SBD/Issue 49/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Ex Fed Reserve Chair Volcker Talks To MLB Owners About Economy

Volcker Gives Negative Assessment Of Economy
During 45 Minute Meeting With MLB Owners
Former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker Thursday addressed MLB team owners and officials at the league's quarterly meetings in N.Y. and discussed "what led to the current economic plight and where things might be headed," according to Schmidt & Thomas of the N.Y. TIMES. Volcker spoke for about 45 minutes and attendees at the meeting said that his "assessment was not upbeat." Volcker, at the end of his presentation, fielded "several questions from owners and officials but did not specifically address how the economy could affect the 30 teams, big market and small, in the months to come." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that he "first broached the idea of having Volcker address the owners when he saw him at a World Series game last month" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21). Selig declined to characterize the remarks of Volcker, who has served on two baseball commissions including Selig’s own Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics in ‘00, but said they did not relate specifically to the sport. “I find him to be a fascinating human being, and thought the owners would benefit from hearing his views,” Selig said (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Padres CEO Sandy Alderson: "Volcker closed the meeting with a presentation on the economy. You can imagine how that went" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/21). Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said Volcker "said the same things we are getting in the papers, but when you hear it from the foremost financial authority in the world, it has a bigger impact" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 11/20).

OTHER MEETING NEWS: Red Sox Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Sam Kennedy said that he "did not anticipate changes" to DHL's sponsorship agreement with the team, which runs through the end of the '09 season, despite DHL's impending termination of all domestic-based air and ground delivery services in the U.S. DHL also has sponsorship deals with MLB, MLBAM and several other teams. Since DHL is the official shipping agent for the Red Sox, the team will "have to find a new company to ship the hundreds of thousands of tickets it mails to fans every year" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21). Meanwhile, Selig said efforts are well in progress to amend the league’s rule book to mandate clearly that all postseason, postseason play-in, and All-Star games be played to their full conclusion of at least nine innings. The length-of-game issue manifested itself in controversial fashion when Selig mandated Game 5 of this year’s World Series in Philadelphia be played to conclusion amid a multi-day stretch of rain that could have at one point created a weather-shortened clinching game for the Phillies (Fisher).

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