SBD/3/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              While "no one" disputes the value of international
         hockey, the HOCKEY NEWS' Bob McKenzie asks, "[H]ow much is
         too much?"  McKenzie: "That is the question that will be
         asked in the months to come as the NHL and [NHLPA] formulate
         a long-term international calendar almost certain to
         culminate with NHL participation in the 2002 Winter
         Olympics."  But the "difficulty is that everything the NHL
         and NHLPA have done internationally in the last two years
         has been a raging success, but may be bordering on overkill,
         especially as it pertains to the health and welfare of the
         players."  The NHL's All-Star format pitting North America
         versus the World "was a huge success.  NHL post-event
         consumer polling revealed a virtually unheard-of approval
         rate" of 78%.  What that means is a "variety of formats will
         be considered" for future games "depending upon the time and
         locale of the game."  With the World Cup, the '96 event
         earned $14.7M, shared by the NHL and NHLPA.  While the next
         event is projected for 2000, some players "have voiced
         concerns over the demanding schedule" (HOCKEY NEWS, 3/6).
              TWO-PRONGED PLAN: McKenzie writes the "challenge" for
         NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
         Goodenow "is to find a way to address the players' concerns
         and keep alive both the World Cup and Olympics."  The league
         "is considering a two-pronged" plan: "First, in World Cup or
         Olympic years, do away with the NHL All-Star Game.  Second,
         move the World Cup from a four- or five-week fall event to a
         two-week mid-season tourney resembling the Olympic format." 
         The "impact of a mid-season World Cup shutdown would be
         minimized by doing away with the All-Star Game and its four-
         or five-day break."  While McKenzie acknowledges that All-
         Star weekend is "valuable" to the league, its TV partner and
         corporate sponsors, the league "won't lock itself into an
         All-Star Game at all if that's what it takes to make the
         international calendar go" (HOCKEY NEWS, 3/6 issue).  

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL

              USA TODAY's Hal Bodley reports that early calculations
         and winter rosters have the Orioles with MLB's highest
         payroll at $71,538,134, followed by the Yankees, at
         $71,255,598; Braves, $60,885,000; Indians, $58,533,499 and
         Rangers, $54,780,095.  Early projections have the Expos with
         the lowest payroll at $6,542,500 and the Pirates at
         $11,904,000.  Payroll totals will change by opening day when
         teams get down to the 25-player limit (USA TODAY, 3/3).
              JACKSON'S VIBE: Bulls Coach Phil Jackson, on whether
         the NBA should test for marijuana: "If it's illegal, I think
         that you've got to deal with it. If it's a law then you have
         to deal with the laws.  And I think that's testing for it." 
         More Jackson: "But the key to this is: What is it going to
         do?  Is it going to curtail personal behavior?  Are you
         going to take people out of the workplace?  Are you going to
         lose some of your best players?  Perhaps, and that's an
         issue that the NBA has to decide.  Are they willing to take
         that kind of a risk?" ("Up Close," ESPN, 3/2).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Indians, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NBA, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Walt Disney

              "More than any other professional sports league, MLS
         targets ethnic audiences, especially Hispanics, the USA's
         fastest-growing minority population," according to USA
         TODAY's Peter Brewington.  Brewington: "Winning remains the
         top priority, but in the critical game of putting fans in
         seats, assigning international stars to maximize their
         ethnic appeal is a close second."  Analysts say it's a
         reason MLS has had "a successful start-up."  But Brewington
         adds that while "such a strategy ensures teams a front row
         of passionate fans, it also might work against the league in
         perpetuating the image of soccer in the USA as a 'foreign'
         game."  Revolution GM Brian O'Donovan: "We need to
         concentrate our crowd-building effort on the general
         population."  Hispanics account for 23% of MLS fans, and
         while league marketing officials "admit it's hard to tell if
         their player deployments actually are working," analysts say
         the ethnic marketing approach is a "sound" one.  Dean Bonham
         of CO-based The Bonham Group: "The Hispanic market is lower-
         to middle-income right now, but can be described as a
         soccer-educated demographic with spendable income that's
         growing at a very rapid rate" (USA TODAY, 3/3). 
              YOUNG GUNS: Project 40, the joint venture between MLS
         and the U.S. Soccer Federation, "took a major step last week
         toward putting" young U.S. players in a "professional
         environment almost year round."  U.S. Soccer and MLS have
         "arranged for a Project 40 select team to compete" in the A-
         League, the "main breeding ground" for MLS teams and the for
         the U.S. World Cup team (Alex Yannis, N.Y. TIMES, 3/3).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLS, New England Revolution
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