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Canada may ask the U.S. to stop providing tax breaks for NHL teams "because the incentives may violate the North American free-trade agreement between" the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to a report in the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The purpose of the '94 NAFTA agreement was to prevent any of the three countries from providing unfair trade incentives. The Canadian federal government has hired Toronto lawyer Dennis Mills to examine the issue. Mills will present his findings to a nine-member government subcommittee in June. Vivaldo Latoche, a spokesperson for Mills, said the Canadian government "is serious about this now. The American government is giving its teams an unfair advantage." An NHL official said that NAFTA had nothing to do with "team movement" out of Canada. NHL VP/Legal Affairs Bill Daly: "With respect to where our franchises are located, and the subsidies they receive, there is absolutely no impact of NAFTA on the NHL" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/23).
NBA: NBA Commissioner David Stern said that the league and the NBPA plan to conduct weekly meetings aimed at negotiating a new CBA agreement. Stern was "optimistic" an accord could be reached before the June 30 deadline. Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik, who is leading the talks, was "less upbeat." Granik: "Nobody negotiates a [CBA] agreement in a month. We're having some meaningful discussions, but whether we're really making any progress, I don't know yet" (USA TODAY, 4/23)....In Charlotte, Bonnell & Laye report that six of the 16 NBA playoff teams, "including hotbeds Seattle and Phoenix," have yet to sell out their first round playoff home dates (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/23). NOTES: SI's Tim Crothers reports that some MLB owners "are renewing efforts to expand the June free-agent draft to include players from all over the world." Crothers writes that Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that the "impetus" for MLB's movement toward a worldwide draft is the "fear that a few wealthy franchises can outbid the rest of the sport" for elite foreign prospects (SI, 4/27 issue).... ...Casey Martin and the PGA "have agreed on rules of the road" for when Martin uses a cart during competition. Martin signed the 11-point stipulation April 17, and the PGA Tour "is expected to sign ... soon" (USA TODAY, 4/23).
The NFL is talking to the AFL "about forming a marketing relationship that could eventually allow" NFL owners to buy AFL teams, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. NFL VP/Communications Greg Aiello: "We've talked to them for a year about an association, in the spirit of what we have with the [CFL]." Last year, the NFL made a 10-year, $3M loan to the CFL. Sandomir reports that Saints Owner Tom Benson has applied for an AFL expansion franchise, while Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt and Seahawks Owner Paul Allen "have voiced interest in ties with the Arena league." Sandomir adds that NFL owners will discuss their two AFL options -- either a "leaguewide Arena investment," or direct ownership -- at their meeting on May 19 in Miami (N.Y. TIMES, 4/23).
THE DAILY continues its exclusive look at the agents representing the NFL's third round draft picks in contract negotiations. Some players may have different representatives for their marketing endeavors. See THE DAILY tomorrow for a full wrap-up of the first three rounds.
PLAYER/POSITION AGENT/FIRM62) Chuck Wiley/DL Gene Burrough63) Jon Ritchie/RB Steve Baker64) Olin Kreutz/OL Mark Bartelstein/Bartelstein Sports65) Leonard Little/DL David Ware, Joe Reed/Ware & Assoc.66) Chris Conrad/OL Frank Bauer/Sun West Sports67) Scott Frost/QB Craig Domann/Domann & Pittman68) Robert Hicks/OL Eugene Parker/Parker & Associates69) Skip Hicks/RB Howard Silber70) Brian Alford/WR Not signed with an agent71) E.G. Green/WR Gene Burrough72) Jeremiah Trotter/LB Jimmy Sexton/Athletic Resource Mgmt.73) Mitch Marrow/DL Jim Ulrich74) Jammi German/WR Terris Harris/Mid-South Sports Mgmt.75) Steve Foley/DL Todd Newman/Noah, Smith & Newman76) Ahman Green/RB Leigh Steinberg/Steinberg & Moorad77) Dainon Sidney/DB Jimmy Sexton/Athletic Resource Mgmt.78) Mike Goff/OL Ken Kremer/IMG79) Brad Jackson/LB James Sims/Sims Sports Management80) Ramos McDonald/DB Jimmy Sexton/Athletic Resource Mgmt.81) Chris Floyd/RB Andrew Brandt/Woolf Associates82) Larry Shannon/WR David Caravantes/Worldwide E&S83) Greg Spires/DL Marc Pollack, David Levine Pro-Star Sports Management84) Jamie Duncan/LB Eugene Parker/Parker & Associates85) Allen Rossum/DB Neil Schwartz/Neil Schwartz Associates86) Jonathan Quinn/QB Rich Deluca/Integrated Sports Mgmt.87) Kevin Williams/DB Mike Sullivan, Jeff Sperbeck88) Rashaan Shehee/RB Ted Marchibroda Jr.89) Chris Ruhman/OL Leonard Roth/Prof. Advisory Services90) Jonathan Brown/DL Neil Schwartz/Neil Schwartz Associates91) Brian Griese/QB Ralph Cindrich/Cindrich & Co.92) Hines Ward/WR Eugene Parker/Parker & Associates
The WNBA's Operating Committee has voted to add two expansion teams -- to be operated by the T'Wolves and the Magic -- to the WNBA for the '99 season, bringing the number of teams in the league to 12. The new teams will be granted upon the condition that they each secure pledges for at least 5,000 season tickets prior to September 1 (WNBA). WNBA President Val Ackerman, on the two new franchises: "They've shown the right level of commitment. They're both well-run organizations, and it hasn't been that long since they came into the NBA as expansion teams. So in some respects, they both know the drill." In Orlando, L.C. Johnson reports that the Magic is considering Illusion and Dazzle as possible nicknames. The average ticket price for the team will be about $15, with the low price of $8 (ORLANDO SENTINEL,4/23). SHE-WOLVES: T'Wolves Exec VP Roger Griffith is "expected to direct" that team's WNBA operations (John Millea, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/23). In St. Paul, Jim McCartney writes that "If the response to the WNBA's inaugural season is any indication, the WNBA should do just fine in the Twin Cities, despite an abundance" of pro and major college sports (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/23).