The manual suggests such a wide variety of personal appearance "opportunities" that it will be a wonder if NASL players have any time left for games. Teams are encouraged to have players show up at soccer clinics, sales meetings, civic lunches—any occasion that promotes contact with the public. Thus, Tampa Bay had its players personally deliver season tickets to indoor games to purchasers at Christmastime, an idea that could be used all year long. The manual is imaginative in suggesting other ways players might reach potential fans. One novel idea: Teams might arrange with local auto dealers to have players take test drives with folks shopping for cars.
In an effort to increase interest in the playoffs, the NBA board of governors last week voted to expand the number of teams participating in postseason play from 12 to 16. That prompted predictable—and valid—complaints that such a move will prolong an already protracted playoff schedule and dilute the importance of regular-season games. These objections were neatly summed up by Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist John Owen, who claimed to have divined the league's master plan when he wrote: "Eventually the playoffs will begin on Memorial Day, end Labor Day—and the rest of the year will be devoted to the sole task of eliminating Cleveland."
NEW DEPARTURES IN JAZZ
In another action, the NBA gave the Utah Jazz permission to move as many as 11 of its 1983-84 home games from Salt Lake City's 12,143-seat Salt Palace to the new 18,000-seat Thomas-Mack Center in Las Vegas. By shifting the games to Las Vegas, the Jazz, which has one of the smallest TV markets in the NBA, hopes to get a toehold in an additional one. It also hopes for more revenue at the gate. At the same time, co-owner Sam Battistone says, with Alice-in-Wonderland logic, that he'll be doing Salt Lake fans a favor by reducing the number of games at the Salt Palace: With fewer games, season tickets won't cost as much.
Not that Las Vegas fans are jumping up and down in anticipation of seeing the Jazz play. "Hasn't been much in the newspapers about it," says Tom Wiesner, a Las Vegas businessman and a former county commissioner. "Basketball is big here [the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is a national power], but there has been a feeling in past years not to put anything in competition with college basketball. Maybe the trend is shifting. The big thing is the stadium. It needs exposure and some major events to get it off the ground."
Besides the financial aspect of the proposed shift, there's the artistic one—if what Utah does on the court can be called art. Last season it was 21-20 at home but only 9-32 on the road. As one Salt Lake City columnist wrote, "It doesn't take a genius to project what kind of season the Jazz will have if they play only 30 games at home and 52 games on the road."
THANKS FOR HELPING, SABIN
After Sabin, a 3-year-old filly trained by Woody Stephens, scored a wire-to-wire victory over 11 other fillies and mares Saturday in the New York Handicap at Belmont Park, there was this exchange between Frank Wright, racing commentator for New York's WOR-TV, and Sabin's jockey, Eddie Maple:
Wright: "A tremendous job of rating that filly.... She must have relaxed some for you."
Maple: "Yeah, Frank, I mean, I couldn't have done it without her."