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Leonsis Claims A Hard Salary Cap
Is Coming To NBA In Latest CBA
NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday said the league has fined Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis $100,000 for "unauthorized public comments" regarding CBA negotiations, according to the AP. Leonsis earlier in the day told a group of Northern Virginia business leaders that he "expects the NBA soon will have a hard salary cap similar to the NHL's model." Leonsis: "In a salary-cap era -- and soon a hard-salary cap in the NBA like it is in the NHL -- if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, it's the small nuanced differences that matter." When asked after the speech to clarify his remarks, Leonsis "pulled back from the comment, saying he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing NBA labor negotiations." Stern last night before announcing the fine said, "We're negotiating and that was one of our negotiating points, but collective bargaining is a negotiating process, and that was not something that Ted was authorized to say and he will be dealt with for that lapse in judgment." Stern added, "There's a hard cap in the NFL, there's a hard cap in the NHL, and that was something that was part of our initial proposal. But we're open to a deal and it depends what the deal is" (AP, 9/29). In DC, Michael Lee notes Leonsis' comments "come at a sensitive time," with the NBA CBA set to expire June 30 and the "threat of a lockout looming." Owners met Monday in N.Y. after the NBA and NBPA had what they called a "cordial and constructive" meeting last week (WASHINGTON POST, 9/30).
JUST STATING THE OBVIOUS? ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Leonsis "didn't say anything that everybody following this situation doesn't already expect for management to hold out for a hard cap." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted Leonsis "likes a hard cap in the NHL because it prevents teams from spending so much money that it hurts a small-market team, and he's a small market team in the NHL" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/29).
McKay Notes 18-Game Schedule Has
Momentum, But Is Far From A Done Deal
Falcons President and NFL Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay appeared on NFL Network last night and said there are a "lot of things that go into an 18-game schedule, and we're not all the way there." McKay: "You've got to protect the quality of the game, you've got to look at player safety and health and it really ends up having to be a comprehensive solution that involves the offseason, that involves training camp, that involves the regular season, it involves roster sizes and involves a lot of things." He noted the league has done a "lot of analysis" on the topic, including having both a GM and coaches subcommittee work on it and holding "discussions with the union about it." McKay: "I do think it has a lot of momentum. I think the fans have spoken that from a value standpoint they'd like to see us convert preseason games to regular season games, but I think the process is ongoing" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 9/29). Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Mike Preston reports Ravens Minority Owner Art Modell "expects league officials to adopt the 18-game schedule proposal." He said the 18-game proposal is "loaded with danger because we are having a great fall as far as fan attendance and viewers, and now we're going to add something that we don't know how it will play out as far as injuries, viewers, sponsors." Modell also "fears there could be" a work stoppage next season. He noted it "seems every chance to get something done" in regard to a new CBA is "being killed." Modell: "There is so much talk about a (lockout) that there seems to be something sinister about it" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/29).
PR GAME: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel examined the need to "win the support of the public" in the NFL CBA negotiations in the wake of rookie Cowboys WR Dez Bryant spending $54,896 on dinner for his teammates. The talks are a "political war now and politics is a dirty business, one that feeds off the lowest common denominator of stupidity." The NFLPA "will be well-served to pound that message into their players' heads," as the NFL and its owners "know how to play this game." Wetzel: "There's a reason commissioner Roger Goodell has begun hosting 'fan forums.' And it's no accident he came dressed casually in a golf shirt." Goodell, the son of late U.S. Sen. Charles Goodell (R-NY), "wants to portray himself (and often does) as a concerned and connected executive, not someone who makes $11-plus million a year and arrived on a private jet" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/29).
NO URGENCY: NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST's Andrew Brandt noted recent bargaining sessions, including Tuesday's, "have produced little to no progress," as "without the urgency of the March deadline, there is little negotiating." The NFL "continues to request/demand the sharing of the collective risk and a significant rollback from the present deal; the players continue to request/demand financial transparency from the teams." Meanwhile, Brandt noted "lockout preparations have been underway since 2007 when the league hired Bob Batterman, the attorney who guided the NHL through its 2004 lockout." NFL teams "have been drafting employment contracts for the past couple of years that call for reduced pay and/or furloughs for employees in 2011 in the event of a lockout, all in the name of being prepared" (NATIONALFOOTBALLPOST.com, 9/29).
NHL Commish Says It Is Important To Help
Support Growth Of Women's Hockey
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday at the Beyond Sport Summit said kicking women's hockey out of the Olympics would be a "huge mistake," according to Nancy Armour of the AP. Bettman said that the "best way to inspire future players and encourage national federations to devote resources to the women's game is through major events like the Olympics." Bettman: "My own view is it's very important to support women's hockey, to maintain its presence at the Olympics. The way women's hockey will get bigger and better around the world is if there's an inspiration of excellence that people can strive for." Armour noted "no other country comes close to Canada and the United States in the women's game," and that "disparity was glaring at the Vancouver Olympics." A lack of competitive balance was "one of the reasons cited when softball was eliminated as an Olympic sport," and IOC President Jacques Rogge "warned in Vancouver that the rest of the world has eight years to catch up or women's hockey could face a similar fate." Meanwhile, Bettman said that the NHL is "in no rush to make a decision on the use of professional players" at the '14 Sochi Games. The NHL "has concerns about the benefits to the league of releasing its players for the Olympic tournament" in Sochi, which is "eight hours ahead" of the U.S. East Coast. Bettman: "Maybe I make the mistake of being too candid, trying to give people a sense of the issues, that these are some of the negatives. It doesn't mean we're not going. But if you're going to make this decision, you've got to at least understand what you're getting into" (AP, 9/29).
MAINTAINING OPTIMISM: IIHF President Rene Fasel said that "he's 'sure' an agreement will be reached with the NHL to keep the world's best players in the Olympics." Fasel said of the prospect of NHL players competing in Sochi, "We will find a solution. I am sure." Fasel called the Vancouver Games "the highlight" for NHL players since they became part of the Olympics in '98. IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner said "things are on the table" with the NHL and the IOC for Sochi participation. Lichtner: "We can tackle most of that. Some are difficult. Some are easy. But it's a good time now ... not when everybody is in a rush a year or two years before the event" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 9/30).
PBS Report Examines Marlins And Pirates, Who
Have Made Profits Despite Losing Records
For some MLB teams, "it pays to lose," thanks to the league's revenue-sharing plan, according to PBS' Susie Gharib during the second of a two-part series titled, "The Business of Baseball." PBS' Jeff Yastine, reporting from the construction site of the Marlins' new publicly financed ballpark, said, "The Marlins have a reputation for being tight-fisted. Player salaries are some of the lowest in the league. Attendance has been at or near the bottom as well. Yet, internal team documents leaked to the media last month showed some clubs, like the Marlins, are hitting home runs on their profit-and-loss statements." Yastine noted the Marlins earned $39M in operating income in '08, while the Pirates reported $22M despite 18 losing seasons in a row, figures that "were helped in large part by what's called revenue sharing." He continued, "In theory, revenue-sharing money is supposed to be used to sign up better on-the-field talent. ... But there's always been a suspicion that some teams don't want to use the money to sign up the next great power hitter and instead want to use the revenue-sharing cash to power their profits instead." Yastine noted some baseball observers "want to do away with revenue-sharing, calling it the equivalent of team welfare" ("Nightly Business Report," PBS, 9/29). PBS' Gharib on Tuesday said baseball has "run into the roadblock of the economic meltdown and baseball is being battered." PBS' Yastine: "It raises a question: Has baseball finally hit the wall when it comes to the affordability of games? Apparently the answer is yes because when this year's season started five Major League teams actually dropped their ticket prices and in many venues, the cost of food, even parking, declined as well." Florida Atlantic Univ. sports management professor Jim Riordan noted some teams are using dynamic pricing for tickets, which "takes into account a lot of things, not only including the statistics of the current teams, but the weather, the time of year, where the teams are in the standings, the day of the week" ("NBR," PBS, 9/28).