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Bettman Said Projections Call
For 4-5% Revenue Increase
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last night said that he "expects the league to set another record for league-wide revenue" this season behind the Capitals-Penguins Winter Classic and the HBO "24/7" series that accompanied it, according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. Bettman said, "Four to five percent maybe, early projections, but we seem to be in a good place in terms of the business." The NHL's revenue last season was "slightly more than $2.7 billion." Bettman said, "We're having a good season on all fronts. ... Revenues are strong, attendance is up and things are continuing to grow. So in a difficult economic environment we're holding our own and even growing a little." He also indicated that another "24/7" series on HBO "is a possibility for next year's Winter Classic." Bettman: "HBO has told me that they were extraordinarily pleased with '24/7' and they would be interested in doing it again." He added that he has "spent time" with new NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, but that their talks "were not formal." The league's current CBA expires in September '12 (L.A. TIMES, 1/10).
LEAGUE RETAINS ACKERMAN AS CONSULTANT: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported the NHL has "retained the services for former WNBA president Val Ackerman as a consultant." Ackerman, who today is being named one of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily's '11 Champions -- Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business, has had a "few meetings with the NHL so far as the league continues to explore the merits of possibly launching a women's pro league at some point." Female hockey "has exploded over the past decade, especially in Canada," and a new league "under the NHL umbrella would legitimize the women's game like never before" (ESPN.com, 1/8).
Torre Is One Of Four Managers Sitting On
Selig's Special Committee For On-Field Matters
Former MLB manager Joe Torre "is in talks" with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig about joining the league office as Exec VP/Baseball Operations, according to sources cited by Thompson & Madden of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Torre has had "ongoing discussions with Selig to fill the job" previously held by Mets GM Sandy Alderson. If Torre accepts the job, he "would in turn be responsible for hiring a replacement" for Bob Watson, who resigned last month as VP/Rules & On-Field Operations. A source said that Torre is "not interested in a position that is highly structured, as Watson's job would be, and would prefer to remain" in L.A. Selig is "believed to be discussing the job with other candidates but is known to want a baseball person of high stature to run the operation" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/8). MLB.com's Barry Bloom reported Torre would "take the job most recently filled on a full-time basis by Jimmie Lee Solomon, who was re-assigned" as Exec VP/Baseball Development. A source indicated that the talks between Torre and Selig are "serious and that the likelihood of it happening was high, although there was no timetable for an announcement." Torre is "one of four managers on Selig's special committee" regarding on-field matters (MLB.com, 1/8). Torre reportedly also made overtures to Selig last summer about forming his own ownership group to buy the Dodgers if they are put up for sale (THE DAILY).
Goodell Met With About 60 Chiefs Fans
During Town Hall Meeting
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed the league's labor situation "at a town-hall meeting" for about 60 Chiefs season-ticket holders prior to yesterday's Ravens-Chiefs Wild Card game, and he again stressed if negotiations for a new CBA "stretch too far past March 4, it will be difficult to get a deal done," according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. Goodell said he has "been very clear with both ownership and the players" that negotiations for a new CBA become "more complicated after March 4, because what you're going to see is the revenue and the growth start to deteriorate." Goodell: "That's going to make it harder to make an agreement. And since the players get a majority of that, the player will be impacted by that. That's why you can't wait until September, and say, 'OK, we've got to do this.'" Goodell also discussed the prospect of expanding the regular season to 18 games, saying, "It's a negotiation. We all should keep that in mind." He added, "The issues of player safety are always going to be first priority, whether it's a 20-game format or some other format." Meanwhile, Goodell addressed the NFL's television blackout rule, saying that "ensuring sellouts allows the NFL to keep their games on free television." Goodell: "We're the only league to be able to do that. That's a positive for our fans" (K.C. STAR, 1/10).
LEAGUE MANAGER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's David Feith spoke with Goodell as part of the paper's "Weekend Interview" feature, and wrote Goodell is an "even-tempered technocrat -- in command of information, deliberate, more confident than opinionated." Feith wrote the NFL's "peculiar challenge today" is "selling hope to its own players." Owners "have to convince players that accepting a pay cut immediately -- of 18%, according to the union's calculations, or 9% according to the owners' -- will make them better off in the long term." Goodell said, "There are lots of businesses that are well in excess of $9 billion that have gone into bankruptcy, that have been mismanaged. And that has not served anyone very well" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/8).
NO DESIRE TO BE POSTER BOY: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman is "not at all eager to be linked to the NFL concussion conversation" despite the fact that he "suffered concussions during his 12-year playing career." Aikman said the reason he has not discussed concussions during broadcasts is "two-fold." Aikman: "I don't want to be the poster boy for head injury. ... Number two, my experience with them is they are all different." He added, "I've always tried to stay away from speculating on any type of injury anyway." Aikman also noted he has "not experienced any of the post-concussion syndrome effects that have hampered" other former players. Aikman: "I'd say relative to the number of guys who have played this game, I would say that my head injuries were relatively small" (JSONLINE.com, 1/8).
SUCCESSFUL RULE: In Dallas, Jean-Jacques Taylor wrote there is "nothing wrong with the Rooney Rule, established in 2002 to ensure NFL clubs with vacant head coaching positions interview minority candidates before hiring a coach." The "bottom line" is that the "number of minority coaches in the NFL is growing steadily." There were eight minority head coaches "toward the end of the 2010 season" when Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and Broncos interim coach Eric Studesville assumed their positions. The 49ers subsequently fired coach Mike Singletary, but the "number of minority coaches could swell because Minnesota has already removed the interim tag from Frazier's status, Ron Rivera is supposed to interview soon with Carolina, and Hue Jackson is considered among the front-runners to get the Oakland job." Taylor: "That's a positive trend, no doubt. But it's not good enough" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/9).
RING FOR THEIR TROUBLES: Fox NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira said that NFL officials "used to make more money for working playoff games than for regular-season games, but now make less." However, officials working the Super Bowl "now get Super Bowl rings" (USA TODAY, 1/10).
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Would Lose
Combined $30M Next Season In A Lockout
Six weeks ahead of a "crucial bargaining session" scheduled for NBA All-Star Weekend in L.A., there has been "precious little progress since players submitted their counterproposal to owners at the end of June," according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. If "cooler heads do not prevail, the owners will be so entrenched and determined to make a work stoppage pay off that they will push to cancel the entire season to cripple the National Basketball Players Association and implement the drastic changes they are seeking." A source said that if there is a lockout, "it will not simply be for show," rather it "will be Armageddon." The source: "After a year, the players will come back with $2.1 billion less in their pockets. Who has more leverage now?" Berger noted players such as Heat F LeBron James and G Dwyane Wade "would lose a combined $30 million next season in a lockout that wipes out the entire schedule." As for an owner losing $30M a year, he would be "happy to shut down the sport for a year -- and sources say there are at least seven or eight owners with that posture," and "probably more." The source added, "Once you go through the initial pain to shut it down, they're out for the year" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/8).
GOOD FOR THE LEAGUE: FS FLORIDA's Bill Reiter wrote the jury is "still out on whether or not" James' "The Decision" special was a "wise one" for him. But it is "sure looking like it was a godsend for the NBA," as that "single act of arrogance has helped generate strong responses from fans nationwide, sell out arenas where the Heat play and put eyeballs on a league with a lot of things worth seeing this season." All year, the "hated Heat have driven interest." TV ratings for NBA games on ESPN and TNT are "up more than 30 percent this year compared with last year," and the Heat-Celtics season-opener was the "most-watched NBA regular-season game in cable television history at 7.35 million viewers." While these "recession-tainted times have pushed down attendance, the Heat have drawn everywhere they've gone, often with sellouts in markets simply savoring the windfall of the Heat's arrival." Reiter: "What's bad for LeBron's image has been a great look for the league" (FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com, 1/8). Meanwhile, James "disagrees with NBA commissioner David Stern that interest in his free agency last summer brought more fans to the league." James said that there are "so many great players in the league that he didn't think he individually had anything to do with what Stern said were better TV ratings." James: "There's so many great players I don't think individually I had anything to do with it. Just trying to do my part" (AP, 1/7).
SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote it is time for the NBPA to "address the issue of gambling on planes, because for the second time in two years, players have clashed over unpaid debts, leading to disciplinary measures." Grizzlies G Tony Allen was "fined by the team Thursday for fighting with O.J. Mayo, who owed him money following a card game." The NBA "has allowed teams to make their own policies regarding gambling among players, but the NBPA has remained mum." Washburn: "While the union and the league are attempting to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, players are punching each other over gambling debts. Not a good look" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/9).