The Corel WTA Tour Chase Championships begin today in
New York at Madison Square Garden. Tennis promoter John
Korff, an "unpaid business adviser" to the WTA Tour players'
association, was asked to provide a "blue-print for jazzing
up this week's Chase Championships, which has historically
been a drab, season-ending event" at MSG, according to
Harvey Araton of the N.Y. TIMES. Araton: "From the use of
music to dressing up the arena to fan interactivity to
introducing players in their home country's language,
Korff's memo stressed energy and originality. ... But now
has come an opportunity that should reverse what is at least
a perception of women's tennis as lagging and could even
lift it to commercial highs. Despite no tour sponsor beyond
next year, no tour chief executive officer beyond this year
and a sudden uprising by lower-ranked players for a bigger
piece of the revenue pie, women's tennis has a multitude of
marketable names." WTA Tour CEO Ann Person Worcester: "Some
of John's suggestions have been taken and some have not.
But no doubt this year's Chase Championships will be more
fan friendly" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16). Chase's support of the
WTA Tour was examined by John Barrett of the FINANCIAL
TIMES. Chase VP/Sports Marketing Barbara Paddock said the
bank was targeting women in its advertising and said the
price of the WTA partnership "was right." Chase spends $5-
6M annually on sports marketing (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/14).
STAR QUALITY: Martina Hingis was profiled in Sunday's
N.Y. POST, and was the "Guest Columnist" in Sunday's N.Y.
DAILY NEWS. Hingis wrote in support of the WTA Tour's
modified "Age Eligibility Rule" (11/16). Amanda Coetzer was
profiled by Wayne Coffey of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS, who called
her "the biggest South African sports hero this side of
Ernie Els, and with her blonde hair, blue eyes and dazzling
smile, has an appeal that goes beyond the garden-variety
tennis fan" (Wayne Coffey, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/16).
The CFL's Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton
drew 60,431 as the Toronto Argonauts, behind Doug Flutie,
beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 47-23, in front of the
third-largest crowd in Grey Cup history (Gerry Prince,
EDMONTON SUN, 11/17). The game was broadcast on CBC in
Canada and ESPN2 in the U.S. In Toronto, Ken McKee reported
that advertisers bought all of CBC's inventory "at the
highest rates charged for any sports event -- possibly any
program, period -- in Canada." CBC's 30-second spots for
the telecast, "about 72 of them," sold at an average of
C$43,000 each. In comparison, CBC noted that prime-time
spots for the Nagano Olympics "would bring in about"
C$40,000 and C$32,000 for the '98 Stanley Cup Finals. For
the year, sources say the CFL receives between C$5-6M from
the CBC, TSN and ESPN/ESPN2 (TORONTO STAR, 11/15).
TAGLIABUE VISITS: NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was
in Edmonton to discuss the NFL/CFL partnership. Tagliabue
said that the NFL is interested in the CFL "serving as a
development ground" for players who leave college early, or
don't qualify academically for the NCAA. He also discussed
a possible World Classic Bowl between CFL and World League
teams: "There are a number of subjects still to be addressed
-- who will play in it, where and at what time, but it's an
exciting prospect for us" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 11/15).
The NBA fined the Timberwolves $25,000 Friday and fined
five of their players another $2,500 each for wearing their
shorts too long, according to Steve Aschburner of the
Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. League rules say that shorts must
be no lower than one inch above the top of the knee and the
league had a representative check the team's shorts before
Thursday night's game. But Coach Flip Saunders said that
Starter, which provides the Wolves' uniforms for the first
time this season, "should be responsible" for the low
shorts. A Starter rep had met with the team for "another
fitting" of shorts. Saunders: "We've had Starter in, the
league in. It's not like we're trying to be defiant." But
an NBA spokesperson said, "Every other team has managed to
find a way to comply with this rule, including teams
outfitted by Starter" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/15).
But team rep Doug West said an NBA official had cleared
players for Thursday's game and that the union would file a
grievance over the fines (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/17).
GET SHORTY: Saunders brought a tape measure with him on
the floor for Saturday night's game and Wolves VP Kevin
McHale called the fines "ridiculous." McHale: "I'm sure one
of our white, upper-middle class people decided it was a
gang thing. Because they're pretty hip with the gang
scene" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/16).
John McKay, son of the former USC and Bucs coach, "has
agreed to be the point man in Hollywood Park's renewed
efforts to build a football stadium for an NFL expansion
team in time to play in 2001," according to T.J. Simers of
the L.A. TIMES. McKay, who was hired by Hollywood Park CEO
R.D. Hubbard, "intends to deliver a draft of a finance plan
for a new stadium in Inglewood to NFL owners before their
annual meetings in March." McKay gives Hollywood Park a
spokesperson "with immediate access to NFL owners because of
his name. He also has a sense of history and an intimate
knowledge of present-day circumstances to make him more
effective locally." Simers added that there "has been an
obvious shift in NFL momentum in recent weeks as it relates"
to L.A. and "there is now a strong feeling in the NFL front
office that it is time to prepare" L.A. as the logical
choice for a second expansion team after Cleveland in '99.
McKay: "I took a harder look at Hollywood Park when I became
convinced it was not going to happen at the Coliseum."
While Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley and News Corp. have
expressed an interest in football in L.A., the NFL is "still
concerned" that O'Malley and News Corp. "will not be able to
react in time to meet the window of opportunity that will
exist if Cleveland gets its expansion franchise." Simers
added that Hollywood Park "is probably the only site" in the
L.A. area "that can take advantage of the NFL's window of
opportunity." McKay said he will soon begin meeting with
potential owners and interested parties (L.A. TIMES, 11/15).
NBA Commissioner David Stern was profiled by Richard
Wilner in the N.Y. POST under the header, "Giving It His
Best Shot. NBA Commish's Job Is Filled With Big Bucks And
Big Headaches." Wilner: "[W]hy is the 55-year-old native
New Yorker, the man regarded as a master marketer and the
best of the sports league commissioners, so worried?"
Stern: "I call it positive stress. I come to work each day
as if the car is parked right next to the cliff, ready to
fall off. ... Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I'm
always worried about what is going to go wrong. I firmly
believe that if it ain't broke, fix it so it will be better"
(N.Y. POST, 11/16). Meanwhile, NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter
was profiled by Ian O'Connor of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS.
O'Connor: "[A]s the league spends the coming months deciding
whether to exercise its right to trash the current labor
agreement in pursuit of a sweeter pot, Stern had better
weigh the risks against the rewards. Hunter is the first
opponent worthy of the challenge." Hunter: "I know how to
brawl. ... I'm tenacious as hell. ... I'm going to be in
there fighting for these players" (DAILY NEWS, 11/16).
EARLY POSTURING: Hunter responded to comments made by
Stern that the NBA had more lucrative TV rights offers on
the table, but "all things being equal, the nod should go to
the people that brought you here." Hunter: "If teams are
suffering, why turn down a deal for more money? Why not
entertain possible better offers?" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
11/16). Agent Marc Fleisher, on a potential lockout: "I
don't believe David Stern when he says they're going to opt
out of the deal." Fleisher said Hunter "is considerably
tougher" than former Exec Dir Simon Gourdine. Fleisher:
"I'm guessing (Stern) is going to be a lot happier with what
he got from Gourdine, who he had in is back pocket, than
what he'll get from Billy Hunter" (CHAR. OBSERVER, 11/16).