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Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues Governing Bodies

     The recent McDonald's spots mixing NBA stars and Warner
Brothers characters is a "snapshot" of NBA Commissioner David
Stern's vision for the league.  In an interview in the latest
ADVERTISING AGE, Stern calls the McDonald's spots the "best-
crafted NBA (related) ad campaign I've ever seen.  And it might
give you an idea where we're headed."  Stern's "stated ambition"
is to make the NBA "a poor man's Disney" with the league is using
its basic format as a professional sports league "as a
springboard" to become a global provider of "entertainment
content," whether it be programming or licensed products.  Stern
has offered the services of NBA Entertainment, a "key element" of
his vision, to Hollywood studios to assist in developing
"basketball-themed movies"   -- including an upcoming Warner
Jordan-Bugs Bunny film.  Stern is also working toward
establishing an NBA site on the World Wide Web, and has had
"discussions" with Pacific Telesis and Bell Atlantic about
participating in video dialtone network tests.  All of this
outreach is geared toward "establishing the NBA as a global
brand."  Stern: "We're determined to make the NBA a global
marketing vehicle for global marketers" (Jeff Jensen, ADVERTISING
AGE, 5/22).
     FROM PHOENIX TO HOLLYWOOD?  One of the projects NBA
Entertainment is providing support for is the upcoming Disney
movie "Celtic Pride."  According to the BOSTON HERALD, Disney
officials are trying to sign Charles Barkley for the lead (Fee &
Raposa, BOSTON HERALD, 5/22).

     The Professional Bicycle League (PBL) will kick off its
inaugural season on the weekend of July 8 with a race between the
New York Tribe and the Miami Manatees.  All races will take place
on 1200 foot oval courses to be held outdoors at major sports
facilities throughout the world.  PBL's "principle" arenas
include New York's Shea Stadium, Chicago's Soldier Field,
Pasadena's Rose Bowl, and London's Wembley Stadium.  The league
will get broadcast coverage from ESPN2 and ESPN International,
and initial charter sponsors include American Airlines, GT
Bicycles and WINNING magazine (Professional Bicycle League).

     Roller Hockey International held organizational meetings in
Zurich, Switzerland last weekend and committed to six tour dates
in Europe.  League officials say "the climate looks very
positive" for league play in '97.  The tour will feature North
American All-Stars against European All-Stars and will be
scheduled between April 25-May 12, 1996.  RHI-Europe Chair Dennis
Murphy: "We have great partners in Europe, they are leaders in
the ice hockey industry and have indicated the best exhibition
buildings are open to us" (RHI).

     Following reports that the NHL will award expansion
franchises to Denver and Atlanta to begin play in the '96-97
season, Ted Turner has told the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION that "he
doesn't want a team before the 1997-98 season and hopes the
league won't announce anything this summer."  Turner says he
wants a new arena in place before a new team comes to Atlanta,
and does not want to market a new team during the '96 Games.
League sources told the TAMPA TRIBUNE that NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman "could make concessions to convince Turner to join the
league in 1996-97."  In Tampa, Tom Jones writes that "with new-
found popularity, the NHL wants to capitalize on the momentum and
expand as quickly as possible.  Announcing two expansion teams --
 50 new jobs for players -- this summer would also help the
bargaining agreement.  And the board of governors will welcome
expansion money."  The TRIBUNE lists other scenarios for
expansion: If Quebec moves to Denver, the NHL would expand to
Atlanta and another city -- Portland, Phoenix or Seattle -- for
'97-98; or, the NHL could award expansion franchises to Denver
and another city for '96-97 and then expand to Atlanta "one or
two years after that" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/23).

     In Washington, Leonard Shapiro examines the state of theUnited Baseball League and writes that with less than a year togo before they begin play, UBL organizers "have yet to announcethe identity of a single franchise owner, club executive orplayer, let alone what stadiums they've secured and whcihtelevision entities -- if any -- will broadcast their games."UBL co-founder Robert Mrazek, who promises details "in due time":"I don't want to sound as if we're bewildered or befuddledbecause we're not.  We're making progress.  It's do or die for usin '96.  We think the opportunity is there.  We have an abundanceof solid, serious investors.  We'll be able to hire major leagueplayers.  The most difficult problem is with stadiums."  Shapironotes, "With the new TV networks being formed by Paramount andTime Warner, with CBS out of the NFL, NBA, and major leaguebaseball picture and with a 500-channel cable universe a virtualcertainty, UBL officials are confident they can provideattractive programming."  Agent Leigh Steinberg believes thatcable outlets and some networks will be interested, but adds,"The key is do they have adequate money to cover their losses andhave enough deep-pocketed owners who won't panic?" (WASHINGTONPOST, 5/20).     VIRGINIA BASEBALL THREATENED BY UBL?  Virginia Baseballofficials are reportedly "working behind the scenes, trying toget where St. Petersburg was in the most recent major leaguebaseball expansion process -- in a secured position to be awardedthe next team."  The group is also pursuing the possibility ofluring an existing team to the area.  If that happens, RFKStadium would be used as a temporary home until a new stadium isbuilt.  But RFK officials have been involved in negotiations withthe UBL, which hopes to lease the stadium for its Washingtonfranchise.  Privately, DC officials "acknowledge that the bestchance to bring baseball back to the Washington area is throughVirginia Baseball, and they will be reluctant to make a deal"with the UBL if it endangers Virginia Baseball's chances ofbringing a franchise to the Washington area.  DC SportsCommission Dir Jim Dalrymple said he has had little contactrecently with the UBL:  "There's nothing really moving on thatfront" (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/20).

     As part of a week-long series, USA TODAY ran a poll on wherethe four major sports rank as fans' favorites, and charted therevenue-payroll performance of American League teams compared to'94.  Look for both the AL and NL revenue and payroll numbers inTHE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY tomorrow.     BREAKING DOWN U.S. SPORTS FANS:  According to CNN/USATODAY/Gallup surveys, the number of "so-called true baseball fansis at a two-year low" (USA TODAY, 5/23).      
DATE
ALL
18-29
30-49
50+
14-May-95
  35%
  36%
  38%
  31%
26-Feb-95
37
38
35
38
7-Sep-94
35
38
35
34
9-Aug-94
35
39
36
31
May-93
39
40
41
35
FOR ALL AGES? In an April CNN/USA
TODAY survey, fans were asked to name their
"favorite sport" (USA TODAY, 5/23).
SPORT
ALL
18-29
30-49
50-64
65+
Football
  32%
  41%
  31%
  33%
  23%
Baseball
16
10
17
15
23
Basketball
15
18
16
12
12
Hockey
3
5
4
3
2