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FOOTBALL: USA TODAY's Gordon Forbes examines the NFL's establishment of the Browns expansion franchise and writes that the "stocking of departments, unprecedented in NHL history, has irked some ownership groups" (USA TODAY, 5/8). ...USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that if NBC and Turner Broadcasting move forward on a new football league, it would "likely" include 10, 12 or "even more franchises, mostly in major markets," and begin in mid-August (USA TODAY, 5/8). OTHER NOTES: The CA Speedway announced that attendance at last weekend's CA 500 drew a record sellout crowd of 115,000, topping the record of 95,000 set last year (Penske Motorsports)....Nine members of the former Colorado Silver Bullets baseball team have signed contracts to play with the Ladies Professional Baseball League (USA TODAY, 5/8)
NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik appeared on the "NBA on TNT" with Verne Lundquist and Doc Rivers prior to the start of the second half of the Knicks-Pacers game last night. Granik, on the league's labor negotiations: "We had our fifth or sixth meeting today. We've been meeting about once a week and our hope is that we will continue that pace and maybe even pick it up a little as we go forward." Granik mentioned that Rivers was part of past labor talks, and added, "You hope that if you keep talking, keep meeting, that eventually will lead to some agreement. The biggest thing for us is the economic system. We have an economic system that we think is out of whack. ... That's the biggest issue, there are other issues but I think those are going to be resolvable" ("NBA on TNT," TNT, 5/7). AGENTS MEET: SI's Jackie MacMullan reports that agents representing a 20-member advisory committee will meet today to discuss, "among other things, whether a majority of players support decertification" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 5/11).
Oilers President Glen Sather said that small-market Canadian teams can survive, but success will mean "convincing the rest of the NHL's owners, both in Canada and the United States, that they are on a self-destructive course," according to David Shoalts of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. Sather said that he doesn't expect to receive any public assistance, but that teams need to control salaries: "The market is created by us. If we decide not to pay Sergei Fedorov $36-million, that changes the market." But he added that the market won't change since owners will spend whatever it takes to win, so small-market clubs, "instead of bitching and moaning about salaries," are going to have to target new revenue. Sather said one "key" area is TV, where the Oilers are bringing all production in-house and looking at PPV telecasts as a "major growth area." Sather added that he would like to see more revenue sharing and said the six Canadian clubs "would be a hell of a lot better off if we could keep the 'Hockey Night in Canada' revenue," instead of the current Canadian Assistance Plan. Sather, on fellow owners: "Everybody, because they want to chase the Stanley Cup, can rationalize what they pay these players. Owners start to fall in love with their stars" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/8).