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SBD/Issue 244/Leagues & Governing BodiesPrint All
Billick Feels NFL Needs To Hold
Hard Line On Blackout Policy
SHED SOME LIGHT: SI.com's Peter King wrote the NFL "shouldn't be so hardened about the blackout rule." The greater Detroit area currently has a 29% unemployment rate, and it is "unrealistic to expect that Detroit ... fill a 64,500-seat stadium regularly." King: "I wouldn't lift the blackout entirely this year, because once the genie's out of the bottle, it's going to be hard to get it back in. But I would say it would be a grand gesture for the league to give the truly deserving franchises a couple of games with home TV for non-sellouts" (SI.com, 9/7). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should "lift those television blackouts -- and let the people of Detroit watch the Lions." In a city with a "wheezing automotive industry and a jobless rate near 30[%], people need diversions." Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue lifted the blackout rule in New Orleans in '05 following Hurricane Katrina, and Goodell similarly should "waive it now." Sandomir: "Why stick rigidly to a policy made for better times? Relax it this season and revisit it next year." If the league does not lift the policy, it should at least "stream the blacked-out games on nfl.com or let local stations replay the blacked-out games on Monday mornings" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/5). In Oakland, Monte Poole writes if "ever a time was right to suspend for at least a year the blackout rule ... it's when we're choking on horrible economic conditions." Poole: "Presented a grand opportunity to extend a goodwill gesture, to serve the community at minimum cost, the NFL shrugs and counts its cash" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 9/9).
Jaguars Owner Weaver Believes
Games Will Be Blacked Out
FEELING THE PINCH: ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli noted despite its "preeminent status, the NFL has learned a difficult lesson from the current lagging economy: The league simply isn't recession-proof." It was once a "touchstone for companies to attach themselves to the NFL and its nonpareil brand name," but those companies are "revisiting the viability of those decisions." Several factors, including the current economy, have "combined to force the NFL, while still financially healthy, to market its product with greater gusto," because the league that "once sold itself now is finding that it is a much tougher sell." To the fans, it is "not enough anymore to simply stage the games," and the league now "talks increasingly about the 'Sunday experience'" (ESPN.com, 9/8).
Jones Says Revenue-Sharing
Won't Be A Part Of New CBA
STAND TO LOSE: In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman noted if Jones is "successful in his attempt to eliminate revenue-sharing in the NFL, the Vikings will be losing some $20[M] or so that they have received in each of the past three seasons and will get again this year." Meanwhile, Twins President Dave St. Peter said that he believes Target Field and the Univ. of Minnesota's new TCF Bank Stadium "will help the Vikings get a new stadium." St. Peter: "The fans are going to be so happy with the two new stadiums that they will want the Vikings to get a similar stadium. I'm convinced the effect of the new stadiums will be more important than some people think" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/6).
Patrick Will Continue To Run Full
IndyCar Schedule Next Year
EASING IN: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote Patrick "has to get her feet wet before she takes the full plunge, so this makes sense." But he added, "As I've said, I think it's an uphill battle at best. She does not have experience with this type of car and while her NASCAR team owner figures to be patient with her development, the public won't. They'll expect her to be competitive and the spotlight will be intense" (INDYSTAR.com, 9/8). ESPN's Rusty Wallace said, "She needs a sponsor that’s going to stick with her through thick and thin for three solid years." ESPN’s Ray Evernham added, “It would be great for our sport and I think that she can make it” (“NASCAR Countdown,” ESPN, 9/6). The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote, "What is clear is that a fast-track move to the premier Sprint Cup Series is not in Patrick's best interest. There doesn't seem to be a top-tier team with the financing to give her that opportunity. And even if it were feasible, Dario Franchitti's failed 2008 venture into stock cars showed most team owners that drivers need to ease into such a transition" (AP, 9/8). However, ESPN's Ricky Craven said, "She’s very good, and I think a lot of people are underestimating her a little bit. I think that she has the ability to adapt maybe better than some of the drivers we’ve seen from IRL” (“ESPN First Take,” ESPN2, 9/7).
BEGINNING OF THE END: SI.com's Lars Anderson predicted Patrick would sign a three-year deal with AGR that allows her to "compete in a handful of Nationwide and Truck series races when the Indy cars aren't running." Anderson: "After that, in 2013, she'll be in NASCAR fulltime" (SI.com, 9/7). Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes under the header, "IRL Can't Survive A Danica Defection." Patrick's "eventual defection to NASCAR won't kill the sport, but it will deal the open-wheel types a painful and possibly even fatal blow." IRL officials "don't want to hear this, but without Patrick -- their one and only marquee talent and celebrity -- IndyCar is as insignificant as celebrity billiards." Patrick's departure "will put the brakes on all the momentum the series gained when unification with Champ Car finally happened," as without Patrick, the IRL "has nothing, and nobody, to sell" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/9).
Waugh (c) Says There's Pressure On PGA Tour
To Reduce The Purses It Demands Of Sponsors
NO THOUGHTS OF REDUCING BMW PURSE: BMW North America President Jim O'Donnell appeared on CNBC this morning from Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Illinois, in advance of tomorrow's start of the PGA Tour BMW Championship. The purse for the event is $7.5M, and CNBC's Phil LeBeau said there has been a “fair amount of talk about the purses becoming too extravagant, especially in a down economy.” LeBeau: “Have you ever thought to yourself, 'Maybe we need to rein this in? Maybe this is not the best expenditure of our money.'" O'Donnell: "No, not really because the other side of the coin is we will generate something like $3.3(M) -- at least that's what we did last year -- for charity” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/9).
IT STARTS FROM THE TOP: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin noted with the PGA Tour "struggling every time Tiger Woods skips a tournament and both the LPGA Tour and Champions Tour in serious financial straits, some wonder if limited-field formats of the top stars would work best to draw eyeballs to the tube." One source said that the idea is "gaining popularity." The "Tiger-effect" has created a "de facto two-tier tour." With TV cameras "following almost every shot by Woods, there's simply not that much time in a broadcast for other players," and when Woods and Phil Mickelson are not playing, "viewership drops." Dowbiggin: "So while they'd never say as much, TV networks would likely embrace stars-only fields" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 9/7).
Helfant Hopes All-Star Event
Will Reach Casual Fans
The NHL and NHLPA are concluding their media summit in N.Y. today, working with 17 players to provide more than 18 media outlets with content for the upcoming season. The league and union set up on multiple floors of the Empire Hotel and gave players like Penguins C Sidney Crosby and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane time with NBC, Versus, ESPN America, TSN, Sirius, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and others. The players today are going to the Prudential Center to film portions of TSN’s “Wednesday Night Hockey” introduction. NHL COO John Collins said the summit “brings the story of the NHL to life." Collins: "The demands of the season are so intense that this gives the media and advertising community a chance to interact with these players in a laid back setting. It's all part of getting these guys to the proper level of exposure." It is the second year of the media summit, and player participation is up from 14 players in ‘08. League execs said that last year's summit resulted in additional coverage the NHL might not otherwise get and pointed to five articles in USA Today in ‘08 that were reported and photographed during the summit (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). The following players are attending the summit.PLAYERS ATTENDING SUMMIT
Penguins C Sidney Crosby Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist Penguins C Evgeni Malkin Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane Bruins LW Milan Lucic Blackhawks C Jonathan Towes Bruins G Tim Thomas Canadiens C Scott Gomez Ducks D Chris Pronger Wild G Niklas Backstrom Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf Blue Jackets LW Rick Nash Flyers C Jeff Carter Bruins D Zdeno Chara Flames D Jay Bouwmeester Rangers RW Marian Gaborik Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin
HARD-LINE STANCE: In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa wrote the NHLPA is "sending the message that it will take a hard-line stance when the CBA expires" after the '10-11 season "by terminating the level-headed [Paul] Kelly and handing over power to interim executive director Ian Penny (old guard), Ron Pink (labor guy), and Buzz Hargrove (labor guy)." In response, the NHL, "which views the split-asunder NHLPA as a laughingstock, will most likely push for at least these concessions: NFL-like nonguaranteed contracts; a reduction in player percentage of hockey-related revenue from [57% to 50%]; and no NHL participation" in the '14 Sochi Games. Shinzawa: "And that, ultimately, spells another work stoppage unless the NHLPA hires a conciliatory leader" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/6).
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the "prospect of replacement referees calling NBA games for the first time since 1995 is looming larger by the day after the latest negotiating session between the current refs and league executives broke down" yesterday. The NBA's most recent contract with its 60-plus referees expired September 1, and a source said that yesterday's bargaining session in N.Y. was "called to an abrupt halt by commissioner David Stern." Stein noted "no further talks are scheduled between the sides" with only about three weeks remaining before the league's first scheduled exhibition game on October 1 (ESPN.com, 9/8).
Stern Expects To See 2-5% Revenue Drop
During '09-10 Season Due To The Economy
LET'S PLAY TWO: LPGA Acting Commissioner Marty Evans said that she "would love to see a second stop in Canada" in addition to the CN Canadian Women's Open, which concluded Sunday. Evans: "If we could find a sponsor who would sponsor in Canada, I would love to talk to them. We have a full-court press on right now to not only sign tournaments that were up for renewal ... but we're very interested in new opportunities and I think a second opportunity in Canada would be fabulous." Evans added that a second Canadian stop "would not be in conflict with the CN Open, nor would she expect it to be of the same magnitude" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/6). Meanwhile, in Newark, Brendan Prunty reported the LPGA Sybase Classic "will be moving" from the Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey "to a new and yet unnamed location for 2010" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/5).
NEXT STOP, MILWAUKEE? UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said that the league "has plans to add two teams a year for the next three years," and that Milwaukee "would be one of the cities under consideration." Huyghue: "We would have to find an ownership group, but Milwaukee would be considered." Miller Park Stadium District Exec Dir Mike Duckett said that Miller Park is "big enough for a football field" (JSONLINE.com, 9/4).