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U.S. District Judge David Doty agreed with the NFLPA's objection to the calculations for the '96 salary cap and raised the cap by $2M to $40.8M per team on the eve of today's opening of the free agent season. Judge Doty set a hearing for next Thursday to give the league a chance to argue for a reversal. The '95 cap of $37.1M had risen to $38.77M after an independent audit of team revenues, but the NFLPA objected citing added money from the new expansion teams. NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello: "We agree with the auditor's position." While the judge offered both sides the option of delaying the start of free agent signings until next week, Aiello said he expects signings to begin today as scheduled (Larry Weismann, USA TODAY, 2/16). In San Jose, Clark Judge notes Doty's ruling came just hours after the 49ers had "successfully squeezed" under the $37.8M figure through restructuring (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/16).
MLB's negotiating committee met in Chicago yesterday to put "finishing touches" on a counter-offer to present to the union next week. The next move is not expected until MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr returns from Japan where he and other union officials have been meeting on the prospect of a true international World Series (USA TODAY, 2/16)....FIFA has proposed that MLS utilize a larger goal in its inaugural season. Other announcements from the MLS Management Committee: MLS games tied at the end of regulation will immediately go to a shootout; the league's offices will move from L.A. to New York (MLS). USA TODAY notes the "need for more scoring" as a reason for the proposed goal- size change (USA TODAY, 2/16)....The NPSL will stage its first game outside the U.S. on March 10 when the K.C. Attack and the Chicago Power play a neutral-site game at the Verdun Auditorium in Montreal (NPSL)....Southern League stadiums will host five games in the '96 NationsBank USA Baseball Team tour. The games, held in June and July, will feature matchups with Cuba and Nicaragua (Southern League).
Radio City Music Hall exec Arlan Kantarian is no longer under consideration to head up MLB's new marketing and business unit, according to MLB and sports marketing sources cited by AD AGE. The new division would be called either MLB Inc. or MLB Enterprises. Kantarian is expected to stay at Radio City "with a new title and expanded responsibilities." There was no comment from MLB, which is now searching for a new candidate (AD AGE ONLINE, 2/16).
While NBA officials were in Philadelphia yesterday to hear that city's presentation for the chance to host the '98 All-Star Game, officials from the Knicks made their pitch in San Antonio last week. MSG/Knicks President Dave Checketts' presentation to a committee that included Commissioner David Stern included a Top Ten list from David Letterman on reasons the game should be in New York, as well as testimonials from Woody Allen, Tom Brokaw and Bill Murray. Checketts argues that the recent trend of granting the game to cities with new arenas is unfair, especially since MSG just spent $200M to upgrade the Garden. Checketts: "We have presented some very creative things that could give a nice twist to this event." NBA sources say, while New York is "intriguing" to Stern, he has not ruled out the third city in contention, Portland. Although SI's Jackie MacMullan notes the league has concerns that Portland may not have enough hotel space to accommodate the growing event (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 2/19 issue). NBA spokesperson Chris Brienza said the league could reach a decision "in a few weeks or a few months" (N.Y. POST, 2/16). ACTING UNION HEAD: NBPA official Alex English is serving as interim Exec Dir of the union until a permanent replacement is found (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/16).