SBD/14/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              The ABL completed its '97-98 expansion plans by naming
         Nashville as its tenth franchise.  The team will play its
         home games in the Municipal Auditorium, an 8,700-seat arena
         located in downtown Nashville (ABL).  Nashville joins
         Chicago as the league's newest markets, and in Chicago,
         Michael Rosenberg examined the ABL's "wish list" for the
         next few years, including broadcast network exposure and 
         expansion into the New York market (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/13).
              PLAYERS TAKING CONTROL? In Portland, Abby Haight
         criticized the league for trading "star" Natalie Williams
         from Portland to Long Beach, where she has family and
         friends, and not returning a player of like talent to the
         Power.  Haight wrote that the ABL "has put the likes and
         dislikes of players ahead of building the fan support and
         team stability necessary for a future" (OREGONIAN, 4/12).  

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies

              The Atlantic League, an independent baseball league set
         to begin this May in the Northeast, "has persuaded five of
         the six cities on its roster to build new 5,000- to 6,000-
         seat ballparks almost entirely at the public expense,"
         according to Kirk Johnson of the N.Y. TIMES.  A total of
         $110M in public financing has been committed altogether "for
         teams that, with only weeks to go before opening day, still
         exist for the most part on paper."  Baseball "experts say
         that in a market where there is so much major and minor
         league baseball already, the Atlantic League's ambitions are
         testing the limit of baseball both as a recreational drawing
         card and a spur for economic revitalization."  The league,
         roughly the equivalent of Class AA, will have franchises in
         Atlantic City, Newark and Somerset, NJ; Lehigh Valley, PA;
         Bridgeport, CT; and Nashua, NH.  Former Wall Street bond
         trader Frank Boulton is league Chair and has "sought out
         cities" that couldn't get a NAPBL team because of their
         location and those that had public financing available for
         economic development and new stadiums (N.Y. TIMES, 4/10). 

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              A federal court in N.Y. Thursday "found the NBA guilty
         of sex discrimination for denying" Sandra Ortiz-del Valle, a
         Manhattan high school physical education teacher, "a chance
         to become one of the league's referees," according to Peter
         May of the BOSTON GLOBE.  The U.S. District Court jury
         deliberated for two days before awarding nearly $8M to
         Ortiz-del Valle.  The NBA said it would appeal.  Ortiz-del
         Valle sued the NBA in the spring of '96 "after she was
         repeatedly told there was no position for her."  She had
         "extensive" refereeing experience in several pro-am leagues,
         in the USBL and as an official in a preseason camp with the
         Nets.  In the ruling, $7M of the $7.85M award was for
         punitive damages.  The jury also awarded Ortiz-del Valle
         $100,000 for lost wages and $750,000 for emotional distress
         (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/10).  In N.Y., Benjamin Weiser reported
         that the verdict "marks the first time the league has lost a
         discrimination case in court."  NBA Chief Legal Officer
         Jeffrey Mishkin: "Here is a finding that the N.B.A.
         discriminates against women in the hiring of officials, and
         we are the only league that has them" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/10).  
              MALE REFS BUY TIME? In S.F., Jorge Ortiz wrote the NBA
         "may have averted an immediate nightmare when several of the
         veteran referees currently under investigation by the IRS
         signed documents allowing them to work in the postseason and
         proceed with their cases afterward" (S.F. EXAMINER, 4/12). 

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, Brooklyn Nets

              MLB: For its 30 Opening Days, MLB drew 1,349,544 fans,
         for an average of 44,985 per game.  That was second only to
         the record set in '93 and was 158,459 more than the '97
         total of 1,191,085.  This season's average attendance was
         5.7% higher than last year's average of 42,566 (MLB).  MLB
         had 28 openers in '97 (THE DAILY).
              NOTES: The Knicks filed a protest yesterday, asking the
         league to reverse referee Bob Delaney's call on Sunday which
         ruled that Allan Houston's shot came after time expired in
         the Knicks' 82-81 loss to the Heat (N.Y. TIMES, 4/14).
         ...CART has acquired Pro-Motion Agency, Ltd., the company
         that owns and operates the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship
         open-wheel racing series.  The series has 12 races in '98
         and is CART's second-series acquisition after purchasing the
         PPG Dayton Indy Lights Series (CART).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Miami Heat, MLB, New York Knicks, Toyota

              The NHL "is considering filing a lawsuit" against
         Details magazine concerning an article that alleges three
         Russian players "have had longstanding ties with Russian
         gangsters," according to Rick Sadowski of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN
         NEWS.  The article, called "Power Play," claims that
         Avalanche C Valeri Kamensky, Red Wings D Slava Fetisov and
         Canucks' RW Pavel Bure "actively befriended the Russian mob,
         helping it to sink its roots deep in North American soil." 
         NHL execs "are upset" because the author, Robert Friedman,
         quotes the lead investigator into Congressional hearings on
         Russian mobsters and NHL players, Michael Bopp, as saying
         the investigation ended in '96 because the league "failed to
         cooperate."  NHL VP/Corporate Communications Bernadette
         Mansur said the league is "stunned at how ludicrous ...
         [and] blatantly inaccurate" the article is.  Mansur: "We're
         considering all of our (legal) avenues."  Mansur said Bopp
         specifically thanked league personnel for their assistance
         in the investigation.  The story appears in the May issue of
         Details Magazine (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 4/11).

    Print | Tags: Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Vancouver Canucks

              With the WNBA set to begin its second season on June
         11, its players "are wondering whether they need to ask for
         more" and unionizing is one alternative that has "growing
         appeal," according to Lena Williams in a front-page feature
         in Sunday's N.Y. TIMES.  Players and agents say that under
         their WNBA deals, players "can be terminated at any time,
         cannot endorse products that compete with the league's 15
         sponsors, are not entitled to percentages from sales of team
         merchandise and receive health benefits only when they
         play."  Some players add that the language of the WNBA's
         contracts "is so ambiguous that it is unclear whether
         players are entitled to be paid if injured."  Others say
         that WNBA players "are in certain ways worse off financially
         than" ABL players, who receive a higher average salary and
         "receive better benefits."  So WNBA players are talking and
         "trying to figure out who might represent them and how to
         get what they want without hurting the league they fought so
         hard to create."  The NBPA said it would like to represent
         the women and "many" players feel it would be the "logical
         choice."  The Women's Coaches Association is "also lobbying
         for the job" along with a "handful" of sports agents.  But
         some players have "expressed reservations about joining
         ranks with the men" and feel they aren't concerned about the
         same issues.  League execs are "wary of the impact of a
         union."  WNBA President Val Ackerman admits unionization "is
         likely.  We accept its possibility.  But in some respects it
         does seem premature" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/12).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, WNBA
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