BusinessMerger with Nets gives Yanks cash, unlikely to...

Sports Digest

February 26, 1999

Business

Merger with Nets gives Yanks cash, unlikely to affect Steinbrenner

In a move that shakes up sports cable TV but won't change George Steinbrenner's role as The Boss, the New York Yankees and the NBA's New Jersey Nets signed a letter of intent to merge the two teams into one company.

The deal, which was announced yesterday, creates a new holding company, YankeeNets, that the teams value at about $1.4 billion. The baseball and basketball teams will remain as separate subsidiaries under their current leadership, with Steinbrenner running the Yankees, and Lewis Katz and Ray Chambers running the Nets.

"Nothing is going to change here," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Knowing the deal would fall in place and give the World Series champions increased cash flow made Steinbrenner comfortable to trade for Roger Clemens last week, according to an Associated Press source with knowledge of the talks who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

Based on early projections of their next TV deal, the Yankees' revenue in 2001 could approach $250 million, which will send a shudder through small-market teams, whose annual revenue is as low as $35 million.

Steinbrenner's spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, said the chief executive officer of the new holding company had not been determined. But Steinbrenner isn't know as The Boss for nothing, and he is expected to dominate Katz and Chambers.

The biggest change will be in television, with the new company expected to approach both Time Warner Inc. and The Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN unit about starting a new regional sports cable network.

Pro football

Bennett, leading tackler on Falcons, to rejoin Colts

Cornelius Bennett, released last week by the Atlanta Falcons despite leading the NFC champions in tackles, apparently is headed to the Indianapolis Colts, the team that drafted him in 1987.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the outside linebacker has reached a two-year deal. The newspaper said Bennett will likely receive a signing bonus of $1.5 million and a base salary of $500,000 for 1999.

Steelers: Hall of Fame center Mike Webster was charged in Beaver, Pa., with forging a prescription for Ritalin, a stimulant used to treat attention deficit disorder. Webster, 46, has had recurring financial and health problems since retiring from the NFL in 1990.

Men's lacrosse

No. 6 Maryland opens with 13-5 rout of Denver

Jon Kemezis (DeMatha), Mike LaMonica (Calvert Hall), Chris Malone, Scott Hochstadt (Boys' Latin) and Brian Zeller (Loyola) had two goals each to help No. 6 Maryland begin its season with a 13-5 win over Denver (0-1) at Byrd Stadium.

The Terps trailed 2-1 with 11: 24 left in the second quarter before scoring seven consecutive goals during a 16: 48 span.

Tennis

Mauresmo victory in Paris sets up rematch with Hingis

Amelie Mauresmo breezed to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Karina Habsudova at the Gaz de France in Paris and will play top-ranked Martina Hingis in a repeat of last month's Australian Open final.

Their quarterfinal will resume the rivalry that began in Melbourne when Hingis made disparaging remarks about Mauresmo's body and sexual orientation, then denied what she said even though her comments were recorded on tape. Mauresmo, who is a lesbian, responded by saying that Hingis had been stupid. Hingis won the Australian final, 6-2, 6-3.

Guardian Direct: Yevgeny Kafelnikov defeated Byron Black, 6-3, 6-2, in London and would become the world's top-ranked men's player with a quarterfinal victory today over eighth seed Thomas Johansson. Pete Sampras, who took this week off, has been No. 1 since Aug. 24.

Bowling

Bel Air's Criss takes National Championship lead

Tim Criss of Bel Air went 7-1 during the first round of match play to take over the lead in the Professional Bowlers Association Tour's National Championship in Toledo, Ohio.

Criss leads the field with a pinfall total of 9,128, 41 pins ahead of former leader Tommy Delutz Jr. Baltimore's Danny Wiseman is 12th with 8,791.

Women: Carolyn Dorin-Ballard won the PWBA Greater Jacksonville (Fla.) Classic by beating Michelle Feldman, 238-203, in the final.

Golf

Upset by his play, Palmer to reduce Senior schedule

Arnold Palmer, bothered by the way he is playing, said he is planning to cut back on his Senior PGA Tour schedule.

Palmer, who will turn 70 in September, is playing in this week's ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., and has played in a minimum of 12 Senior PGA tournaments every year since 1983.

"If my golf game continues to be as poor as it is, I won't play at all," said Palmer, who finished 70th last week, 16-over par.

Palmer, whose last tour victory came in 1988, added that he has fully recovered from prostate cancer surgery in January 1997.

LPGA: Marianne Morris, a 10-year pro, returned home to Lawrenceville, Ga., from the Australian Ladies Masters after the death of her brother, John Michael Morris, who was discovered dead in his suburban Atlanta golf shop with a bullet wound to the head.

Et cetera

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