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Negotiators for MLB's owners plan to give union representatives another new proposal today. The N.Y. TIMES reports the pace of proposals is "quickening." The owners' counter-proposal is seen as an effort to settle the dispute and get a new CBA before the season. While the two sides have shared tax proposals, they are "no closer together" than last March when a federal judge ordered the game to resume (N.Y. TIMES, 2/21). Randy Levine, the owners' chief negotiator, hopes for a deal by March 31 (N.Y. POST, 2/21).
NFL Properties can proceed with its breach of contract lawsuit against the Cowboys, according to BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York declined Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' request to have the league's contract- and trademark-infringement suit dismissed. NFL Properties spokesperson Chris Widmaier: "We expected this outcome and we expect this case to move forward." The NFL sued Jones and the team last year for more than $300M to block the Cowboys from signing endorsement deals with Pepsi, Nike, American Express and Dr. Pepper -- none of which are league sponsors. Jones has a counter-suit pending which alleges antitrust violations in the league's sponsorship enforcement (N.Y. POST, 2/21). The judge did consolidate the league's nine complaints into seven noting some repetition (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/21). FROM IRVING: Jones' response, from a statement quoted by the DALLAS MORNING NEWS: "I've been sued before and know that if we had prevailed on a Motion to Dismiss, it would be like winning a game by forfeit after the coin toss. We will continue to the next stage of the suit, where I am confident we will prevail." At issue is the use of Jones' newly created Texas Stadium logo, which features a star similar to the team's mark. Jones: "Everything Texas Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys have done is consistent with NFL policies and practices, and is no different from the activities of many different teams. The details of what other teams are doing and the inconsistent treatment of teams by the league will be exposed as this litigation, initiated by the league, proceeds" (Ed Werder, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/21). THE RULING: The Cowboys contended that because their deals neither referred to the phrase "Home of the Dallas Cowboys" nor agreed to have personnel wear unauthorized apparel on the sidelines, they were not in breach of contract. But the judge accepted the league's claim that Texas Stadium entered into the deals as a "stand in" for the Cowboys. The judge also cited a "concerted campaign to create the impression that companies such as Nike and Pepsi were sponsors of the Cowboys organization" (THE DAILY).
LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts is profiled in USA TODAY. Ritts: "Three years from now, I don't care if the generic golf fans can point to one thing specifically, that connects to the LPGA, but I want them to feel the presence of the LPGA to a greater degree. You take all these isolated incidents -- TV shows, magazine articles -- put them together, and you have a quilt of visibility" (USA TODAY, 2/21)....Bruton Smith, head of Speedway Motorsports and developer of the new Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, used SpeedWeeks in Daytona to deliver a "public pledge of allegiance" to NASCAR President Bill France Jr. Smith's purchase of Bristol Int'l Raceway in TN had led some to believe he might be planning a rival stock-car circuit. Smith, who "steadfastly" denied that rumor: "I'm committed to NASCAR forever" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/21).
While efforts by Toronto Sun publisher Paul Godfrey to attract an NFL expansion team for the city have gone on behind- the-scenes to this point, "that is about to change," according to the FINANCIAL POST. The paper reports the Godfrey-led group "is officially pounding the pavement looking for money." The person in charge of finances is Capital Canada Ltd. President & CEO Robert Foster, who put together the financing of SkyDome and engineered the management-led buyout of TSN. Others said to be involved include Coopers & Lybrand, attorney Dale Lastman of Goodman Phillips & Vineberg, and financier Larry Tanenbaum. With SkyDome luxury box leases expiring in '99, the facility's partners should also want to attract an NFL team to join the "fading" Blue Jays (Jamie Wayne, FINANCIAL POST, 2/20).