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Bettman Calms Fears That
'10-11 Cap Would Drop
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday said the salary cap for the '10-11 season will be "flat or maybe up a tad" from the $56.8M figure used this season, according to Matthew Sekeres of the GLOBE & MAIL. Bettman's assertion "allays fears, which heightened last year during the global economic recession," that the '09-10 cap would be "ravaged by a drop in league revenues and leave several teams scrambling to get under the cap this summer." The NHL will formally announce the cap figure "no later than June 30, one day before the start of free agency." Bettman said that league revenues were up about 5% in '08-09, but that a "drop in the Canadian dollar, of roughly $0.12, contributed to the cap rising by just $100,000 for this just completed season." However, Sekeres notes the Canadian dollar is "making a comeback, closing at nearly $0.99 U.S. on Monday, and its rise will help float the cap next season." Bettman yesterday also noted that first-round TV viewership in the U.S. was the "highest it has been in 10 years." He said, "It’s the culmination of five years of growth and building that we’ve done together with Versus, in terms of their coverage of the game and their increase in distribution. It’s because they treat us so well that we’re seeing this growth." Meanwhile, Bettman also noted that he has asked all 30 GMs to "send him a letter after the playoffs with their observations on the effects of the two-week Olympic break" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/4).
CHICAGO STYLE: Bettman last night said that the NHL's sale of the Coyotes to Jerry Reinsdorf is "getting closer to completion, but didn't give a timetable." Bettman said that Reinsdorf's acquisition would be "beneficial to the franchise and the league." Reinsdorf's group has said that it "intends to keep the team" in Arizona, and Bettman said, "There is much that has to be done with the city of Glendale, both with the league and the prospective owners" (CP, 5/3). More Bettman: "I think with new ownership and the right things, there's now a good foundation for the franchise to build from. Hopefully, we're in a position to put it all together so the team can stay put" (CALGARY SUN, 5/4).
HOLDING OUT HOPE: Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said that he is "working with 'others' hoping to land an NHL team for the city" after failing to land the Coyotes in a bid with RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie. Eisenberger: "We continue with discussions with others about the prospects for the NHL in Hamilton and we're going to do it very confidentially until it's ready for prime time. I think the opportunity now is greater than ever, thanks to the work of Jim Balsillie." However, Bettman said of Balsillie, "The owners have been pretty clear based on their interaction, that he wasn't somebody that they were interested in having as a partner. I think there's a lot of water under that bridge. I can't predict whether the bridge has actually been washed out" (TORONTO STAR, 5/1).
Selig, Baseball Have Remained Silent About
Immigration Law, Despite Numerous Protests
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig needs to "acknowledge that people are looking to Major League Baseball to make a statement" about the new Arizona immigration law, but he needs to "keep his message basic," according to William Rhoden of the N.Y. TIMES. MLB and Selig "have remained silent, presumably in hopes that the issue will go away," but it "isn't going away, at least not anytime soon." The law to this point has "so handcuffed Selig that he has been unable to react." Rhoden: "If this legacy-conscious commissioner is not careful, or perhaps if he is too careful, he will whiff on this issue without ever taking the bat off his shoulder." However, MLB "makes a strong statement about inclusion 162 times a season." Selig could "remind his fans, those who support the Arizona legislation and those who oppose it, that close to 30[%] of major league players were born elsewhere. That these international players help provide the strength of the game. That it is unthinkable that they should feel in any way unwelcome." Rhoden: "With his legacy on the line, it's the swing he eventually has to take" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4).
DOES MLB NEED TO SPEAK OUT? Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent said he would advise Selig “to just sit quietly.” Vincent: “It is just not baseball's role at this stage. One has to see what Congress and the President do. It is much more their game than his, and I think he is entitled to say that he doesn't have to swing at every pitch. This is a pitch that he can let go by." He added, “My guess is, knowing Bud, that he will be very cautious. He doesn't want to choose sides. The Arizona statute has a lot of public support. He has a home in Arizona. He is very seriously conflicted, as we all are. He has got to listen to the players -- Michael Weiner, the union head, has spoken on the subject. So I think Bud's best hand now is to say, 'This is in Congress. This is the President's issue. It is a national issue, and I'm just running a small part of the country's activities and I think my role is to sit and let other people handle this problem. This is not my issue'" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 5/4). In Philadelphia, Stephen A. Smith writes under the header, "Baseball's Job Is Not Politics." MLB "needs to pause with caution before involving itself -- even if some of its Latin players elect to do so." The league "does not need to act like the NFL did in the 1980s, fighting with Arizona over its refusal to recognize the holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/4). But in Dallas, Jean-Jacques Taylor writes under the header, "Sports Commissioners Should Vow Boycott If Unjust Arizona Law Takes Effect." It is "time for our various sports commissioners to speak." If Arizona Senate Bill 1070 "goes into effect July 29, then you can say goodbye to a plethora of sporting events" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/4).
University of Phoenix Stadium In Glendale
In Running To Host 2018 Or 2022 World Cup
IMPACT ON GLENDALE'S WORLD CUP BID: In N.Y., Jack Bell reports Glendale, Arizona, is "one of the 18 cities included in the United States' bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup," but the state's new immigration law "could have an effect" on the city's candidacy. USA Bid Committee Dir of Marketing & Communications Jurgen Mainka said that the group would not comment on the new law, and U.S. Soccer Federation Communications Coordinator Neil Buethe also declined comment. Bell notes Glendale's Univ. of Phoenix Stadium "has emerged as a destination for Soccer United Marketing," and SUM Dir of Int'l Communications Marisabel Munoz said MLS and SUM "will continue to look at Phoenix as an option to bring top-flight soccer events." Meanwhile, the MLSPU "has not taken a position on the immigration law" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4). In N.Y., Andrew Das noted the "controversy and protests sparked by Arizona's new law are worrying some sports officials." The USA Bid Committee "could try to nip the crisis in the bud by dropping University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale from the bid committee's list of possible venues," as the World Cup would "use only 12 of the 18 proposed cities anyway." But the issue of illegal immigration "remains incredibly divisive, and the fight over it shows no signs of abating." Das noted FIFA will make its "final visits to assess the merits of the United States bid later this year," and a "venomous fight about suspicious-looking foreigners, identity cards and police powers is certainly not the welcome U.S. Soccer officials had in mind" (NYTIMES.com, 5/3).
NO BCS RAMIFICATIONS YET: ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel wrote despite the "innumerable imminent federal lawsuits and dozens of rallies across the nation" regarding Arizona's new law, "all is seemingly quiet" from FBS schools, which will hold the BCS National Championship game at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium in January. FBS officials are "keeping quiet about public opinion on their campuses over the controversial immigration law." Big East Senior Associate Commissioner for Football and NCAA Football Issues Committee Chair Nick Carparelli: "It's not something that seems to be on the college football radar at the moment." Meanwhile, Fiesta Bowl President John Junker is "preparing to host the annual Fiesta Frolic this week, a gathering of FBS athletic directors and head football coaches to which no reporters were invited," and "no one has talked about boycotting it" (ESPN.com, 5/3).
McIlroy Among A Group Of Young Golfers
Creating A Needed Buzz Around The Sport
Golf fans on Sunday got a "glimpse into where the professional game is going," as Rory McIlroy earned his first PGA Tour win at the Quail Hollow Championship at the age of 20, while 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa shot a 58 in the final round to win on the Japan Golf Tour, according to Ron Green Jr. of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Every week "someone wins a PGA Tour event," but "rarely do they win with the impact and flourish that McIlroy did." McIlroy was "already an enormous star in Europe, given his success as an amateur in and around Northern Ireland," and his performance Sunday "made him a star here." Meanwhile, Ishikawa is "already being proclaimed the savior of professional golf in his homeland." McIlroy, Ishikawa, Rickie Fowler and Anthony Kim are the "game's next generation," and they are "already here." McIlroy: "I speak on behalf of all the early 20-somethings out here. Tiger was the guy we all looked up to and the guy we followed. I think he's been the reason that the likes of Ryo, myself, AK, Danny Lee, all the younger guys have flourished at such an early age, because Tiger set the benchmark so high. We want to achieve that. Even if we don't quite get to that level, it's still pretty good." Green writes, "On Sunday, the world saw just how good" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/4). CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling wrote McIlroy, Ishikawa and 17-year-old Matteo Manassero "have more than age in common," as with their "collective maturity, panache and poise, the game's future looks pretty solid, indeed" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/3).
GENERATION NOW: YAHOO SPORTS' Brian Murphy wrote, "Was May 2, 2010, a red-letter day in golf, when Generation Y ... arrived like a full-force gale? Only history will tell." But after the impact of McIlroy's final-round 62 at the Quail Hollow Championship and Ishikawa's 58 settle, "we may be calling these kids 'Generation Why Not?'" Perhaps "most shocking of all is how tired and old the notion of Tiger Woods now seems," as the "freshness of McIlroy's story -- and Ishikawa's 58 -- contrast so sharply to the growing staleness around Tiger's legend." Ishikawa was "brilliant on a losing side at last year's Presidents Cup, and the 58 only whets our appetite for his debut U.S. Open appearance." Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk and Jim MacKay, Phil Mickelson's caddie, were among those to congratulate McIlroy immediately after his round. Murphy: "To see all that was to see a golf world embrace the new kid in town, and to read into that the existence of a little Tiger Fatigue would not be the wrong call at all. Throw in a springtime rebirth for Mickelson ... and you have Tiger wondering where he fits in at this party" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/3). FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti said, "We're waiting for youngsters to emerge with Woods struggling. Now we've got a couple of them doing that this week" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/3).
A CHANGING OF THE GUARD? ESPN's Michael Wilbon said fans are “looking at a much greater chance of having a changing of the guard” in the sport with the performances of players like McIlroy, Kim and Ishikawa. Wilbon: “There seems to be something dynamic, particularly about McIlroy and Kim" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/3). In London, Derek Lawrenson writes, "At this, the dawning of a new era, the man in front is McIlory. ... If you've been looking for a reason to fall in love with golf, McIlroy is it." McIlroy, Ishikawa and Manassero are "three genuinely nice kids, all blessed with wondrous gifts," and "suddenly, the winter of scandal seems a blessedly long time ago" (London DAILY MAIL, 5/4). Meanwhile, Golf Channel's Rich Lerner said of McIlroy's final-round performance at the Quail Hollow Championship, "This had to be a little bit like LeBron James in his second year going off for 55 points, where you stop and say, 'My goodness, this guy has a lot of game. Serious game.' One of the best final rounds outside of a major championship in the history of this sport" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 5/3).
Japan Golf Tour Exec Says Ishikawa Has
Saved Tour From Financial Ruin
SHOOTING STAR: Japan Golf Tour Exec Dir Andy Yamanaka said that Ishikawa, whose win Sunday was his seventh on the tour, "has saved Japan's struggling JGTO men's golf tour from financial ruin." Yamanaka: "It's fair to say (he rescued the JGTO Tour). Before he appeared, people were losing interest in men's golf. The men's tour at that time didn't have a star player like Ryo Ishikawa. Players were rude to fans and didn't turn up to official functions. Their behaviour wasn't professional. Ryo woke up a lot of the players." Yamanaka said of Ishikawa's financial impact, "I couldn't estimate the figures. Because of his presence there is more income for sponsors and better ticket sales of course. ... You have no idea how many women and kids come to watch. Not just young ladies but mothers who want their kids to be like Ryo Ishikawa." Meanwhile, REUTERS' Alastair Himmer wrote "losing their cash cow to more lucrative overseas tours remains a constant fear for JGTO officials." Yamanaka: "He's got 19 endorsements and more than 12 or 13 TV commercials. We worry about the future -- him going to the U.S. or Europe and imagine if that happens what would our tour become?" (REUTERS, 5/3).