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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues Governing Bodies

          NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has asked Giants co-
     Owner Bob Tisch to be the "point man" on the league's new
     NFLX interactive entertainment centers, according to Mike
     Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES.  The venture, which the league
     has plans to place in seven to 10 cities, "could cost more
     than" $50M, but "is expected to produce a lot more revenue
     than that."  Freeman wrote that it "should come as no
     surprise that Tagliabue looked to Tisch," as he served on
     the league's Finance and Super Bowl committees, "two of the
     most important in the league."  Freeman added that Tagliabue
     "trusts" Tisch, who "has quietly developed into a major
     player in the N.F.L., one of the most respected owners in
     the league" (Mike Freeman, N.Y. TIMES, 5/10).  
          NFLX: The league has partnered with St. Joe Corp. on
     NFLX and St. Joe VP/Corporate Communications Jerry Ray said
     the centers "will probably be in both suburban and urban
     locations and will contain restaurants, retail shops,
     entertainment, and some museum-type elements."  The centers'
     trial run will be in N.Y., followed by S.F., Orlando and
     Boston (Lisa Krakowka, AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHIC, 5/98 issue).

          "There is a simple, irrefutable fact about hockey that
     the past year in broadcasting ought to have made obvious
     even to TV executives, and it's this: Americans really don't
     like hockey very much," according to Allen Barra who
     contributed for NEWSDAY's "Culture Watch."  Noting this
     year's low TV ratings, Barra questioned NHL Senior VP Steve
     Solomon calling this year's ratings "a one-year blip."
     Barra: "How about calling hockey's entire history on
     television a half-century blip."  Barra wrote that after the
     Rangers won the Stanley Cup, "hockey blew its first great
     shot at moving out of the low-rent district" with its work
     stoppage in '94.  He criticized the league's expansion
     process and its post-season criterion, and said the
     "playoffs-for-everyone policy not only fails to punish
     indifferent regular season play; it encourages it."  Barra
     added the NHL could "do away with its goon image overnight,"
     but it "continues to pander to the ugliest fan element in
     sports."  Barra: "I love the NHL's current post-season
     promotional slogan, 'Not hockey, but playoff hockey.'  I
     take that to mean, 'Not the same dross we've been giving you
     all season long.'  For the sake of the league -- and the
     rest of us -- it better not be" (NEWSDAY, 5/10).  
          SUPPORT TEAMS: In Canada, George Gross supports
     government assistance for Canada's NHL teams and wrote that
     "shortsighted critics didn't see the far-reaching
     repercussions that could impact Canadian small-market teams
     if the Canadian government doesn't intercede."  Gross: "[T]o
     hell with the knockers" (George Gross, TORONTO SUN, 5/10).  

          Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Co. has contacted
     Silver Bullets co-Owner Bob Hope about becoming the primary
     sponsor of the women's baseball team, according to Jeff
     Jacobs of the HARTFORD COURANT.  Hope: "We've been told
     Hartford wants to be the women's sports capital and we feel
     we could be a strong part of this."  The Silver Bullets
     announced last month that they would not play this summer
     after being unable to find a primary sponsor since Coors'
     decision not to renew last year.  But Hope said that if
     Phoenix supports the league, the team could play this
     summer.  Hope was contacted by the Hartford Women's Sports
     Council and he forwarded the team's financial data to
     Phoenix.  He was told that New Britain, CT, would serve as
     the team's initial home, but a site in Hartford could be
     "used in the future."  It will cost about $1.5M a year to
     sponsor the team (Jeff Jacobs, HARTFORD COURANT, 5/9).

          In his Monday column in USA TODAY, Larry King writes,
     "Look for Bud Selig to be named the permanent commissioner
     of baseball. ... We should have an announcement before the
     end of the year" (Larry King, USA TODAY, 5/11).

          The "frenzied recruitment" of NJ high school basketball
     player Al Harrington will end today when he holds a news
     conference to declare his intentions, according to Lenn
     Robbins of the N.Y. POST, who reported that Harrington will
     announce he is making himself eligible for the NBA Draft.  A
     source "very close to the family" said Harrington was
     "making the big jump" (N.Y. POST, 5/9).  On Saturday,
     UConn's Richard Hamilton said he would return to school for
     his junior year.  He said that a potential NBA lockout had
     "little impact on his thinking."  Hamilton: "Now I can sit
     back and relax.  I don't have to worry about growing up too
     fast, worry about all these business decisions and things
     like that" (Michael Arace, HARTFORD COURANT, 5/10).
          PLUTO SAYS LET 'EM GO: In Akron, Terry Pluto writes
     under the header, "Let Them Learn The Hard Way About The
     NBA.  Once Prep Stars Fall, Then They'll Understand Why They
     Needed College."  Pluto writes that student-athletes with
     the NBA "on their minds" don't "belong in the same classroom
     as those who really are there to learn," adding that the
     average "18-year-old has about as much interest in college
     as your average NBA player does in botany.  So let 'em go
     pro."  Pluto: "Let those who aren't the next [Kevin] Garnett
     or [Kobe] Bryant learn a real lesson in life.  Then, one
     day, some might decide it's time to go back ... [and] take
     their education seriously" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/11). 
          AND WHAT OF THE LEAGUE? In N.Y., William Rhoden wrote
     on the NBA's veteran stars who will leave the league in the
     next three years: "Soon we will see what the league has
     really become: style over substance, individual over the
     team.  Plucking young people off the vine ahead of their
     time, lavishing them with millions. ... The N.B.A. is about
     to reap what it has sown" (William Rhoden, N.Y. TIMES, 5/9).
          STILL GOT GAME: Spike Lee's "He Got Game" fell to third
     place in this weekend's box office returns, earning $3.8M. 
     Through its first ten days in release, the film has grossed
     $11.4M (THE DAILY).  In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote the
     film is a "must-see movie for anyone who follows basketball
     and gives a hoot about the game, the people in the game, and
     what has become of the game" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/10).   
          ROOKIE CAP: In Cincinnati, Mike DeCourcy wrote that the
     rookie salary cap, introduced in '95 "as a cost-control
     device for the league," is "viewed by many as having cut
     loose the flood of inexperienced players who entered the
     draft in recent seasons."  The cap "does not appear to have
     been a good deal for basketball at the high school, college
     or professional levels."  NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ
     Granik admitted the cap hasn't "done as much as we would
     have liked," but said it has prevented contract holdouts and
     "avoided long-term, very expensive, contracts for guys who
     really aren't worth it" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/10).