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  • BOTH SIDES CAST THEIR EYES TOWARD AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

         When Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "waves his magic wand
    today, tomorrow or Wednesday," he will "cast the future of the
    game -- short- and long-term -- into a sea of doubt" (Joel
    Sherman, N.Y. POST, 9/12).  "Baseball has had seven previous work
    stoppages but never has known the kind of chaos that will ensue
    if it enters the off-season" without an agreement (Phil Rogers,
    DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/10).
         POINT OF NO RETURN:  Weekend reports in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE
    had Selig set to make the "formal announcement" today that he was
    calling off the rest of the season, the playoffs and the World
    Series (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/10).  But MLB denies
    that any decision has been made (USA TODAY, 9/12).  Bob Costas
    said, while the strike "may not be fatal" to the game, there is
    already "long-term damage":  "I don't think that baseball will
    ever be, in our lifetimes, what it once was" ("Meet the Press,"
    NBC, 9/11).
         CENTER OF THE STORM:  ESPN's Peter Gammons:  "The [MLBPA]
    now believes that Bud is far more powerful than they ever
    thought. ... Now the question is, is Bud going to be the hero and
    just close this down and resume the season or is he going to let
    it go?" ("SportsCenter", 9/10).  In Dallas, Phil Rogers writes,
    "Here he sits, for all intents and purposes willing to become the
    Man Who Killed the World Series" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/11).
    Selig:  "A lot of people have been taking shots at baseball and
    me ... but they haven't seen the numbers, they don't understand
    the problems" ("SportsCenter", 9/11).  NBC made a point of
    showing Selig in attendance at the Green Bay-Miami game in
    Milwaukee.  Selig was interviewed briefly during the 3rd Quarter:
    "I hope there will be talks tomorrow, but there is nothing
    planned" (NBC, 9/11).
         ON THE SAME PAGE?  Orioles owner Peter Angelos said he was
    not in the loop on the decision to reject the players offer,
    despite Selig's claims that all owners were apprised of the
    players' position.  Orioles Vice Chair Joe Foss said he talked to
    two other teams who were not contacted either (Peter Schmuck,
    Baltimore SUN, 9/10).
         NOT TOO TORN UP:  Smith Barney media analyst John Reidy
    called the strike a mere "distraction" for ABC and NBC:  "You are
    much better off to be doing your regular season programming.
    Sure, baseball gets some great ratings, but it doesn't build a
    schedule" ("Nightly Business Report," PBS, 9/9).  In Boston, Jack
    Craig concurs:  "The entertainment divisions of the networks will
    take over the time periods, allowing them to keep all the revenue
    in what is currently a booming advertising market" (BOSTON GLOBE,
    9/11).
    

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  • IS IT SALARY CAP OR BUST FOR THE OWNERS?

         One owner, speaking on the condition of anonymity:  "I guess
    I was naive, but it wasn't until the last few days that I began
    to suspect strongly that this really is an effort to break the
    union."  A different owner from a different league:  "One of the
    scariest things is old hard-line owners think they're smelling
    blood.  It's bizarre.  It's been so long since ownership stayed
    intact and stood up, this is an unusual position for them to be
    in at this stage of a strike.  When you think about it
    unraveling, there's a group thinking that we have them where we
    want them" (Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/11).
         BLUNT TALK:  On the "Sports Reporters," Mike Lupica:  "They
    were out to bust his union. This was not a good faith
    negotiating.  I believe it and I mean it when I compare Selig to
    the Black Sox.  This is the greatest scandal in baseball since
    1919" (ESPN, 9/11).
         WHAT'S IT WORTH?  Bill Madden writes, "As empty-headed as
    the owners have shown themselves to be over the years, it is hard
    to believe they could be so bull-headed as to destroy their own
    businesses in hopes of bringing the union to its knees" (N.Y.
    DAILY NEWS, 9/11).  Peter Gammons notes all sides, even some
    MLBPA officials, admit it will be hard to keep some players from
    crossing picket lines next spring, estimates are that franchise
    and player worth will be devalued 50%:  "That means if Tom Werner
    and Jackie Autry want to burn at the stake rather than sell their
    teams for the $85 million and $150 million they're asking, they'd
    be chucking $40 million and $75 million, respectively, just to
    see Fehr on his knees" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/11).
    

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  • NFL REALIGNMENT PLANS GET BROTHERLY & WINDY CITY LOVE

         In Philadelphia, Dave Caldwell reports on the latest re-
    alignment plan submitted by Steelers president Dan Rooney (PHILA.
    INQUIRER, 9/11).  Teams in CAPS change divisions.  The Seahawks
    and Buccaneers would change conferences.
    NFC EAST  NFC CENT  NFC WEST      AFC EAST   AFC CENT   AFC WEST
    Eagles    Bears     CARDINALS     Colts      BILLS      Broncos
    FALCONS   Lions     Rams          Dolphins   Panthers   OILERS
    Cowboys   Packers   VIKINGS       Patriots   Bengals    Chiefs
    Giants    Jaguars   49ers         Jets       Browns     Raiders
    Redskins  SAINTS    SEAHAWKS      BUCS       Steelers   Chargers
         WILL IT HAPPEN?  Caldwell notes that the league has come up
    with a $65M revenue pool to compensate those teams that stand to
    lose money due to realignment.  The league will study more plans
    at a meeting scheduled for September 28-29.  If at least 21
    owners can agree on two or three plans, realignment could be
    approved at the NFL fall meeting in Chicago, November 1-2
    (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/11).  In Chicago, Richard Rothschild
    notes, the Cowboys "moved to the East when they needed help in
    making a name for themselves.  Now that the NFL can use some
    assistance with realignment, football's most publicized franchise
    should graciously move to its rightful place in the West"
    (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/11).
         WHAT WOULD FOX THINK OF TAMPA IN THE AFC?  Tampa's WTVT-TV,
    Channel 13, was one of the 12 CBS affiliates purchased by Fox and
    New World Communications in May, 1994.
    

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  • NHL LOCKOUT WATCH: OCTOBER 1 DEADLINE IS LOOMING

         Many NHL beat writers focused on the labor situation, in
    particular at the players' anger that their training camp
    expenses are not being covered by the teams.
         LOS ANGELES:  King defenseman Marty McSorley said that the
    NHL "created the specter of a training-camp lockout to mask its
    real intention -- to stage a lockout before the season begins and
    players draw their first paychecks."  Helene Elliott notes that
    no formal talks are scheduled, although NHL Commissioner Gary
    Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow "talk often, as do the
    groups' respective lawyers" (L.A. TIMES, 9/11).
         DALLAS: Dan Noxon, noting that there are no collective
    bargaining sessions scheduled:  "This is ridiculous, particularly
    in light of the league's pending agreement with Fox" (DALLAS
    MORNING NEWS, 9/11).
         PHILADELPHIA:  Gary Miles notes that veterans "are extending
    helping hands to teammates who need a little financial boost"
    (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/11).
         NEW YORK:  Rangers' Mike Hudson on Bettman's "approach" to
    the situation: "We're not happy about it.  It's almost like a
    dictatorship now.  He's not going to force us into a settlement"
    Joe LaPointe notes that "there has been little talk among the
    hockey players of selective wildcat strikes."  Hockey players, as
    a group, "are far less confrontational than their baseball
    brethren" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/11).
         BUFFALO:  Sabres owner Seymour Knox said he expects the two
    sides to "avert a lockout" before the October 1 deadline and
    "resume normal and friendly relations."  Knox said hockey is
    nothing like baseball (PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/11).
         BOSTON: Kevin Paul DuPont notes, "Believe it when the
    players say they're prepared for a lockout.  Their union has
    issued all 26 player representatives a credit card with a $50,000
    limit -- enough to buy one-way tickets home for everyone on or
    about Oct. 1" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/11).
    

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Leagues and Governing Bodies, News Corp./Fox, NHL
  • NHL SHOOTS AND SCORES WITH FOX BROADCAST DEAL

         The NHL Board of Governors is expected to ratify today a
    $155M, five-year TV deal with Fox, marking the first time the
    league will have regular season, playoff, and Stanley Cup finals
    games broadcast on a regular basis since the '74-'75 season.  A
    joint NHL/Fox news conference in New York is scheduled for
    tomorrow (mult., 9/10-12).  Smith Barney media analyst Bill
    Meyers told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY this morning:  "The NHL
    hasn't had a significant presence on broadcast television.  So,
    this is as important for the league as it is for Fox" (DAILY
    sources, 9/12).
         HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:  Final details have not been made
    public, but Fox, which reaches 90M homes, will reportedly kick-
    off its hockey schedule with the January 21 All-Star Game; air at
    least 12 games of the week on Sunday afternoons through April 9;
    cover a playoff game weekly; and air a number of Stanley Cup
    Finals games in prime time.  Coverage may be regionalized (mult.,
    9/10-12). "Fox will also...be guaranteed exclusive national
    rights to a Stanley Cup Game 7, should one be played" (Phil
    Mushnick, N.Y. POST, 9/12).
         REVENUE SHARING:  The deal "reportedly assures $31M annually
    to the NHL under a unique financing plan in which the league will
    sell and keep advertising revenue until it reaches its guarantee.
    If it falls short, Fox would make up the difference.  If it
    exceeds the total, the league and Fox will share that revenue"
    (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10).
         THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS:  18-34 year olds are the name of
    the game and "Fox also has pledged an extensive promotional
    campaign for a sport whose demographic of younger viewers also
    fits nicely with the network's audience" (Leonard Shapiro,
    WASHINGTON POST, 9/10).
         SUDS AND DUDS:  Anheuser-Busch and Nike are major backers,
    according to Stars President Jim Lites:  "They were already in
    and said if you do network television, we will make this level of
    commitment.  [Commissioner Gary Bettman] was then able to go into
    the networks with those commitments and make it happen" (Barry
    Horn, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/10).
         FOX HUNT:  The NHL deal "is further evidence that Murdoch is
    determined to be a player in the bidding war for every major
    sports franchise" (Jim Benson, VARIETY, 9/9). "As it did in
    December when it won the rights to broadcast NFL games for four
    seasons, Fox again outbid CBS," which made a final offer of
    $150M.  NBC and ABC did not bid at all, and Fox Chair Rupert
    Murdoch "personally negotiated the NHL deal" (Barry Horn, DALLAS
    MORNING NEWS, 9/10).  Smith Barney's Bill Meyers, in an interview
    this morning:  "It adds the 'S' to Fox Sports" (DAILY sources,
    9/12).
         ESPN REAX:  The NHL has reportedly extended its deal with
    ESPN for two years and will allow the cable network to "televise
    late-round playoff games in home markets" (Rudy Martzke, USA
    TODAY, 9/12).  In a statement released Friday, ESPN -- which has
    completed two years of its five-year, $80M cable deal with the
    NHL -- expressed approval of the Fox contract:  "We have been
    saying all along we have been working closely with the NHL in its
    continuous efforts to obtain a broadcast network agreement in
    return for certain contract modifications, including greater
    exclusivity.  We agree that greater broadcast network exposure
    will benefit all involved" (Barry Horn, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
    9/10).
         LIGHTNING GOVERNOR DAVID LEFEVRE:  "If the product goes well
    and picks up more viewers than expected, the package could
    increase even further" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/10).
         CAPITALS PRESIDENT DICK PATRICK:  "This adds to our exposure
    and gives the perception in this country that hockey is becoming
    a national sport as opposed to a regional one as it has been in
    the past.  If we're hard to find on TV, we're not major league,
    and that's more important than the finances of the deal"
    (WASHINGTON POST, 9/10).
         TIMING IS EVERYTHING:  The Fox deal comes amid reports of a
    threatened work stoppage, so "the question now becomes whether
    revenue from the Fox deal would be enough to help avert a player
    walkout" (Jim Benson, VARIETY, 9/9).
         HELSINKI ACCORD:  According to a source of THE SPORTS
    BUSINESS DAILY, an agreement reached in Finland over the weekend
    between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation
    provides a framework for NHL players to go to the Olympics, as
    well as a possible joint NHL/IIHF Pan-European "Super-League"
    (DAILY sources, 9/12).
    

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  • PLAYERS READY TO DISCUSS A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

         Weekend talk again turned to the idea of the players
    creating their own league.  Braves player rep Tom Glavine:  "It's
    been talked about, absolutely.  Some might think it's far-
    fetched, but it is not.  Hopefully, we won't get to that point"
    (Mike Fish, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/12).  While former MLBPA
    general counsel Richard Moss, who tried  unsuccessfully to start
    a rival league in '89, sees "another window of opportunity
    approaching" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 9/11) -- others are
    doubtful.  Peter Schmuck writes, "The logistics of starting a new
    league would be so daunting that it seems unlikely that it would
    be considered seriously" (Baltimore SUN, 9/11).
         WILL THEY HOLD?  In Chicago, Jerome Holtzman writes, "Many
    [players] are eager to return to the field, even with a salary
    cap.  Eventually, they will surrender.  And the longer they hold
    out, the more they will lose" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/11).  John
    Helyar writes the MLBPA is "potentially the far bigger loser" if
    the season shuts down (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/12).  On ESPN's
    "Sports Reporters," Bill Conlin predicted that the owners will
    open the camps next year and "Barry Bonds and a lot of other
    players making $2 million a year will come into camp.  If the
    union is not broken, it is bankrupt" (ESPN, 9/11).
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • POLL FINDS SENATE SILENT ON MLB ANTI-TRUST EXEMPTION

         With the latest round of talks between MLB owners and
    players yielding no settlement, the MLBPA and its Washington
    representatives will turn their attention to Congressional action
    on baseball's antitrust exemption.  As early as today, Sen.
    Howard Metzenbaum, the Antitrust Subcommittee Chair and a
    longtime foe of baseball's special status, will re-introduce
    legislation to have the exemption lifted.
         Metzenbaum has pushed twice before to change the game's
    status, most recently in June '94 when his bill was defeated in
    the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 10-7 vote.  Now, Metzenbaum
    is back for one "last stand" before he retires.  He has scaled
    back his previous legislation and found an influential co-sponsor
    in Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.  The Metzenbaum/Hatch bill lifts
    the ban for the duration of the strike and would allow players to
    sue if the owners unilaterally impose a salary cap during the
    off-season.
         But even with a new co-sponsor and a change in tactics, the
    bill faces an uphill fight in a Senate  largely fearful of taking
    a stand on this controversial issue.
         According to an exclusive straw poll of the U.S. Senate by
    THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY, only 34 Senators were willing to take
    even an anonymous stand on lifting the ban (all 100 Senate
    offices were contacted over the Labor Day recess).  Among those
    that responded, there was little consensus or any indication of
    party-line uniformity:  20 favored revoking baseball's antitrust
    exemption (12 Republican, 8 Democrat) and 14 opposed (6
    Republican, 8 Democrat).
         While the numbers signal a considerable undecided vote up
    for grabs by either side, there are discouraging signs for pro-
    union forces.  Many of the "non-answers" came from traditionally
    pro-labor senators torn between trust-busting and protecting
    minor league interests in their home states.
         The Metzenbaum/Hatch bill could be taken up any time after
    the Senate resumes business today, either as a free standing
    piece of legislation or as an amendment to an existing bill.
    That would force each senator to vote on the measure.  One high-
    level Metzenbaum staffer said:  "I can't imagine any Senator
    willing to block a bill that would bring baseball back on the
    field.  If they want to do that, let them do it publicly on the
    Senate floor.  We are confident that if we have an up and down
    vote, with a promise from the players to play, that we will get
    the majority of votes."
         Baseball's owners, however, are ready for a legislative
    fight and confident of victory.  MLB Dir. of Government Relations
    Gene Callahan:  "We will be prepared."  According to one staffer
    on the Senate's Judiciary Committee:  "The baseball owners have
    an unruly amount of power up here.  All they need is 24 hours to
    beat this bill."  Another Judiciary Committee staffer predicts
    Metzenbaum will "get hammered on the floor -- maybe 20 votes
    maximum":  "It won't even end the strike, it will just bring
    about more court action."
         MLB's financial support of the minor leagues is a powerful
    stick for the owners.  In fact, many senators reluctant to take a
    position cited fear of losing their minor league teams.  As
    Callahan explains it, lifting the ban "would destroy Class A ball
    and would wipe out the Carolina League."  Without players
    beholden to their team for six years, the majors "are not going
    to spend that kind of money on player development," said
    Callahan, who puts the subsidy from MLB to the minor leagues at
    $211M.
         John Fithian, an attorney with Patton, Boggs & Blow and
    Washington counsel to the MLBPA, acknowledges the force behind
    MLB's payment to the minors, noting that before the subsidy
    agreement, the minors favored lifting the ban.  Despite the long
    odds, Fithian said the MLBPA intends to press on:  "Eventually
    this legislation will get passed.  Maybe not now, but the ground
    work we are setting is important. ... If we don't get the
    antitrust exemption lifted, another strike will happen again down
    the road."
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Ottawa Senators
  • U.S. OPEN: IN AGASSI, DID TENNIS GET ITS MAN?

         In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome writes, "Well, tennis got what
    it wanted, Andre Agassi."  USTA president Bumpy Frazier
    announcing the champion of the U.S. Open: "Ladies and gentlemen,
    the most popular tennis player in the entire world, Andre
    Agassi."  Michael Stich, on the comment: "What a stupid thing to
    say."  Lincicome: "Yes it was, but forgive tennis for getting
    beside itself over Agassi finally filling another crack in his
    potential, not to mention a huge hole in its appeal" (CHICAGO
    TRIBUNE, 9/12).
         STATE OF THE GAME:  CBS's Mary Carillo: "The best thing that
    could have happened to tennis was Andre Agassi winning the U.S.
    Open."  CBS's Tim Ryan, referring to Sally Jenkins' 5/94 "Is
    Tennis Dying?" piece in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:  "There is a lot of
    action in tennis in reaction to that piece" (CBS, 9/11).  Cliff
    Drysdale, Bud Collins, Tracy Austin, and Tony Trabert appeared on
    PBS' "Charlie Rose" to discuss the state of the game ("Charlie
    Rose," 9/9).  Agassi appeared this morning on both CBS' and ABC's
    news programs.
         TENDING HOUSE:  The Women's Tennis Council, "currently in
    the midst of fending off a takeover threat" by IMG, took an
    "internal step forward in strengthening its own position" by
    naming Anne Person Worcester as the first CEO of the WTA Tour
    (N.Y. TIMES, 9/10).  The Tennis Industry Association (TIA)
    approved a plan at the U.S. Open to invest $15M over the next
    three years in an effort to "revitalize the sport and attract new
    players" (DAILY sources, 9/12).  Phillip Morris USA plans to
    organize and promote a women's legends tour that will feature
    Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, among others.  The tour will
    play in six unannounced cities and hold a final championship
    event in early December at Delray Beach, FL (PHILADELPHIA DAILY
    NEWS, 9/9).
         IMAGE MAY NOT BE EVERYTHING:  CBS cut to a shot of Brooke
    Shields using a Minolta to take a picture of her beau, Agassi, a
    Canon pitchman.
    

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