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Volume 24 No. 116

Leagues Governing Bodies

          With three new start-up basketball leagues hoping to
     begin play by late '99, the BOSTON GLOBE's Gregg Krupa asks,
     "Will corporate America ante up the necessary sponsorship
     fees and other financial support to make the leagues
     viable?"  The IBL, the National Rookie League and the
     Collegiate Professional Basketball League "are scurrying to
     find out."  Woolf Associates VP Andrew Brandt: "I think
     there is a market in this country for more than the [NBA]
     and the [CBA] on a professional level, and this fills the
     void."  But most corporate spokespeople "said they would
     likely wait before signing on."  Eric Kraus, who handles
     sports marketing at Gillette: "There has been some buzz
     about these new leagues, but it is not as if there is a hot
     property out there that people are vying to jump on."  Krupa
     adds: "Each of the start-up leagues would, in their own way,
     offer some money for college education, at a time when the
     athletes are ready to attend."  So far, the NCAA's response
     "has been muted."  NCAA spokesperson Wally Renfro: "The
     leagues may in fact be a viable alternative for basketball
     players who may not be academically prepared to  handle the
     load at the college level and who want to play basketball"
     (Gregg Krupa, BOSTON GLOBE, 8/13).
          INTEREST IN IBL: Cincinnati's IBL franchise will play
     at the Crown and will be headed by IHL Cyclones and Crown
     President Doug Kirchhofer, his brother John, and Mike Smith
     of entertainment holdings company Nederlander & Associates
     (CINCINNATI POST, 8/12).  A majority owner is not in place
     in San Diego, but Ernie and Ron Hahn will own less than 10%
     of the team, as will Frank Roach.  Ernie Hall is GM of the
     Sports Arena, the team's home (UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/12). 

          Architects for the proposed NBC/Time Warner football
     league, which may debut in June of 2000, "are considering
     having 10 to 12 franchises, a 10-week regular season and a
     championship game around Labor Day," according to Peter King
     of SI, who cites "sources familiar with discussions." 
     Rather than "engage in a bidding war with the NFL for
     stars," the league "would create regional franchises stocked
     primarily with former collegians who have a local following
     and are willing to play for less than $100,000 a season." 
     Several "fan-friendly" elements also are being considered.
     But King writes, "the last thing America needs is a new
     sports league."  A-B Corporate VP/Media & Sports Marketing
     Tony Ponturo: "The big question is, Can NBC and Turner
     create a league that will keep the 21- to 34-year-old male
     at home on a weekend night? ... Baseball's growing stronger,
     and the growth of sports is outdistancing the growth of
     marketing dollars for advertisers.  It'll be tough for the
     new league, but certainly you'd have to give it a hearing
     because of the brains of the people involved" (SI, 8/17).
          MORE FROM THE TIME WARNER INSIDER: King also told USA
     TODAY's Rudy Martzke: "I think the league definitely will
     play.  Should the NFL fear this?  I don't think so, but they
     should have worthy respect for some of the smartest men in
     TV.  While they say revenge (for losing the NFL) isn't part
     of it, [NBC Sports Chair] Dick Ebersol and [Time Warner Vice
     Chair] Ted Turner would like to see the NFL suffer in some
     way" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 8/12).

          Yankees Manager Joe Torre on MLB's decision to increase
     the cost of LCS and World Series tickets: "I've always
     marveled at how much a seat costs on the floor of a
     basketball game.  And we have a long way to go before we
     reach that" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/13).  Also in N.Y., Speranza
     & Breen write under the header, "Fans Boo Series Tix Hike. 
     Cry Foul As Cost Doubles For Best Seats In House" (N.Y.
     DAILY NEWS, 8/13).  In Cleveland, Hoynes & Maxse report that
     "reaction was mixed" on the increase among fans attending
     last night's Rangers-Indians game (PLAIN DEALER, 8/13).
     ...Vikings Owner Red McCombs told Sid Hartman in Minneapolis
     that the blackout rule was one of the "first subjects
     discussed at the recent NFL meeting."  McCombs: "We were
     told by commissioner Paul Tagliabue that he wants the
     blackout rule strictly enforced and he will deal with any
     club that breaks it."  Hartman: "What it means is the league
     no longer wants television stations and other corporations
     to buy out a big number of tickets so games can be
     televised" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/13). 

          For the "first time" since the Indy car split in '96,
     "there have been several movements recently that can only be
     viewed as positive," according to Robin Miller of the
     INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS.  Last month, IRL Exec Dir Leo Mehl
     "asked his owners, collectively, how they felt about
     reconciling with CART," and at the Brickyard 400, Mario
     Andretti and Al Unser Jr. talked with IMS President Tony
     George "to pitch peace."  Miller: "Three years into its
     existence, the IRL is seriously hurting for owners, sponsors
     and fans. ... After three years without the [Indy] 500, some
     CART teams are facing contract negotiations with sponsors
     that want to be back at the Speedway -- not St. Louis -- on
     Memorial Day weekend."  IRL team Owner Fred Treadway: "My
     concept is that we come together for marketing efforts. 
     Have 31 premier races with no schedule conflicts. ... Have
     an American and National League like baseball and we come
     together for the World Series every May."  George had no
     comment, but IMS VP/Corporate Communications Fred Nation,
     said, "Yes, Tony has been listening" (STAR-NEWS, 8/12).