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Volume 24 No. 155

Leagues Governing Bodies

          The NBA "has grown into" a $2B "sports juggernaut in
     the last decade," and Michael Jordan is "in no small way
     responsible" for its 10-20% annual revenue growth, according
     to CNBC's Mike Hegedus, who examined issues facing the
     league on "The Edge."  Hegedus: "But as salaries have gone
     up, so have ticket prices, leading to something new in the
     playoffs -- empty seats."  The Marquee Group's Lee Berke:
     "In the first games of the first round of the NBA Playoffs,
     up to half of the arenas were not sold out."  Berke says
     that while the league is "still very healthy," issues such
     as ticket increases, "bouts with image problems" and a
     potential lockout have "hurt [its] position with the fans." 
     Starter's Steve Raab, on whether sales of licensed
     merchandise have been affected: "You see the consolidation
     at retail, you see the consolidation among licensees.  I
     think that shakeout is going to happen, and I think the
     strong will still be here."  Sara Lee's Champion termed NBA
     sales "flat," but said it will "change its approach." 
     Champion's Nicole Blake: "That means having increasing stock
     on the shelves, quicker turnaround times, quicker shipping
     times, and being able to respond so that the fans can find
     NBA merchandise they want to purchase where and when they
     want to buy it."  Starter's Raab, on future sales: "It
     really depends on who wins this year.  If the Bulls win
     again, I would expect that sales will probably be on par
     with last year.  If it's another team, depending on who the
     team is, you may see something close, you may see a big drop
     off -- it just depends on the market" ("The Edge," 4/29). 

          NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and a "quartet of NFL
     heavyweights," will begin a three-day fact-finding tour of
     L.A. on Monday, "but much to the disappointment of those
     courting league favor, it will not set a target date for the
     return of football," according to T.J. Simers of the L.A.
     TIMES.  NFL Exec VP/League & Football Development Roger
     Goodell said that the league is "focused on getting things
     completed in Cleveland" before focusing on L.A.  Simers
     wrote that while the league is "becoming increasingly
     enamored" with Michael Ovitz's plan for a stadium-mall
     complex in Carson, they "intend to contact" reps from
     Hollywood Park, the New Coliseum Project, Fox and South
     Park.  Tagliabue will be joined by Goodell, NFL President
     Neil Austrian and Stadium Committee Chair/Panthers Owner
     Jerry Richardson.  Simers added that Ovitz "appears to have
     made quite an impression on NFL officials, who like his ties
     to the entertainment industry."  He has given the NFL a list
     of potential investors from L.A., "including some Hollywood
     actors."  He has also met with NFL officials in New York and
     "convinced them that environmental concerns about the
     property, previously a dump site for hazardous waste, will
     not be a significant roadblock" (L.A. TIMES, 4/29). 

          MLS: MLS Dir of Communications Dan Courtemanche said
     that Cincinnati is in line for an expansion franchise,
     "possibly as early as" 2000 or 2001.  If a team is granted,
     it would play at the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium currently
     under construction.  Charlotte, Atlanta, San Diego, Houston,
     Philadelphia and Seattle or Portland are also under
     consideration (CINCINNATI POST, 4/29).
          THE FUTURE OF DH: ESPN's Tim Kurkjian examined the
     future of MLB's DH and said, "Any change in the DH will have
     to go through the players association and be done at the
     bargaining table.  And that will be a long, arduous
     process."  Cubs President & CEO Andy MacPhail: "It's one
     issue that will not be resolved to everybody's satisfaction,
     you can guarantee that, because people are passionate on
     both sides of the issue."  Acting MLB Commissioner Bud
     Selig: "If the American League clubs want to keep it, then
     they ought to keep it. ... It's going to take some type of
     crisis, some powerful moment -- maybe more realignment --
     something else that the American League clubs like where the
     DH becomes an issue.  If not, it's no issue" (ESPN, 4/29).
          PERFECT SPOT FOR WINTER MEETINGS: The NAPBL announced
     that Anaheim, CA, has been selected as the site of the '99
     Baseball Winter Meetings.  The convention will be co-hosted
     by the NAPBL and the Angels from December 10-14 (NAPBL). 
          CORRECTION: Tuesday's attendance numbers for the Mighty
     Ducks and Canucks in THE DAILY's chart comparing NHL team
     attendance before and after the league's midseason break for
     the Nagano Winter Games should have read as follows: 

                  PRE-NAGANO             POST-NAGANO          +/-
     TEAM    DATES  AVG.    %CAP    DATES    AVG.    %CAP      %
     ANA      29   17,027    99%     11     17,174   100%    + 1%
     VAN      27   17,221    93%     13     16,906    91%    - 2%

          After appearing with other NHL execs before a House of
     Commons subcommittee on Tuesday, Flames Chair Harley
     Hotchkiss said he felt the group's presentation on the state
     the game in Canada "was pretty well received by the members
     of the commission," according to George Johnson of the
     CALGARY SUN.  But Hotchkiss adds that "some of the media
     people, in my opinion, totally misread our intentions." 
     Hotchkiss: "They regarded it as nothing more than a quick
     tax grab.  I don't think that's right and I don't think
     that's fair.  That's just a shallow viewpoint.  We wanted to
     present some of the problems we as an industry face. I think
     the members of the commission listened to and understood our
     dilemma."  One potential source of money for teams could be
     a lottery prize bond (CALGARY SUN, 4/30).
          A TOUGH SELL WITH MEDIA: In Ottawa, Earl McRae
     dismisses the contention made by NHL Commissioner Gary
     Bettman and team execs who compared pro hockey to the
     Canadian lumber, agriculture and gas exploration industries,
     writing those are "economically 'essential.'  Hockey is not. 
     It's a diversional entertainment, nothing more" (OTTAWA SUN,
     4/30).  In Calgary, Mark Miller writes that the NHL "needs
     to first look in the mirror for solutions" before receiving
     government aid.  Miller: "The truth is that the NHL is run
     by a board of governors largely indifferent to the fate of
     Canada's small-market franchises. ... The haves of the NHL
     will continue to exploit the have-nots with irresponsible
     free-agent signings and the players association will stand
     idly by and let it all happen, because, their mandate is to
     get as much as they can" (Mark Miller, CALGARY SUN, 4/30).

          One year ago, the ABL "cleaned up in signing the top
     college seniors.  This time, the mop was in the hands of the
     rival WNBA," according to Mel Greenberg of the PHILADELPHIA
     INQUIRER.  The WNBA got commitments from 44 of this year's
     "roughly" 60 top seniors, and "the ABL only a handful." 
     Woolf Associates VP Andrew Brandt, at yesterday's WNBA
     Draft: "A lot of players turned down significantly better
     financial offers by the ABL after seeing the WNBA on TV last
     summer."  The WNBA held its Draft yesterday, one day after
     announcing the signings of All-American's Nykesha Sales from
     UConn, Kristin Folkl of Stanford and Ticha Penicheiro of ODU
     (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/30).  Yesterday's top three picks
     of the WNBA's first round will earn a base salary of
     $50,000, picks 4-7 earn $44,000, picks 8-10 earn $37,500. 
     Second-round picks earn $25,000, third round, $22,000 and
     fourth round earn $19,000 (Valerie Lister, USA TODAY, 4/30).
          CAN THE ABL BOUNCE BACK? ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said he
     offered Sales, Folkl and Penicheiro between $150,000 and
     $175,000, and added that the WNBA might have outbid the ABL:
     "I think they came up from last year.  They sweetened their
     deals."  The WNBA did not reveal contract terms (Portland
     OREGONIAN, 4/29).  In Hartford, COURANT Associate Editor
     Jeff Rivers, under the header, "Sales' WNBA Choice Is Right
     One For Her," writes that the "seemingly inevitable march of
     the WNBA to the forefront of women's professional basketball
     is yet another sad example of a people trained to gorge on
     the sizzle rather than savor the steak in our society."  But
     Rivers doesn't "blame" her for her decision (HARTFORD
     COURANT, 4/30).  Also in Hartford, Riley & Berlet write that
     the ABL "couldn't deny that losing most" of the college
     seniors to the WNBA "looks bad."  Riley & Berlet: "And while
     perceptions may be worse than reality, at least one ABL
     executive would like to see the process for recruiting top
     players improved."   Quest GM/Coach Brian Agler said that
     coaches "need to be more involved" in the recruiting season
     (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/30).  In L.A., Earl Gustkey writes that
     "the war in women's hoops has turned and the ABL's future is
     clouded.  If this trend continues, the players the ABL now
     has will keep it a strong league through, perhaps, 2000. 
     Then the slide will begin" (L.A. TIMES, 4/29).