SBD/9/Leagues Governing Bodies

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 120: EARLY FREEZE THIS WINTER?

         In a gathering yesterday with union officials, a group of 40
    player agents "said they may consider a freeze on signings of
    their clients if the owners impose their salary cap next week.
    That would throw the sport into even more turmoil."  Currently,
    there are more than 150 free agents, and there will be another 80
    restricted ones, if the owners go ahead with their plan.
    Already, some players who would be free agents under the owners'
    salary cap "have said they won't sign a contract under those
    conditions" (I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/9).  The
    agents left the final decision on a freeze up to the union, but
    any freeze "would be mostly cosmetic since the players will
    resume their strike next spring if the owners implement and
    attempt to open the camps with replacement players" (Ross Newhan,
    L.A. TIMES, 12/9).  In Washington, Mark Maske notes that many
    agents have "put considerable pressure" on MLBPA Exec Dir Donald
    Fehr to reach an agreement at various times during the strike.
    "But there apparently was a show of solidarity today, much as
    there was during the players' meetings" this week (WASHINGTON
    POST, 12/9).  "There was no dissent" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore
    SUN, 12/9).
         THE PLAYERS' PLAN:  The union spent much of yesterday
    working on details of the counterproposal they will present to
    the owners Saturday morning in Rye Brook, NY.  There were
    differing accounts on the contents of the players' plan.  While
    ESPN and others reported that it includes a flat payroll tax,
    there was uncertainty over the percentages.  The proposal also
    calls for joint marketing and revenue-generating projects.  Agent
    Craig Fenech: "It should provide a basis for satisfying them.
    But I think they have an agenda.  A number of owners want to try
    replacement players.  I expect they're going to implement"
    (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/9).  Royals Player Rep David Cone:
    "The owners have been talking about a partnership, well here it
    is.  Let's do it under these circumstances and make it a true
    partnership."  ESPN's Bob Sirkin on prospects this weekend: "The
    viability of the players' counter-proposal could be measured by
    just how long the two sides keep talking" ("SportsCenter," 12/8).
    Rockies owner Jerry McMorris "claimed management would be
    receptive to players having a voice in running the game if the
    numbers in their new proposal are acceptable" (Joel Sherman, N.Y.
    POST, 12/9).
         AROUND THE LEAGUE:  An AP poll conducted November 30-
    December 6 of 615 adult baseball fans found that 51% say they
    would attend the same number of games next season even if
    replacement players are used; 63% said they would watch just as
    many games on TV.  The number of people identifying themselves as
    baseball fans dropped to 26% now from 33% in July.  Asked
    generally about the possible use of replacement players, 49% of
    fans were in favor, 40% opposed (AP/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH,
    12/9)....MLB is sending former major leaguers and current coaches
    Dave Duncan, Jim Lefebvre and Frank White to Europe to conduct a
    series of baseball clinics next month.  Some 1,200 European
    coaches and trainers are expected to participate (MLB).
    

    Print | Tags: Colorado Rockies, ESPN, Kansas City Royals, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, Walt Disney
  • EXPANSION: A SPORT BUSINESS DAILY STUDY ON THE NBA IN CANADA

         The NBA's venture into Canada was supposed the be the
    league's bold first step into the international realm, laying the
    precedent for a more ambitious move into Mexico and Europe.  But
    the two expansion franchises, awarded to Toronto and Vancouver in
    late '93 and early '94, are yet to reach the season-ticket sales
    goals set by the league.  In an exclusive three-part series, THE
    SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY examines the start up franchises and their
    quest to reach the NBA-mandated 12,500 season-ticket minimum by
    December 31.  The league has warned both franchises that the
    12,500 number is real, and if either the Vancouver Grizzlies or
    the Toronto Raptors fail to reach that number, they will lose the
    franchise.  Today, NBA Dir of Public Relations Jan Hubbard
    discusses the league's role north of the border.
         THE DAILY:  How does the league feel as each team enters its
    strech drive?  Are you optimistic they will met your minimum?
         HUBBARD:  We feel that both teams are picking up speed.  The
    Raptors just announced a new program to sell tickets that we
    think will be successful, and the Grizzlies have really reached
    out into the corporate community and those sponsors are buying
    tickets.  We feel that momentum is building for both franchises.
         THE DAILY:  Why the difficulty in selling season ticket
    plans?
         HUBBARD:  There is a lot going on in Canada.  First, Canada
    is a hockey country, and with no hockey, fans are depressed right
    now and they are not excited about spending money on basketball.
    Secondly, we are new up there.  They don't really know us, but
    the excitement will grow once we get going.  But, with all of
    this, there still has been tremendous excitement in Canada with
    both new teams.
         THE DAILY:  Was the 12,500 season ticket-minimum fair?  Not
    many established teams in the league have that many.
         HUBBARD:  There are some trade-offs to that.  They were
    very, very aggressive in trying to gain an expansion franchise.
    At that point, the NBA had no plans to expand, but they
    guaranteed support and with that number, we basically asked them
    to show us that excitement in ticket sales.  We want two healthy
    members in the league, we have some teams struggling to sell
    tickets now, we don't want any more, and with that 12,500 number
    we asked them to demonstrate their health.
         THE DAILY: Has the league been working with the teams, and,
    if so, what will happen if they fail to meet the quota?
         HUBBARD:  We won't even speculate on what will happen
    because we think they are both going to make it.  The league and
    the franchiese are in constant contact.  They coordinate with us
    and we treat them as full partners even though we haven't done
    the final papers.
         NEXT WEEK:  An inside look at the operations of the Toronto
    Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies from media members and team execs
    in both cities.
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NBA, Toronto Raptors
  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE I: ALL-STAR GAME CANCELED

         The NHL announced the cancellation of the All-Star Game
    which was scheduled to be played on January 21 in San Jose.  In
    September, the NHL announced its deal with Fox Sports to carry a
    limited number of games, and that Nike and Anheuser-Busch were
    signing on as marketing partners.  The Fox deal was to have
    started with the San Jose All-Star Game.  Maple Leafs President &
    GM Cliff Fletcher:  "The Fox Network needs a lot of lead-in time
    to promote this game.  With all of the uncertainty, there was no
    alternative but to cancel it" (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE &
    MAIL, 12/9).
         REAX:  Fox execs "downplayed the significance of the loss of
    the game and the league will likely have to offer some sort of
    rebate to the network" (Cox & McKenzie, TORONTO STAR, 12/9).
    Nike Sports Marketing Divisional Manager Doug Stamm told THE
    SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: "We're still committed to the NHL. ... We
    still believe in the strength of hockey."  Stamm said Nike
    considers itself "partners" with the NHL and notes that their
    deal is "three-prong" -- media, the international game and street
    hockey programs.  Stamm made a point to stress that Nike is
    committed to increase participation in street hockey programs
    (THE DAILY).  Fox Sports President David Hill, asked if he was
    upset about the cancellation:  "Now I can schedule a firm time
    for the All-Madden team" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 12/9).
    In Boston, Jim Baker notes -- if there is a season -- that Fox
    won't have its first hockey telecast until regional coverage on
    the season's last two Sundays (BOSTON HERALD, 12/9). Tony
    Ponturo, VP/Corporate Media & Sports Marketing for Anheuser-
    Busch, would not comment on the cancellation, but released the
    following: "We remain tremendously excited about the association
    that Ice Draft and Ice Draft Light will have with the NHL.  The
    NHL is the No. 1 marketing activity that we have planned for our
    Ice Draft brands" (A-B)
         OTHER DEALS?  In New York, Neal Travis reports another
    potential deal with a major corporation could be in jeopardy if
    the NHL cancels its season.  Travis cites rumors that
    MCA/Universal was interested in buying the Lightning and moving
    the team to its entertainment complex in Orlando, but may
    reconsider in light of the lockout (N.Y. POST, 12/9).
         MEANWHILE, OVERSEAS ... While announcing that a seventh game
    had been added to his all-star team's tour of Europe, Wayne
    Gretzky predicted there would be a European division of the NHL
    "within the next 10 years."  Peter Gudmunsson, GM of Swedish club
    Djurgarden:  "When I listen to Wayne talk about the NHL in
    Europe, I think the time has come" (CP/ Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
    12/9).  Team Gretzky coach Doug Wilson:  "This tour may never
    end" (TORONTO STAR, 12/9).  Mark Messier told the N.Y. POST that
    he guarantees a new league will form if the NHL cancels the
    season.  Messier:  "And it won't be next year.  It will be in
    February or early January. ... We'll be looking at an
    interlocking schedule with Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  It has
    been a surprise to come here and see the response the teams are
    getting" (Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 12/9).
    

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, News Corp./Fox, NHL, Nike, Palace Sports & Entertainment, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Wilson Sporting Goods
  • HOCKEY HELD HOSTAGE II: GOODENOW, BETTMAN TRADE FAXES

         NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
    Goodenow did not speak by telephone as expected, but the two
    sides did restate their positions via fax.
         DEAR GARY:  Goodenow "urged Bettman to reconsider his stand
    on the payroll tax issue and suggested that a new collective
    bargaining agreement could be reached without one."  Goodenow
    wrote, "Everyone involved in these negotiations over the last few
    weeks was aware of the fact that we had made numerous concessions
    to create a 'drag' as an alternative to the tax/cap system you
    had previously proposed.  It was also understood that these
    concessions would not have been made as part of a system
    involving a tax on team payrolls" (Steve Buffery, TORONTO SUN,
    12/9).
         MESSAGE TO BOB:  In a letter sent by Bettman and NHL General
    Counsel Jeff Pash to NHL Governors and GMs, the league "charged
    that in discussions with its membership, the union was 'either
    misrepresenting the proposal or does not understand it'" (TORONTO
    SUN, 12/9).  Pash also took issue with the union's claim that the
    NHL's tax works out to a marginal rate of 81%, writing that the
    marginal rate would instead be 61% (Joe Lapointe, N.Y. TIMES,
    12/9).
         TAX TALK:  NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus "said
    too much has been made of the extreme end of the tax structure.
    For example, if a club spent $32 million on salaries, it would be
    taxed at 25 percent of the total payroll, which Pincus said
    'isn't dealing in reality.'"  Pincus:  "Half the teams in the
    league don't even have $32 million in revenues.  They're not
    going to spend that on salaries" (Nancy Marrapese, BOSTON GLOBE,
    12/9).  Comparing the league's tax plan with the union's October
    tax proposal of 7%, Roy Cummings of the TAMPA TRIBUNE writes the
    "majority of NHL teams paying a payroll tax actually would pay
    less in taxes under the league's plan than they would under the
    NHLPA plan" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/9).  But a report in yesterday's
    DALLAS MORNING NEWS indicates that enough progress had been made
    on free agency, arbitration and a rookie cap for the two sides to
    make a deal.  Stars President Jim Lites:  "The difference between
    what the owners are offering and where the union is on these
    issues is not significant" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/8).  In
    Toronto, Scott Morrison writes, "How do you cancel a season when
    not enough teams need the tax that is causing all the trouble?"
    (TORONTO SUN, 12/9).
         MONDAY'S MEETING:  Bruins President & GM Harry Sinden, on
    Monday's NHL Board of Governors meeting in New York:  "I think
    the vote will be 100 percent to keep talking.  There is a group
    that might want to pull the plug right away, and another that
    feels we should take whatever they give us.  Both groups at the
    extremities aren't big. ... In my opinion, the board will say (to
    Bettman), 'It's not good enough, see if you can keep going and
    get to the point where we can accept it'" (Stephen Harris, BOSTON
    HERALD, 12/9).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NHL, Southwest Sports Group
  • NEWS & NOTES FROM THE CFL MEETINGS IN BALTIMORE

         The CFL Board of Governors were told by Hamilton Tiger-Cats
    Chair Roger Yachetti that he expects the team to meet league-
    imposed ticket and sponsorship goals.  The team is 85% of the way
    toward reaching the 12,500 season ticket and C$1M corporate
    sponsorship goal (VANCOUVER SUN, 12/9).... CFL Commissioner Larry
    Smith said he wants to see the league realign into Canadian and
    U.S. divisions as early as '95, creating a Canada-U.S. title game
    (CP/Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/9)....An "angry" group of CFL
    governors are prepared to take the Ottawa Rough Riders away from
    owner Bruce Firestone if he "can't prove he has the money to
    finance the team."  (Don Campbell, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 12/9)....The
    Las Vegas Posse is up for sale and rumors have the team going to
    Birmingham, Hartford, Orlando or Milwaukee, all cities named as
    potential expansion sites (Rick Matsumoto, TORONTO STAR, 12/9).
    The Posse could also move to L.A., or suspend operations for a
    year (Ken Murray, Baltimore SUN, 12/9).... Under the subhead:
    "Owner of Flutie's team considering relocation," Hartford writer
    Don Amore notes the speculation that Calgary may move to Hartford
    (HARTFORD COURANT, 12/9).
    

    Print | Tags: CFL, Leagues and Governing Bodies
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