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  • BASEBALL EXPANSION II: REAX FROM THE WINNERS AND LOSERS

         ARIZONA:  Fans will be able to make deposits on season
    tickets Friday, with a $50 deposit necessary.  Brochures will be
    available at Saturday's Plaza celebration outside America West
    Arena, and will be printed in newspapers across the state Sunday.
    Monday, Circle-K Stores and Bank One branches will have brochures
    available.  Fans will have until Tuesday to submit ticket
    requests for top-priority seats, with seating for those accepted
    after Tuesday determined through a lottery.  Rich Dozer, who will
    become president of the club:  "We might have 20,000 season
    tickets right off the bat" (Bob McManaman, ARIZONA REPUBLIC,
    3/9).  Colangelo was apparently "angered" about leaks to the
    media that the team would be named the Arizona Diamondbacks (Eric
    Miller, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/9).
         TAMPA BAY:  Negative reaction to the name Tampa Bay Devil
    Rays in the Tampa Bay area is widespread.  From an editorial in
    today's TAMPA TRIBUNE: "To name our expansion team the Devil Rays
    is wholly baffling.  There are few less comely creatures in the
    sea, the use of the word 'Devil' has may pious people
    discombobulated, and all human beings who give a care for the
    sound of language are wondering how such a choice could have been
    made" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/9).  CNN reported that a Tampa TV station
    conducted a call-in poll on the name.  The count was 26 for and
    1,300 against ("Sports Tonight," 3/8).  Team merchandise will be
    available today, and fans are invited to attend a 5pm press
    conference at the ThunderDome.  Area malls are expected to have
    merchandise on sale today (Joel Poiley, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/9).
         ORLANDO/NORTHERN VA:  Leaders from both areas' groups
    expressed optimism at Expansion Committee Chair John Harrington's
    assertion that two additional teams could be added before 2000.
    According to the WASHINGTON POST, baseball officials have told
    "people associated with the Northern Virginia groups that the
    area is the front runner for the next round."  Russel Ramsey, a
    member of Virginia Baseball, the favored of the two Northern VA
    groups:  "There has not been a single owner or representative who
    has not said we will be the next team" (Maske & Lipton,
    WASHINGTON POST, 3/9).  Virginia Baseball spokesperson Mike
    Scanlon says the group is in the market for an existing franchise
    if there is no announcement today regarding future expansion
    (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/9).  Orlando group leader
    Norton Herrick:  "Naturally, I'm disappointed.  But we still
    don't know what they're going to say about the second round of
    expansion.  We expect to be a part of that" (Tracy & Leboewitz,
    ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/9).
         VIVA BEISBOL?  In L.A., Bob Nightengale reports that sources
    say Mexico City is one of the leading candidates for the second
    wave of expansion.  Dodger President Peter O'Malley:  "I'm for
    Mexico City.  In our league, that would be great" (L.A. TIMES,
    3/9).
    

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  • BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 210: WHAT'S THEIR "BEST OFFER"

         Special Mediator William Usery addresses the owners today at
    their meeting at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL.  He is expected
    to stick to his plan to call on the owners to put their "best
    offer" on the table when talks resume next week, despite the
    union's unhappiness with that plan.  Yankees Owner George
    Steinbrenner called on Usery to take a more forceful role:  "He
    has to aggressively try to get the two sides to reach a deal.
    And if they can't, he has to call it like he sees it.  He needs
    to say this side or that side needs to do more."  But Mark Masek
    notes the union is unlikely to allow Usery to play a larger role.
    They believe that the "best offer" plan opens the door for owners
    to declare another impasse and unilaterally impose working
    conditions, as they did in December (WASHINGTON POST, 3/9).
    ESPN's Peter Gammons reports the owners are essentially being
    told this week to "keep it in the room, not worry about what the
    NLRB is going to do within the next 5-10 days and wait for the
    players to crack" ("SportsCenter," 3/8).
         EXPECTED FIREWORKS PETER OUT:  Orioles Owner Peter Angelos
    arrived at the owners' meetings, but the subject of the Orioles'
    refusal to play replacement games was not discussed at either the
    American League or full ownership meetings.  Angelos:  "I know
    exactly where they stand, and they know exactly where I stand."
    AL President Gene Budig:  "The Orioles understand our position,
    and we understand theirs" (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/9).
    "The silence was deafening" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 3/9).
         HARD-LINE NOT HARD ENOUGH?  Expos Owner Claude Brochu says
    the owners will not soften their position, and, despite the fact
    that the salary cap has been replaced by a luxury tax plan,
    Brochu still believes the cap "is the best solution" to the
    game's economic problems.  TORONTO STAR columnist (and former
    Expos P.R. man) Richard Griffin notes the owners' revenue-sharing
    plan, which was devised in '94, and is now approved by the
    players, is contingent on a salary cap.  Writes Griffin, "The cap
    has been removed from the table and some now speculate that
    large-market gloves are coming off.  With 'salary cap' being
    replaced by 'luxury tax,' look for some big-hammer owners to
    threaten an attempted overthrow of the Fort Lauderdale plan
    unless an on-field settlement is reached -- now" (TORONTO STAR,
    3/9).     NLRB UPDATE:  David Parker, spokesperson for NLRB
    General Counsel Fred Feinstein, "said a decision will not be
    handed down before Friday at the earliest on the union's
    complaint owners again bargained in bad faith" (Hal Bodley, USA
    TODAY, 3/9).  Jayson Stark reports, "Several management sources
    indicated privately that if the NLRB obtains an injunction
    restoring the old economic rules and the union then calls off the
    strike, owners are not afraid to lock out players.  Owners also
    apparently were advised that while a lockout could lead to huge
    financial damages in court, baseball attorneys believe they will
    win any court challenges by the players" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
    3/9).
         GET IT DONE, BY GEORGE:  Despite his ascension to the MLB
    Executive Council, Steinbrenner said he expects to play no
    greater role in the labor dispute other than speaking out in
    favor of a deal.  But the N.Y. TIMES' Murray Chass notes that
    Steinbrenner's silence "has puzzled many people."  Some theories:
    He is repaying Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf for their support
    while he was on suspension for 2 1/2 years; he is protecting his
    large revenue share from MSG cable; he would need the owners'
    approval should he want to move the Yankees to New Jersey (N.Y.
    TIMES, 3/9).
    

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  • BASEBALL OWNERS INITIATE THEIR NEW PARTNERS WITH FEE HIKE

         Although the official announcement that MLB will expand to
    Tampa Bay and Phoenix is expected after an ownership vote today,
    sources told the TAMPA TRIBUNE that a ploy by baseball owners to
    raise the expansion fee yesterday caused great concern among the
    new cities' ownership groups.  Joe Henderson and Bill Chastain
    report that the owners tried to raise the fee to $175M, an
    increase from the $140M price that Arizona's Jerry Colangelo and
    Tampa Bay's Vince Naimoli had been "was firm."  Both Colangelo
    and Naimoli apparently were told of the price increase before
    yesterday's meetings, and "refused to budge."  At one point,
    "Colangelo threatened to walk away from his bid and go public
    with the owners' tactics.  And Naimoli was prepared to renew his
    dormant lawsuit against owners," resulting from MLB's '92
    blockage of his purchase of the Giants.  Eventually, "after hours
    of haggling, marked by sharp exchanges" behind closed doors, both
    Colangelo and Naimoli agreed to a compromise:  both will pay
    "slightly more than" $150M (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/9).
         BRIDESMAIDS:  While negotiations between owners and
    Colangelo and Naimoli went on, representatives from the Northern
    VA and Orlando groups waited in the lobby.  Orlando group leader
    Norton Herrick "insinuated" that baseball officials had him stay
    close to put pressure on Naimoli and Colangelo:  "They could say,
    'If you don't want to pay the price, we'll go to Herrick.'  Vince
    [Naimoli] would have been better off paying me and D.C. $10-
    million to get us out of the lobby, he might have saved money
    that way" (Romano & Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/9).
         WELCOME TO BASEBALL, JERRY:  In this morning's ARIZONA
    REPUBLIC, Eric Miller notes Colangelo's mood:  "It was obvious
    that Colangelo wasn't quite used to the raucous political ways of
    the 28 team owners who conduct their often-secret business
    operations differently than the National Basketball Association.
    ... It almost seemed as if Colangelo was having second thoughts
    about joining the ranks of the baseball-owners club."  Colangelo:
    "Six or nine months ago, I said the only thing that could prevent
    this from happening was greed" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/9).
         LEAGUE MATTERS:  A three-quarters vote from each league is
    necessary for expansion.  Which league (or leagues) the teams
    will be placed in is still uncertain.  Both leagues and the
    expansion committee debated that Wednesday.  Colangelo said the
    teams may be assigned to one league now, but play in another
    (Henderson & Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/9).  ESPN's Peter Gammons
    reported several owners want Phoenix to join Tampa Bay in AL, to
    avoid interleague play ("SportsCenter," 3/8).  There was also
    talk that the teams may not receive a cut of national TV revenue
    for as many as five seasons.  Florida and Colorado missed TV
    revenues for only one season (Romano & Topkin, ST. PETE TIMES,
    3/9).
    

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