SBD/Issue 168/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NFL Owners Meetings: Work Stoppage Unlikely After CBA Opt-Out

    Upshaw Says Uncapped Season
    Could Be End Of Salary Cap In NFL
    The NFL owners yesterday unanimously voted to opt out of the league’s CBA with the NFLPA in 2011, but that decision “does not immediately threaten to disrupt the relatively harmonious coexistence between owners and players that has been a major ingredient in the league’s financial success,” according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. However, the owners’ decision to “exercise a reopener clause in the agreement does put a possible labor confrontation back on the horizon.” NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw “reiterated that if the league plays a season without a salary cap, it’s highly unlikely that the players would allow one to return in the future.” Maske notes a year without a salary cap would “give the owners additional mechanisms to limit players’ salaries.” Upshaw said that he is “convinced the players would receive closer to 70[%] of the revenue in an uncapped season in which owners could spend as they saw fit.” He added that if there is “no deal and the players are in jeopardy of being locked out by owners in 2011 … the players would decertify the union in a bid to avert a lockout, a move that potentially would expose the owners to an antitrust lawsuit by the players.” Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said of opting out of the CBA, “We obviously feel that the spirit of the agreement was for either side to opt out if it’s not working for them. And it’s not working for us” (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21). Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said of the CBA, “It’s gotten a little out of whack. Any long-term relationship always has to be recalibrated to get back in line” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/21). NFL Network’s Adam Schefter: “The fact that all the owners are in agreement on this particular matter tells you a lot” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 5/20).

    Rooney Says Revenue Sharing
    Must Be Addressed In New CBA
    OTHER REASONS: Owners said that they “want to negotiate a rookie wage scale” and to be able to “recoup bonus money from players who are unable to perform under their contracts.” But Upshaw said that the union “would not support either idea.” Steelers Chair Dan Rooney said that revenue sharing also “will have to be addressed again in a new deal, although [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell indicated he did not think revenue sharing was a primary issue” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21). But ESPN's Chris Mortensen said, "When you hear this other stuff about not being able to recoup bonuses ... or rookie wage scales, those are a distraction. I think it’s a publicity gimmick just to distract fans and get the fans on the owners’ side because that’s not the core issue. The core issue is cost-overruns and how do they get the players to work with them on those cost-overruns” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 5/20).

    PREEMPTIVE MOVE: In Green Bay, Pete Dougherty writes the NFL announced the vote to opt out of the CBA as “unanimous, though it’s unlikely every team voted against ratification initially.” There “presumably was a re-vote once the decision was made so they’d have the strength of unanimity” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 5/21). Labor experts said that the NFL is “taking the unique step of acting before problems become too severe.” Columbia Law School lecturer Robert Kheel: “I have no doubt there’s a proactive aspect to this. Teams may be making money, but if you put your money in a savings account, you might make 4 or 5[%]. The question is whether the return is economically rational” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/21). SI.com’s Peter King wrote the owners deciding to opt out of the CBA is “one of the best things that could happen to the process. That isn’t to say that this won’t be a long and arduous fight.” But “timing was a key element here” (SI.com, 5/20). Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen said of opting out of the CBA, “Really, there was no reason not to do it now. We might as well get that part of it out of the way, so we can hopefully get into some serious negotiations and get a deal” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21).

    LOOKING TO 2010: In N.Y., Judy Battista writes, “While rhetoric is sure to fly … the two sides will almost certainly not get serious for another two years” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21). SI.com’s King wrote there is “no question that the key point, the deadline point that really means something, now comes in March 2010” (SI.com, 5/20). Upshaw: “The point of no return will be the beginning of the league year in 2010; that will push us into an uncapped year. That’s what we see as a realistic deadline” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/21). In S.F., Nancy Gay writes, "March 2010. That is the new deadline. And when you get past the tough talk, no one, neither owners nor players, wants to envision the NFL in labor disarray beyond that date” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/21). Bowlen: “We obviously have three more seasons to play. So I’m sure we’ll be spending lots of time with the NFLPA” (USA TODAY, 5/21).

    RAMIFICATIONS OF CAPLESS SEASON: In L.A., Sam Farmer writes assuming no CBA deal gets done, there will be no salary cap for the 2010 season, but “it won’t necessarily be the wild, wild West when it comes to teams signing players.” There are “several rules in place that would limit the ability of notoriously free-spending teams … to snap up the best players.” There would be “additional restrictions on the top eight playoff teams from the previous season," as those clubs would be able "to add free agents only at the rate they lost them” (L.A. TIMES, 5/21). SI.com’s King: “Let’s say the Patriots are one of the top eight and want to sign a free-agent to a five-year, $20[M] contract. They’d have to lose their own player or players to contracts totaling $20[M] before they could sign the free agent they want” (SI.com, 5/20). In N.Y., Gary Myers notes in an uncapped year, there also “would not be a minimum each team would be required to spend” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/21). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Matthew Futterman writes the “likely outcome might be that a few star players reap a windfall, and although the free-agent pool won’t be that big, benchmarks could change and lead to higher salaries later” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/21).

    Cowboys Sign Barber To Six-
    Year, $45M Contract Extension
    TEAMS ALREADY ACTING: In Dallas, Archer & Breer report the Cowboys yesterday signed CB Terence Newman to a six-year, $50.2M extension and RB Marion Barber to a seven-year, $45M extension. While the NFL and NFLPA will “have labor peace at least through 2010, the uncertainty of what might happen beyond that led to a flurry of action.” The Cowboys “wanted to get the deals done before the end of business [yesterday] because of future changes to the salary cap” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/21). Meanwhile, the AP’s Charles Odum reported the Falcons yesterday signed first-round draft pick QB Matt Ryan to a six-year, $72M deal. Ryan’s agent, Tom Condon, and the Falcons “already had agreed on six years as the basis for their deal, and to make that happen they needed to complete the negotiations by Tuesday.” Falcons Owner Arthur Blank said the team "couldn’t have gotten a six-year contract if [it] didn’t get this deal done" before 4:00pm ET yesterday (AP, 5/20).

    PLANNING AHEAD: PROFOOTBALLTALK.com’s Mike Florio wrote moving forward, NFL front offices “will have to come up with contracts that comply with the 2008 cap rules, the rules of the last capped year in 2009, and the realities of the uncapped year.” They also will have to “account for the presently unknown terms of an extension, if an extension is eventually reached” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 5/20). ESPN's Mortensen: "Even new contracts that are going to be negotiated going forward, those first three years are going to be more important than ever because obviously, we don’t know what the future holds after 2010" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 5/20). 

    IMPACT ON SMALL MARKET TEAMS: In Milwaukee, Greg Bedard writes the NFL’s “much-celebrated parity … could be on a death march.” Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy: “I think a salary cap is good for the game, it’s good for the owners and I’m hopeful that we don’t get to that point (without a cap) and that we can reach an agreement before then” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/21). Redskins TE Chris Cooley on his blog wrote small-market owners “are about to opt out of an agreement that would help their teams in the future. How much of a fighting change do small-market teams have in 2011 of getting either top-ranked college prospects with no draft, or legitimate free agents with no money?” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/20). Washington Post reporter Les Carpenter said an uncapped year "could mean chaos for small-market teams if someone like [Redskins Owner] Dan Snyder has a checkbook that he could just write and write and write and write checks with no limits” ("Washington Post Live," CSN, 5/20).

    Goodell Raises Possibility Of Adding
    Another Game To Regular-Season Schedule
    ADDING A GAME: Goodell “raised the possibility of having a 17th regular-season game as an option to help settle some of the league’s future labor problems.” Goodell: “We think that may have an impact on some of the things we would want to talk to the players about. It’s on the table.” ESPN.com's John Clayton reported a 17th regular-season game would replace the fourth preseason game, meaning “more revenue could be created to help” in CBA negotiations. However, Upshaw “didn’t seem thrilled with the possibility.” Upshaw: “Any discussion we’ve had with them about playing another game, they’ve always said, they would like to do it, but they don’t want to pay for it. … We’re not going to agree to play an extra game and not get paid for it” (ESPN.com, 5/20). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jason Cole noted a 17th game would “increase the potential for television revenue because the league would have more games to sell” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/20).

    BUILDING BOOM: In San Diego, Tim Sullivan writes with their football revenues increasing “rapidly and their stadium deals increasingly augmented by real estate development, the owners occupy an enviable bargaining position." They “should be able to offer the players significant raises while at the same time gradually slicing their piece of the overall pie” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/21). However, Chiefs Chair Clark Hunt said, “The cost of building or renovating stadiums has absolutely skyrocketed in the last five years, almost doubled in fact. That has put a lot of stress on teams that have stadium projects. The current labor agreement does not reflect the private cost of stadiums borne by the teams” (K.C. STAR, 5/21).

    BARGAINING POSITION: In Philadelphia, Rich Hofmann writes, “The owners cannot lose here unless they get piggish.” The situation is “stacked in the owners’ favor as long as the players continue to have such short careers and high injury risks” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/21). In Chicago, Dan Pompei writes players “are not going to be happy when they probably are going to have to give back a portion of their piece of the pie. Some of the less rational ones could point the finger at Upshaw, who did so well last time that this time he can only look bad by comparison” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/21). However, Upshaw said, “Don’t worry. It’ll get done” (SI.com, 5/20). Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: "From my perspective, it seems like they're just probably bringing it to a head. I don't think anybody wants a work stoppage -- owners and players” (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/21).

    TOO MUCH TO LOSE: CBSSPORTS.com’s Pete Prisco wrote, “In the end, smart minds will come to an agreement. … There’s simply too much to lose. This will pass” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/21). In Richmond, Paul Woody writes, “Stadiums are full and television ratings are high. Revenue flows from corporate sponsorships, NFL property sales and online opportunities. To risk tarnishing all that with an ugly labor dispute is shortsighted and greedy” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/21).

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  • NFL Owners Meetings: Indy Selected To Host Super Bowl XLVI

     
    The NFL yesterday named Indianapolis as host of Super Bowl XLVI over Houston and Glendale. The game will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012. Indianapolis won the game after last year losing the right to host Super Bowl XLV to Dallas (Mult., 5/20). Colts Owner Jim Irsay: “It was tough not getting it after last year, but it’s all worth it right now” (INDYSTAR.com, 5/20). In Phoenix, Carrie Watters reports the voting took four rounds, with Houston being "knocked out in the second round." NFL Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said of the Glendale bid, "We're encouraged by how close we came. It's clear the league wants to come. It's just a matter of when." Watters notes Arizona officials "likely will be back next spring to bid for" Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/21). Texans Owner Bob McNair: "I have to admit that I'm shocked that we weren't one of the (two) finalists. I thought our presentation was superior" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/21).

    BACKBONE OF BID: In Indianapolis, O'Shaughnessy & Chappell report Indianapolis won the hosting rights with a "unique gambit: plans to transform a downtrodden Near-Eastside neighborhood in a project meant to create a lasting legacy." The centerpiece of the bid was a $9M athletic facility at Tech High School that would serve as a practice facility for the Super Bowl, which NFL officials and team owners cited as a "key factor in choosing Indianapolis." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: "That's a facility that will be used for many generations by people who play sports. I think that's a great thing for the NFL and the community." Irsay: "A lot of times, people think it's just about big numbers and big money, but it's also about big hearts." Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said that he "expects the city to have to pay [$1-2M] for public safety support but estimated the game would generate an economic impact of at least $100[M] and up to $20[M] in tax revenue." The bid committee raised $25M in "private pledges to build the facility, host the parties and turn Downtown into a Super Bowl Village that will draw tens of thousands of visitors despite frigid temperatures" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/21).

    Writer Believes Irsay Deserves 
    Credit For Landing Super Bowl
    COLTS CONTRIBUTE: ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote, "Don't forget to give some credit to Jim Irsay and [Colts coach] Tony Dungy. They're the ones who built the foundation for the glitzy new stadium that's about to open in downtown Indianapolis. They're the ones who made football matter in a city (and a state) where basketball always has dominated." Irsay: "This is the completion of a chapter in some ways of the last decade. ... We began our climb to excellence with a Super Bowl win and building this new stadium. I felt this was the one piece of the puzzle that had to get put into place to tie all that together." Central Indiana Corporate Partnership CEO Mark Miles, who led Indianapolis' bid, said, "In so many respects, Jim Irsay has led this effort. It simply doesn't happen without his leadership and the respect he has in that owners' room and around the league. He was really the person in Indianapolis that said, 'We can't quit. We've got to stay at this. Indianapolis is a Super Bowl city'" (ESPN.com, 5/20).

    GAME WILL INCREASE CITY'S PROFILE: Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce President Roland Dorson "views the Super Bowl as a global coming-out party for the city." Dorson: "For many people around the country and the world, there really isn't a clear image of Indianapolis. I think we're beginning to be recognized as a destination town, and this just enhances the cachet that we have" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/21). An INDIANAPOLIS STAR editorial states, "The benefits of staging the nation's most high-profile annual event go well beyond a well-deserved shot of pride for the city and its residents" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/21). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes, "This is for the movers and the shakers, the visionaries who had the foresight and the insight to position Indianapolis as a sports city back in the 1970s. This is for all the thousands of volunteers, who, for the past 30 years, made it possible for Indianapolis to host so many major sports events" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/21).

    IN OTHER MEETING NEWS: Goodell yesterday at the NFL Owners meetings said that the league will "begin fining teams under its personal conduct policy." Goodell said that the NFL will receive a "portion of the player's withheld pay whenever a player is suspended under the policy," and the percentage that goes to the league will "increase for subsequent violations by players from the same team" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21). Goodell also said that the NFL has “no plans to conduct an independent investigation of the Patriots’ videotaping procedures at this time.” U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has “pressured the league to do so, but Goodell reiterated his feelings that the league’s investigation was sound and thorough” (BOSTON.com, 5/20).

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  • Dream On: Penguins-Red Wings Finals Could Be Boon For The League

    Penguins-Red Wings Matchup
    Dream Scenario For NHL
    If there is a "dream scenario for [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman to help recapture the casual fan," the Stanley Cup Finals matchup between the Penguins and Red Wings is it, according to Corey Masisak of the WASHINGTON TIMES. The matchup has "star power led by the league's most recognizable player," Penguins C Sidney Crosby, as well as two "great TV markets and two teams with at least some level of tradition." This season marks the first time since '00-01 both teams in the finals have previously won the Stanley Cup. The NHL has a chance to "build something it hasn't had in almost 15 years -- momentum." Masisak: "All the ingredients are in place for a classic. ... This is the NHL's best chance to begin regaining its footing on the nation's sports landscape. After years of hearing about what hockey is not or what is wrong with the league, this is a chance to showcase what is right" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/21).

    PERFECT PAIR: SI.com's Michael Farber wrote under the header, "NHL Gets Wish With Dream Cup Final." After several finals matchups "that had less buzz than a circular saw, the NHL finds itself blessed with an Original Six team with national appeal and a worthy history playing a team with a great backstory and the most young talent in the NHL." Farber noted Crosby likely "will be the centerpiece of the final because the exposure of a long series ... can turn Crosby into a crossover star in a star-conscious country" (SI.com, 5/19). In Montreal, Red Fisher writes under the header, "Wings-Pens Matchup Made In NHL Heaven." Fisher: "What you have is a matchup to die for. ... The NHL couldn't have scripted a better finale" (Montreal GAZETTE, 5/21). In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher writes under the header, "Stars Align Perfectly For Final Showdown" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 5/21).

    EASY TO MARKET: In L.A., Helene Elliott wrote the finals "will fulfill the NHL's marketing dreams -- and should be a memorable experience for fans too." The NHL, which has "seen a modest increase in its TV ratings this season ... should be grateful for such a bonanza" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote the matchup is a "gem, the best Stanley Cup final possible for the NHL." Whether anybody watches in the U.S. that "isn't in the Eastern time zone is anyone's guess, but these are two of the more popular U.S. teams, so the Wings and Pens have a chance to attract more eyeballs than did" the previous three finals series, which were won by the Ducks, Hurricanes and Lightning (TORONTO STAR, 5/20). Former NHL coach Jacques Demers, in a special to USA TODAY, writes the Stanley Cup Finals are "filled with stars. Though the NHL would never say so, this is their dream matchup." The Red Wings and Penguins are "what hockey in the post-lockout era is supposed to be about: great scoring chances, puck control, great passes." Demers: "As evenly matched as these teams are, the referees need to let the players play. Open the door to great hockey, and let the dice fall where they may. And the league will reap rewards in the ratings" (USA TODAY, 5/21).

    Many Expecting Crosby's First Stanley Cup 
    Finals Appearance To Give NHL Ratings Uptick
    RATINGS BOON: The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston writes for NBC and Versus, this series is the "best matchup in years." The Red Wings and Penguins represent "not huge, but major U.S. markets consisting of a hockey base that watches NHL telecasts in significant numbers." Crosby has achieved "something approaching a national profile in the [U.S.], thanks to heavy promotion by the NHL and NBC," and the Penguins rank as the "most talented young team to reach the final since" the Oilers in the '80s (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/21). In DC, Tim Lemke writes broadcasters are "salivating" over the matchup (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/21). The L.A. TIMES' Elliott in a separate piece wrote Crosby is the NHL's "best hope for retaining loyal fans and attracting casual fans." Crosby has helped give the NHL a "pleasant and recognizable face and has inspired enough fans to search for Versus on their cable systems for the NHL to have gotten an uptick in its U.S. TV ratings" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20).

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  • Future Of LPGA Corning Classic Uncertain After 2010

    Future Of LPGA Corning Classic
    Up In The Air After 2010
    The $1.5M LPGA Corning Classic's contract expires in '09 after the 31st edition of the tournament, and rumors are that the event at Corning Country Club in New York "won't be renewed," according to Pete Dougherty of the Albany TIMES UNION. LPGA member Sherri Turner, who won the '88 Corning Classic, said, "I've had a feeling this was going to be coming soon. We all know things don't come easy here. You have to work for it, and I hate knowing that (the end) could happen." The Corning Classic is the LPGA's longest-running tournament, but it will tee off tomorrow with only five of the 25 top-ranked players scheduled to play. LPGA member Paula Creamer will be the only top-seven ranked player in the field. Turner: "The players today are in it for the money for the most part. There's some that are in it for the love of the game, but they're going to go where the money is. I hate seeing that happen because I know why this event is probably not going to continue." Turner believes that the LPGA soon will "elevate its minimum purse to $2[M]." Dougherty writes that amount is "too deep for the pockets of this community, even with the backing of" title sponsor Corning Glass Works (Albany TIMES UNION, 5/21). However, LPGA member Meg Mallon, a non-voting member of the LPGA’s BOD, said that she is “unaware of any talk of bumping the Corning Classic from the LPGA Tour.” Mallon: “I’m on the board and I haven’t heard that” (CORNING LEADER, 5/21). 

    OPTIMISTIC ABOUT FUTURE: In New York, Bob Benz reports Tournament President Jack Benjamin is "optimistic Corning will remain part of the LPGA Tour for the foreseeable future." Benjamin: “We have a contract [with the LPGA] through 2009. Then we have an option year for 2010 -- that’s our option. What we’ll do is after 2009, we will begin negotiating a new contract with the LPGA for 2011, ’12 and ’13 and our expectation is it will take a while to do that, so we’ve got the option year to do it and then our plan is to keep right on going, just as we have in the past” (CORNING LEADER, 5/21).

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  • League Notes

    DuPuy Says MLB Looking At Using
    Instant Replay On Limited Basis
    With the recent controversies over Mets 1B Carlos Delgado and Cubs C Geovany Soto having would-be home runs disallowed by umpires on the field, MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy said Commissioner Bud Selig “has made it clear over the past year or so that he is prepared to look at instant replay in very limited circumstances -- home run, no home run, fair, foul” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN2, 5/20). MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon said Selig "could make a decision this season, but I don’t know how quickly it will be implemented” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21). But in Chicago, Carol Slezak wrote, “The last thing baseball needs is instant replay. … Do we really want baseball games, which already last too long, to grow longer?” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/20).

    MLS: In L.A., Grahame Jones writes MLS and Toronto FC coach John Carver “are butting heads” due to Carver’s in-game behavior. Carver is an “emotional coach” who “reacts to what is happening on the field.” Jones: “MLS apparently does not want coaches who show a human side. … What MLS wants are compliant coaches who toe the line. If they speak out and criticize match officials, as many have, they get fined or suspended, or both” (L.A. TIMES, 5/21).

    NFL: In Chicago, Dan Pompei reported NFL front offices are “not happy with the new rule that limits training camp roster sizes to 80 players.” Previous rosters included exemptions for NFL Europe players, “leading to rosters close to 90 players.” One GM said, “It’s going to be hard to get through camp and the exhibitions like this. If you have injuries, you are in trouble” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/18).

    USSA: USSA VP/Communications Tom Kelly responded to skier Bryon Friedman's claims that the organization "cannot afford to fund their athletes" by indicating that the USSA's funding is up slightly from last year. He also noted that every athlete has the opportunity to qualify for funding, but they "must meet the team’s selection criteria," which was published in May ’07. Friedman did not meet the criteria and was not nominated to the team. Kelly said athletes meeting the team’s criteria will be funded, and athletes on the alpine A, B and C teams are fully funded (THE DAILY).

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