SBD/13/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HITS ITS FINAL HOURS

         "There will come a day -- maybe today, maybe tommorrow --
    when Bud Selig finally will pull the plug on the late, great
    baseball season of 1994," writes Jayson Stark in this morning's
    PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  "It is only a matter of time now.  But
    even amid an atmosphere marked by no new talks, no new ideas, and
    no reason for hope, Selig refused to pull that plug yesterday"
    (9/13).
         JUST LIKE MOM USED TO MAKE:  During a media conference call
    yesterday, Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said he still hopes that
    "something happens" in the next day or two:  "It's sort of like
    chicken soup when you have a cold.  We know it's a long shot, but
    nothing bad can come of it" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
    9/13).  But he made clear during a halftime interview on "Monday
    Night Football" that the end is near: "We are going to try
    everything we possibly can to avoid calling the season off.  So
    we will just take each day as it comes.  There is no specific
    deadline, but it is true, we are very close to the end" (ABC,
    9/12).
         CALL WHEN YOU'RE READY:  On CNN's "Sports Tonight," MLBPA
    chief Donald Fehr said the union is available to talk, but he is
    not optimistic.  Fehr:  "Unless and until the owners show a
    willingness to negotiate, there is not really very much else left
    to do" (CNN, 9/12).
         NOW, TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES:  Owners spoke to owners
    yesterday, and players spoke to players, but there were no
    coversations between the two groups, especially on the issue of
    ending the season.  In fact, the N.Y. TIMES reports this morning
    that Selig and Fehr have not spoken about a formal cancellation
    in over a week.  Fehr:  "It doesn't matter what I say.  He'll do
    what he wants to do.  The notion that he cares the slightest
    about what we say is nonsense.  It's all pretense" (Murray Chass,
    N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).
         STANDSTILL NOT A POSSIBILITY:  Union officials said at their
    meeting yesterday with player reps in New York that they "briefly
    discussed the possibility of returning to work to play some of
    the remaining portion of the season if the owners would agree to
    a 'standstill' period," but are adament "that scenario wouldn't
    unfold."  MLBPA general counsel Gene Orza:  "I can see no
    scenario under which the players would return to work without an
    agreement."  The players also discussed the possibility of
    forming a new league, but such speculation is "premature"
    according to Fehr (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 9/13).
         BRING ON THE LAWYERS:  Fehr did indicate "the players are
    prepared to negotiate on the 'taxation' concept they proposed
    last week, and also "said the union is preparing possible bad-
    faith bargaining charges against the owners with the National
    Labor Relations Board."  Fehr:  "It will come as no surprise to
    anyone that if the season is lost, lawyers are going to fill an
    awful lot of hours this winter" (Mike Fish, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
    9/13).
         TRUST-BUSTERS:  Rep. Jack Brooks, Chair of the House
    Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing Sept. 22 on MLB's
    antitrust exemption.  Brooks:  "My general view is that
    exemptions are disfavored and that the burden is on those seeking
    to obtain or maintain such special treatments from our
    competition statutes" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 9/13).  ALSO
    HEARD ON THE HILL:  An editorial in today's WALL STREET JOURNAL
    takes a swing at George Mitchell for his latest efforts on health
    care reform.  "We're beginning to understand why baseball owners
    are so eager to make Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell their
    next commissioner.  They must figure that a man who has been so
    relentless on health care, and has so often gulled so many
    Republicans, is just the man to break the players' union next
    year. ... If the owners want Mr. Mitchell to destroy a free-
    market in baseball salaries, we might even say it's worth it if
    it takes him away from trying to destroy the world's greatest
    health care system" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/13).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Anheuser Busch, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • JUDGE LEAVES OPEN NBA'S RIGHT TO CHALLENGE OPT-OUT PACTS

         Federal Judge Dickinson Debevoise ruled yesterday that the
    contracts of Toni Kukoc, A.C. Green and Chris Dudley did not
    violate the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, but withheld a
    ruling on the validity of Horace Grant's contract with the Magic.
    Debevoise stated that his original ruling on the Dudley contract
    last year governed all three "opt-out" contracts signed last
    year.  The key difference with Grant is that he signed his
    contract, which contains the one-year "opt-out" clause, this
    year.  The judge "left the door open to the league."  But Grant
    is still expected to play for Orlando next season, regardless of
    the "disposition of the case, because he can always re-sign the
    same deal" with a 2-year out (Sam Smith, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/13).
         LEAGUE IS HOPEFUL:  In rejecting a motion for summary
    judgment in favor of the Magic and Grant, Debevoise "set the
    stage for a reargument of the underlying issues" from last year's
    Dudley case.  A trial is expected to take place before the start
    of the season (Robert Thomas, N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).  The decision
    "buoyed the hopes" of NBA VP for Legal/ Business Affairs Jeffrey
    Mishkin: "By far the more important holding is that all new
    contracts can be challenged if they contain the one-year outs and
    appear to be designed to circumvent the cap."  Mishkin said any
    free agents who sign contracts for less than market value that
    include one-year outs can expect them to be voided.  A.C. Green:
    "What the NBA thinks is your market value, and what your team
    thinks may be completely different.  This was a perfect example
    of that" (Bob Young, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/13).  Deputy NBA
    Commissioner Russ Granik was "cheered" by the decision "simply
    because it established that the Dudley case was not the last word
    on the subject" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).
         ORLANDO REAX:  Magic VP John Gabriel: "The cap will seem to
    change each year as we try to find ways to get around the
    problems of the salary cap.  It is something we have to be
    prepared for.  We need to utilize the next few days to get
    together with these agents to find out what some of our options
    are" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/12).  Gabriel "said the Magic are
    reluctant to pursue the issue further in court because training
    camp opens in just three weeks."  Several agents said Grant "must
    decide between his professed love for Orlando and re-signing with
    the Bulls for more money" (Barry Cooper, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/13).
         PLAYERS REAX:  NBPA exec dir Charles Grantham: "We are
    pleased the Judge agreed with the players that this issue was
    decided last year, and that the players had every right to opt
    out and sign new contracts with their teams without regard to the
    salary cap" (DAILY sources, 9/12).  Green's agent Marc Fleisher:
    "The judge made the right decision. ... We followed the NBA's
    instructions and did everything they asked.  If we had known they
    would challenge it, we could have signed a contract with a two-
    year out.  Once the judge ruled that one-year outs were
    acceptable, we chose to incorporate that in the contract"
    (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/13).
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, Orlando Magic, RDV Sports, Walt Disney
  • LEAGUE NOTES

         The ATP Tour announced that it is deferring implementation
    of a rule passed by the Board of Directors during Wimbledon that
    would have reduced the time between points to 20 seconds.  The
    decision was based on the belief that "strict enforcement" of the
    25-second rule is speeding up play.  ATP CEO Mark Miles said the
    Tour wanted to study more data and talk more with broadcasters
    and players (DAILY sources, 9/13)....New WTA Chief Exec Ann
    Person Worcester faces "plenty of problems" in her new position,
    including the search for a tour sponsor.  Worcester:  "There's a
    real misconception about that.  A lot of people think if we don't
    find a title sponsor, the tour is going under.  But we have a
    balanced budget without it."  Worcester also suggests that IMG,
    which aborted an attempt to start a new women's tour, is
    "satisfied we'd make significant changes":  "Theoretically,
    what's best for IMG is also what's best for the tour" (Michael
    Hiestand, USA TODAY, 9/13).
    

    Print | Tags: ATP, IMG, Leagues and Governing Bodies
  • NEW TV DEAL DOES NOTHING TO LESSEN NHL LOCKOUT TALK

         Talks between the NHL owners and the NHLPA, "which are
    expected to resume this week, have gone nowhere thus far and the
    likelihood of a work stoppage grows with each passing day."
    However, one NHL GM "feels there's still time to reach a
    settlement":  "It's not the 11th hour, so there is no need to
    panic.  But it will be interesting to see what happens when the
    11th hour is reached" (Alan Adams, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/13).  ESPN's
    Keith Olberman reported that the NHL has decided to go ahead with
    the lockout "within the first few weeks of the regular season
    unless their union has agreed to a collective bargaining
    agreement by then."  It is still undecided whether the lockout
    will take place before or after October 1.  Olberman:  "Our
    sources report owners are considering playing the opening game to
    reduce the amount of full refund request from season ticket
    holders.  One veteran exec tells ESPN that the owners are ready
    to shut it all down for two months" ("SportsCenter", 9/12).
         WILL FOX CHASE AWAY THOSE LOCKOUT BLUES?  Agent Mark
    LaChance told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY:  "The Fox deal won't
    affect the lockout.  The increase in revenues won't matter.  The
    Players Association will never go for a salary cap" (DAILY
    sources, 9/13).  In Toronto, Jim Hunt writes, "Surely, now that
    the NHL has bagged a TV contract with the Fox network, [NHL]
    Commissioner Gary Bettman won't be crazy enough to lock out the
    players.  But I wouldn't bet on it" (TORONTO SUN, 9/13).  Bob
    McKenzie, on the league's view:  "The future of the league is in
    good hands with Bettman.  The players should have faith in him
    and his ability to increase revenues and have no fear of an
    agreement that links salaries to revenue because revenue is on
    the way up."  On the NHLPA's view:  "The league is not, as
    Bettman wrote to [NHLPA Exec Dir Bob] Goodenow last January, in
    'tenuous financial condition,' not even close.  And the new TV
    deal not only proves that, but is one more compelling reason to
    avoid at all costs a lockout that would halt hockey's momentum as
    a major player in North American pro sports" (TORONTO STAR,
    9/13).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, News Corp./Fox, NHL, St. Louis Blues, Walt Disney
  • NFL PLAYERS FROM '87 STRIKE AWARDED LARGEST SETTLEMENT EVER

          The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the NFL and the
    NFLPA yesterday reached a settlement that will release $30M in
    back pay, bonuses and interest to players prevented from
    returning to the field immediately after the end of the '87
    strike.  The settlement -- the largest back pay award in the
    NLRB's history -- resulted from the owners' decision following
    the strike to not allow players who had returned to their teams
    on Thursday, October 15, to play in games the following Sunday.
    The owners had imposed a Wednesday deadline for players to
    report, and when the players missed the deadline, the owners
    staged games with replacement players (Steve Berkowitz,
    WASHINGTON POST, 9/13).
         THE NFL CAN COVER IT:  NFL VP of Communications Joe Browne
    said that the $30M had already been set aside as part of the
    $200M collective bargaining agreement with the players that was
    reached in January 1993 (N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).  NFLPA Assistant Exec
    Dir Doug Allen: "It's a real step forward for us.  It's long
    overdue."  But former Redskin Jeff Bostic said while the
    settlement would be "welcome," the deal only compensated the
    players with simple interest, not compound interest:  "It's
    another case of this union fumbling the ball" (Vito Stellino,
    Baltimore SUN, 9/13).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL
  • TENSIONS HEIGHTEN BETWEEN NFL AND ITS OFFICIALS

         In his halftime report during last night's "Monday Night
    Football" broadcast, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Peter King reported
    that NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will go to Chicago to
    intervene "in what has become a pretty nasty dispute between game
    officials and the NFL.  The game officials are upset over their
    pension, they have threatened an October strike.  The
    commissioner would not get involved if it were not serious.  The
    [NFL] is even thinking about hiring replacement officials later
    this week" (ABC, 9/12).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL, Sports Illustrated, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • THE BASEBALL NETWORK'S FATE REMAINS UNCLEAR

         According to the latest issue of ADVERTISING AGE: "If its
    rookie season is washed out, The Baseball Network will refund
    advertisers or provide them with make-goods on ABC and NBC.  One
    Baseball Network exec said if the season is cancelled, TBN won't
    make a two-year sale of $330M and owners will likely decide its
    fate at their winter meetings."  AD AGE also reports Gillette
    will hold the finals of its "$1 Million Home Run Challenge"
    sweepstakes in an empty stadium if there is no World Series (9/12
    issue).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBC, Walt Disney
  • TWO-YEAR OPTION COULD BOOST FOX-NHL DEAL TO $275 MILLION

         In a fact sheet distributed from the NHL to each of the 26
    clubs prior to last night's ratification vote by NHL governors,
    it was revealed the Fox TV deal that is expected to be formally
    announced today in New York "could be worth significantly more
    than the original reported figure of $155 million," according to
    Bob McKenzie in this morning's TORONTO STAR.  "Fox has guaranteed
    the NHL that amount for the next five seasons, but has the option
    to pick up the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons for an additional
    $120 million."  Even if Fox doesn't exercise its 2-year option,
    annual U.S. TV revenue will increase by 75%, an average of more
    than $1M per team per year (TORONTO STAR, 9/13).
         THE ESPN FACTOR:  According to the NHL fact sheet, the "new"
    ESPN deal is worth $65.1M through '98-99.  ESPN "is losing some
    properties but isn't paying as much as it was.  Also, ESPN will
    be permitted to lift a local team's regional blackout rights once
    per season per team in the the first three years of the deal.  In
    years four and five, ESPN's lifting of blackout rights increases
    to two times per team per year" (Bob McKenzie, TORONTO STAR,
    9/13).
         LEAGUE VIEW:  NHL Senior VP Steve Solomon:  "By our going
    out into the ad market and coming up with sponsors Anheuser-Busch
    and Nike, the value of the NHL was enhanced.  And by
    regionalizing games and Fox promoting them like they do the NFL,
    the ratings figure to improve.  Our high demos for 18-49 men make
    hockey a happening sport" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 9/13).
    Solomon and Commissioner Gary Bettman will be joined by ESPN Exec
    VP Ed Durso, Fox Television President Chase Carey, Fox Sports
    President David Hill, Anheuser-Busch VP/Corporate Media and
    Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo and Nike Sports Marketing and
    League Relations official Doug Stamm at the 2pm announcement in
    NYC today.
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, News Corp./Fox, NFL, NHL, Nike, Walt Disney
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