In Chicago, Sam Smith writes on the NBA, calling it
"Just another week in the league gone mad. ... One of the
biggest problems facing the NBA today is the intransigence
and obstructionism" of the league's Players Association,
"which continues to defy the league's attempts to bring more
discipline to the game" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/12). The
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' Lacy Banks: "Who is running this NBA
asylum? ... [Commissioner] David Stern ... is making the NBA
an international marketing gold mine. But while a
deteriorating economy is definitely damaging the league, the
negative behavior of various players might be causing even
more harm" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/12).
LATIN LOVER: NBA VP/Managing Dir of Latin America Rob
Levine is profiled by Fran Brennan in the MIAMI HERALD.
Brennan, on Levine's efforts to increase the NBA's
popularity in Latin America: "Apparently, it's working.
Although few of the NBA's players hail from Latin America
countries, the league sells down south (MIAMI HERALD, 1/12).
The state of the NFL was examined by Allen Barra in
Sunday's N.Y. TIMES magazine under the header, "How Football
Got Sacked." Barra writes that "on the verge of another
'Stupor Sunday,' it might be time for a reassessment. ...
The dip in the TV ratings and those empty seats in the
Meadowlands may be forgotten in the rush of the coming Super
Bowl hype, but they're signaling a change in the American
way of life -- a change that the men at the top of the
football establishment will typically be the last to see
coming" (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, 1/12).
NEWS & NOTES: In Boston, Will McDonough notes a poll of
all 30 NFL teams indicates that 22 would vote for instant
replay, with eight teams against. 23 votes are needed to
approve replay's return. McDonough: "With the vote that
close, the issue will fall into the hands of commissioner
Paul Tagliabue" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/12).... The success of the
Jaguars and Panthers, and their effect on the cities of
Jacksonville and Charlotte, were profiled in Saturday's N.Y.
TIMES. The TIMES' Kevin Sack writes that, with the success
of the Panthers and Jaguars, "football is being embraced and
promoted for those upstart towns as a metaphor for civic
momentum" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/11).
The NHL will hear eleven presentations from nine cities
bidding for an expansion team over the next two days in New
York City, according to Damien Cox of the TORONTO STAR.
Each group, including three from Houston, will have 30-45
minutes to "make its pitch," then another 30-45 minutes to
answer questions. The cities: Atlanta; Houston; Nashville;
Raleigh-Durham, NC; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Columbus, OH;
Hampton Roads, VA; Hamilton, ON; and Oklahoma City, OK. Cox
notes Atlanta "is regarded as the favorite along with
Houston ... mostly because it is believed the league is
looking to improve" its TV presence. But those two do not
have "perfect arena arrangements" and "only Nashville has
everything in place" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13). USA TODAY's
Kevin Allen notes that with the NHL looking to land "a far
more lucrative" TV deal in two years, "they will be looking
to expand their national ratings potential with this round
of expansion. That's why Atlanta is considered the favorite
... Houston also seems like a certainty." The "conventional
wisdom" is for the NHL to expand by four teams by the 2000,
two in '98-99 and two in '99-00 (USA TODAY, 1/13).
LOCAL REAX: In Houston, Neil Hohlfeld: "Perhaps it is a
coincidence, but the [Executive Committee] will hear the
bids from the Houston groups in the order that probably is
how they rank in terms of winning the expansion battle:"
IHL Aeros Owner Chuck Watson, followed by Rockets Owner Les
Alexander and then the Maloof family (HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
1/12). In Atlanta, Henry Unger notes that Turner
Broadcasting's bid "is viewed as one of the strongest by
league observers" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/13). St. Paul
Mayor Norm Coleman: "It wouldn't surprise me if the league
announces Atlanta and Houston would join as expansion teams
in '98 and leaves 2000 open to wait for the resolution of
the Hartford situation." The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE's
Curt Brown notes St. Paul "is considered a prime relocation
city because the league has been inclined to waive hefty
transfer fees," as much as $20M, for teams returning to
former NHL cities (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/13).
COL. KURTZ? In Toronto, Damien Cox, on expansion: "The
horror. The horror" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13).
ALL-STAR DOUGH: In San Jose, city officials estimate
that "direct spending" at the NHL All-Star weekend "will
exceed" $5M and "indirect spending should exceed" $10M (SAN
JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/12).