The league that spawned the career of Wayne Gretzky and prolonged the career of Gordie Howe may be returning. And owners have their sights set on Portland.

The World Hockey Association operated from 1972 to 1979. The World Hockey Association 2 could start in Sept. 2004, to coincide with the end of the collective bargaining agreement in the NHL.

Founders Allan Howell and Nick Vaccaro announced their plans in an April 25 ad in The Hockey News. They listed 32 cities as 'potential franchise opportunities' where building owners 'expressed their desire to seriously consider participation.'

Portland was on the list. Owners worth $100 million are being considered Ñ so billionaire Paul Allen qualifies, although the Blazers say they have not been contacted.

Howell says the upstart league has commitments from owners in Los Angeles and Miami, as well as Birmingham, Ala.; Hamilton, Ontario; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Orlando, Fla.

'I don't recognize any of the names connected to it,' says Ken Hodge, president and general manager of the Portland Winter Hawks. 'I don't think they're highly involved in hockey; they appear to be businessmen who look to establish a league and collect franchise fees.'

• Oregon State's football season opener against visiting Sacramento State has been moved from Aug. 30 to Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.

•ÊThe 15th year of cycling at Portland International Raceway starts Monday. The Lakeside Bicycles Monday Night Masters and Women series, for riders of all ability and fitness levels, will have races at 6:30 p.m. every Monday through Sept. 15. Entry fee is $12. For information, call 503-975-8229 or visit on the Web. É University Park Community Center, 9009 N. Foss Ave., will be the site of amateur boxing involving various clubs in Oregon and Washington at 7 p.m. Saturday. For tickets, call 503-823-3631.

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