first and foremost. We need to take a look at the joint event concept that the ATP Tour has been pushing forth with. Internal operations needs a review. And, by the end of the year, hopefully, we are going to have a strategic plan for stability and growth for the years going forward." Clarson added that he was interested in the Exec Dir position last spring, and talked to the Tour board about the opening: "I think they decided they were looking for more of an insider. [But] when they were not able to agree on anyone, I was recontacted and looked at it again" (WTA Tour). Clarson's new position will pay him $250,000 annually (Robin Finn, N.Y. TIMES, 12/20).
WOMEN'S SPORTS: An ABL record crowd of 15,213 attended the Xplosion-Blizzard game at the Hartford Civic Center on Saturday. The previous ABL record crowd was 12,623 at the Civic Center for the Blizzard's season opener against the Glory in October (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/4)....Also on Saturday, 24,597 watched in Knoxville, TN, as the Univ of TN beat the Univ. of CT. It was the largest crowd ever to see a women's college game, topping the old mark of 24,563 set in '87 when TN hosted TX (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/4). NFL: Commissioner Paul Tagliabue contributed an op-ed in Sunday's N.Y. TIMES on the league's goal of "sound equal employment policies." Tagliabue: "All of us in football -- professional and college -- must do better in identifying top coaching talent from a diverse, growing pool, including African-Americans and those from other minority groups." He challenged NFL owners and collegiate execs to "be innovative in their approaches to finding and developing coaching talent" (Paul Tagliabue, N.Y. TIMES, 1/4).