SBD/20/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 131: MORE TALK, LESS ROCK

         The MLBPA returned to the table with a written proposal
    yesterday, "hoping to develop a foundation on which union and
    management negotiators can begin serious bargaining" (Peter
    Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 12/20).  Small contingents from both
    sides met for more than seven hours.  The only member of the
    owners' negotiating committee present was Phillies Exec VP Dave
    Montgomery.  Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris is expected to join the
    talks today, while Red Sox CEO John Harrington is not due until
    tonight or tomorrow.  In New York, Jon Heyman calls the addition
    of McMorris "potentially positive":  "He at least has received
    deal-making authority" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 12/20).  McMorris is the
    committee member MLBPA negotiators "seem to trust most.  So it's
    possible that keeping the group small actually could enhance the
    chances of making a deal."  Montgomery's presence is meaningful
    "because he understands the nuances of the various tax plans
    better than anyone else on the committee" (Jayson Stark,
    PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/20).  Paul Molitor was disappointed
    that more owners did not show: "You wonder if all they're doing
    is posturing, preparing themselves for legal battles" (ATLANTA
    CONSTITUTION, 12/20).    THE PROPOSAL:  Yesterday's discussion
    focused on the revenue-sharing proposal from the players.
    "Basically, the ideas are the same ones the players presented to
    the owners 10 days ago, including a way of sharing ticket revenue
    between the home and visiting clubs."  But the "crux of the
    problem continues to be the payroll tax" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA
    CONSTITUTION, 12/20).  Sources on both sides suggest that while
    they did not "exactly narrow the gap at that session, they did
    narrow their focus.  And that focus seemed to be on a new,
    double-edged tax plan that each side might be able to live with."
    The plan features two taxes -- a minimal tax on payrolls that all
    28 teams would pay, and a second tax that would penalize teams
    for execceding a certain payroll limit.  It is the "nature" and
    size of the second tax that "apparently holds the key to
    settlement."   (Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/20).
         ARBITRATION:  There also was some discussion on free agency
    and arbitration.  The players are willing to give up arbitration
    if free agency is moved from six to three years.  The owners want
    restricted 4-year free agency.  Fehr: "If you want to get rid of
    salary arbitration, you have to make everybody unrestricted free
    agents all the way down" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
    12/20).
         RAVITCH SPEAKS OUT:  Richard Ravitch, outgoing chief labor
    negotiator for the owners, was interviewed for Monday's N.Y.
    NEWSDAY.  On media coverage of the talks: "I can count on the
    fingers of one hand the number of sportswriters who have ever
    attempted to contact me to ask about what's going on. ... This
    crisis has usually been covered in newspapers and on radio and
    television as a sports story instead of a business story. ... It
    would be a lot more appropriate for understanding if the issues
    were analyzed in the business context they require."  On other
    sports' labor problems now: "The issues are the same:
    Competition for the entertainment dollar within the pressing need
    to split incremental revenues in the future more equitably" (N.Y.
    NEWSDAY, 12/19).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Philadelphia Phillies
  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 81: IT'S LATE IN THE 3RD PERIOD

         Sources in the NHL and the NHLPA "expect a last flurry of
    negotiations this week in an effort to avoid cancelling the
    entire season.  But as of yesterday, no date had been set for
    resuming talks."  The union holds a meeting of its 26 player reps
    tonight in Toronto and will stage an open meeting of its
    membership tomorrow.  Meanwhile, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
    held a conference call with five of the GMs on the negotiating
    committee -- the Bruins' Harry Sinden, the Oilers' Glen Sather,
    the Devils' Lou Lamoriello, the Flyers' Bob Clarke and Maple
    Leafs' Cliff Fletcher.  The call was an update on "concessions
    the union made on salary arbitration in recent small-group
    sessions in an effort to convince the league to remove its
    proposed payroll tax plan from the table.  Sources said Bettman
    is canvassing governors from the 26 teams on that possibility"
    (Jim Smith, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 12/20).  Sinden on the reported
    concessions:  "They didn't do enough to make us do anything at
    the moment" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/20).
         TAX TALK:  Union represenatives in the lower-level
    negotiating sessions have reportedly told Fletcher and NHL
    General Counsel Jeff Pash that the union "would not agree to any
    deal that included a tax, no matter how benign" (Larry Brooks,
    N.Y. POST, 12/20).  But in Tampa, Roy Cummings reports of some
    talk among union leaders of accepting a tax with a lower rate "in
    exchange for maintaining status quo on arbitration."  One source:
    "The feeling is, the changes in arbitration would be worse for
    the players as individuals.  It would take away some of the
    rights they have won previously.  And if the league just wants a
    tax just to say it has a tax, then they'd have it" (TAMPA
    TRIBUNE, 12/20).  In New York, Joe Lapointe writes, "Bettman has
    used [the tax] as a bogey man to get what he wants through other
    means.  Best guess here is that they will eventually accept, at
    most, a token tax, without sharp teeth, so that Bettman can save
    face and set precedent" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/20).
         ARBITRATION:  The league is said to be pushing for a system
    that prohibits players from filing for arbitration until after
    six full seasons.  The players are said to back five years or an
    age restriction of 25 for players who enter the NHL after age 20
    (Roy Cummings, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/20).
         SOLIDARITY:  The union's membership meeting comes on the
    heels of statements by Stephane Richer, who called for a vote on
    the owners' proposal, and Brian Leetch, who said the union would
    accept a low tax.  In addition, NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow faced
    complaints from several Sabres and spoke with some veterans who
    told him they want to "determine their own fate in a vote" (Dave
    Fuller, TORONTO SUN, 12/20).  But CP's Alan Adams writes, "The
    players are solidly behind the NHLPA's negotiating committee and,
    although there are cracks in the ranks, they are not as divisive
    as the NHL would hope" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/20).
         WHAT'S NEXT?  Fletcher:  "From the confident and positive
    standpoint, it would be nice to say that we'll have hockey in a
    couple of weeks, but on the negative standpoint there are people
    out there who want to terminate the season" ("Sports Tonight,"
    CNN, 12/19).  Surprisingly, Sinden "said he didn't think there
    would be any more full-scale sessions attended by the bargaining
    teams from both sides" (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD, 12/20).
    Reports on Bettman's deadline for cutting off talks and canceling
    the season range from three days after Christmas to New Year's
    Day.
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Comcast-Spectacor, Edmonton Oilers, Leagues and Governing Bodies, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Time Warner, YankeeNets
  • NFL MAY RELOCATE OFFICES FROM NYC TO WESTCHESTER COUNTY

         Eight months after "punting away an opportunity to move out"
    of New York City, the NFL is again considering relocating its
    offices in Westchester County, NY.  NFL Dir of Communications
    Greg Aiello confirmed that the league is considering moving its
    offices when the NFL's current lease expires.  In April, the
    league opted to renew its Park Avenue office lease, originally
    set to expire this year, but agreed to extend it only through
    February 1997.  At the time, league officials said they wanted to
    remain close to New York's media and advertising communities.
    Aiello said the NFL had no time-frame for deciding on the new
    location for its offices and he declined to "disclose which sites
    were under consideration" (Alex Philippidis, WESTCHESTER BUSINESS
    JOURNAL, 12/19 issue).
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL
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