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During a telephone conference call with Administrative Law Judge Edwin Bennett yesterday, MLB players and owners postponed the trial on alleged unfair labor practices by the owners for the third time -- until July 24. Some owners claim that the additional delay may give the sides time to negotiate a new deal, but MLB owners "have shown no indication they are ready to resume negotiations." In a related move, the NLRB denied the owners' motion for a partial summary judgement to dismiss the part of the complaint alleging that their attempt to impose a salary cap violated federal law (AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/15).
The CISL claims significant gains in the areas of local team sponsorships and season ticket sales. Team sponsorship revenue is up 37% from '94, with the Portland Pride citing the largest increase -- 200%. Other gainers: Washington Warthogs (+60%), Arizona Sandsharks (+35%), San Diego Sockers (+30%), Sacramento Knights (+25%) and Pittsburgh Stingers (+25)%. Season tickets sales are up 27% league-wide over last season. Leading the way is the Anaheim Splash with an increase of 80%. In other CISL business news: A minimum of 12 teams will have local TV packages for the '95 season -- up from seven last season; and the league currently boasts 12 licensees with more preparing final plans to become licensees for this season (CISL).
NBA Commissioner David Stern said yesterday that "substantial progress" had been made toward a new CBA with NBA players, "that the existing no-lockout, no-strike deal will continue and that he is optimistic a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place before the June 24 expansion draft or at least before the June 28 college draft," according to Richard Justice & Michael Wilbon in this morning's WASHINGTON POST. Stern said that the NBA Board of Governors will hold a meeting Tuesday in New York, adding: "We wouldn't have the meeting if we didn't think there was a deal to close out" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/15). Stern said the league's threat of a lockout did not cause both sides to return to the table, but admitted, "You need a crisis or a boiling point in order to get the parties focused" (David Moore, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/15). NBPA President Buck Williams: "Everyone is committed to getting a new deal done. You can feel that" (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/15). Stern said that negotiations will continue "around the clock" (John Jackson, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/15). AT THE HALF: Stern was interviewed by NBC's Bob Costas during halftime of last night's game. Stern, on the talks: "We've addressed a number of the key issues and we each know where the other side is. We think with continued negotiations we can get to where we can make a deal." Stern would not say what the major issue the two sides are stuck on, but said of the salary cap: "The league does not need a hard cap, the league needs to make sure that its teams are reasonably likely not to not lose money -- to make a little. The players, for their part, want certain other guarantees. I think both sides are indicating their willingness to yield to make a deal." Stern said the labor problems in other sports did not serve as a "cautionary tale" to jump start negotiations, adding: "We're driven by our own demons. If you need some evidence of what happens, baseball and hockey provide it. But we don't point to them and say they did something wrong." Stern, asked about recent criticisms of the league's drug policy, said that it "can always be improved, and we and our players ... will improve it. ... We think we are leaders in the field and want to retain our leadership there" ("NBA on NBC," 6/14). MEDIA REAX: In L.A., Mark Heisler took Stern's answer on "substantial progress" to mean that the hard vs. soft salary cap issue "has been worked out" (L.A. TIMES, 6/15). In New York, Shaun Powell notes, "It marks the second time the sides averted a work stoppage" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 6/15). In Chicago, Sam Smith opens, "Lockout? What lockout? Strike? Who us. And so much for NBA labor strife" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/15). In Southern CA, Kelly Carter writes, "The NBA, which considers itself a model for professional sports leagues, is once again showing why" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/15).