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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues Governing Bodies

     '94 Olympic Gold figure skater Oksana Baiul must apply to
the Int'l Skating Union for reinstatement of her "amateur" status
by April 1.  Failure to do so would make her ineligible for
future ISU World Championships and the Olympics.  According to
Philip Hersh in this morning's CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Baiul could "tip
the balance of power in the sport even more toward the
professional promoters" if she decides not to declare her amateur
status.  Baiul is the only one many thought would reinstate and
give the ISU the "marquee female skater it badly lacks in current
'amateur' events."  White Sox Vice Chair Eddie Einhorn, who
negotiates TV contracts for the ISU:  "The key to the whole thing
is Oksana.  If we don't come up with something to keep our
eligible skaters and get Oksana to come back, we will have
trouble soon getting enough attractive skaters for the World
Championships and Olympics to satisfy TV and the ISU sponsors."
ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta: "Who is Oksana Baiul?  She is
not God.  We will not be blackmailed by Oksana Baiul.  If we lose
her, we will create other Oksana Baiuls" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/23).
     THE POSITIVES:  In the current issue of NEWSWEEK, Martha
Duffy examines the popularity of the sport.  In addition to new
talent, like the "saucy" 17-year old Nicole Bobek -- who
possesses a "tantalizing combination of child and woman" -- the
additional coverage of network TV has added to the sport's
popularity.  But, with the money and TV, comes producers who set
up their own tournaments that ignore most traditional rules, drug
tests, and credentials of entrants.  Duffy: "Like tennis, figure
skating seems to be leaving behind such niceties as the
distinction between amateurs and pros. It will be several years
before the sport's new profile is defined" (NEWSWEEK, 2/27
issue).   Chicago tourism officials hope to "cash in by hosting a
championship contest for the next Olympic incarnation of the
sport: team figure skating."  The city is hosting the '95 Mid-
Western Precision Championship this week as a dress rehearsal for
team skating nationals, which could be held in Chicago next year
(CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 2/26 issue).
     OFF-ICE CAPERS:  SI's "Scorecard" tracks recent off-ice
incidents.  The pairs team of Elizabeth and Jerod Swallow
recently admitted they successfully interfered with a Societ
rival's efforts last winter to gain U.S. citizenship.  Bobek, who
recently won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Providence,
is in the news for allegedly walking out of another skater's
house last November with money that did not belong to her.  At
the "very least these two incidents make it clear that [Tonya]
Harding is far from the only bete noire in a sport that looks
more and more like boxing with makeup and sequins" (SI, 2/27
issue).

     "The two days in Milwaukee may just have been the two most
productive days of the labor dispute thus far," writes Andy
Fenlon in this morning's MILWAUKEE SENTINEL.  Rockies Owner Jerry
McMorris, who had a "positive" feeling after the talks:  "I don't
want to be portrayed as being too optimistic, though.  I think
we'll have a better sense at the talks next week when we get into
some negotiating.  We haven't had any negotiating here.  It's
mostly been just clearing the air."  Notes Fenlon, "That may
appear to be very slight progress.  But any amount of progress
with these two groups could be considered a monumental step
forward" (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/23).  The two sides agreed to
resume formal talks Monday in Scottsdale, AZ.  Officials from
both sides left Milwaukee "convinced that everyone involved would
like to make a serious, last-gasp effort to compromise" before
the owners implement their replacement player plans (Mark Maske,
WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).  The Scottsdale talks will reportedly be
held at a secret location, "off-limits to the media" (Hal Bodley,
USA TODAY, 2/23).  ESPN's Bob Sirkin  reported that acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig will be in AZ, but that Special Mediator
Bill Usery had no comment when asked if he will continue to
mediate ("SportsCenter," 2/22).    SHATTERING THE CALM:  MLBPA
Exec Dir Donald Fehr said he would prefer to "ignore" comments
from White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf that he has "a pathological
hatred for baseball owners."  In an interview with the CHICAGO
SUN-TIMES, Reinsdorf said the only hope of saving the season "is
if the players come to the realization that they are being misled
by Fehr" (Dan Bickley, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/22).  Fehr:  "Nothing
does my credibility more good with the players than to be
criticized by Reinsdorf. ... Listen, Jerry wants to pick a fight
and he's entitled to try.  But I'm at a stage (where) I prefer to
ignore him" (Mike Kiley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/23).  In New York,
Murray Chass writes that the "goodwill and wishful thinking"
expressed by Fehr and Selig "could be buried" by Reinsdorf (N.Y.
TIMES, 2/23).  In Washington, Mark Maske writes, "That kind of
animosity is what the owners' and players' representatives were
trying to overcome in their meetings" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).
CNN's Mark Morgan in Milwaukee:  "An otherwise pleasant
atmosphere was darkened a little bit" ("Sports Tonight," CNN,
2/22).
     MORE FROM REINSDORF:  On charges they are trying to bust the
union:  "Nobody wants to bust the union.  We need a union.  If
this one didn't exist, we'd have to have another. ... But we
would like the players to say to the union, 'You're not serving
us properly.'"  On the view he is behind the owners' position:
"I fail to understand why the union is setting me up, other than
they need a common enemy."  On the future:  "The interesting
thing is we have an asset that has a perpetual life, and that's
the franchise.  The players have an asset that's diminishing.  We
have forever to recover what we're losing.  The players have only
the balance of their careers" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/22).
     WHAT'S SO FUNNY?  Jay Leno: "Did you ever read the
inscription on [the Statue of Liberty]? It says send us your
poor, your tired, your weak, your hudled masses and we will make
them major league baseball players! ... If those replacement
players were smart, they should go on strike and demand more
money.  What are the owners going to do, hire replacement-
replacement players" ("Tonight," NBC, 2/22).

     Phillies President Bill Giles told USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke
that he's "confident" the regular players will be back on the
field by the time The Baseball Network is scheduled to have its
first telecast -- the July 11th All-Star Game.  But Martzke notes
that the TBN "will fall short" of the two-year goal of $330M in
ad sales.  Giles:  "There will be a decision by [MLB] in August
on the future of The Baseball Network.  All of us on the TV board
want to continue the venture.  But there are rumors on the street
about interest from Fox and CBS, although we've not heard from
them."  If the owners decide to reopen the TV deal, ABC and NBC
would have an "exclusive 60-day negotiating period" to construct
deals.  But Martzke notes the "lure of Fox's or CBS's money might
be too strong" (USA TODAY, 2/23).

     Following yesterday's WASHINGTON TIMES report that Northern
VA was promised a team by MLB Expansion Committee Chair John
Harrington, this morning's WASHINGTON POST reports that VA Sen.
John Warner has "agreed to withdraw his support of a plan to
limit" MLB's antitrust status.  According to Grayson Winterling,
one of Warner's top aides, the senator "was kind of bought off."
Harrington could not be reached for comment, but acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig said, "We are not in the habit of
promising teams to people."  VA's other senator, Democrat Charles
Robb, said "he was not taking a position on the antitrust
exemption at this time, partly because recent discussions with
baseball officials led him to believe that Northern Virginia
would get a team so soon."  Robb:  "There was no quid pro quo,
but it was sort of an informal understanding that baseball was
coming to Northern Virginia."  MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr on the
owners:  "Whenever they feel pressure on the antitrust exemption,
they want to try to buy off votes.  I just hope that people on
the Hill understand that for what it is" (Lipton and Maske,
WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).
     GAINING MOMENTUM:  Northern VA's bid for an MLB expansion
team gained "momentum" this week as the VA General Assembly
approved the creation of a stadium authority Tuesday that "sets
in motion the financing system needed to build a ballpark" in the
area.  The VA Baseball Stadium Authority would have the power to
issue bonds and oversee operations of a state-built ballpark.
Gov. George Allen is expected to sign the legislation (WASHINGTON
TIMES, 2/23).

     "The early results from the NHL turnstiles indicate that
there's a widening gap between the haves and the have nots,"
according to Gare Joyce in today's GLOBE & MAIL.  NHL VP of
Corporate Communications Bernadette Mansur reports that average
attendance "is up against last year's numbers, approximately
14,800 per game."  The "unofficial numbers" for this season prior
to Tuesday's games are 15,667.  But Joyce notes there are also
teams still struggling.  Those "long-suffering" franchises who
"fought hardest for equalization" during the lockout -- Hartford,
Ottawa, Edmonton, Washington and Winnipeg -- are "among the
hindmost at the gate" so far this season.  The teams which have
drawn well thus far include the Mighty Ducks and Sharks.  Mighty
Ducks Public Relations Dir Bill Robertson:  "After the lockout
ended, we had a lineup a block and a half long for available
seats.  The support here has been incredible" (Toronto GLOBE &
MAIL, 2/23).