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The NFL "is nervous and rightfully so," about the antitrust lawsuit filed by the St. Louis Business and Convention Bureau that is set to be heard in U.S. District Court on October 6, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. The lawsuit is over the $29M relocation fee that NFL charged the Rams to move from L.A., of which the Visitors and Convention Bureau was charged $20M. While the NFL has "made overtures" to Rams President John Shaw about settling, one St. Louis source said that "is a fruitless attempt because the Rams are not the litigant" and have "only filed a lien to collect against the NFL if a judgement is rendered in favor of St. Louis." One league owner told Mortensen that the NFL "is irate with Shaw because, in a deposition, he accused NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue of lying about circumstances regarding the Raiders' obligations on a move." Mortensen adds that the "league is not confident about the case" since St. Louis "has a distinct home-field advantage." While damages could be trebled, a court loss would also impact the NFL's relocation deals with the Ravens and Oilers. League sources say that Ravens Owner Art Modell "will be a witness for the league [h]owever there is an agreement that the Ravens' deal will be modified on the exact terms of any settlement with St. Louis" (ESPN SportsZone, 9/14).
Patrick Ewing is a "leading candidate" to be named NBPA President when it announces results of a vote taken by secret ballot among the league's 29 player reps, according to an AP report in the DETROIT NEWS. Ewing had "pushed" in '95 "to try and persuade NBA players to decertify the union before the current" CBA was ratified. Ewing is currently VP of the union's nine-member executive committee, which is headed by Buck Williams (AP/DETROIT NEWS, 9/13).
MLB Acting Commissioner Bud Selig was interviewed by Fox's Chip Carey and Steve Lyons before Saturday's "MLB on Fox" telecast. Selig, on realignment: "The schedule really right now just doesn't work and that's a disaster for all 30 clubs ... we're trying now to deal with individual club concerns." Selig, asked if he had a concrete plan to present at the owners' meetings in Atlanta this week: "Not at this point. I mean, we have a significant number of plans ... with variations off those plans." On the search for a full-time commissioner: "There are serious candidates, but we've agreed ... that to protect them and everybody else that this is to be done on a very confidential basis ... we haven't set a timetable, but I have said recently ... that hopefully by the end of the year we'll have somebody at least ready to come on board" ("MLB on Fox," 9/13). PETER'S PRINCIPLE: Giants Owner Peter Magowan said that he is "prepared to take his fellow owners to court to prevent" an MLB realignment plan that would move the A's to the NL, according to Henry Schulman of the S.F. EXAMINER. Magowan said that the "legal basis for a suit would be the Giants' franchise agreement, which decrees the Bay Area as Giants territory" in the NL (S.F. EXAMINER, 9/14). MLB owners will meet Tuesday through Thursday in Atlanta, with realignment on the agenda. Padres President Larry Lucchino, a member of the realignment committee, thinks a decision will be reached on a '98 schedule: "Fortunately and mercifully. We need to move on to the schedule. We need a (1998) schedule and we need some decisions. The world isn't waiting for a perfect decision. It's just waiting for a decision" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 9/14). PARTY FOR FIVE: In L.A., Ross Newhan writes on Selig's five-year reign as acting commissioner: "No one criticizes Selig's passion or work ethic. He is on the phone 10 to 12 hours a day, earning the $2 million a year his colleagues pay him." But one NL owner said, "I criticize Bud for agreeing with everybody he talks to, whether he agrees with them or not, and I also think five years is a very long interim period." Newhan: "Selig has also tended to insulate himself among allies, making sure that Reinsdorf and Minnesota owner Carl Pohlad, among others, are always on the executive council and other influential committees to help Selig control vote." The NL owner adds that a "majority" of NL owners would oppose Selig's possible candidacy for the full-time position in part due to a "marketing void." The NL owner: "That's where baseball has really suffered. Deals just aren't getting done. The '97 season was a total loss in that regard and there's no excuse for it. Greg Murphy was hired [as MLBE President] with a lot of fanfare, but he doesn't have Bud's support. It's a real void. We're not generating the income we should" (L.A. TIMES, 9/15).
The World Championships of Beach Volleyball concluded Saturday at the UCLA tennis center and southern Californians "are veritable sticks in the sand when it comes to their beach volleyball ... which resulted in more than 1,000 empty seats," according to Mike Penner of the L.A. TIMES. Beach volleyball on tennis courts "was a mixed proposition at best." While Management Plus promoter Leonard Armato said the artificial beach succeeded in "changing perceptions" about the sport in southern CA, FIVB President Ruben Acosta "expressed disappointment at the small crowds at UCLA" and said that if the championships ever return to the L.A. area he would go to Manhattan Beach. Penner: "Attendance became such a sensitive issue among tournament organizers that no official gate totals were released for any of the four dates of competition." Acosta said he was "very concerned" about the size of the crowd and "promised to 'do my best to see that these seats will not be empty at the next World Championships.'" Penner: "Those are scheduled for 1999, possibly in South Africa, possibly in Berlin, but not probably back in Westwood" (L.A. TIMES, 9/14). Preliminary overnights for NBC's coverage on Sunday of the volleyball championship finals were a 2.5/5 (THE DAILY).