SBD/June 14, 2011/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The ATP yesterday announced that Exec Chair & President Adam Helfant will step down from his position when his three-year contract expires at the end of the year. The ATP will begin the search for Helfant's successor in the near future. He has been with the ATP since January '09 (ATP). Helfant said he is leaving for "professional reasons" and did not provide any more details. He said reports suggesting he might leave the ATP because the BOD would not meet his financial demands were "wrong." The ATP confirmed in an e-mail that Helfant "had not asked for any pay increase." Helfant said, "We’re in the midst of a golden age now in terms of the action on court. We plan on trying to take advantage of that from a business perspective. With a little luck, we’ll have an announcement or two by the end of the year." He said that he is "unsure what he'll do next." Helfant: "I’m looking forward to considering other opportunities, and I’m excited about that, but I really do not know what will be next for me" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/13).
GAME, SET, MATCH: TENNIS.com reported Helfant contends that by the end of this year, ATP commercial revenues "will increase by roughly 65% and its net assets will increase by more than 1100%." He also "takes credit for the two successful year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, as well as the small reduction in the tour's calendar." Helfant was "seen in some quarters as a consummate dealmaker who rarely tried to pick sides if disputes arose between players and tournaments, or smaller and larger tournaments." But "many of the 42 tournament directors of the ATP’s smaller yet vital 250-level events were [at] odds with Helfant over a variety of issues, including the ATP’s ongoing exhibition rules" (TENNIS.com, 6/13). In California, Leighton Ginn writes men's tennis is "at a peak it hasn’t seen since the days when John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors ruled the tour," so why would Helfant "want to leave when his current contract expires at the end of the year?" He guided the ATP "through perhaps the toughest economic times this world has seen, and it is thriving," and Helfant also "secured sponsors in Corona Extra and FedEx." Ginn: "I really think it has been more the star power on the men’s tour rather than what the ATP has done to get the sport to this high water mark. But it is still unnerving that there is a revolving door with the CEO on tour when things are going well. It makes you wonder what is bubbling under the surface" (MYDESERT.com, 6/14).
The NBA CBA expires June 30, and a lockout "appears a near certainty," according to Marc Berman of the N.Y. POST. After negotiating sessions last week during the Mavericks-Heat Finals, the league and NBPA are expected to resume meetings "later this week." Both sides indicated last week "how wide the gulf stands on the key issues -- length of contracts, amount of guaranteed money, size of the new salary cap and the overriding dispute -- the split of the revenue between owners and players." An industry source said, "I'd say they won't even start seriously negotiating until November, the first week the players are supposed to start receiving their checks again for next season." Berman writes the "shame of it" is that the labor dispute follows a "sensational good versus evil Finals" (N.Y. POST, 6/14). NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler said, "It’s an odd position, when the game is the best it’s ever been, when the ratings are the highest they’ve ever been, when the excitement is the greatest it’s ever (been)." NBA Commissioner David Stern has indicated that the "record TV ratings and all the other positive attention the league has received doesn’t make him any more motivated to get this settled, since he’d want to do it anyway." Stern: "I don’t need any external prod to want to be able to make a deal" (AP, 6/13). Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski said, "This is going to be some kind of Armageddon for the NBA. The owners are determined to get a hard salary cap, to shorten contracts, fewer guaranteed contracts." The standoff will "go back to what it always does, how long will the players go without getting checks? How united will the players stand and are they willing to give up an entire year’s salary and sit it out?” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 6/13).
NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME: In Oklahoma City, Jenni Carlson writes under the header, "NBA Can't Afford A Work Stoppage Now." Despite a Finals that "put an exclamation point on this roundball ride, we are now left with some different punctuation -- a question mark." Carlson: "What's next for the NBA? ... The NBA has never been in a better place than it is right now. I mean that to include everyone -- the league, the owners and the players." Some teams "will struggle regardless" of a new CBA, so "why don't the league and the union just figure out something before the deadline and move on?" Carlson: "Now is not the time for the league to shut down. The product is fantastic, and folks are taking notice" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 6/14). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger wrote under the header, "After Lights-Out Postseason, NBA Braces For Stormy Summer." Representatives for both the league and union are slated to meet in N.Y. today "to continue the business of trying to destroy all the progress pro basketball has made over the past dozen years." Berger: "This seems like a viable strategy, shutting down a business that captivated the nation with playoffs that were the best show in sports or anywhere on TV for 2½ months. By comparison, the next 2½ months for basketball fans are going to feel like people you don't know are stealing from you, and telling you to like it" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/13).
The negotiating teams for the NFL and NFLPA gathered today "at an undisclosed location" in the DC area in an effort to reach a new CBA, according to sources cited by Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. Sources said that the owners and players are "in a 'deal-making mode' and hope to make significant progress over the next two or three days." It is the third consecutive week the two sides have met. In addition, a league source said that the NFL "sent a memo to its teams on Monday night, advising officials to be prepared to stay overnight during next Tuesday's league meetings in Chicago" (ESPN.com, 6/14). ESPN's Adam Schefter, reporting on Twitter, wrote the memo indicates the league “knows it's entering critical stretch and there's plenty to discuss.” Also, some GMs “believe a new CBA will be voted on” during next week’s meetings. Schefter: “Doesn't mean it gets approval, but teams could vote on CBA next week.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Mark Maske reported, “Owners have been told to keep their schedules open next week in case scheduled owners' meeting next Tuesday in Chicago spills over into Wed. … It's a sign of progress in the talks but it apparently remains unlikely there will be a deal by next week” (TWITTER.com, 6/14). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio notes the NFL’s memo is a sign that teams “will be voting on the terms” of a new CBA. Even if a deal “remains days or weeks away as of next Tuesday, the owners could choose to pre-approve the final terms to be offered by the negotiating team, eliminating the need for a vote once an agreement in principle is reached” with the NFLPA. Florio writes while it is “neither good news nor bad news at this point, it lays the foundation for potentially great news” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/14).
The D’Backs "could be the team most likely to change leagues" if MLB implements realignment in its new CBA, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. If the D'Backs joined the AL, the NL West "would have four teams, meaning the Astros would probably move there." Another realignment option “has the Astros moving to the AL West from the NL Central.” But outgoing Astros Owner Drayton McLane said that he “wants the team to stay in the NL" (USA TODAY, 6/14). D’Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall last night said that he “doubts his club would have to make the move -- and would prefer another team make the move.” Hall: “Naturally, we would look into it if asked about it. But I’m not sure we’d ever get to that point because I think other teams make more sense geographically than we do.” Hall added, "I would want to hear what our fans prefer, but I’m not sure we would ever get to that point” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/14). More Hall: “If asked, we will look into it if it’s in the best interests of baseball. However, we have to balance it against what is in the best interest of our fans.” He added, “I personally am a National League fan. … However, we would certainly gauge the interest of our fans, our season-ticket holders, to see if this is something that we should look into if asked” (MLB.com 6/13). Similarly, McLane said yesterday, "I've always been a National League guy. I think our fans are National League fans.” Asked if Astros fans supported a move to the AL, McLane said, "Absolutely not. In Houston, Richard Justice wrote if McLane “is against such a move, it’s not going to happen, at least not on his watch.” McLane has been one of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s "good soldiers, and no such realignment would be shoved on him.” Prospective Astros Owner Jim Crane is “not going to weigh in with an opinion until after he officially takes over" (CHRON.com, 6/14).
SEVERAL ISSUES TO OVERCOME: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes MLB realignment "made sense in the 1990s, with the adoption of the wild card and the addition of four teams to the majors,” but now the players and owners “must decide if they should tweak the divisions again.” There is “strong sentiment for the postseason format to expand from four to five teams from each league, with or without realignment.” Expanding the postseason field "could be done more easily than realignment, which would require a schedule overhaul.” With 15 teams in each league, “baseball could not play a full schedule of games -- as it generally does five days a week -- without at least one interleague game” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/14). In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote while the "idea of two 15-team leagues seems fair, it actually stinks because you’d be forced to endure interleague play all season, all six months, all the way through division races.” Realignment "turns into a bloodbath in every league everywhere everytime." Rosenbloom: "Nobody wants to give up rivalries. Nobody wants to change time zones unless you’re Texas or any team that has a chance to move east to improve broadcast times. ... Realignment, then, is just idle talk” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/13).
SHIFTING THE LINEUP: In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes there are “plenty of teams that easily could move and probably benefit from it.” The Pirates “haven’t had a winning season” since ’92, making it a “great time to change leagues and start anew.” Also, the Brewers “have AL roots, moving to the NL in 1998 when the Rays and Diamondbacks entered the league.” Still, "any NL team heading to the AL likely will have to spend more on payroll because it would need the extra hitter." Cafardo: "It would be interesting to see whether the team chosen to move would receive some financial compensation or whether it would be on its own in having to fill the DH role” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/14). In California, Howard Cole wrote the Rockies “would make for a more competitive AL West in both the short and long-term, and quite frankly, give the division more personality.” Cole: “So move Colorado to the AL West and Houston to the NL West” (OCREGISTER.com, 6/13).