Published Oct. 14, 2008|Updated Oct. 14, 2008


The NBA is eliminating about 80 jobs in the United States, the first major American league to announce layoffs because of worldwide economic turmoil.

Commissioner David Stern said the figure would be about 9 percent of the American work force.

"We made the decision some months ago that the economy was going to be a bit wobbly, so we began a belt-tightening," Stern said.

The NBA continues to hire in other countries, he said, as it seeks to grow internationally.

"My guess is that by the time we tip off in a week or so, we will be down modestly in season tickets,'' Stern said. "We think we'll be up in revenue, but I just can't say for sure whether we'll be up or down in attendance because it's just so touch-and-go, because sports tickets are very much disposable income."


Fish wins Madrid opener 6-1, 6-4

Tampa residentMardy Fish hit 13 aces to beat Steve Darcis 6-1, 6-4 in the Madrid Master, his first match since he got married two weeks ago. Fish converted all four break points and plays Richard Gasquet next. Gilles Simon advanced to a matchup with another Tampa resident, 11th-seeded James Blake; top-ranked Rafael Nadal plays Ernests Gulbis today, and Roger Federer opens against Radek Stapenek on Wednesday.

ZURICH OPEN: Two-time Grand Slam winner Amelie Mauresmo lost to 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka6-2, 6-1 in the first round.


ARENA LEAGUE:The New Orleans VooDoo plans to cease operations despite being near the top of the league in attendance the past two seasons.

CYCLING:Lance Armstrong agreed to ride in next year's Giro d'Italia, considered the most prestigious stage race after the Tour de France. ... Third-place Tour de France finisher Bernhard Kohl tested positive for a banned blood booster when his race samples were checked for the new drug, Austrian antidoping authorities said. He could get a two-year suspension and lose his podium spot to fourth-place Denis Menchov.

PARIMUTUELS: Tampa Bay Downs lost two horsemen in the past week. Kenny Ebersole, 52, who galloped horses at the Oldsmar thoroughbred track, died Thursday. Mr. Ebersole and his widow, Nancy , also ran Ebersole Pony Services. Mr. Ebersole was born in Hagerstown, Md. He galloped horses at Charles Town (W.Va.) before moving to the Tampa Bay area in 1992. Also, on Friday, Larry Higgins, 61, executive vice president of the TBD Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, was found dead in his Odessa home. His death is being investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department, who called it a homicide. Mr. Higgins, a lawyer and horse owner, helped jockeys and trainers in negotiations with racing organizations. He moved to the area from Washington, D.C.