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The "opening faceoff in the battle over the future of the NHL in Canada takes place today" in Ottawa, according to Mark Miller of the CALGARY SUN. An "all-star team of ownership and league officials" are expected to make presentations to the House of Commons' subcommittee on the study of sport in Canada. NHL Board Chair and Flames co- Owner Harley Hotchkiss will "anchor the presentation group," which includes NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other team execs. The subcommittee is to report to the House of Commons this fall with a "definitive" study on the financial impact of sports. Miller writes the "main concern that prompted the committee is the tenuous existence of three of six Canadian NHL teams -- Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa." Bettman "created a storm of controversy earlier this month by suggesting that government may have a role to play in subsidizing those franchises through tax breaks" (CALGARY SUN, 4/28). But Bettman told Red Fisher in Montreal, "I wasn't asking for tax breaks ... and I won't be asking for anything in Ottawa. All I had in mind was to lay out the problems Canadian teams are facing. That's what we'll be doing in Ottawa. We're not asking for anything, but we do want them to understand what's going on" (GAZETTE, 4/28).
The U.S. women's national soccer team defeated Argentina 7-0 in front of 14,608 fans Sunday at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, CA. This came two days after the U.S. team first beat Argentina Friday night in front of a sell- out crowd of over 10,000 at Fullerton, CA. The 14,608 in San Jose is the second-largest non-Olympic crowd in U.S. women's national team history, and the weekend total of 24,707 was a record high for the team (U.S. Soccer). NOTES: In Toronto, Jim Proudfoot writes that the AHL is studying the "possible creation" of a new Canadian division with teams in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton and Quebec City (TORONTO STAR, 4/28)....Also in Toronto, Frank Zicarelli writes that sources "indicate" that NBA players "are willing to undergo marijuana testing only if every NBA official, coach and front-office worker are subject to the same testing" (TORONTO SUN, 4/28).....UNC junior Antawn Jamison declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft and said that even the possibility of an NBA lockout won't deter him. Although he has until a week before the Draft to change his mind, Jamison said, "I decided to leave and I'm going to stick with leaving. No matter what happens, there's no turning back now" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/28).
The USTA has "come to an agreement in principle" with the Pilot Pen Int'l tennis tournament to bring the U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championship to New Haven, CT, this summer, according to Dave Solomon of the NEW HAVEN REGISTER. A news conference has been set for today to announce the event, which will take place August 24-31, the week following the Pilot Pen Int'l men's tournament at the CT Tennis Center at Yale. Solomon writes that talks have been "ongoing to move the struggling Stone Mountain, Ga-based event to New Haven." Though it is owned by the USTA, the Pilot Pen group, headed by CEO Mike Davies and Tournament Dir Butch Buchholz "would effectively lease the event on a multi-year basis." Buchholz, who will become the women's Tournament Dir (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 4/28). Tournament execs "were scrambling" to come up with an official name, but "sources suggest Pilot Pen will attach its name to the women's event" (Greg Garber, HARTFORD COURANT, 4/28). CHANGE IN WOMEN'S SCHEDULE: The WTA Tour announced that the Sparkassen Cup in Germany has been moved from its original week of September 28 to the week of November 2. The event scheduled for that week in Chicago will be removed from the calendar in '98, but is scheduled to return in '99. The Sparkassen Cup was moved due to the women's Grand Slam Cup held in Munich the week of September 28 (WTA Tour).