SBD/Issue 150/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NBPA Willing To Meet Over CBA, But Not Convinced Of Necessity

    Hunter (r) Says Players, He Will Collectively
    Decide If Things As Dire As Stern (l) Indicates
    NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter yesterday said he is willing to meet with NBA Commissioner David Stern this summer to begin talks about a new CBA, but players are not convinced at this time that economic conditions at the league are so dire that the players need to make major changes. "It is up to David and the owners to convince us of the urgency of the situation," Hunter said during a phone call yesterday. "We have an open mind. But this is a negotiation, it is not a one-sided give-away." Hunter indicated that talks may start sometime in July. He said he and players will "go in and sit down and listen to what are the owners' concerns and collectively make a determination if things are as abysmal as the commissioner thinks." Hunter: "I don’t see it yet." Hunter and Stern had a few one-on-one meetings in February, but have not met since. Hunter said he knows more about the league's position from "stories I have been reading in the papers" than from talks with the league, noting that there have been recent reports about "a more equitable distribution of revenues." Under the current CBA, NBA players receive 57% of revenues (Mullen & Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal).

    STATING HIS CASE: Hunter said, "If there's justifications for some of the exchanges that they're referring to, then we'll have to consider them. But what I'm saying to you is, it's not going to be any one-sided negotiations, where it's about all these givebacks by the players. We're going into a negotiation. It's not a surrender." In N.Y., Howard Beck reports Hunter contends the NBA's model is "generally healthy and suggested that the union would agree to extend the current deal with only minor 'tweaks.'" But while Hunter and Stern "have tried to present a united front," the divisions are "quickly becoming evident." Stern last week "identified the revenue split between players and owners as 'the biggest issue' facing the league -- an indication that he will push to reduce the players' 57[%] share." The NBPA will "clearly resist that effort, and has its own ideas for altering the business model." Hunter indicated that he "would lobby for broad revenue sharing between teams as part of the new labor deal." Beck notes NBA teams "share revenue from sponsorships, merchandising and national television rights, but they do not split local TV revenue or gate receipts." It is "not clear whether the league would consider a broader, NFL-style program." Meanwhile, despite the economic downturn, Hunter said that he is "not convinced that the labor deal needed major changes because it was already built to react to the market" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/23). Hunter added that he wants all NBA owners to "disclose team financial records in advance" of CBA negotiations, noting that under rules, the NBPA "can conduct limited audits of five teams a year." Hunter: "We would like as much information as we can get." NBA VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said in an e-mail, "We will open the books of all teams as part of collective bargaining, just as we have done in our prior negotiations" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/23).

    Stern Says People Have To Make
    Adjustments In All Businesses
    THE OTHER SIDE: Stern discussed the impending CBA talks and said, "When you look around and you see the various cutbacks that are going on in industry, you understand that people have to make adjustments in all businesses. I think that we'll be talking with our players about adjustments." Stern: "Our system to a degree is self-adjusting. As revenues go down, since we share revenues with the players currently at 57%, the amount that they'll get is less than they could have expected. But I think even the 57% number is somewhat on the high side. So there's tough negotiations coming" ("Monsters in the Morning," CSN Chicago, 4/22). Stern added the league believes a successful CBA "is going to be a balanced agreement that takes care of our players, our teams and particularly our fans. We think if we come through with a good agreement the league will remain on the growth curve that it currently finds itself." Meanwhile, Stern said the restructured officiating department at the league, led by NBA Senior VP/Referee Operations Ron Johnson, is "doing a great job." He said team owners "seemed to be quite pleased with him" (ESPN Radio, 4/21).

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  • Goodell, Kraft Discuss Comcast Negotiations, Economy, Rookie Pay

    Goodell Discusses NFL Network, Economy
    Rookie Pay Scale During CNBC Appearance
    On the eve of this weekend's NFL Draft, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft appeared in studio on CNBC's "Squawk Box" to discuss several issues around the league. Goodell said of the ongoing negotiations with Comcast over NFL Network, "Our deal expires in a week and we're working feverishly to try to continue our relationship with Comcast because we want to be available to the widest possible audience and that's our dispute with Comcast." Kraft serves as NFL Broadcasting Committee Chair, and CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked him, "Is that going to work out?" Kraft: "I hope so. We have a lot of fans that want to see this." Goodell also discussed the impact of the economy on the NFL, and noted 24 teams "did not change their ticket prices going into this season, and the remaining eight teams really had modest increases in certain categories." Goodell: "We've been very sensitive to this issue. ... I'm sure we're going to have pockets where we're going to have challenges, either because of local economic factors or because of team performance. ... We have to recognize what our fans are going through and we have to be sensitive to that, and our clubs have." Meanwhile, Goodell said of a proposed rookie wage scale, "The rookie pool is something that we have to speak to our players association about and have to negotiate collectively. But just this weekend we'll have in the first round alone, we'll commit $600(M) to our first round draft choices this weekend, $400(M) of that will be guaranteed money. So it's significant expenses that we have to pay to players that have not yet proven themselves on the NFL field." Goodell noted the first pick in the draft could earn $30M in guaranteed money. Kraft: "I think Roger's put his finger on something that's a real inefficiency in the system. We'd much rather see that money go to our proven veterans" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 4/23).

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