SBD/October 27, 2010/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Ravens President Dick Cass last night said that he believes the NFL Management Council "will be able to resolve collective bargaining issues with the Players Association in time to head off a potential lockout for the 2011 season," according to Ken Murray of the Baltimore SUN. Cass, while filling in for coach John Harbaugh on his WBAL-AM radio show, said, "There's a great deal of work to get done, but I think we'll get it done." Cass added that the CBA negotiations "will not affect the draft in April," and that the Ravens will "work as usual on scouting college players." But Cass "sounded a note of caution" on the subject of an 18-game regular season. Cass: "When you add two games, you do expose players potentially to more risk. We are addressing those issues with the union." Meanwhile, Cass said that "in the event that there is no CBA by late January or early February, he 'would not anticipate raising ticket prices this year'" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 10/26).
QUESTIONS FOR THE COMMISH: TIME magazine, as part of its "10 Questions" feature, ran a fan Q&A with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The following are excerpts from the article:
Q: How would you make the NFL more appealing to the rest of the world?
Goodell: By bringing our game to you. Our international series of regular-season games is giving people that opportunity. Second is technology. That's going to allow us to bring our games to all of our fans worldwide.
Q: What can be done to make tickets more affordable?
Goodell: We have to make sure we're providing great value for what we're offering fans. It's a constant (effort) to try to improve on that value. There's nothing like being in a stadium with 80,000 people cheering. We would love to see more people do that.
Q: What do you think will be different about the NFL 10 years from now?
Goodell: You have to be relentless about quality, and the NFL will continue to do that. But we will also innovate and (continue to use) technology. We let players tweet an awful lot. It's a great example of wanting to be involved with our fans (TIME, 11/1 issue).
NBA Commissioner David Stern's recent talk of contraction "serves as one example of an ongoing law in negotiation: Just because a threat is empty doesn't mean it cannot be useful," according to Mark Kreidler of ESPN.com. Contraction in the NBA is a "nonstarter." Franchise relocation "makes sense as a consideration in a couple of markets," but "eliminating teams from the landscape altogether means paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in make-good money to the owners of those franchises." Kreidler: "What Stern has to figure out now is how his league's system could have become so fouled that contraction actually strikes some people -- himself not necessarily included -- as a reasonable response to years of unreasonable contracts" (ESPN.com, 10/26). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande admits contraction is a "negotiating tactic and, no, I don't believe the NBA will actually contract, but it's sure interesting how persistently David Stern keeps the concept alive." Adande: "Stern makes it sound as if the owners and players can't even agree on the minute details, such as whether the cost of something like the new $15 million scoreboard in Staples Center should be counted as a one-time expense or depreciated over five years for accounting purposes. And if the owners can't even agree on their revenue sharing, or how many of them should even be in the room?" (ESPN.com, 10/27).
DARK CLOUD: In Houston, Jonathan Feigen notes Stern "has said this could be the best of all NBA seasons," yet "above all that hovers the dark cloud of labor negotiations and the potential of a work stoppage looming so obviously that the agreement the sides have reached is that a lockout appears certain." Stern: "We're going to have a great season. I'm watching the NFL and they're having a good year, record television ratings, good attendance, a lot of media coverage, some they like, some they'd rather not have. Then there's some background music that is of course inevitable." Rockets F Shane Battier: "This is one of the most anticipated seasons I remember in my 10 years. But with the lockout looming next year and a lot of uncertainty, it's unfortunate. It should be about the basketball, and it should be about the excitement" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/27).
HARD CAP? ESPN L.A.'s Dave McMenamin notes a hard salary cap in the NBA could "require the league to decrease salaries by a set percentage," and Stern said a hard cap is "an interesting detail." Stern: "Check out the NHL, see what they did -- (they rolled back salaries) and they cut players." Stern was asked if owners of teams like the Lakers and Celtics, "who have built championship-contending teams by committing to salaries well into the luxury tax, have disagreed with the owners of small-market teams with lower payrolls over the implementation of a hard cap." Stern said, "You know, that's why I have white hair. It's a detail that has not been worked out yet ... at all" (ESPNLA.com, 10/27).
SILENCE IS GOLDEN: Stern yesterday said that players "need to be on their best behavior this season." Stern: "The spirit of it is that our players don't do that in elementary school, in junior high, high school, college, and then they get their master's (degree) in complaining when they get to the NBA. And that's not a good thing." Lakers coach Phil Jackson: "I agree that (on) every call a player going back to the referee and asking him (questions), gesticulating and doing all that is not worthwhile. It's not an enjoyable thing to watch" (L.A. TIMES, 10/27).
In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes talk about adding teams to the MLB playoffs and lengthening the League Division Series to seven games "will gain steam, mostly because negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement are expected to get underway this winter, and there’s no better time to bring up the issue." It likely will be "discussed by the owners in detail at their meeting in November." One baseball exec said, "The only way it could be done from the owners’ point of view is if it doesn’t hurt their bottom line. That means there’s no way anyone is going to call for the reduction of games in the regular season." Cafardo notes adding playoff teams would "make the trade deadline more compelling as well" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/27).
MEET THE PRESS: MLB yesterday repeated its more formal player availability structure for Media Day, setting up the booth structure long used at All-Star Games instead of more informal media gatherings in team clubhouses. The plan, first introduced for the World Series last year and long used at the Super Bowl, involved players sitting for 45 minutes in front of tables with placards bearing their names, with the players assembled in AT&T Park's Triples Alley behind the right field wall. The more structured format again was well received by both players and media (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). CSNBayArea.com's Ray Ratto said of MLB's Media Day compared to the NFL's for the Super Bowl, "It's much more sedated. It's easier to get to players. It's less 'showbizzy'" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 10/26).
TAKING IT UP A NOTCH: REUTERS' Ben Klayman noted NHL teams are "taking a shot at raising ticket prices this year, joining other sports leagues that have increased the costs of seeing games as the recession recedes." The average NHL ticket price of $54.25 this season is up 4.4% from '09-10. While 11 of the 30 teams "cut or kept their average prices unchanged, the league average included increases" of 24.2% by the Capitals and 18.4% by the Blackhawks. The NHL's average Fan Cost Index -- the cost for a family of four to attend a game -- also rose 4.4% this season, to $313.68 (REUTERS, 10/26).
LEGENDS OF THE FALL: YAHOO SPORTS' Shane Bacon wrote the PGA Tour Fall Series, "for all it brings to the game of golf, is better" than the FedExCup. Unlike the FedExCup, the Fall Series "is actual drama." It is the "difference in having a job the next year that will surely make your life a ton better, or driving from town to town hoping to find a good guy on the Nationwide Tour to bunk up with." While the Fall Series "doesn't give us the likes of Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson," it does "give us names that must play well for something bigger than another zero on their year-end finances" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/26).