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  • BENSON QUITS NFL FINANCE COMMITTEE POST

         Saints owner Tom Benson resigned his post as chair of the
    "powerful" NFL Finance Committee.  NBC's Will McDonough notes
    that the owners are "very upset" about his decision:  "Benson is
    upset at the San Francisco 49ers, he feels they have abused the
    cap, he doesn't like what Jerry Jones has been doing in Dallas
    and he told the Commissioner that he is tired of being the
    policeman in the league.  Other owners are prevailing upon him to
    come back but he said he is going to stay away from the
    chairmanship" ("NFL Live," NBC, 10/16).  McDonough also notes
    that Benson never wanted Wayne Huizenga in the league and
    "bristled when the NFL changed its rules to allow him to own the
    Dolphins" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/16).  Fox's James Brown also reported
    the Benson story, adding:  "In a related development, it was also
    revealed that the Ed DeBartolo Corporation, which owns the 49ers,
    is a limited partner in a Mississippi River Boat casino.
    However, a league official has told Fox that this is no violation
    of NFL rules" ("Fox NFL Sunday," 10/16).
         WORLD LEAGUE OFFICIALS:  Broncos President Pat Bowlen, Lions
    Owner William Clay Ford, Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and Patriots
    President Robert Kraft will represent the NFL on an eight-person
    World League of American Football Board of Directors.  News
    Corp., the NFL's joint-venture partner in the league, also has
    four seats on the board (NFL).
    

    Print | Tags: Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Miami Dolphins, NBC, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, News Corp./Fox, NFL, San Francisco 49ers
  • HOCKEY TALKS IN DEEP FREEZE; WHO WILL BREAK THE ICE?

         "Like two people after a first date, neither the NHL nor the
    union apparently wants to make the first move and be seen as
    overanxious or too willing to make a settlement. ... The owners,
    however, clearly believe [NHLPA Exec Dir] Bob Goodenow and his
    negotiating committee are stalling, and so [NHL Commissioner]
    Gary Bettman is expected to call Goodenow today or tomorrow to
    arrange some bargaining sessions for this week" (Damien Cox,
    TORONTO STAR, 10/17).  The NHLPA claims it "is trying to figure
    out what can be negotiated."  Goodenow:  "We thought they were
    trying to help the small-market teams, but apparently not.  Now
    they say the issue is a salary cap.  If that's really the issue,
    we have a huge problem" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 10/17).
         PLAYER EXODUS BEGINS:  Marty McSorley, a member of the
    NHLPA's negotiating team, is said to be "very, very close" to
    signing a deal with the IHL Las Vegas Thunder.  McSorley's
    brother is a Thunder assistant coach.  Meanwhile, the Kings said
    Jari Kurri will return to play in Finland, while the Nordiques
    have given Peter Forsberg permission to play for his former
    Swedish League team (AP/Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/17).  McSorley's
    salary reportedly would be between $5,000-10,000/game, but CNN's
    Mark Morgan noted, "more importantly, McSorley would become the
    first established NHL player to join a minor league team during
    the lockout" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/16).  Kai Hietarinta,
    president of the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation and treasurer of
    the IIHF, responded to the IIHF's position that NHL players will
    not be welcome in Europe:  "We welcome our players back with open
    arms.  The IIHF might not like it" (CANADIAN PRESS/VANCOUVER SUN,
    10/15).
         NOT GOING ANYWHERE:  Neil Abbott, agent for Jeremy Roenick,
    who expressed interest in playing for the IHL Chicago Wolves,
    said it doesn't make sense "economically" for Roenick to play
    elsewhere, given the likely cost of insurance (Robert Markus,
    CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/15).
         LACE 'EM UP:  The NHLPA said on Friday that players were
    free to resume skating.  NHLPA spokesperson Steve McAllister, who
    denied a "no-skate" directive was ever issued by the union, said
    returning to the ice "should [not] be perceived as a sign of
    weakness" (Kevin Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/15).  Ranger
    Player Rep Mike Richter floated the idea of a players' league
    (N.Y. POST, 10/15).
         CHICAGO FIRE, PART II?  Blackhawk defenseman Cam Russell
    denied a report from the TORONTO STAR last week that Goodenow had
    to fly to Chicago "to put out a potential fire" last week in the
    form of insurrection among Blackhawk players.  Russell:  "Some
    guys had some concerns, but there wasn't anybody on our team at
    yesterday's meetings who expressed any desire to turn against the
    union" (Robert Markus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/15).  NHLPA
    spokesperson Steve McAllister said Goodenow's trip was "not a
    trouble-shooting mission" (Kevin Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE,
    10/17).  Despite claims of unity, Stephen Harris writes it is
    "merely a question of time before cracks begin to show in the
    ranks" of the NHLPA (BOSTON HERALD, 10/14).  One "NHL insider":
    "I give them about three paychecks.  Then, they'll be back" (Dave
    Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/15).
         FANS FIGHT BACK:  Long Island attorney Paul Kurland, an
    Islanders season-ticket holder, notified Bettman that he will
    file a class-action suit on November 1 insisting the owners start
    the season or issue complete refunds to season-ticket holders
    (Filip Bondy, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/16).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, New York Islanders, NHL, Time Warner
  • MEDIATOR USERY COULD COMMANDEER MEETINGS FOR TOMORROW

         Former Labor Secretary William Usery, the newly appointed
    federal mediator for the baseball situation, "made it clear he
    sees no imminent nor easy resolution."  Both Acting Commissioner
    Bud Selig  and MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr appeared with Labor
    Secretary Robert Reich for the announcement of Usery's
    appointment.  No one could say "precisely when representatives of
    the owners and the players would resume face-to-face
    negotiations" (Kathy Lewis, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/15).  But
    Fehr said the most likely date would be tomorrow, if new talks
    are scheduled at all for this week (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES,
    10/15).  In Boston, Peter Gammons writes, "How absurd is it that
    the federal government has to get involved in something akin to
    the battle between Charles and Diana" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/16).
         FREEZE FRAME:  Fehr told reporters Friday that he expects a
    freeze on player transactions to be imposed over the weekend.
    But Chuck O'Connor, general counsel of MLB's labor relations
    committee, said the teams have no immediate plans for a freeze.
    Selig: "I don't want to get into any of that.  We will share all
    those thoughts with Bill Usery.  All relevant questions from this
    point on will be discussed with Bill Usery."  Four players,
    possibly short of the required six years of service, filed for
    free agency Saturday:  Jim Abbott, Jack McDowell, Erik Hanson and
    Kenny Rogers.  None of the four were accepted by the Player
    Relations Committee because they did not have the required six
    years of Major League service.  The four needed a full '94 season
    to complete the sixth year.  There are about 170 players who are
    eligible for free agency; they have until October 29 to file
    (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 10/16).
         CALIFORNIA:  The Angels have pledged 5% interest on season
    ticket advances paid by January 13, 1995, if the start of the
    season is delayed.  It would make interest retroactive to the
    August 12,1994 strike for season-ticket holders.  Angels
    President Richard Brown: "We kept racking our brains for an
    incentive to bring the fans back" (Phil Rogers, DALLAS MORNING
    NEWS, 10/16).
    

    Print | Tags: LA Angels, Anaheim Sports, Anheuser Busch, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Walt Disney
  • REPORT HAS NBA & ITS PLAYERS IN SECRET MEETINGS

         The NBA and the NBPA have been negotiating "secretly for
    nearly two weeks to try to reach an agreement by the start of the
    regular season," according to a weekend report in the DALLAS
    MORNING NEWS.  Key figures on both sides of the table confirmed
    that talks resumed in late September.  The last meeting,
    according to one official, was last Thursday.  Officials on both
    sides "are reluctant to speak on the record for fear their
    comments would harm negotiations."  NBA Commissioner David Stern
    "has made it clear he believes the most efficient way to hammer
    out a new collective bargaining agreement is to do so in
    private."  Apparently, progress has been made.  One source: "If
    things weren't going well, everyone would know by now.  You would
    have had someone on one side or the other walk out, and talks
    would have broken down.  That hasn't happened" (David Moore,
    DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/15).
         WAS A LOCKOUT STERN'S STRATEGY?  In Boston, Will McDonough
    reports that Stern "wanted to emulate" the NHL, "not even open
    the season, until he was persuaded by the owners to go a
    different route that could lead the NBA onto the street around
    Thanksgiving.  The story goes that the NBA decided not to impose
    a lockout until the US Court of Appeals rules shortly on whether
    the salary cap and draft are in violation of anti-trust laws. ...
    If the owners are upheld, they will continue to negotiate a new
    deal because they will have the leverage.  If they lose, they
    will close the league down and try to regain some of that lost
    leverage."  McDonough notes "the betting" is that the league will
    be upheld in court and the players will have to come to the
    table, "or go the route of the NFL union, decertifying and taking
    three years to battle through the courts to try to win like the
    football players did" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/15).      PENNY-WISE,
    DOLLAR-FOOLISH?  In Tampa, Bill Fay writes, "It's interesting
    when NBA owners speak out indignantly against the outrageous
    contract demands of agents and then turn around and meet those
    demands.  Not all the way of course."  The Magic signed Anfernee
    Hardaway for about $70M over 9 years -- it is believed to be the
    "richest contract in the NBA."  Magic owner Rich DeVos had
    "promised that he was going to 'hold the line' in these and all
    future negotiations" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/16).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, NFL, NHL, Orlando Magic, RDV Sports
  • SOME MACRO VIEWS ON THE LABOR PROBLEMS FACING PRO SPORTS

         In Boston, Peter Gammons examines the view of Harvard Law
    Professor Paul Weiler that the four professional sports leagues
    will be broken up, "the way AT&T was broken up."    Weiler notes
    that in '85, the average one-minute long distance rate in the
    U.S. was 41 cents, but in '92 the average was 14 cents.  Weiler:
    "That's not to say that ticket prices will drop to a third of
    what they are today. But the impact will force dramatic changes."
    Weiler, in a previous article, noted that when the courts broke
    up the NCAA's football TV monopoly, the number of televised games
    "doubled in one year, at half the advertising price."  Weiler:
    "It could be that in 1995, Congress will take a serious, wide-
    ranging look at antitrust as it applies to professional sports,
    and when they start to look, the landscape may never be the
    same."  Gammons notes,  "Obviously, the first hit would be the
    inflated value of sports franchises.  Second, the players."
    Gammons writes that Congress "has never been willing to address"
    the fact that taxpayers "get ripped off" by sports monopolies.
    In taking their case to Washington, baseball owners and players
    are "going to awaken the majority of people in this country who
    don't care about government protection of baseball -- or any
    professional sport" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/16).
         SEARCH FOR MIDDLE GROUND:  In a piece that examines the work
    stoppages in both baseball and hockey, Murray Chass writes that
    the biggest problem in both sports is the "absence of creativity"
    in searching for a solution.  Agent Tom Reich, who represents
    players in both sports, proposes a "mechanism that is adjustable
    to whether salaries are outpacing revenues or whether revenues
    are outpacing salaries.  It should allow for flip-flops that
    occur from year to year or every couple of years.  What's fair at
    one moment might not be fair at another unless you have a
    mechanism that treats that spread" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/17).
         THE BIG PICTURE:  In Toronto, David Israelson sees it all as
    an "industry-wide shakeout, just like, say, banks or the auto
    industry went through years before.  For most pro sports, that
    means making the final leap from being popular but disorganized
    pastimes to becoming streamlined entertainment corporations
    merely marketing a product that just happens to be a game"
    (TORONTO STAR, 10/15).
    

    Print | Tags: ATT, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NCAA
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