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MEMPHIS: Despite a report in USA TODAY which had the Hamilton Tiger-Cats possibly moving to Memphis, David Williams advises Memphis football fans not to get too excited. CFL Chair John Tory: "The [USA TODAY] article is stating conclusions that haven't been reached yet and reported on deals that haven't been done." Tory did not rule out a move, but said Hamilton will get a chance to keep its team. If the Tiger-Cats move to Memphis, they might not be able to play in the Liberty Bowl because the William Dunavant-led group that pursued an NFL franchise has the lease rights to the Liberty Bowl through 2000. Steve Ehrhart, a Dunavant associate: "We're still trying to make a determination of what is the best type of football for Memphis." The Dunavant group has not ruled out the CFL but a "higher priority" is a new pro football league to compete with the NFL (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/20). EDMONTON: The Eskimos are asking the city of Edmonton for a $1M annual subsidy from the city -- "or muscle into control of profits from Commonwealth Stadium." Under the current arrangement with the city, the Eskimos get Commonwealth Stadium rent free, as well as a share of ad revenue and any stadium concessions profits generated by football operations (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/20).
The CANADIAN PRESS reports that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman phoned NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow yesterday, "seeking to resume negotiations." But Goodenow was in FL visiting players from the Panthers and Lightning, "and a member of the [NHLPA] staff took a message." Goodenow hadn't returned the call as of 6pm EDT last night (Alan Adams, CP/VANCOUVER SUN, 10/21). NHL VP & General Counsel Jeffrey Pash acknowledged that the league will not be able to save its 84-game schedule and promised that an announcement will be made on the reduction of the schedule "before too long" (AP/CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/21). BURKE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA: NHL Senior VP & Dir of Hockey Ops took his tour of NHL cities to Boston, where he was described by Joe Gordon as "one part Billy Graham, one part Elmer Gantry, and one part Music Man. ... Lord knows, there's trouble right here in River City, and it starts with M, and that stands for Money." Burke: "I'm here to preach the truth" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/21). NOT TO BE OUTDONE: Goodenow met with players from both FL teams yesterday. Goodenow: "We don't have any new proposals on the table, and I'm not meeting with every team. But, if someone or some team has questions, I'm happy to meet with them and clarify things" (Tom Jones, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/21). On their way out, Panther players "stopped to shake hands with Goodenow and give him a few words of support" (David Neal, MIAMI HERALD, 10/21). TICKET REFUND PLANS: Several teams joined the Mighty Ducks, Sharks and Kings in announcing their ticket-refund plans for lost games. Capitals season-ticket holders were offered a choice between: 1) a 6% interest payment on canceled games as an incentive not to seek a refund; 2) "Caps Dollars" equal to 10% of the total value of games actually canceled, which can be redeemed for future game tickets, at USAir Arena concession stands during Capitals games, or for Capitals merchandise at team outlets; and, 3) exchanging the tickets for any other game during '94-95 (Cpaitals). Capitals Dir of Marketing Lew Strudler: "We've tried to be creative" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/21). Strudler also announced the team actually sold six season tickets yesterday (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 10/21). The Canucks are offering 7% interest (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/21). The Senators are offering 5% (CP, 10/21). PRESSURE? Larry Wigge reports that "at least two powerful player agents" said they "scolded" Goodenow for not accepting one of the three owners' proposals that guaranteed "no scaleback" in salaries (SPORTING NEWS, 10/24 issue). HARD TIMES IN THE LAND OF PLENTY: CNBC's Sue Herera: "Don McSween from the Anaheim Ducks has filed an unemployment claim, becoming the first NHL player to take advantage of a California law giving benefits to lockout employees" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 10/20).
The IHL and the Professional Hockey Players Association are close to agreeing on a new CBA and could announce a signed deal as early as tomorrow in Cleveland. The IHL has been negotiating with the PHPA since February, and the main issue has been revenue sharing and a taxed salary cap -- the same issues the NHL has been struggling with. Cincinnati Cyclones Player Rep Dallas Eakins said that the labor negotiations have been "much more civil" than those in the NHL: "We know we're not the NHL. We want families to be able to afford to come to our games, so it has to be a good working agreement" (Randy Oppenheimer, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 10/21). Clevaland Lumberjacks Owner Larry Gordon said the agreement would include provisions for career counseling, a players' pension, revenue sharing and "other things the players have never had before." One proposal still being debated is the prospect of adding the union as the 18th league team for revenue-sharing purposes. Gordon added that a clause in the agreement will ensure that a minimum of 5,000 seats in each IHL arena will cost an average of $10 or less (Amy Rosewater, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/20).
In Atlanta, Thomas Stinson examines USA TODAY's study of baseball finances (see THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY, 10/20). "It may come as little surprise that both sides on the labor dispute have troubles with the survey's findings." Braves Player Rep Tom Glavine: "Both sides have had economists making their findings and [USA Today] has its own opinion. It all depends on what you're looking for." The survey, for instance, projected losses "absorbed" by the Astros to be $14.2M. Astros GM Bob Watson called that "significantly low" but still found "substance in the general findings." According to Stinson, the survey made 11 "assumptions and/or adjustments that misrepresented the disparity between the losers and winners. Omitted, for instance, was debt service, a factor that may push" the Pirates, who reportedly lose $1M a month, to move (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/21). UPDATE: CNN's Fred Hickman: "Ten of the top agents in the business representing approximately half of the players with big league contracts met with union officials in New York. The consensus after the five hour meetings: The players will continue to sign new deal throughout the offseason, strike or no. They say the players are hunkered down and expect none to fold come spring training if no deal is in place at that time" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/20). FANTASY SERIES: Studio City Holding announced the formation of a joint venture to produce a "fantasy" version of the '94 World Series. Participants are Sandlot Production Partners, Fawnsworth Int'l Picture Corporation and Studio City Holding. The "Series" is being recorded and prepared for broadcast by Radio Cinema (Studio City).