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Volume 24 No. 160

Leagues Governing Bodies

          The NBA's Board of Governor's is "poised to take the
     first step in a journey that will lead to a modified
     collective bargaining agreement or an uncertain labor
     future," according to David Moore of the DALLAS MORNING
     NEWS.  League officials "confirmed" that today in Dallas
     owners will void the final three years of the NBA's
     agreement and "return to the negotiating table" with the
     NBPA.  Moore also reports that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter
     has said that he plans to meet with the league around April
     1 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/23).  NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ
     Granik: "Lockout isn't part of our vocabulary right now. ...
     You never know, but we have a very cordial and professional
     relationship with union leadership, and we'll do our best to
     try and maintain that."   Hunter: "[W]e've still got between
     now and October and November to work out a deal."   In N.Y.,
     Mike Wise pointed to the "smart" participants in the
     negotiations, Granik, Hunter and NBA Commissioner David
     Stern, and wrote to "expect both sides to compromise before
     the summer ends" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/23).  In Boston, Peter May
     wrote the difference between today and the last NBA labor
     disruption in '95 is Hunter, "who has shown already that he
     is both reasonable and dogged" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22). 
          NOT OPTIMISTIC: In N.Y, Mitch Lawrence wrote that Stern
     is "expected to get a pulse on whether his employers are
     willing to shut down operations for what might be a year." 
     One ownership source: "There are some owners who want to
     make a big-time stand and get to the root of the issues." 
     While there are questions of how "unified" ownership is "to
     commit to more than a summer-time lockout," Lawrence added
     that "hawks," including the Jazz's Larry Miller and the
     Clippers' Don Sterling, "will push to lock the players out
     for a year, if necessary" (DAILY NEWS, 3/22).  In L.A., Mark
     Heisler wrote Stern "reportedly is ready to lock the players
     out till next Christmas or longer" (L.A. TIMES, 3/22).

          NFL owners are "expected to award" Cleveland an
     expansion franchise as early as this week, leaving Houston
     and L.A. "in a match race to become the NFL's 32nd
     franchise," according to T.J. Simers of the L.A. TIMES.  But
     Simers wrote that L.A.'s New Coliseum Partners (NCP), "who
     have been running in place for the last two years ... could
     be passed by a new prospect just as the competition is
     officially set to begin."  Michael Ovitz "has caught the
     fancy of NFL officials with a San Francisco 49er-like plan
     for a stadium and shopping mall" in Carson, CA.  The Carson
     site "has been advanced successfully in recent weeks" by
     Ovitz, who has been working with an OH-based mall developer. 
     One "high-ranking" NFL source: "It's a little early yet, but
     this project appears to have a lot of potential."  Simers:
     "At no time during its dogged campaign ... have the [NCP]
     received such an NFL endorsement."  The NCP "appear to also
     have fallen behind Hollywood Park, which recently altered
     its strategy to the NFL's satisfaction."  It "proposed
     selling a 30-acre piece of property to the NFL, or any NFL-
     designated owner interested in constructing a stadium on the
     site."  While some NFL owners remain interested in the
     Dodger Stadium site, the NFL has "been advised" by the Fox
     Group that their "attention will be directed solely on
     improving Dodger Stadium" (L.A. TIMES, 3/22). 
          LONGER TIMETABLE? In Houston, John Williams writes that
     league owners "warned" yesterday that it "could be as long
     as two years before a decision" is made on the 32nd team. 
     While "several" owners said Houston is ahead of L.A. in
     getting a new football stadium in place, "league owners will
     give [L.A.] all the time it needs to put together a stadium
     plan."  Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen: "We're talking about a
     couple of years, at least" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/23).  

          Because MLB management "has accomplished previously
     unimaginable things" during the reign of Acting Commissioner
     Bud Selig, "many owners have lost their desire to hire an
     outside candidate," according to Tom Haudricourt of the
     MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL.  With COO Paul Beeston running
     the business side, the "prevailing theory is 'don't fix what
     ain't broke.'"  One possible scenario has Beeston remaining
     as COO, Selig staying in his post as Chair of the Executive
     Council and "someone such as" NL President Len Coleman being
     "named commissioner in what amounts to a figurehead role"
     (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/22).  In Philadelphia, Jayson
     Stark wrote there are "indications Coleman has emerged as a
     prime in-house alternative to Selig as permanent
     commissioner" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/22).
          IF A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST...: In N.Y., Murray
     Chass, writing on the inaction during the search for a
     commissioner, asked, "So does anybody really care?"  Red Sox
     CEO John Harrington: "Everybody does."  But Twins Owner Carl
     Pohlad said there has "been less conversation 'than you'd
     think.'"  Pohlad: "It's been strangely silent" (N.Y. TIMES,
     3/22)....In Boston, Peter Gammons wrote that Selig and
     Beeston "should seriously consider enlisting" Paul Molitor
     as a Deputy Commissioner and liaison to the MLBPA after he
     retires at the end of the season.  Gammons: "[F]ew union
     leaders have ever understood management's side more than
     Molitor" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22)....In N.Y., Tom Keegan wrote
     that Expos ownership is a "topic that should have been
     discussed" at MLB's quarterly meeting.  Keegan called the
     Expos a "disgrace.  And their competitors are growing sick
     and tired of it."  One MLB club exec: "Teams are losing
     money going there to play.  A lot of people are fed up with
     the way that's being run up there" (N.Y. POST, 3/22).  

          NFL owners meetings opened in Orlando yesterday, and
     the Management Council's Exec Committee voted to approve the
     extension of the CBA, according to USA TODAY's Larry
     Weisman.  The full group of owners "considers" the CBA today
     and it needs 23 of 30 votes in favor to pass.  The NFLPA's
     Board of Player Reps ratified the deal unanimously in HI on
     Friday.  If the owners vote against the deal, the NFLPA
     "says it will not renegotiate and will let the current labor
     deal expire after the 2000 season" (USA TODAY, 3/23). 
          WELLINGTON'S BEEF? Giants co-Owner Wellington Mara,
     "one of the most respected men" in the NFL, may speak out on
     the proposed CBA this week in Orlando, according to Mike
     Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES.  One owner: "Wellington is
     strongly opposed to one part of this agreement and in turn,
     the entire thing.  When Wellington talks, people listen. He
     will swing votes, and a week from now we could be back at
     the negotiating table with the union."  Agreement supporters
     fear Mara could give a "passionate plea on why the
     guaranteed contract provision" of the deal is "a truly bad
     idea."  But Freeman added that the deal "will most likely be
     approved by only a slim margin" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).  Mara
     dismissed the N.Y. Times report and said he would not urge
     owners to vote against the deal: "Not me.  You've got the
     wrong guy" (Paul Needell, Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/23).   
          OTHER NEWS: In Baltimore, Vito Stellino wrote that
     instant replay, which is also on the agenda at the meetings,
     "faces an uphill fight" to be approved (Balt. SUN, 3/22). 

          WTA Tour CEO Bart McGuire said yesterday that while the
     ATP Tour has proposed joint men's and women's tennis events
     which pool sponsorship and TV revenue, his "priority" is to
     obtain a new long-term title sponsorship deal and a new TV
     deal for the women's tour.   Speaking with the media at the
     Lipton Championships, McGuire said he has "philosophic
     concerns, economic concerns, and some very practical
     concerns about the joint venture concept."  McGuire: "I
     really doubt that the WTA Tour and the ATP Tour can agree on
     prize money, revenue sharing, television exposure, to say
     nothing of issues like practice and locker room facilities." 
     McGuire said he had not "quite shut the door on the joint
     venture concept," but added that it is "not likely to happen
     in the near future."  McGuire will "consider the creation of
     new combined events on an individual basis" (WTA Tour).  In
     Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, ATP Tour CEO Mark Miles said he was
     "enormously frustrated" by the WTA Tour's perception that
     any merger would undermine its position as the No. 1 women's
     sport in the world.  Miles: "I'm absolutely convinced that
     nothing they can do on their own would generate as much
     revenue as they would receive if they did collaborate with
     us, and I also don't think the combined tour would impair
     the ATP Tour's identity or that of the women."  The TIMES'
     Robin Finn: "Is tennis at a gender crossroads just in time
     for the millennium?  It looks that way" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
     Pope wrote on the crowds at the Lipton and called it the
     "biggest sports-spectator event in South Florida history." 
     He added that "male professionals are trying to get back up
     to speed with the females since Martina Hingis, Venus and
     Serena Williams and Anna Kournikova ... arrived.  Women are
     coming on stronger than ever while the men's game is headed
     for a crowd-appeal crisis" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/22).
          OTHER WTA NEWS: McGuire said the Tour's Board of
     Directors ratified the settlement to the players' dispute
     announced in February. The Board also voted to add three
     "independent, senior business executives, with no financial
     interest in tennis," and agreed to eliminate the requirement
     that matters be unanimously agreed upon."  Finally, the Tour
     will also open a European office in London to be headed by
     its Dir of European Operations Georgina Clark (WTA Tour).