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).