SBD/22/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • LEAGUE NOTES

              NBA: ESPN's David Aldridge reported that the NBA and
         the players' association "continue to get nowhere" in their
         CBA talks.  Aldridge: "Sources indicate that the league is
         still seeking a hard cap without a Larry Bird exception,
         something that the players just won't buy.  And the union
         appears to be skeptical about the NBA's contention that up
         to half of its teams may lose money this season.  Word is
         that the union believes only four teams -- the Clippers,
         Hawks, Pacers and Warriors -- will finish in the red this
         season.  And the Clippers, Indiana and Atlanta are all on
         line" for new arenas by 2000 ("SportsCenter," 5/21).  NBC's
         pre-game show on Sunday will focus on the NBA's labor talks,
         featuring interviews with Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik
         and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter, followed by a round-table
         discussion (MIL. JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/22)....Lakers Exec VP
         Jerry West discussed a possible minimum age for the NBA on
         Portland's KFXX Sports Radio yesterday: "[W]e need to find a
         way to put an age limit on it, because these kids simply do
         not understand why going to college, how important it is.
         ... We have glamorized everything in this league and we have
         marketed this league to a point where I really feel like we
         have to start worrying about our product" (THE DAILY).
              OTHER NOTES: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke reports that NBC
         Exec VP Ken Schanzer said a report that he'd become COO of
         MLB is "not true."  Schanzer was President of The Baseball
         Network.  Martzke also talks to former USA Network President
         Kay Koplovitz, who said "a lot of people have called and
         suggested" she consider becoming MLB Commissioner. 
         Koplovitz: "Baseball needs a lot of repositioning in the TV
         area, which other sports have done, but they don't appear to
         want anybody making waves" (USA TODAY, 5/22)....NFL owners
         approved a trial use of instant replay during some of this
         year's preseason games (NFL)....NHL Fans Association co-
         Founder Jim Boone: "We're not a fan club.  We're going to
         look at broader issues facing the NHL and its fans."  NHL
         VP/Media Relations Frank Brown: "Their enterprise is
         laudatory.  That doesn't mean the NHL endorses it.  But it
         doesn't mean we won't be responsive to it, either" (TORONTO
         SUN, 5/21)....MLS Commissioner Doug Logan, on Rochester's
         chances of moving up from A-League to MLS: "If some magic
         gets made and a stadium happens, Rochester will get strong
         consideration for an MLS team" (DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 5/20). 
                     
    

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  • NASCAR TARGETS KIDS, BUT MUST DANCE AROUND RJR'S SPONSORSHIP

              To "broaden" its appeal and "increase its popularity,
         NASCAR is targeting young customers with everything from
         amusement parks to NASCAR Barbie, grooming its next
         generation of fans even as TV ratings and race-day
         attendance soar," according to Liz Clarke in a front-page
         feature in the WASHINGTON POST.   NASCAR's Dir of
         Communications Worldwide John Griffin: "We're going after
         youth as a whole.  We want to continue in our direction of
         becoming more of a white-collar sport, where it's mom, dad
         and the kids sitting around the TV and rooting for their
         favorite driver on Sunday.  We're going after urban youth as
         much as any other youth" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/22).      
              YOUTH MARKET: Clarke reports that as part of the
         "campaign," tracks are "turning into family-friendly
         venues," drivers are "taking care to connect with young
         fans," NASCAR-themed parks, cafes and retail stores are
         increasing, as are NASCAR toys and games, and plans for a
         Saturday morning NASCAR cartoon are "in the works."   But as
         NASCAR "shifts its marketing focus toward kids, steering
         around" series sponsor R.J. Reynolds and its Winston brand
         "calls for deft maneuvers."  Clarke writes that despite
         RJR's $30M annual support and $5M in prize money, "when it
         comes to NASCAR-licensed ventures aimed at kids, Winston's
         logo is conspicuously absent."  The NASCAR Barbie Doll is
         "authentic down to the associate sponsors' patches" on her
         suit, minus any reference to Winston.  The Cartoon Network
         is an associate sponsor of a NASCAR team, and Cartoon
         Network VP Bob Bryant said the net steps "lightly when it
         comes to the Winston Cup.  We obviously do everything we can
         not to directly associate the (cartoon) characters and the
         (cigarette) brand."  But Cliff Pennell, RJR's Sports
         Marketing Enterprises President, said that the company has
         no interest in NASCAR's youth initiatives: "This isn't about
         getting anyone -- regardless of their age -- to smoke.  It's
         about trying to convert and switch adult smokers to our
         product."  Clarke: "Yet, as NASCAR seeks a younger, more
         affluent and urban audience, its tobacco backing doesn't
         strengthen its hand as effectively as a sneaker company or a
         soft drink bottler might" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/22). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NASCAR, R J Reynolds
  • WHO'S GOT A FAST CAR? CART AND IRL BATTLE MEDIA PERCEPTIONS

              Indy-car's biggest weekend has the 82nd running of the
         Indy 500 on Sunday and CART's Motorola 300 at Gateway Int'l
         Raceway in IL on Saturday.  But analysts and media contend
         that the Indy-car split more than two years ago has diluted
         interest in Indy-car racing as a whole.  A sampling follows:
              EVERYONE LOSES? In Dallas, Holly Cain wrote that the
         Indy 500 "won't be what it could be thanks" to the split
         with CART, and that CART's Motorola 300 "won't garner ideal
         attention either."  Cain: "There's still no winner in the
         Indy standoff between CART and the IRL" (DALLAS MORNING
         NEWS, 5/21).  In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports that ABC's
         CART ratings of a 1.5 are down from last year's 1.7, while
         ABC's IRL numbers are flat at 1.8.  Sandomir: "The split
         hasn't been healthy for either Indy-car circuit" (N.Y.
         TIMES, 5/22).  In Chicago, Skip Myslenski writes that CART
         is financially more secure than the IRL due to its sponsor
         support from 75 Fortune 500 companies.  Myslenski says that
         "no longer" can the CART and IRL feud "be compared with,
         say, the long war between the National and American football
         leagues.  It is more like how a war would be between the NFL
         and Austrian Rules Football" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/22).  
              CAN'T COMPARE TO NASCAR? In N.Y., Sam Walker writes
         that the Indy 500 is "fast becoming an also-ran to the
         raucous, fender-knocking racing that shows up in NASCAR." 
         The Indy 500 is "even struggling to remain the biggest
         Memorial Day weekend event in auto racing," going up against
         NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/22).  Barnes
         Dyer Marketing Chair William Dyer, who is involved in auto
         racing marketing, said that NASCAR's growth has helped
         diminish the 500 (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/22).  In Dallas,
         Cathy Harasta writes that interest in the 500 has waned and
         that the "greatest spectacle in racing increasingly
         resembles an underdog" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/22). 
              LOSS OF STEWART WON'T HELP: In Indy, Robin Miller
         reports that the "major selling point" since the IRL's
         inception in '96 "will be missing" in '99 when Tony Stewart
         joins the NASCAR circuit.  Miller adds that the move will
         leave a "big void" for IRL Founder Tony George and that it's
         "unfathomable that George ... didn't try to keep Stewart in
         the league" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/22). 
              FROM THE BRICKYARD: In Indy, Mark Ambrogi writes on the
         media coverage of the 500 and adds that there are "several
         major newspapers that have either stopped covering or
         reduced their coverage of the Indy 500 since the split." 
         The Minneapolis Star Tribune is "staying away from the race
         for the first time in 25-plus years."  Star Tribune Sports
         Editor Tim Wheatly: "There is definitely a dilution interest
         with the IRL.  Frankly, we think our readers are more
         interested in NASCAR."  IMS VP/Corporate Communications & PR
         Fred Nation said that the absence "isn't a trend that
         concerns him" and that there has been no "significant
         change" in the number of requests for credentials (STAR-
         NEWS, 5/22).  Also in Indy, Bill Koenig reported that 500-
         related business has been "mixed."  While some hotels say
         business has returned to pre-split days, that's "not
         universal" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/21).  
              WHAT'S ON CART PATH? CART CEO Andrew Craig is
         interviewed by USA TODAY's Steve Ballard and says that CART
         and the IRL are "two organizations with very different
         philosophies.  The best thing for us is to plan like there
         won't be a reconciliation but remain open to positive
         discussions" (USA TODAY, 5/22).  In NATIONAL SPEED SPORT
         NEWS, Craig said CART is studying a Saturday night TV
         series, but "we have to look at it with great care because
         Saturday, in general, the HUT scores (Homes Using
         Television) is lower primarily. ... It's quite not like the
         panacea it would seem" (NSSN, 5/13 issue).
         
    14  NORTHERN EXPOSURE: INDEPENDENT LEAGUES PONDER MERGER
         .    The independent Northern League and the Northeast
         League announced plans for a merger beginning with the '99
         season.  The leagues said they intend to operate under one
         name, most likely that of the Northern League, with Eastern
         and Midwestern Divisions.  Details are being finalized, with
         a merger expected to be completed by the fall.  The two
         leagues currently have 16 teams, with the Northeast League
         awarding an expansion franchise to Quebec City, which will
         begin play in '99.  The leagues had a combined attendance
         last year of just under 1.5 million fans (THE DAILY). 
         Northern League Commissioner Miles Wolff said that if the
         merger is approved, the leagues could play interleague
         series, an all-star game and postseason playoffs.  He said
         that all seven U.S. independent leagues are discussing an
         "off-the-field" alliance (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/22). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Champ Car World Series, Coca-Cola, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IndyCar, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Motorola, NASCAR, NFL, Walt Disney
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