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).