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  • D-DAY IN DALLAS: NBA OWNERS SET TO VOTE ON RE-OPENING CBA

              The NBA's Board of Governor's is "poised to take the
         first step in a journey that will lead to a modified
         collective bargaining agreement or an uncertain labor
         future," according to David Moore of the DALLAS MORNING
         NEWS.  League officials "confirmed" that today in Dallas
         owners will void the final three years of the NBA's
         agreement and "return to the negotiating table" with the
         NBPA.  Moore also reports that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter
         has said that he plans to meet with the league around April
         1 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/23).  NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ
         Granik: "Lockout isn't part of our vocabulary right now. ...
         You never know, but we have a very cordial and professional
         relationship with union leadership, and we'll do our best to
         try and maintain that."   Hunter: "[W]e've still got between
         now and October and November to work out a deal."   In N.Y.,
         Mike Wise pointed to the "smart" participants in the
         negotiations, Granik, Hunter and NBA Commissioner David
         Stern, and wrote to "expect both sides to compromise before
         the summer ends" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/23).  In Boston, Peter May
         wrote the difference between today and the last NBA labor
         disruption in '95 is Hunter, "who has shown already that he
         is both reasonable and dogged" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22). 
              NOT OPTIMISTIC: In N.Y, Mitch Lawrence wrote that Stern
         is "expected to get a pulse on whether his employers are
         willing to shut down operations for what might be a year." 
         One ownership source: "There are some owners who want to
         make a big-time stand and get to the root of the issues." 
         While there are questions of how "unified" ownership is "to
         commit to more than a summer-time lockout," Lawrence added
         that "hawks," including the Jazz's Larry Miller and the
         Clippers' Don Sterling, "will push to lock the players out
         for a year, if necessary" (DAILY NEWS, 3/22).  In L.A., Mark
         Heisler wrote Stern "reportedly is ready to lock the players
         out till next Christmas or longer" (L.A. TIMES, 3/22).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA, Utah Jazz
  • MICHAEL OVITZ EMERGES AS NEW FORCE TO LAND L.A. FRANCHISE

              NFL owners are "expected to award" Cleveland an
         expansion franchise as early as this week, leaving Houston
         and L.A. "in a match race to become the NFL's 32nd
         franchise," according to T.J. Simers of the L.A. TIMES.  But
         Simers wrote that L.A.'s New Coliseum Partners (NCP), "who
         have been running in place for the last two years ... could
         be passed by a new prospect just as the competition is
         officially set to begin."  Michael Ovitz "has caught the
         fancy of NFL officials with a San Francisco 49er-like plan
         for a stadium and shopping mall" in Carson, CA.  The Carson
         site "has been advanced successfully in recent weeks" by
         Ovitz, who has been working with an OH-based mall developer. 
         One "high-ranking" NFL source: "It's a little early yet, but
         this project appears to have a lot of potential."  Simers:
         "At no time during its dogged campaign ... have the [NCP]
         received such an NFL endorsement."  The NCP "appear to also
         have fallen behind Hollywood Park, which recently altered
         its strategy to the NFL's satisfaction."  It "proposed
         selling a 30-acre piece of property to the NFL, or any NFL-
         designated owner interested in constructing a stadium on the
         site."  While some NFL owners remain interested in the
         Dodger Stadium site, the NFL has "been advised" by the Fox
         Group that their "attention will be directed solely on
         improving Dodger Stadium" (L.A. TIMES, 3/22). 
              LONGER TIMETABLE? In Houston, John Williams writes that
         league owners "warned" yesterday that it "could be as long
         as two years before a decision" is made on the 32nd team. 
         While "several" owners said Houston is ahead of L.A. in
         getting a new football stadium in place, "league owners will
         give [L.A.] all the time it needs to put together a stadium
         plan."  Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen: "We're talking about a
         couple of years, at least" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/23).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Denver Broncos, Leagues and Governing Bodies, News Corp./Fox, NFL
  • MLB COMMISSIONER SCENARIO: A COLEMAN HEATER?

              Because MLB management "has accomplished previously
         unimaginable things" during the reign of Acting Commissioner
         Bud Selig, "many owners have lost their desire to hire an
         outside candidate," according to Tom Haudricourt of the
         MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL.  With COO Paul Beeston running
         the business side, the "prevailing theory is 'don't fix what
         ain't broke.'"  One possible scenario has Beeston remaining
         as COO, Selig staying in his post as Chair of the Executive
         Council and "someone such as" NL President Len Coleman being
         "named commissioner in what amounts to a figurehead role"
         (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/22).  In Philadelphia, Jayson
         Stark wrote there are "indications Coleman has emerged as a
         prime in-house alternative to Selig as permanent
         commissioner" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/22).
              IF A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST...: In N.Y., Murray
         Chass, writing on the inaction during the search for a
         commissioner, asked, "So does anybody really care?"  Red Sox
         CEO John Harrington: "Everybody does."  But Twins Owner Carl
         Pohlad said there has "been less conversation 'than you'd
         think.'"  Pohlad: "It's been strangely silent" (N.Y. TIMES,
         3/22)....In Boston, Peter Gammons wrote that Selig and
         Beeston "should seriously consider enlisting" Paul Molitor
         as a Deputy Commissioner and liaison to the MLBPA after he
         retires at the end of the season.  Gammons: "[F]ew union
         leaders have ever understood management's side more than
         Molitor" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22)....In N.Y., Tom Keegan wrote
         that Expos ownership is a "topic that should have been
         discussed" at MLB's quarterly meeting.  Keegan called the
         Expos a "disgrace.  And their competitors are growing sick
         and tired of it."  One MLB club exec: "Teams are losing
         money going there to play.  A lot of people are fed up with
         the way that's being run up there" (N.Y. POST, 3/22).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Boston Red Sox, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Minnesota Twins, MLB
  • NFL OWNERS MEET IN ORLANDO; CBA DEAL LIKELY TO BE APPROVED

              NFL owners meetings opened in Orlando yesterday, and
         the Management Council's Exec Committee voted to approve the
         extension of the CBA, according to USA TODAY's Larry
         Weisman.  The full group of owners "considers" the CBA today
         and it needs 23 of 30 votes in favor to pass.  The NFLPA's
         Board of Player Reps ratified the deal unanimously in HI on
         Friday.  If the owners vote against the deal, the NFLPA
         "says it will not renegotiate and will let the current labor
         deal expire after the 2000 season" (USA TODAY, 3/23). 
              WELLINGTON'S BEEF? Giants co-Owner Wellington Mara,
         "one of the most respected men" in the NFL, may speak out on
         the proposed CBA this week in Orlando, according to Mike
         Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES.  One owner: "Wellington is
         strongly opposed to one part of this agreement and in turn,
         the entire thing.  When Wellington talks, people listen. He
         will swing votes, and a week from now we could be back at
         the negotiating table with the union."  Agreement supporters
         fear Mara could give a "passionate plea on why the
         guaranteed contract provision" of the deal is "a truly bad
         idea."  But Freeman added that the deal "will most likely be
         approved by only a slim margin" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).  Mara
         dismissed the N.Y. Times report and said he would not urge
         owners to vote against the deal: "Not me.  You've got the
         wrong guy" (Paul Needell, Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/23).   
              OTHER NEWS: In Baltimore, Vito Stellino wrote that
         instant replay, which is also on the agenda at the meetings,
         "faces an uphill fight" to be approved (Balt. SUN, 3/22). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL
  • WTA'S MCGUIRE POLITELY DECLINES ATP OFFER OF JOINT EVENTS

              WTA Tour CEO Bart McGuire said yesterday that while the
         ATP Tour has proposed joint men's and women's tennis events
         which pool sponsorship and TV revenue, his "priority" is to
         obtain a new long-term title sponsorship deal and a new TV
         deal for the women's tour.   Speaking with the media at the
         Lipton Championships, McGuire said he has "philosophic
         concerns, economic concerns, and some very practical
         concerns about the joint venture concept."  McGuire: "I
         really doubt that the WTA Tour and the ATP Tour can agree on
         prize money, revenue sharing, television exposure, to say
         nothing of issues like practice and locker room facilities." 
         McGuire said he had not "quite shut the door on the joint
         venture concept," but added that it is "not likely to happen
         in the near future."  McGuire will "consider the creation of
         new combined events on an individual basis" (WTA Tour).  In
         Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, ATP Tour CEO Mark Miles said he was
         "enormously frustrated" by the WTA Tour's perception that
         any merger would undermine its position as the No. 1 women's
         sport in the world.  Miles: "I'm absolutely convinced that
         nothing they can do on their own would generate as much
         revenue as they would receive if they did collaborate with
         us, and I also don't think the combined tour would impair
         the ATP Tour's identity or that of the women."  The TIMES'
         Robin Finn: "Is tennis at a gender crossroads just in time
         for the millennium?  It looks that way" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
              THAT'S RIGHT, THE WOMEN ARE STRONGER? In Miami, Edwin
         Pope wrote on the crowds at the Lipton and called it the
         "biggest sports-spectator event in South Florida history." 
         He added that "male professionals are trying to get back up
         to speed with the females since Martina Hingis, Venus and
         Serena Williams and Anna Kournikova ... arrived.  Women are
         coming on stronger than ever while the men's game is headed
         for a crowd-appeal crisis" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/22).
              OTHER WTA NEWS: McGuire said the Tour's Board of
         Directors ratified the settlement to the players' dispute
         announced in February. The Board also voted to add three
         "independent, senior business executives, with no financial
         interest in tennis," and agreed to eliminate the requirement
         that matters be unanimously agreed upon."  Finally, the Tour
         will also open a European office in London to be headed by
         its Dir of European Operations Georgina Clark (WTA Tour).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ATP, Leagues and Governing Bodies
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