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Toronto will host the American Bowl game between the Cowboys and the Bills at SkyDome Saturday. Since the "day the [Sky] Dome opened, there has been little doubt that this is a stadium -- and a city -- in waiting for the NFL," writes Ken McKee in the TORONTO STAR. SkyDome VP/Corporate Affairs David Garrick: "We are trying to make an impression on the NFL ... this will be bigger than the Grey Cup (in attendance, merchandise sales, etc.)." Garrick says attendance for the game will hit 55,000, with tickets at C$35 (TORONTO STAR, 8/10).
"Insurgent agents greeted the latest agreement between the NBA and the players' union they tried to take over as if it had arrived on their doorsteps ticking," writes Mark Heisler in today's LOS ANGELES TIMES. "They didn't endorse the deal, but after a summer of sticking pins into the union and league leaders, they simply might not have felt like it. However, there were no ringing denunciations, either, suggesting a grudging approval." Agent Fred Slaughter: "Maybe we have a good deal here, but I said that in July, and it didn't turn out that way, so we'll see." Leonard Armato, Shaquille O'Neal's agent: "I was not in support of the old deal, but the new deal I am supportive of. I think it's a fair compromise of the forces out there and I feel my guys are protected." Agent Keith Glass: "I think it puts everybody on hold, at least. Everybody has accused everybody of having different agendas. My agenda is very clear from the first day. I need a deal that isn't going to kill my players" (Mark Heisler, L.A. TIMES, 8/10). MORE AGENT REAX: Arn Tellem: "If it turns out to be a deal that the players feel positive about, my sense is decertification will go away. On the other hand, if it's a deal players are still not happy with and don't think is fair, the players will continue to fight." Marc Fleisher: "We will be asking the league and the union to provide us with as much information as possible for our clients so they can educate themselves" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 8/10). Henry Thomas: "It's a move in the right direction. Whether it's something a majority of the players will be in favor of remains to be seen" (CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 8/10). Jimmy Sexton: "Look, we're never going to win a lot of popularity contests anyway. Our job right now is to see what's in the new agreement so we can advise our players." Mark Bartelstein: "Now the players are in a difficult position where they have to be the bad guys if they turn it down" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/10). Frank Catipano: "I'm telling my players the deal still stinks. I'll tell them, 'Here's what you get. What do you think of it?'" (Phil Sheridan, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/10). Bill Strickland: "The good thing is that there's time to look at this deal and digest it. The players didn't even have 24 hours to consider the last one. They'll look at it and decide for themselves" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/10). FROM KESSLER: Antitrust lawyer Jeffrey Kessler: "If this turned out to be a great deal for the players, we would be happy. In fact we would be proud that we had gotten a better deal for the players, but that's not the case right now. This deal is nothing but re-arranging the terms of the other deal" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/10). More Kessler: "The players who supported decertification are skeptical but open minded. We want to understand all the details before making judgements" (Roger Thurow, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/10).
The NBA and NBPA are waiting until after the results of the NLRB decertification election are announced on September 12 to ask owners and union members to ratify the new deal, but that is not holding back reactions this morning. UNION LEADERSHIP: Union President Buck Williams: "All the hard work lies ahead of us. We have to put a lot of time and effort into explaining this agreement to make sure the players are informed." Williams, on the decertification effort: "There is no chance in the world this movement will go away. These insurgents are committed to the decertification effort. There is no way they will retreat after taking such a hard-line position. They will counter with some sort of attack. ... If this deal is not ratified, it's beyond me" (David Moore, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/10). NBPA VP Charles Smith: "I think this is a great deal for us. I think we will be able to get this ratified." NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine: "None of the dissidents were involved in this agreement. But as we convey the message, we will remind the players and those that are close to them that we are still one union and it's important we operate as one strong unit. I'm very optimistic that as the word gets out, language from dissident players will be less vitriolic" (George Diaz, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/10). PLAYER REPS: ORLANDO -- Magic player rep Donald Royal: "I can't believe that this deal won't go through"(ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/10). CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers player rep Danny Ferry: "The decertification side should take some credit in this deal getting better. And they should take credit in getting more people involved and concerned with what was going on. Initially, I think both sides were dealing with a pretty apathetic group. But this has been a positive thing" (Mark Asher/Richard Justice, WASHINGTON POST, 8/10). CHICAGO -- Bulls player rep Steve Kerr: "Obviously, getting rid of the luxury tax was key, and maybe that'll make the deal more attractive to guys like Michael, who's looking to sign that big deal. ... It's not a perfect deal, but if it was a perfect deal then the owners wouldn't be in favor of it" (John Jackson, CHICAGO SUN TIMES, 8/10). ATLANTA -- Hawks player rep Andrew Lang: "It's time to come on board. ... We have the opportunity to come out of this with revenue that is respectable and fair and one that makes sense from the owners and the players standpoint." (Jeffrey Denberg, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION, 8/10). SALT LAKE CITY -- Jazz Player Rep John Stockton: "Everybody talks about how we have to sell it to all the players. But to me, it's not as much about selling as it is informing. Once everybody knows what this deal is all about it's no contest....On one hand, we have come up with a very good deal -- a very good deal. On the other hand, we go to court and roll the dice. What would you do?" (Steve Luhm, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 8/10). PHOENIX -- Suns player rep Joe Kleine: "The agents are probably going to crucify this deal. But I'm pleased with it" (Bob Young, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/10).
United Baseball League officials are seeking permission to build a $12M ballpark in Suffolk County, NY and are asking local officials to contribute $7M-$10M in road, parking and sewer improvements. The UBL wants to build a 20,000-seat ballpark on the Brentwood campus of Suffolk Community College for a Long Island team (NEWSDAY, 8/9).