The ABL's San Jose Lasers opened their season on
Wednesday night and MERCURY NEWS columnist Ann Killion wrote
that if the "first night is any indication, Year 2 will be
bigger and better." Killion: "Bigger building. Bigger
crowd. Bigger media turnout. Bigger celebrities and more
of them in the audience." The announced attendance of
10,809 "more than doubled" last season's opening crowd.
Killion noted the "star-studded crowd" that included 49ers
Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Merton Hanks, and Terry Kirby,
along with Ronnie Lott, Marty McSorley and Dusty Baker.
Killion: "[T]he ABL is still here. Not just existing, but
getting bigger" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/16). In S.F.,
Gwen Knapp, under the header, "ABL Sells Basketball For The
Real Fan," wrote that the Lasers of "yesteryear sold
themselves to the women's basketball loyalists, long smitten
with the college game. Wednesday's show appealed to the old
crowd and reached out for general sports fans." But Knap
added that the 49ers' at the game were "invited as VIPs ...
a WNBA trick, slightly altered" (S.F. EXAMINER, 10/16).
BLIZZARD: A HARTFORD COURANT editorial states that
Blizzard fans "are not a beer-drinking crowd. Ponytailed
girls dressed in tie-dyed Blizzard shirts bounced up the
coliseum aisles. ... Mothers with the neighborhood girls in
tow held up homemade signs, and families ... watched
affordable and exciting basketball" (HART. COURANT, 10/17).
At least three pro women's hockey leagues "are looking
to hit the ice in the next couple of years," according to
Ken Campbell of the HOCKEY NEWS. Campbell reports that
"some people think there is big money to be made from it."
Among the fledgling leagues are the Women's Pro Hockey
League, which claims to have "substantial financial backing
and received signed letters of intent from 16 of 20 top
American players." In addition, the U.S. Women's Pro Hockey
League wants to begin with a ten-team exhibition schedule
before expanding to 26 teams in four divisions, including
teams in Honolulu, Edmonton, Biloxi and Beijing (HOCKEY
NEWS, 10/17). In Hartford, Tommy Hine reported that the
Women's Pro Hockey League "will debut next spring," with six
teams, three each in Canada and the U.S. One franchise will
be owned by former Penguins Owner Jack McGregor. WPHL
President Ed Saunders: "At this point, we have identified
several franchises. Right now, Connecticut is our strongest
candidate." WPHL players would "average $500 a week, with
top players earning $1,000 (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/8).
NFL: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes of spending time
with 28 L.A. youngsters talking about the NFL and the open
L.A. market. Plaschke writes that while "many of them love
the sport," he was hearing the "sound of future ticket and
merchandising dollars slipping away with every year" the NFL
is not in L.A. Plaschke: "This is a generation that is
being lost. ... The NFL needs Los Angeles more than Los
Angeles needs the NFL" (L.A. TIMES, 10/17)....After NFL
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue mentioned Houston as a possible
expansion city, prospective Houston team Owner Robert McNair
said, "The question now is do we have the resolve to go
forward?" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/17).
MLB: Throwing out the first pitch for Game One of the
World Series will be 21-year-old Jackie Robinson/GE Fund
Scholar Shomari Dakatari Dailey (MLB).
LPGA: The LPGA Tournament of Champions "pulled out" of
South FL and will become a season-ending event. Robert
Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama will sponsor and host the
event from October 8-11. Chrysler Plymouth didn't renew as
title sponsor after one year as host of the FL event (Fort
Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 10/16).
LISTENING TO ASIA? Former Cowboy Preston Pearson of TX-
based Pro-Style Associates, together with two other
partners, "are searching for investors in a new Asia-Pacific
Football League," according to Welch Suggs of the DALLAS
BUSINESS JOURNAL. The league is looking for $5.5M to begin
play in six Pacific Rim cities. The APFL, headquartered in
Dallas, is scheduled to begin play in October '98, and plans
to hold a training camp "somewhere in Texas" next summer
(DALLAS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/13 issue).
Former Patriots Owner Victor Kiam testified yesterday
in the St. Louis Convention and Visitor Commission's (CVC)
$130M lawsuit against the NFL, according to Lhotka & O'Neil
of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Kiam said that between '90
and '92 he tried three times to move the team but was
"blocked each time by the NFL." Kiam claimed that his team
"met NFL's usual criteria to move: It was losing money and
fan attendance was declining." But NFL lawyers "pointed
during cross-examination to the Patriots' losing record and
the team's sexual harassment scandal involving a female
sports writers as reasons for lost fan support." Kiam said
league execs prevented him from relocating to Jacksonville,
San Antonio or Baltimore during his tenure and he said that
he lost $30M while owning the team. Kiam: "[NFL]
Commissioner [Paul] Tagliabue said, 'You don't meet the
guidelines,' all of which are subjective. I never had a
chance." Under cross examination, Kiam "defended himself in
a sexual harassment scandal" involving former Boston Herald
reporter Lisa Olson that began in '90. Lawyers also noted
that Kiam inherited a team that went to the Super Bowl in
the '85 season, went 1-15 during his tenure "and back to the
Super Bowl last January" and currently has a waiting list
for season-tickets (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/17). On
Wednesday, several NFL owners, on videotaped, gave "varying"
testimony on "why they voted as they did" in March and April
of '95 when the Rams' move to St. Louis was first rejected
and then approved (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/16).