SBD/Issue 175/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Jerry Bruckheimer In Talks For NHL Team In Vegas

    NHL In Talks With Jerry Bruckheimer (l)
    For Team In Las Vegas

     

    NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that the league has been in discussions with powerful film and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer about owning a franchise in Las Vegas, amid growing speculation that the NHL is on the verge of proposing expansion to Las Vegas and K.C.  A group led by Bruckheimer, an avid hockey fan, is the front-runner for the Las Vegas expansion and has been in talks with NHL officials for months, sources said.  Additionally, Bruckheimer has had discussions with AEG officials about that group potentially building and/or operating an NHL arena in Las Vegas. AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke would not comment on that, but said in a statement, "Jerry is like a brother. I will be there to support him anywhere he wants to go."  Bruckheimer is said to be the leader of a group of entertainment execs, including MGM Studios Chair & CEO Harry Evans Sloan, who want to own the Las Vegas team.  Neither Paul Bloch, Bruckheimer's publicist, nor MGM spokesperson Jeff Pryor would comment.

    DALY: Daly, asked to confirm or deny whether the NHL had discussions with Bruckheimer about owning an NHL team in Las Vegas, said in an e-mail, "Bruckheimer is one of many people we have spoken to about their desire to own a team in Vegas." Daly added that "no decisions have been made" by the NHL BOG about expanding the league from 30 to 32 teams and that "there's no 'agreement' with anyone" to own an expansion team.  But he said, "There have been many expressions of interest by a number of individuals and a number of cities," including Las Vegas and K.C., where AEG manages the city-owned Sprint Center, set to open in October.  At the Stanley Cup Finals Game Four in Ottawa on Monday, there was a buzz that an announcement about the league considering expansion to Las Vegas and  K.C. was imminent, hockey sources said.  Asked about that, Daly wrote, "I don't know if or when there might be an announcement. We will update the Board on the expressions of interest we have received."

    A HOCKEY GUY: There has been speculation for more than a year that Bruckheimer, producer of dozens of films and television shows, including the "CSI" series and spinoffs and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, has wanted to own an NHL franchise, and he was said to have been interested in buying the Penguins. Since October '06, when Bruckheimer attended a dinner at Staples Center with Leiweke and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, media outlets have reported the producer has been talking to the league about how to better market the game. However, sources said that the primary purpose of the meetings was to discuss Bruckheimer owning an NHL team in Las Vegas.

    VEGAS ARENA: One sports facilities source closely tied to AEG said that the firm has a "standing offer" to Bruckheimer that AEG would develop, operate and possibly own the building in Las Vegas.  Bill Rhoda, a consultant for CSL Int'l, which is managing the process for the city to select an arena developer, said AEG was one of seven developer-led teams that submitted letters of intent last Thursday to build a new downtown arena (AEG co-owns an arena developer, Tim Romani's Icon Venue Group). The others:

    • Real Estate Interests, with urban planner RTKL.
    • Raul Walters Properties, with architect HNTB and sports executive Kiki Vandeweghe.
    • Star Development, with architect Ellerbe Becket.
    • Postolos Group, led by former Rockets President George Postolos.
    • Medallion Financial Corp., led by Andrew Murstein, who tried to buy the Penguins with Mark Cuban and Dan Marino in '06.
    • Las Vegas Land Partners.

    Others attending the May 14 pre-proposal conference in Vegas included officials from general contractors Hunt and Turner and architects HKS, EwingCole and David M. Schwarz.

    TIMING: The season when a team would start play isn't known, but the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which has played host to L.A. Kings preseason games, could be available as an interim home if a new arena has not been completed. Vegas' biggest arena, the Thomas & Mack Center, does not have an ice sheet.

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  • Former Players Upset At Upshaw For Threatening Comments

    Former Players Upset With Upshaw's
    Comments Towards DeLamielleure
    NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw telling the Philadelphia Daily News last week that he was "going to break [Pro Football HOFer Joe DeLamielleure's] damn neck" has “sparked an angry response from former NFL players,” according to Greg Johnson of the L.A. TIMES. Former NFLer Bruce Laird, who leads an activist group of former players in Baltimore, said of Upshaw's comments, “You can’t do that in high school, much less at a union in a $7[B] industry.” Upshaw did not respond to interview requests. Johnson reports some retired players are “considering protests during the [HOF] induction ceremonies in August and are gathering signatures from fans to draw attention to what they view as low pension and medical benefits.” Two players have filed a class-action lawsuit against the union alleging financial irregularities, and others are “producing DVDs that relate poignant stories of former NFL players who are wrestling with serious financial and health problems.” Pro Football HOFer Mike Ditka said, “The only way to get through to people is to keep knocking on the door. ... Over a period of time that might mean embarrassing the NFL, embarrassing the [NFLPA], embarrassing Upshaw and embarrassing the current players” (L.A. TIMES, 6/6).

    GOODELL SIDESTEPS ISSUE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not directly address Upshaw’s comments yesterday during a luncheon in Charlotte honoring Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson, but he said, “I don’t think there is anybody that I know of that’s done more for the retired players, and players in general, than Gene Upshaw. ... We have a genuine interest in doing what’s respectful for the players” (THE DAILY). But in Baltimore, Ken Murray writes Goodell “clearly resented the latest firestorm in the league’s relationship with its former players.” NFLPA founding member Bernie Parrish, one of the players who filed the suit against the union, said he considers Upshaw a “dangerous man.” Parrish: “Running off at the mouth, threatening to break [DeLamielleure’s] neck, is an exposure of what he is like” (Baltimore SUN, 6/6). Panthers S Mike Minter said that Upshaw’s comments “were inappropriate” but he supports Upshaw’s leadership. Minter: “Even though (another) guy might be wrong and not looking at all the facts, you need to say what you say without threatening.” Minter added that Upshaw “should apologize” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/6). ESPN.com’s Mark Kreidler wrote the question of "whether Upshaw is still fit to run the NFLPA is ... absolutely the right one to ask.” Upshaw has become a “caricature of the serious-minded union chief he once was regarded as being” (ESPN.com, 6/5).

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  • NFL Commissioner Goodell Talks About Personal Conduct Policy

    Goodell Says Players Support League’s
    New Personal Conduct Policy
    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in Charlotte yesterday to introduce Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson as the first recipient of the Charlotte Regional Partnership Private-Sector Economic Development Award. After the presentation, Goodell talked about several key topics facing the league, including the new personal conduct policy and ways to expand the league’s reach.

    ONGOING ISSUE: The main news surrounding the NFL this offseason has dealt with the new personal conduct policy Goodell instituted. Already three players – Titans CB Pacman Jones, Bengals WR Chris Henry and Bears DT Tank Johnson – have been suspended for at least eight regular-season games for off-field incidents. Goodell said, “We believe we’re off to setting some standards to making sure our players and coaches and everyone involved with the NFL understand the importance of it. But it’s an ongoing issue.” He added. “We’re dealing with a large number of people – 2,000 young men – and kids are going to make mistakes. ... What we need to do is try to provide as many resources as we possibly can and help them make good decisions. But things are going to happen, and when it happens, they need to understand the consequences."

    SUPPORT OF PLAYERS: Goodell said the new policies were put in place with the support of many current NFLers. Over 100 players were consulted about the guidelines in order to understand the issues and what could be done to address them. Goodell said, “We’ve had a few incidents that we’re not happy about – we’ve dealt with them and we’ve had the support of the players in doing it."

    NOT SPECULATING ON VICK: Goodell declined to speculate on whether Falcons QB Michael Vick would be suspended if investigations into his alleged involvement in dogfighting showed him to be an active participant. He said, “We don’t deal with hypotheticals. We’re waiting to make sure we gather all the facts, make sure we understand exactly what the circumstances are."

    LOOKING TO GROW BRAND: Despite being the premier sports property in the U.S., Goodell is intent on finding new ways to grow the league, with the Dolphins-Giants game in London this October a prime example. Goodell: “We’re focused more on how we can continue to promote the league on a broader basis. ... The media world is changing. We have to be responsive to that and make sure we find ways in which we can continue to deliver NFL football to future generations of NFL fans."

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  • Stirring The Pot: Sheffield Makes Waves With Race Comments

    MLB Not Looking At Disciplining
    Sheffield For Comments In GQ

     

    MLB VP/PR Rich Levin said disciplining Tigers RF Gary Sheffield “hasn’t hit the radar screen” for comments Sheffield made in a GQ article about the decline of African-American players in MLB, according to Jeff Schultz of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Levin, asked to respond to Sheffield's remarks, said, "Consider the source.”  In the article, Sheffield said the small percentage of African-American players as compared to Latin players in MLB is about "being able to tell (Latin players) what to do – being able to control them. Where I’m from, you can’t control us” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/5). Sheffield “insists he meant nothing derogatory toward Latin players,” saying that he “merely answered a question about why there were so many Latin players as opposed to blacks.” Sheffield: “This is a baseball issue. If they want to change it, they can change it” (USA TODAY, 6/6). Tigers SS Carlos Guillen agrees with Sheffield’s remarks. Guillen: “I’m glad somebody spoke up” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/6).

    UNINFORMED STATEMENTS: Sports sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards said, “One has to look beyond simple statements from someone who is obviously uninformed on a matter such as this. Such a straightforward (opinion) or answer is absolutely wrong and asked of someone with limited information” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/6). Lisa Navarrete, VP of DC-based Latino national civil rights and advocacy organization National Council of La Raza, said, “He’s targeting the wrong culprit, the players themselves. Then he resorts to the stereotyping that he himself is trying to fight” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/5). Former Braves teammate Eddie Perez said Sheffield's comments are “going to hurt a lot of people. I don’t know (if he’ll be suspended), but somebody needs to say something” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/5).

    Columnist Says Latino Players
    Should Be Outraged By Comments
    DEMEANING SEVERAL GROUPS?  The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION’s Schultz wrote Sheffield “demeaned all Latin players, suggesting they’re only here because they’re easy to handle. He demeaned mostly-white front-office officials, saying personnel decisions aren’t really based on talent. He sort of demeaned his own race, suggesting African-Americans are harder to control” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/5). In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik writes Sheffield’s comments “should be reviewed by the commissioner’s office and, at least, repudiated. ... There should be outrage among Latin players, including his teammates. Nor should black players feel comfortable with the stereotypical comments" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/6).

    IS THERE SOME TRUTH TO ALL OF THIS? In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes, “There’s truth to Sheffield’s comments in regards to teams exacting more control over Latino players than black players. Non-American players are excluded from the entry draft, so it’s possible for a team to sign 20 Latino players for the same cost as a guaranteed signing bonus for one player selected high in the first round of the entry draft. That gives major league executives tremendous power over those players” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/6). Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Terence Moore noted former NL President Bill White "said there was a quota system in (MLB) and that more than a few black players knew about that, but they were afraid to speak out about it. So this goes further than just knee-jerk reaction that this is all about blacks just preferring to play football and basketball.” Moore also said on the Major League Scouting Bureau’s computerized form there “was a slot for race. ... When I confronted various owners and (GMs) about that, they could not explain that. I went to (former MLB Commissioner) Bowie Kuhn and asked him about it. He was stunned. Bowie Kuhn sent out a memorandum around that said, ‘Effective immediately: no more race on these forms’” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 6/5).

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