SBD/19/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              The ABL's motto this season was "Real Basketball," and
         its championship final on Sunday "showed that the ABL could
         live up to its own hype," according to Mel Greenberg of the
         PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  But "despite the ABL's superior
         play, it is still an open question whether the league will
         be able to withstand the marketing punch and deep pockets"
         of the WNBA.  Greenberg writes that the ABL must continue to
         sign the top talent out of college and "must guard against
         incursions among current pros."  But the league "has done
         well at fostering loyalty among the 35 key players it signed
         in its start-up phase," as the Rage's Dawn Staley and the
         Blizzard's Jennifer Rizzotti "are the only unsigned players
         in that group."  In Philadelphia, the Rage drew 3,238,
         "about the same" as the 3,139 it drew when it played in
         Richmond.  But Rage GM Cathy Andruzzi said revenues were up
         40% over last year (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/19).  A
         COLUMBUS DISPATCH editorial: "The ABL is the underdog of the
         two leagues in terms of marketing and promotion, but the
         clear winner in terms of muscle and overall performance"
         (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/17).  In Boston, Susan Bickelhaupt
         writes that while the ABL is "pleased" with the results that
         show a 23% increase in league-wide attendance over last
         year, there are "still challenges for the league's third
         season."  ABL COO and co-Founder Steve Hams said that more
         TV coverage, an earlier season and an expanded league "are
         all on the agenda" for next season (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).  
              RECRUITMENT: USA TODAY's Valerie Lister examines the
         recruitment of college players by the WNBA and ABL during
         the NCAA Women's Final Four in Kansas City, MO.  Both
         leagues will have player reps on-site and also hold parties. 
         The ABL will have a forum to educate players, coaches and
         fans about the league.  The WNBA will sponsor a clinic for
         elementary school children (USA TODAY, 3/19). 

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NCAA, WNBA

              In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan reports that the "lead
         item" at next week's NFL owners meetings in Orlando will be
         the reinstatement of instant replay to review officials'
         calls.  NFL Senior VP/Communications Joe Browne said the
         competition committee's latest proposal "would allow the on-
         field referee to review only calls that are challenged by
         one of the head coaches" (INQUIRER, 3/19)....No golfer has
         petitioned the PGA Tour Board for the right to use a golf
         cart in tournaments.  Davis Love, one of the Board's player
         directors, "expects peer pressure to help keep players from
         asking for carts" (Clifton Brown, N.Y. TIMES, 3/19)....In
         San Diego, Mark Zeigler previewed MLS's third season and
         wrote that "some would have you believe this is a make-or-
         break year" for MLS.  Zeigler: "It isn't.  It is an
         important season, yes.  But 1998 is more about survival than
         success, more about hanging around outside the big dance
         than buying a ticket to go in" (UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/18).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLS, NFL, PGA Tour

              MLB's Ownership Committee granted Marlins President Don
         Smiley "initial approval" to purchase the team, according to
         Craig Barnes of the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL.  Final
         approval is contingent on MLB's full examination and
         ownership endorsement.  Smiley: "It's more than a vote of
         confidence.  It's a strong endorsement."  Barnes: "There are
         indications that Smiley might seek resolution at the owners'
         meetings in June" (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 3/19). 
              LEAVE IT TO BEAVER: In MN, La Velle Neal writes that
         prospective Twins Owner Don Beaver "acknowledged Wednesday
         that if stadium funding isn't secured" in NC, it could
         "kill" his deal to buy the team.  Beaver: "You can't approve
         a relocation without a place to play."  Neal adds that the
         comments "acknowledged" what other MLB officials have been
         "saying for months: The decision to move the Twins can't be
         made until a May 5 referendum in two North Carolina counties
         in the Triad area."  Beaver also dismissed a previously
         announced March 31 deadline to sign a deal with Twins Owner
         Carl Pohlad: "I don't know if March 31 is of any
         significance. ... We are not worried about deadlines or
         anything like that" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/19).  
              NOTES: Frank Robinson will address owners today about
         speeding up the game.  One idea is to have umpires keep
         hitters in the batters box and make pitchers deliver the
         ball within 12 seconds when there are no runners on
         base....Red Sox CEO John Harrington said a schedule has been
         completed for the '99 season that includes "much the same
         schedule for interleague play."  It must be approved by the
         MLBPA (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/13).  MLBPA Exec Dir
         Donald Fehr said he expects interleague play to continue in
         '99, with some "refinement" to avoid the "abundance of two-
         game series teams were forced to play" in '97 and this
         season.  Fehr: "The basic belief is it is a good thing.  But
         there are complications" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/19).

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Minnesota Twins, MLB

              Braves Owner Ted Turner "wasted no time beginning his
         assault" on potential Dodgers Owner Rupert Murdoch,
         addressing a group of MLB owners Wednesday in St. Petersburg
         "on why the head of the Fox Group shouldn't be allowed into
         baseball," according to I.J. Rosenberg of the ATLANTA
         CONSTITUTION.  Rosenberg: "It was a restrained attack, no
         fiery speech from the Time-Warner vice chairman but instead
         a five-minute synopsis of why his rival Murdoch wouldn't be
         good for baseball."  After the meeting, Turner followed the
         guidelines of Acting Commissioner Bud Selig in not talking
         publicly until after today's vote on the matter: "It's not
         that I don't want to talk.  I just got to keep quiet right
         now."  The Dodgers sale requires approval from 12 of 16 NL
         teams and 8 of 14 AL squads.  Turner has "two votes in his
         camp," coming from the Padres and Giants, "meaning he would
         have to persuade two other clubs to say no."  Rosenberg
         writes, "This is not likely to happen," as Turner "has
         little, if any influence among the game's power brokers." 
         Rockies Chair Jerry McMorris, on today's vote: "It's going
         to be very, very close" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/19).  USA
         TODAY's Hal Bodley writes that "one theory" on Selig's gag
         order is that if the sale is not approved, "public comments
         might be used in litigation" (USA TODAY, 3/19).
              COUNTING THE VOTES: DAILY VARIETY's Ray Richmond writes
         that in addition to the Padres, Cubs and Giants, both the
         Astros and Marlins are "said to be particularly vulnerable
         to Turner's anti-Murdoch venom" (DAILY VARIETY, 3/19).  But
         in N.Y., Bill Madden writes the Dodgers sale is expected to
         win "overwhelming approval."  One "high-level" MLB official:
         "Do you really think we're going to vote down baseball's
         biggest benefactor?" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19). 
              THE QUIET "MOUTH FROM THE SOUTH"? One member who
         attended yesterday's meeting said Turner "made his points
         that he's against [the sale to Murdoch]. ... There were no
         real fireworks.  I've been to far more inflammatory sessions
         than this one."  The session lasted an hour-and-a-half. 
         Owners "will get another chance Thursday to express their
         views" before the sale is put to a vote (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19). 
              CUTTING TO THE CHASE: In L.A., Ross Newhan writes that
         Fox TV CEO Chase Carey, "working at times in conjunction
         with [MLB] lawyers, met throughout the day and evening
         Wednesday with several concerned clubs."  They "agreed to
         small changes ... in the language of the agreement that Fox
         has made with baseball (separate from the sales agreement
         with the Dodgers), strengthening assurances the Murdoch
         organization would protect the Dodger image and abide by all
         baseball regulations, particularly those governing
         international and local telecasts" (L.A. TIMES, 3/19).
              FALLOUT: Turner's appearance in St. Petersburg was
         featured on CNN's "Moneyline" and CNBC's "The Edge," "Market
         Wrap" and "Business Center."  Ladenburg-Thalmann media
         specialist Porter Bibb, who wrote a biography on Turner:
         "Turner and Murdoch have been going at it for quite a long
         time. ... Both of them are very emotional, very competitive
         individuals, and they both respect the fact that of all the
         people in media and entertainment, these are the two guys
         who have taken their businesses globally further and faster
         than anybody else in the world."  CNBC's Garrett Glaser
         reported that Bibb said that "if Turner loses in Florida and
         Murdoch is approved ... a new template of corporate sports
         ownership will be established" ("The Edge," CNBC, 3/18). 
         USA TODAY's cover story profiles Turner and Murdoch, as
         David Lieberman writes the "feud could explode -- and
         possibly have a lasting effect on sports and business -- if
         Turner gets his way" (USA TODAY, 3/19).  In Atlanta, Jeff
         Schultz: "In some ways, the Turner-Murdoch feud has typified
         baseball's infighting for years.  The new owner should fit
         right in" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/19).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, San Diego Padres

              U.S. Soccer President Alan Rothenberg has appointed a
         seven-person committee to study the development of women's
         professional soccer in the U.S.  The Women's Professional
         Soccer Development Committee will analyze and develop
         strategies to help grow the sport in the U.S. and will be in
         charge of implementing the ground work for an eventual
         women's professional soccer league in the U.S.  The seven-
         member committee will be chaired by Dr. Bob Contingulia, who
         serves on the WWC Board of Directors and is a member of the
         USSF National Board of Directors.  Other members are: David
         Askinas, member of the USSF National Board of Directors;
         Bill Goaziou, member of WWC Board of Directors; Sunil
         Gulati, MLS Deputy Commissioner and member of WWC Board of
         Directors; Mary Harvey-Capobianco, member of USSF National
         Board of Directors Exec Committee; Pam Kopple, USSF Women's
         Development Special Committee Chair and Marla Messing, WWC
         '99 Organizing Committee President & COO (U.S. Soccer).
              ONE VOTE: USA TODAY's Jerry Langdon writes that "there
         should be first-division [women's] soccer now.  And work
         should begin now on such a league for immediately after the
         1999 World Cup."  Langdon notes the new U.S. Soccer study
         committee and writes, "U.S. Soccer was not behind the
         earlier, failed attempt by National Soccer Alliance.  Its
         active participation is long overdue" (USA TODAY, 3/19).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLS
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