SBD/25/Franchises

NBA READY TO ACCEPT RAPTORS AND GRIZZLIES WITHOUT A CBA

     The NBA will reportedly "rework the schedule for closing the
expansion agreement" and grant "full membership" to the Raptors
and Grizzlies.  The original agreement included a provision tying
acceptance of the teams to a new CBA with the players
association.  Delays in the deal would have kept the teams from
signing players, participating in the draft, and "possibly
playing at all" during their first season.  At the NBA Board of
Governors meeting in New York this week, the league is expected
to set a date for full payment of the expansion fee (US$112.5M),
likely May 11, and give the new teams the "green light" to
participate in the expansion and college drafts.  This "twist is
certainly not good news" to those expecting a quick settlement to
labor talks (Neil Campbell, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/25).
     ARENA ON TRACK:  When all the "rhetoric cooled yesterday,"
the Raptors' arena plans were back on track, according to reports
in Toronto this morning.  The City Council voted to have the
developer and city planning staff reach a compromise on the
project and report to the land use committee by May 18 (Don
Wanages, TORONTO SUN, 4/25).
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