SBD/2/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 113: EXIT VISAS IMMINENT?

         MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza confirmed yesterday that the
    union has asked the Department of Labor to certify the strike, "a
    step that would prompt the Immigration and Naturalization
    Service, under Federal regulation, to deny visas to foreign
    players seeking to play baseball in the United States."  INS
    officer John Brown: "We can't approve any petitions for baseball
    players coming to perform at locations where the strike is
    ongoing."  In other words, the regulation "prohibits foreign
    nationals from being used as replacement workers during a
    strike."  Management has not "publicly registered a challenge to
    the union's effort to block visas."  The owners will submit a
    position statement to the Labor Department next week (Murray
    Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).  Red Sox VP Dick Bresciani "conceded
    that plans are being made to roll back prices" if replacement
    players are used (Dan Shaughnessy, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/2).  At Bobby
    Bonilla's charity event, star players reaffirmed their stance
    that they would not cross the picket line.  They agreed "the
    damage caused by one superstar crossing the line would far
    supersede the danger of a dozen or so minor league" players
    coming in (Jennifer Frey, N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).
         LATIN PLAYERS:  In New York, Murray Chass hints that the
    owners think some Latin MLB players "will defect from the union
    in wholesale numbers and report to spring training when camps
    open."  But Rafael Palmeiro said that was "ridiculous" and
    "racist":  "Let me tell you, if anybody crosses that line, it's
    not going to be a Latin player."  One club exec explained the
    owners' thinking in including Latin players in their spring
    training plans, saying that most Latin players "come from poor
    families" and send part of their salaries home.  But the exec
    agreed with Palmeiro that that thinking is "racist" (N.Y. TIMES,
    12/2).
         OWNERS OPTIMISTIC?  Red Sox CEO John Harrington:
    "Hopefully, it could be done next week, but it would take a
    tremendous effort -- and we're going to do that over an intense
    period of time over five or six days.  But it is so complex that
    my projection is that it will take us into the next month of
    January.  But I'm very optimistic and hopeful that it will be
    done before the start of spring training" ("SportsCenter," ESPN,
    12/1).
         THE UNION PROPOSAL:  Special mediator William Usery is
    considering attending the union's 3-day executive board meeting
    that starts Monday in Atlanta (TORONTO SUN, 12/2).  In New York,
    George Vecsey praises Usery's work: "He's the best chance
    baseball has" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Walt Disney
  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 63: LOOK WHO'S TALKING

         NHL owners and players resumed negotiations in Chicago
    yesterday, with one insider describing the session as "good, not
    great."  In this morning's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, the CANADIAN
    PRESS' Alan Adams reports on the state of talks on the top issues
    at hand.  ROOKIE CAP:  The NHLPA dropped its ceiling for entry-
    level salary restrictions from $1.5M to $1.25M.  The owners are
    still in the neighborhood of $700,000.  ARBITRATION:  The NHL
    wants to retain its proposal to make an arbitrator's decision
    non-binding.  But the league did propose that a maximum of two
    players be allowed to "walk away" -- become unrestricted free
    agents if the team decides not to pay the salary determined by an
    arbitrator.  The NHLPA wants arbitration to remain binding.  The
    two sides have reportedly agreed that an unrestricted free
    agent's salary cannot be used for comparison purposes in an
    arbitration case.  FREE AGENCY:  Both sides have agreed to
    unrestricted free agency at age 28, and the union is said to have
    agreed to the NHL's "franchise player" proposal.  The owners want
    each team's franchise player to be the highest paid player on the
    team, while the union proposes that franchise players receive the
    average of the top salaried players of each of the 26 teams --
    about $3M a season.  LUXURY TAX:  The owners' tax plan was not on
    the table yesterday (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/2).  In New York,
    Richard Sandomir reports that the owners' caps for rookies are
    $700,000 for 1st round picks, $400,000 for 2nd, and $250,000 for
    3rd.  On free agency, Sandomir reports the league wants to raise
    the age-limit on unrestricted free agency to 31 (N.Y. TIMES,
    12/2).  The union is also believed to be negotiating for
    "increased benefits and a share of NHL licensing revenues, as
    well as an increase in playoff award money" (Larry Brooks, N.Y.
    POST, 12/2).
         WHAT TO EXPECT:  In Toronto, Bob McKenzie writes, "The NHL
    expects entry-level restrictions, modified arbitration and
    elimination of Group One free agency from the players simply
    because it believes that's what's required to help put the
    league's economic house in order.  Now, the NHL is prepared to
    trade unrestricted free agency for a tax.  The NHLPA isn't
    biting, though it still wants and expects the new world of free
    agency.  The crystal ball, fuzzy as it may be, suggests if the
    improvements in free agency are less liberal -- say unrestricted
    status at age 30 with or without a franchise-player clause -- the
    impetus for the tax will be significantly reduced or eliminated"
    (TORONTO STAR, 12/2).
         TAX PLAN ON ICE?  ESPN's Al Morganti reported the owners
    "are willing to back off" of the luxury tax, saying he believes
    they are unwilling to risk the a season "by forcing this luxury
    tax down [the players'] throat"   ("SportsCenter," 12/1).  In New
    York, Larry Brooks also reports that support for the tax has
    "dwindled" among the NHL Board of Governors.  "But the league was
    believed to be supporting a relatively benign tax in the rate of
    5-to-10 percent on free agent signings" (N.Y. POST, 12/2).  But
    in Boston, Stephen Harris reports that a "hard-line faction" of
    about 10 teams (Bruins, Blackhawks, Canadiens, Panthers, Devils,
    Canucks among others) have decided that the players' concessions
    are insufficient and that the luxury tax should be brought back
    to the table (BOSTON HERALD, 12/2).
         ALL-STARS LOSE:  Keith Olbermann, on Team Gretzky losing to
    the IHL Vipers:  "If this is how they're going to settle the
    lockout, the owners won" ("SportsCenter," 12/1).  Wayne Gretzky
    wouldn't name names, but complained about efforts to "sabotage"
    the team's tour.  Gretzky:  "CBC and ESPN have been kind enough
    to step up to the plate and not worry about the pressure. ... But
    I guess people aren't tired of watching bowling and pool on TV
    yet" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 12/1).  Team Gretzky sported Coca-
    Cola decals on their helmets, and L.A. Gear patches on their
    NHLPA jerseys (THE DAILY).  Mike Barnett, agent to Gretzky and
    Brett Hull, promised an expanded exhibition schedule if the
    season is canceled:  "It would be of grandiose proportions,
    managed by the players, on a world basis in scope" (Dave
    Luecking, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/2).  CBC confirms that
    Molson will be a "full sponsor" of the two telecasts of Team
    Gretzky on December 3 & 10 (Ken McKee, TORONTO STAR, 12/2).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Bruins, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Palace Sports & Entertainment, Southwest Sports Group, Vancouver Canucks, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
  • MITCHELL OUT OF RUNNING FOR BASEBALL COMMISSIONER?

         George Mitchell's appointment as President Clinton's special
    adviser on economic development in Ireland "may be a temporary
    job" but it appears that he is "no longer in line to be baseball
    commissioner.  Mitchell has indicated to friends that he and
    owners have "drifted apart and they will have to begin another
    search process."  Asked if former Democratic National Chair Paul
    Kirk would be considered for the position, one owner said that if
    a labor agreement is made, the search process will start over,
    possibly with the players involved in the search process (Peter
    Gammons, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/2).  Mitchell assumes the position on
    January 10, 1995 (White House).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies
  • PAT BOWLEN PUSHES NOTION OF TORONTO AS A POTENTIAL NFL CITY

         Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, a Canadian citizen, "reiterated"
    to the CANADIAN PRESS yesterday what he had said more than a year
    ago -- that Toronto "could very well, before the turn of the
    century, have a relocation" of an existing NFL team.  It is very
    likely that exhibition games in '95 and '96 will be played at the
    SkyDome as part of the American Bowl series (Ken McKee, TORONTO
    STAR, 12/2).  Bowlen also noted that Vancouver and Montreal are
    also possible sites for NFL franchises "seeking more viable
    markets and modern facilities" (CP/VANCOUVER SUN, 12/2).
         BILLS GAMES IN TORONTO?  Sources confirmed that NFL
    Commissioner Paul Tagliabue recently asked Bills Owner Ralph
    Wilson to consider moving one or more league games to the SkyDome
    at some unspecified date.  But the prospect of Bills games in
    Toronto appears "unlikely," even after the Bills' current stadium
    lease expires in August 1998.  Scott Brown, spokesperson for Erie
    County Executive Dennis Gorski, said that the county intends to
    include the "performance clause" requiring the Bills play all
    league and playoff games in Rich Stadium in any new lease.  Brown
    also noted that a $23M update of Rich Stadium has already begun.
    Fourteen new luxury boxes are being added.  Part of the funding
    is a state loan ($8M), and the county would like that to be
    converted into a grant from the public coffers.  Some $1.5M has
    already been granted (Ken McKee, TORONTO STAR, 12/2).  According
    to CNBC's Sue Herera, Wilson said he would not oppose NFL
    expansion into Toronto (CNBC, 12/1).
    

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL, Wilson Sporting Goods
  • PGA TOUR'S FINCHEM REPORTS THAT NORMAN HAS BACKED OFF

         PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem reported that after a
    phone conversation with Greg Norman, one of the organizers of the
    World Golf Tour, and said that Norman "indicated that he would
    not support any venture that would damage the PGA Tour, our
    tournaments or their sponsors."  Finchem, in a statement:  "It
    was a cordial conversation in which we both agreed that a
    confrontation would not be in the best interests of the game of
    golf.  I appreciate Greg's reevaluation of this situation.  I
    also was pleased that he was receptive to providing us and other
    golf organizations around the world with this input as we
    consider the future development of increased international
    competition" (PGA Tour).  Terry Kelley, the World Golf Tour's Dir
    of Communications, said Finchem's words "sounded suspicious.  We
    were under the impression that it was a courtesy call.  Norman
    would have called us if he was re-evaluating his support" (Steve
    Hershey, USA TODAY, 12/2).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, PGA Tour
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