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Arenaball, a sport that is "conceived, performed and marketed as an unashamed entertainment enterprise," is examined by Charles Pierce in the latest issue of GQ. Upon the sport's inception, "Arenaball immediately tapped into the demand for relatively inexpensive sports productions. ... The same dynamic that caused a boom in minor league baseball and hockey also worked to the benefit of Arenaball." Pierce calls the sports a glimpse of the "birth of a raucous future toward which most spoorts seem to be slouching." While a "garish display" of the future of sports, others -- the NBA is mentioned -- may surpass Arneball. Pierce: "In fifty years, people are going to think it was all so lovely and quaint" (GQ, 8/95 issue).
In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reports that there is "a chance" that the MLBPA will have a new offer to consider after today's MLB Exec Committee meeting in Chicago (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/1). One owner tells the N.Y. TIMES: "We're going to start talking economic issues with them as early as this week or next week." Baseball's players and the owners need the resuming labor negotiations "to get a deal and assure the fans peace in our time," writes Murray Chass in today's N.Y. TIMES. Chass continues, notes that, even without a salary cap, owners "could pay players as little as they want in many cases" and use that strategy to force the players "to accept whatever position they adopt. If the owners were to pursue that strategy, they would do so with the belief that the players would not strike again. Indeed, the players prefer a new agreement to a new work stoppage, but they are unlikely to accept a deal at any cost" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/1). LEGAL TEAMS: As of now, according to Chass, the legal lineup for both sides will be: Stanley Jaspan, Rob Manfred and Frank Coonelly for the owners, and Lauren Rich, Michael Weiner and Steve Fehr for the players. Chass notes the possibility that Randy Levine, currently New York City Commissioner of Labor Relations and former representative for the Yankees, could be added to the owners' legal team. If Levin is hired, it could be as head of the owners' negotiating committee (N.Y. TIMES, 8/1). NEW RULES: In San Francisco, Tim Keown writes on the recent anti-fan actions by such players as Jack McDowell and Chili Davis, "Two years ago, those incidents would have been insignificant, quirky sidelights, hardly front-page news. Not any more. The strike changed the rules, turned every incident into a further sign of deterioration, a small glimpse of the empire's decline" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/1).
NASCAR is examined in today's WASHINGTON POST by Ken Denlinger. Subheads include "Selling the Sport," "From Martinsville to Long Pond," and "Gordon and the Future." Denlinger writes, "NASCAR is by far the most commercial of all sports. Long before baseball had billboards behind home plate and colleges gravitated toward corporate tie-ins, NASCAR had sponsor names splattered all over its cars and the uniforms of its drivers." Kyle Petty: "All sports depend on outside money. We're just honest about it and nobody else is" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1). The excitement surrounding the Brickyard 400 this weekend is reportedly not as great as the inaugural race last year. Although all 310,000 seats have been sold, "word has spread" that seats are available through ticket agencies. Jeff Gordon: "I don't know if it can ever be what it was the first time. The inaugural event, the first time stock cars ever raced here. That was just a huge event. You wonder if it can be bigger than that" (AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/1).
The NLRB voted 5-0 yesterday "to seek a stay" of the class- action, antitrust lawsuit filed in Minneapolis federal court against the NBA by Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, and 14 other players, according to Mark Asher in today's WASHINGTON POST. The NLRB is "maintaing that the suit cannot go forward unless players vote to remove -- or decertify -- the union as their collective- bargaining representative." Asher: "The first hearing in the antitrust case is set for Sept. 6 in Minneapolis, and NLRB officials are not certain the decertification process will be completed by then." Jeffrey Kessler, lawyer for the players seeking decertification: "I think it's incorrect; I don't think the courts will accept it. I do not believe this action in any way will impede the progress of our antitrust case." NBA Senior VP Jeffrey Mishkin said the ruling "merely confirms that complex labor issues remain to be resolved and that misrepresentations were made to our players that antitrust litigation would be a quick-fix substitute for collective bargaining." NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine: "That lawsuit involves the players against the NBA. This decision by the NLRB does not have much effect on the union per se" (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 8/1). WILLIAMS SAYS NEW DEAL IS CLOSE: According to a report by Kerry Eggers in today's Portland OREGONIAN, NBPA President Buck Williams "believes the union and league officials are a 'couple of meetings away' from a collective bargaining agreement that could help ward off the decertification movement." Williams: "It's a race against time. I'm very confident we can bring a revised agreement back to the players before the decertification vote takes place. It's something that can and will be done." According to Williams, another negotiating session between the union and league is tentatively scheduled for this Thursday or Friday (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/1).