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The labor dispute "seemed no closer to resolution Sunday, when the owners made a counter proposal they claimed was within the framework of the proposal" made by the MLBPA on Saturday. They gave the players until tonight to respond, "which prompted" MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr to say that if the "owners want to rush off to their meeting, they will. We can't stop them." Fehr was referring to the owners' scheduled meeting on Thursday in Chicago where they are expected to implement a salary cap. Sources indicate owners are willing to accept the union's 5% payroll tax, but with a "trigger that would create an escalating tax similar to their high rate proposal of Nov. 17 if payrolls reached a certain threshold." Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris: "There's a fail-safe mechanism if revenues fail to grow at the level at which we would hope" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 12/12). In Washington, Mark Maske calls these negotiations "the last-gasp effort" before the owners vote for implementation on Thursday. McMorris called this "the closest the two sides have been to an agreement during this dispute" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/12). One union official urged not to believe positive talk from the owners: "We're still as far apart as ever" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/12). Fehr: "At first blush, it appears that the counter-proposal contains virtually all of the elements of the cap. We don't know that yet, we're going to look at it" (Mult., 12/12). ESPN's Peter Gammons: "I'm afraid that unless something miraculous happens in the next 48 hours, we're headed to Chicago for Thursday implementation in a war where the best lawyer wins" ("SportsCenter," 12/11). IT'S OFFICIAL: The strike has been certified. MLBPA General Counsel Eugene Orza said Sunday that the Department of Labor has now certified the strike, meaning that all foreign players will be prevented from receiving visas and entering the U.S. next spring to serve as replacement players (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 12/12). IN THE MONEY? According to documents obtained by the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, the union ended FY '93 with assets of $174.8M. The union began '94 with a reserve fund of $199.9M from licensing revenues saved up in anticipation of a work stoppage. The licensing program netted another $46.7M during the first 10 months of the year after expenses (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/11).
When the CFL concluded its two days of meetings in Baltimore this weekend, "team owners were able to measure progress in small steps." The aim of the meetings was to "solidify the rapidly changing structure of the league." The league made these decisions: The CFL established a Team Services division to assist new franchises -- Baltimore owner Jim Speros will set up the program; Calgary owner Larry Ryckman has temporarily stepped down as chair of the expansion committee until his lease problems are resolved; The marketing committee also discussed a name change for the league. Speros: "The plan is to have a new logo." CFL Commissioner Larry Smith said he hopes to implement a U.S. division by '96 (Ken Murray, Baltimore SUN, 12/10).
The NHL Board of Governors meet in New York today to discuss management's next move in the protracted lockout of NHL players. The following are quotes from participants and media observers on where people stand and what might happen: BLUES CHAIR MIKE SHANAHAN: "It could go everywhere from 'cancel the season' to 'let's start tomorrow.' I'm just guessing" (Dave Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/11). SENATORS CHAIR ROD BRYDEN: "I would much rather not play hockey and see this as an additional cost to the ownership of the franchise ... than to accept a contract that doesn't do what we think is necessary to be able to run our business" (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). TORONTO STAR's PAUL HUNTER: "Don't be surprised if the NHL simply opts to renew bargaining with the players with no stated end in sight" (TORONTO STAR, 12/12). WHALERS OWNER PETER KARMANOS: "I'm disgusted with both sides. ... [Even a drop-dead date is] just more bluster, more posturing" (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). L.A. TIMES' HELENE ELLIOTT cites an unnamed NHL Governor who says: "I'd guess [NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman] will poll each team, see what people are thinking and see if any new or different ideas can be incorporated into a new proposal. Then he'll go back to the union and say, 'This is our last and best deal. Take it, or see you in August'" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). BRUINS PRESIDENT HARRY SINDEN: "I think the vote will be 100 percent to keep talking" (AP/WASHINGTON POST, 12/12). MAPLE LEAFS PRESIDENT CLIFF FLETCHER: "We're not going to shut the season down (today)" (TORONTO SUN, 12/12). FLYERS OWNER ED SNIDER said he would recommend to fellow owners "that they end the lockout immediately if the players agreed to give up their right to salary arbitration" (Gary Miles, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/10). TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL's STEPHEN BRUNT, accusing the owners of following a scripted scenario: "It is hard to believe that now we are on the brink of a descent into chaos. Instead, all signs point to the owners stepping back on Monday -- purely for the good of the game and the good of the fans, of course -- removing the evil tax from the table, and then pressing their advantage through the home stretch" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/10).