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Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues Governing Bodies

          The Arena Football League (AFL) has signed a letter of
     intent to purchase the patent, trademark and copyrights
     associated with the Arena Football Game on a worldwide basis
     from Gridiron Enterprises, Inc.  Terms of the deal were not
     disclosed.  The league's purchase of worldwide rights
     follows last week's announcement that the Orlando Predators
     had purchased an increased share in the AFL, with proceeds
     of the sale directed to the purchase price, in part, for the
     worldwide rights from Gridiron (AFL).

          CART has jointed with MI-based Valassis Communications
     and IL-based Marketing Events to create a FedEx
     Championships Series-themed FSI to reach more than 40
     million homes through national newspapers on July 26.  The
     FSI program is targeted toward female and family demos and
     will offer consumer package good companies the ability to
     align with CART.  CART Dir of Marketing Jeff Gooding said
     that first-time program "is part of our broader, integrated
     marketing plans for 1998."  Valassis will publish the
     consumer inserts and secure distribution while Marketing
     Events will bring advertisers into the program (CART).
          JAPANESE IMPORT: CART will race its Budweiser 400 in
     Montegi, Japan, the first time the series has held a race in
     that country.  In Indianapolis, Bill Koenig wrote that
     although some "major Japanese" companies are involved in
     CART -- including Honda, Toyota and Panasonic -- the racing
     series "sees the potential for more corporate involvement."
     Koenig: "The hope is having an annual race will get Japanese
     race fans enthused about the CART series and Japanese
     companies interested in sponsorships.  The timing, however,
     isn't the best.  Japan's economy continues a six-year slump,
     with no recovery on the horizon" (INDY STAR-NEWS, 3/24).
          GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS: In Chicago, Herb Gould wrote
     of CART's expansion where it is "trying to keep pace in a
     world where NASCAR has been widening the gap as the most
     popular arm of auto racing."  CART has added a street race
     in Houston for '98 and is "exploring" the possibility of
     adding a race in Germany to go with its international forays
     in Japan and Brazil.  CART is also targeting Chicago for a
     Labor Day '99 race (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/26). 
          COVERAGE: ESPN Int'l will air the '98 CART FedEx
     Championship Series full season schedule on its
     international networks.  ESPN Int'l also has agreements to
     syndicate the series, which began last weekend, to
     broadcasters worldwide (ESPN International).

          NBA LABOR PAINS: One NBPA "union insider" tells Peter
     Vecsey of the N.Y. POST, "What incentive do owners have not
     to lock out players?  Players may be better organized for a
     long fight and show more unity than ever before, but the
     days are gone forever when you can ask them to sit out half
     of his guarantee for the good of the next generation. ...
     The average salary is close to $3 [million], we're talking
     about losing half before the owners start to feel some pain,
     too, in lost revenue.  There's just too much at risk almost
     right away for the player and his family" (N.Y. POST, 3/37).
          SENIOR TOUR HITS 21 EVENTS: The worldwide men's senior
     tennis tour, sanctioned by the ATP Tour, will begin its
     second year in '98-99 with 21 events.  New events have been
     added in Minneapolis, Boston, Melbourne and Qatar.  In the
     U.S., the Nuveen Tour will celebrate its fifth anniversary
     with nine events.  In Detroit, the circuit will join with
     Pistons G Joe Dumars to present the Mentadent Joe Dumars
     Champions, and for its inaugural event near Boston, the
     Nuveen Tour will join the WTA Tour for a two-week "Tennis
     Fest" event at Babson College in Wellesly, MA (ATP Tour). 
 

          The "inevitable comeback" of Michael Ovitz is
     "underway," according to Bruce Orwall of the WALL STREET
     JOURNAL.  Ovitz is joining with OH-based Glimcher Realty
     Trust on a plan to build malls with sports and entertainment
     themes in areas "such as" Columbus, OH, and Newark, NJ. 
     Ovitz has also put together a group looking to land an NFL
     team in L.A. with plans to build a stadium adjacent to a
     Glimcher mall in Carson, CA.  Glimcher Chair & CEO Herb
     Glimcher declined comment on whether he would be involved in
     the NFL project.  Orwell writes that two weeks ago, Ovitz
     and his partners presented the league with a plan backed by
     $750M in prospective financing from Bank of America. 
     Previously, Ovitz was in talks to join with investors led by
     NHL Kings co-Owner Ed Roski to bring an NFL team to the L.A.
     Coliseum.  But "those discussions ended recently."  Roski:
     "I guess he decided he would like to go in his own
     direction."  So Ovitz began working with "entertainment
     architect" David Rockwell on the Carson site and the two put
     together a design for a $350M privately financed stadium
     near the mall complex. Orwell adds that the effort to bring
     an NFL team back to L.A. "is putting Mr. Ovitz's famed deal-
     making skills to the test" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/27).

          As MLB opens its season on Tuesday, the "gulf between     the sport's have and have-not franchises is wider than     ever," according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST.      Today in MLB, "you have to spend big to win big."  Tigers GM     Randy Smith: "I don't think you have to spend $60 million or     $70 million to win.  But it's clear that in order to get     into the playoffs, you're going to have to spend, and spend     pretty big."  Maske notes that no MLB club had a winning     record last year with a player payroll of less than $40M.      Acting Commissioner Bud Selig: "There's no sense in deluding     one's self.  You could see this coming five to eight years     ago."  Selig added, "We just need to improve the system. ...     One could make a convincing case here that there's just not     enough cost restraint built into the system."  Maske lists     MLB team player payrolls for the '98 season.  The figures     use the "payroll-calculation method" used by management's     Players Relations Committee.  The method includes the     salaries of all players on the 40-man roster, bonuses and     benefits.  For players with multiyear deals, the average     annual value of the contract is used.  The MLBPA does not     include benefits in payroll calculations.  Player payrolls     of MLB's 30 teams (WASHINGTON POST, 3/27):           
TEAM PAYROLL
TEAM
PAYROLL
BALTIMORE
$74,303,497
MILWAUKEE
$48,753,716
ATLANTA
$71,639,725
HOUSTON
$48,403,250
BOSTON
$71,318,403
CHI. WHITE SOX
$45,887,914
N.Y. YANKEES
$70,583,730
ANAHEIM
$45,479,584
CLEVELAND
$66,850,303
ARIZONA
$43,565,417
TEXAS
$64,154,180
PHILADELPHIA
$42,065,084
COLORADO
$62,179,513
FLORIDA
$40,917,001
CHICAGO CUBS
$59,391,084
TAMPA BAY
$39,872,584
TORONTO
$58,494,370
KANSAS CITY
$39,089,251
SEATTLE
$58,017,231
DETROIT
$37,390,084
LOS ANGELES
$57,642,751
MINNESOTA
$34,883,022
N.Y. METS
$57,378,501
CINCINNATI
$32,467,793
ST. LOUIS
$56,204,396
OAKLAND
$26,646,584
SAN DIEGO
$52,292,624
PITTSBURGH
$24,407,251
SAN FRANCISCO
$50,318,200
MONTREAL
$16,031,584

MORE MLB NOTES: In Boston, the GLOBE features an extensive series on MLB's search for talent in international markets, including Asia, Australia, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Red Sox GM Dan Duquette: "It's hard finding talent in the States because kids just aren't playing enough baseball. You have to explore every avenue for talent, and the international market is now a critical avenue" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/27)....USA TODAY's BASEBALL WEEKLY editors interview MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr and MLB COO Paul Beeston in the current issue. Beeston, on attracting more fans of color: "We're trying to do it. ... You can't say we're not advertising. Can't say we're not out there." Fehr, on the image of the players: "I think since the strike ended there has been a sustained effort to reach out, to do more, to incrementaly rehabilitate the image of the players and the image of the game" (BASEBALL WEEKLY, 3/25 issue).