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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues Governing Bodies

     ESPN's Brett Haber opened his report on the first day of the
U.S. Open by saying, "Men's tennis almost went on strike on
Monday."  Foreign players kept up their criticism of the USTA's
decision not to go by the ATP computer ranking and conduct their
own draw with allegations that the system was "rigged" in favor
of U.S. players.  The theory, according to the critics, is that
the USTA wants to keep U.S. players -- particularly Agassi, Chang
and Sampras -- alive in the tournament for as long as possible to
maintain high TV ratings and ticket sales.  USTA President Les
Snyder:  "The important thing for folks to remember is that this
is in the rules -- that we have a contract with the ATP that
we'll use the ranking system for entry in the tournament, but not
necessarily for seeding.  All four Grand Slams have agreed to
that" ("SportsCenter," 8/26).  NEWSDAY's John Jeansonne reports,
"Actual tennis action seemed to be bumped right off the radar
screen by the brewing hurricane" (NEWSDAY, 8/27).  In
Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman writes, "The U.S. Open is burdened
with a controversy that won't go away" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 8/27).
Thomas Muster, who dropped from No. 2 in the ATP rankings to a
No. 3 seed, "ripped the process" at a players-only meeting on
Sunday, while taking several "shots" at Agassi (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 8/27).  Michael Stich said he almost pulled out of
the tournament in protest before his opening match yesterday.
Stich said the players should have boycotted Monday to "get a
stronger message through."  Michael Chang, who replaced Muster as
No. 2, said the reason he was a "no-show" at an ATP press
conference on the matter was because he never received an invite.
Chang supports the players' position (Gene Wojciechowski, CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 8/27).

     In Tampa, Carter Gaddis reports Arena Football League
sources say the Board of Directors "was unhappy" with
Commissioner Jim Drucker's leadership "and forced him out."
Drucker will get an expansion team.  In other AFL news:  The
league is expected to open its Hall of Fame in Des Moines, IA,
home of AFL Founder Jim Foster; the Memphis Pharaohs will move to
Portland, OR, for '97; the St. Louis Stampede are said to be
looking at Miami, and Connecticut and Charlotte are reportedly
are eyeing New York (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 8/27).  A group led by Target
Center head Dana Warg has 90 days to make an offer to the
Minnesota Fighting Pike, at an asking price of $700,000.  Tom
Scallen lost $400,000 leasing the Pike this year (Minneapolis
STAR TRIBUNE, 8/27).

     While Randy Levine, MLB's chief labor negotiator, and MLBPA
Exec Dir Don Fehr "remained optimistic" that a new CBA could be
approved in the coming days, "there were indications that owners
are in no hurry to reach a deal," according to this morning's
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL.  It is possible that owners will not
be ready to vote on a deal until their quarterly meetings
September 10-12 in Seattle.  Tom Haudricourt reports, "Unless
there is an oral agreement beforehand that merely has to be
ratified by owners, the union would frown on such a delay."
Haudricourt notes, in addition to granting service time and the
prospect of a second tax-free year at the end of the deal,
"owners are also disturbed by the perception that it is totally
up to them to make a deal."  But until there is management
consensus and Levine is told on what the union will have to give
up in exchange for concession on those issues, "there will be no
deal" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/27).
     VOTE-COUNTING:  The pace of talks has slowed because of
acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's aim "to take a vote at the
meetings in Seattle but not before then," according to Mark Maske
of the WASHINGTON POST.  Selig is said to have "secured" at least
22 -- and more likely 24 or 25 -- votes in favor of a deal that
closely resembles the one negotiated earlier.  Management sources
said Selig "is ready to move forward" with the White Sox, Cubs
and Marlins the "only certain votes against" (WASHINGTON POST,
8/27).

     Tomorrow, USGA officials and NY Gov. George Pataki make the
formal announcement that the 2002 U.S. Open will be played on the
Black Course at Bethpage State Park, a state-run public course.
The only other public course to host an Open is Pebble Beach, but
the $225 greens fees in Monterrey are about $200 more than those
at Bethpage.  The course will undergo a USGA-managed
reconditioning in the years before the Open (Jeff Williams,
NEWSDAY, 8/27).

     The NHL will expand by at least one team next year and add a
total of four franchises by 2000, according to William Houston of
the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  NHL sources cite the expected payoffs
as the reason for "reversing an earlier strategy of slower
growth."  With sale prices for expansion predicted at $80-$85M
per team, current teams can expect a "windfall" of about $13M
each.  The NHL charged $35-50M per team for the last round of
expansion in '94.  The plan, according to the GLOBE & MAIL's
Houston, is to place teams in Atlanta, Nashville, Houston and
Portland.  Ted Turner would own the Atlanta team and Paul Allen
the Portland entry.  The league will either add two teams for
'97-98 and two more for '99-2000, or they will bring in one
franchise at a time starting in '97.  With the league going to 30
teams, Portland would be placed in the Pacific Division, Atlanta
in the Atlantic, and Nashville and Houston in the Central (GLOBE
& MAIL, 8/27).
     STILL HOPEFUL:  In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that
Target Center head Dana Warg is in the process of organizing a
group of 10 local business persons to apply for an NHL expansion
team.  Hartman also reports that the word is the NHL will add
four teams soon, but he identifies only Nashville and Atlanta as
the two cities that are "sure to get franchises" (Minneapolis
STAR TRIBUNE, 8/27).