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NBA Commissioner David Stern on Thursday announced that he will step down from his position on Feb. 1, 2014, a date that marks his 30th anniversary as the league's top exec. Stern will be succeeded by league Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who was unanimously chosen by the league BOG as the next commissioner. Stern said, "It's been a great run. ... The league is in terrific condition. One of the things I did best was provide a successor." Silver said, "I think David is the one who turned sport leagues into brands" (Mult., 10/25). In N.Y., Howard Beck writes the announcement “was not surprising: Stern had telegraphed his intentions several times over the last year, with only the timeline left unsettled.” Stern said, “I decided that things are in great shape, and there’s an organization in place that will ultimately be led by Adam, that is totally prepared to take it to the next level.” He said that the time “was right to step away, citing the NBA’s improved profitability and competitiveness, its growing influence around the globe and the strength of its digital platforms.” He also said that he would “continue to advise the 50-year-old Silver and the owners even after he relinquishes his title.” Stern: “I’m stepping down, I’m not retiring.” Beck notes by the time he steps down, he will have become the “longest-tenured commissioner in professional sports history, surpassing Pete Rozelle, who retired as NFL commissioner in November 1989, two months shy of 30 years” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). Stern said that he “decided on his plans about six months ago, having guided the league through a lockout that ended last December.” The AP’s Brian Mahoney noted Stern “didn't want to leave until the labor deal was completed or until he was confident there was a successor in place, and both are done” (AP, 10/25).
INSIDE THE DECISION: Stern revealed his plans to retire at the NBA BOG’s executive session at 4:30pm ET Wednesday afternoon. He laid out his plan to retire and discussed his transition plan to Silver. The two then left the room and were called back into the executive session within an hour. A dinner and the BOG’s general session followed the executive session Wednesday night and on Thursday, the BOG unanimously approved Silver as the next NBA Commissioner (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal). Below are some key dates from Stern's tenure:
- February '84: David Stern elected as NBA Commissioner
- '88-89: League expands with addition of Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat
- '89-90: League expands with addition of Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic
- '95-96: League adds Toronto Raptors, Vancouver Grizzlies
- '96: Oversees creation of WNBA
- July '98-January '99: NBA Lockout causes 50-game schedule
- '01: NBA creates NBA Development League
- '02: Charlotte Hornets relocate to New Orleans
- November '04: Brawl between Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers; Stern suspends nine players without pay for a total of 146 games, included Ron Artest who is suspended for the remaining NBA season.
- October '05: Stern announces creation of NBA Cares July
- '06: Adam Silver is named Deputy Commissioner
- June '07: NBA signs TV deals through the '15-16 season with ABC, ESPN, and Turner for $930M annually
- July '07: NBA rocked by Tim Donaghy referee gambling scandal
- January '08: Announces formation of NBA China entity
- '08: Seattle SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City and begin play as Thunder
- November '11: Signs new CBA ending lockout that shortens season to 66 games. League also completes expanded revenue sharing system.
SILVER LINING? SPORTING NEWS’ Sean Deveney wrote, “When rattling off the accomplishments and failures of Stern as commissioner, the grooming of Silver should not be overlooked.” As much as Stern “has been lampooned for his heavy-handed, dictatorial style, he has allowed his ego some respite over the last few years to make way for Silver, and that will ensure that, when the transition happens, Silver will have gotten more extensive on-the-job training than any league honcho in American sports” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/25).
David Stern during his tenure as NBA Commissioner has overseen “perhaps the most stunning transformation in the history of professional sports,” as the league became “a global brand with trendsetting broadcast deals, its own network and offices throughout the world,” according to Bill Oram of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Stern Thursday announced he plans to step down on February 1, 2014. Jazz F Al Jefferson said, "Look at the league when he first got in, and look at it now. I think he did a hell of a job and he can retire on top" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 10/26). The AP’s Brian Mahoney wrote Stern has been “perhaps the model sports commissioner.” Mahoney: “Name an important policy in the NBA -- drug testing, salary cap, even a dress code -- and Stern had a hand in it.” A lawyer by trade, he was “a fearless negotiator against players and referees, but also their biggest defender any time he felt they were unfairly criticized” (AP, 10/25). TNT’s Matt Winer said Stern is “widely regarded as the most influential commissioner in sports today and considered by many the best of all-time.” Clippers F Grant Hill said, "He's kind of been the standard in all of sports for commissioners" ("Clippers-Nuggets," TNT, 10/25). Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said, "I have so much admiration for what he's done for the league. His legacy, there's not a better commissioner in all of sports" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/26). NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner wrote under the header, “Stern On Short List As Greatest Sports Commissioner” (NBA.com, 10/25). FOXSPORTS.com’s Bill Reiter wrote what fans “know for sure is that for 30 years David Stern ruled the NBA with an iron fist and under its guidance made it into the success story it is today” (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/25). ESPN's John Buccigross said Stern was a “commissioner in full, a bulldog negotiating agent for his owners with a Madison Avenue marketer’s touch, confrontational with the media, ruthless in his business dealings and harsh in his role with the players as the vice principal disciplinarian" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/25).
DUSTING FOR FINGERPRINTS: ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst wrote Stern's fingerprints “can be found across the league's operations, most notably on strong revenue growth, the expansion from 23 to 30 teams, the movement into small markets such as Sacramento, Memphis and Oklahoma City, the spreading global reach spurred on by the league's backing of letting its players take part in the Olympics, and the establishment of the WNBA.” He was known for “being strong on discipline, conscious of image and trying to protect the NBA brand” (ESPN.com, 10/25). ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell wrote Stern was “a genius moving without the ball.” Stern was able to "help the league emerge from its horrible image problem and tape-delay Finals because he had the tools to work with -- namely Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.” But those who “really understand what Stern has meant to the league understand that sponsors who have invested their millions in the league over time were investing just as much in Stern's leadership as they were in the league's players” (ESPN.com, 10/25). In Utah, Jody Genessy writes Stern gets “much of the business-side credit for putting the NBA in a spot where it can also have a financially healthy and happy future” (DESERET NEWS, 10/26). ESPN's Chris McKendry said Stern was a "great businessman," and he ran the league "just like that" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/25). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes basketball is a “game of creative expression, and Stern packaged that individuality as a product, in the same way Coke sold soft drinks or Nike sold sneakers.” The NBA became a “thriving export, as Stern was ambitious about crossing oceans and pushing the game into emerging markets.” It is “possible to see Stern's creative blueprint in concepts like Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby or the NHL's Winter Classic” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/26).
EXPORTING THE PRODUCT: USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt writes Stern’s “greatest international accomplishment is the NBA’s popularity in Europe, Asia and South America -- and increasing revenue along the way.” T’Wolves Owner Glen Taylor said Stern took the NBA “international way before our times.” Zillgitt notes the global market is “so important that after Stern steps down, he will remain involved with international projects” (USA TODAY, 10/26). ESPN's Marc Stein said Stern “has been a visionary commissioner” and outside of the EPL, "no sport has been able to globalize like the NBA.” Stein: “That is going to be the thing that we’re going to look back and say that David Stern was most successful at” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/25). TNT’s Winer said, “Expansion internationally was a big theme of his tenure” ("Clippers-Nuggets," TNT, 10/25). ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande wrote Stern’s vision of “elevating basketball to a soccer-like popularity around the world had the dual effect of expanding the market to the far reaches of the globe and broadening the talent pool available to the teams at home.” And his league “took to the Internet and social media better than anyone.” It is as if Twitter “was made for the NBA” (ESPN.com, 10/25). SI.com’s Ian Thomsen wrote “more relevant to the impact Stern has had on basketball would be a map that reveals audiences for the NBA spreading out from the U.S. to every corner of the world.” That is something “neither baseball nor American football would be able to accomplish.” The lesson of Stern's success is that the NBA “has increased revenues by focusing on the entertainment, which enabled the games to be viewed ever more universally by audiences who cared less about the sport and more about the personalities” (SI.com, 10/25). FORBES.com’s Patrick Rishe wrote Stern’s “largest business successes were (1) the recognition that stars move the needle and (2) his foresight to aggressively market the international growth of the sport” (FORBES.com, 10/25).
HICCUPS ALONG THE WAY: On Long Island, Al Iannazzone writes the NBA has had some “ugly times under his watch, including the brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004 and the gambling scandal involving referee Tim Donaghy.” There also have been “two lockouts that shortened the regular season" in '98-99 and '11-12. But the league “rebounded quickly from last year's work stoppage” (NEWSDAY, 10/26). The N.Y. TIMES’ Beck notes Stern is “often regarded as the greatest commissioner, for transforming the NBA from a fringe league whose playoffs were shown on tape delay to a $5 billion global enterprise, with games televised in 215 countries and territories.” Yet Stern will also be remembered “for the costly labor battles that led to the cancellation of games in the 1998-99 and 2011-12 seasons” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). In N.Y., Lynn Zinser wrote Stern “isn’t popular everywhere.” Six franchises moved during his tenure, leaving “particularly hard feelings in places like Seattle.” He instituted a dress code for players that "rang paternalistic to many,” and when he was “doing something unpopular, he often wore a smirk that people found maddening” (NYTIMES.com, 10/25). SportsNet N.Y.’s Adam Schein said, “Mixed bag when you look at the Stern resume. I do think he over-expanded and failed there, but I do think he deserves credit for the development of small-market teams” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 10/25). But in Atlanta, Michael Cunningham wrote, “On balance, there’s been more good news than bad for the NBA during Stern’s time as commissioner” (AJC.com, 10/25). In L.A., Helene Elliott noted Stern’s “accomplishments will rightfully outweigh the criticism” (LATIMES.com, 10/25). ESPN's Stein said in recent years, there is "no doubt he’s become increasingly unpopular with fans,” but he "oversaw this league’s revival, the globalization, the Dream Team” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/25). SPORTING NEWS' Lisa Olson noted his “last 15 years as headmaster do teem with controversy,” but he “ought to still be taking victory laps for the way he got the NBA to reverse course” from his first 15 years (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/25).
MONEY MATTERS: SportsNet N.Y.'s Chris Carlin said under Stern's watch, "most of the decisions have been about money, and they haven’t necessarily been about the fans.” Carlin: "I don’t think he has always been great for the league” ("Loud Mouths," SportsNet N.Y., 10/25). NBCSPORTS.com’s Kurt Helin wrote, “Good or bad, everything on his ledger is a result of him chasing money." He will "tell you about the good of the game, but for him what is good for the game is seen through the prism of dollar signs.” His legacy is “not without scars and tarnish, but in the end the league was better off because of his nearly 30 years in charge” (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/25).
REVERSE COURSE: CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger wrote part of the “majesty” of Stern's reign was his “deftness at playing the shell game.” Stern and Silver only 11 months ago “painted a picture for the owners of a sports league in shambles, suffering hundreds of millions in annual losses -- a business so sick and product so competitively skewed that skipping an entire season and flushing $4 billion of revenues was preferable to continuing to operate.” Berger: “Now, the skies have parted and the future is so bright, you have to squint to see it” (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/25). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Shaun Powell writes under the header, “Two Years Too Late.” The NBA for the most part was “trendy and edgy on Stern’s Rolex, a league that enjoyed smooth public relations until recently, crossed racial and social lines, blew up internationally and became part of pop culture.” That makes it “even more unusual to see the shape the league and Stern are in today, both enjoying financial success but suffering from a fair measure of scorn and suspicion” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 10/25).
EGO A GO-GO: YAHOO SPORTS’ Adrian Wojnarowski writes Stern has the “biggest ego in the history of the sport.” Wojnarowski: “Stern still has work to do; promoting the work of David Stern. Here comes his victory tour.” These 15 months before his February 2014 retirement “aren't about Silver's transition into the commissioner's job, but Stern's elevation into the sport's almighty” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/26).
NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver will take over for David Stern as NBA Commissioner in February '14, and Silver's ascension "makes perfect sense," according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. Silver has the "approval of everyone he'll be working for because they've already seen him in action." While people can "agree or disagree with his tactics," it is "hard to argue with the job he's done as Stern's right-hand man and it won't be difficult to predict what kind of job he'll do going forward." Silver has been "involved in almost everything the NBA has achieved and failed to achieve for fully half of Stern's tenure." He has "negotiated the league's last two national TV agreements and three collective bargaining agreements with the players, launched the NBA's footprint in China and designed and pushed its global marketing strategy." Silver also has had "a hand in the exponential growth of the NBA's merchandising business, its digital properties -- including NBA.com and NBA TV -- and most important, he's done right by the owners for whom he works" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/25). TRUE HOOPS' Henry Abbott wrote although Stern "will leave a massive hole ... a surprising amount of the NBA's behind-the-scenes power brokering will stay the same." Many of the NBA's "key stakeholders -- owners, broadcast executives, union officials, players, sponsors -- have dealt directly with Silver for years." In announcing the transition, Spurs Owner Peter Holt and T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor "praised Stern for having invested so many years into grooming a replacement" (ESPN.com, 10/25). In Boston, Gary Washburn notes Silver "made it clear he plans to continue Stern's plan but with his own fingerprints." He is "in favor of advertisements on uniforms, which would be a first among the four US major sports" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/26).
OPPOSITES ATTRACT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Cacciola, Jones & Futterman write Silver has "always functioned a bit like Stern's photographic negative: Where the commissioner can be argumentative, caustic and stubborn, Silver is dispassionate, congenial and practical." Former Nike, adidas and Reebok exec Sonny Vaccaro said, "They are absolutely two different people" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/26). NBA.com's Fran Blinebury wrote a difference in management style "is what some think will set the two regimes apart." While Stern "has always been a 'top-down' manager, Silver is said to be 'more collaborative' and will seek out opinions from the individual teams and try to a build consensus to solve problems" (NBA.com, 10/25). ESPN's Michael Wibon said Silver has “his own ideas and he’s his own man even though he has worked so closely with David Stern” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/25). Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski noted Silver has “built good relationships with the younger owners who are now the powerbrokers in the league," but that could "work against" him in some ways. Wojnarowski: "There’s a lot of people, in talking to owners and executives in the league, their question for Adam Silver right now is, ‘Is he going to be an extension of Stern?' Is he going to continue to have the hardline, centralized power of the league office where a lot of owners now want more state power and they to want have more say in things?” ("NBC Sports Talk," NBC Sports Network, 10/25).
SOUNDING OFF: ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein answered a question about what they expect from Silver's tenure. Broussard writes he expects Silver "to carry out Stern's vision to turn the NBA into a global sport and over time, perhaps have franchises overseas." Windhorst writes, "Silver is remarkably intelligent and seems more open minded and interested in a wider range of issues." He comes "from a different generation and it shows." Stein: "I can assure you that Silver has been doing a lot behind the scenes. ... I can also assure you that Silver already has the respect of a lot of people in this league for the, shall we say, more diplomatic way he operates. There are a handful of teams out there quietly looking forward to dealing with him instead of his let's-do-it-my-way mentor" (ESPN.com, 10/26).
The NHL Friday afternoon cancelled all regular-season games through the end of November. For teams, that means one-quarter of their 82-game schedules have been cancelled so far. The Winter Classic was not cancelled Friday, but if talks between the league and NHLPA do not bear fruit soon, the event -- scheduled for Michigan Stadium -- will likely be scrapped in the next two weeks (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal). In Detroit, Ted Kulfan notes if there is no Winter Classic there will "be no Hockeytown Winter Festival." The Red Wings on Thursday said that the "events planned for Comerica Park will be canceled if the Winter Classic ... is canceled." The Hockeytown Festival would include "hockey games played on a rink constructed between the infield and outfield at Comerica Park" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/26). Meanwhile, the league "has confirmed that the 2013 NHL All-Star Game is safe -- for now." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail said the cancellation of the Jan. 27 game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus is "not imminent" (DISPATCH.com, 10/25).
LEAGUE TO WITHDRAW LATEST PROPOSAL: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported after Thursday's deadline passed without a new deal in place, the NHL planned to "withdraw its latest proposal" to the NHLPA. Daly on Thursday said, "Having not reached agreement through today, I expect that we'll formally notify the union Friday that the proposal is no longer on the table. We're going to take it back internally and figure out where we go from here." The league will "officially notify the union it's withdrawing its offer sometime Friday morning." NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "This is a standard approach. I think it was done in the NBA in the same way." He added, "They seem to be really good at imposing deadlines and issuing ultimatums and having lockouts. It seems to be something they're well-practiced at" (ESPN.com, 10/25). In Toronto, Kevin McGran writes the league withdrawing its offer is a "matter of raising the stakes in what has become a game of chicken with NHL players." Flames C Mike Cammalleri said, "The lockout feels like a shakedown. That’s kind of the feeling across the board.” Daly said, “We are in a different place once it is clear that we can no longer save an 82-game season. We will have to regroup and rethink and try to come up with something that will work for the new reality we find ourselves in.” Octagon Hockey Dir Allan Walsh "dismissed the move on his Twitter feed." Walsh wrote, "owners’ playbook: Deadline passes, take offer off table, give players reduced offer, tell players it’s only going to get worse" (TORONTO STAR, 10/26).
GOING NOWHERE: CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits wrote the "unfortunate reality here is that it feels like we're close to being back to square one" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/25). In Toronto, Lance Hornby writes if the NHL cancels most or all November games, that "sober news and the loss of a second player paycheque a few days later might test the union's resolve a bit more" (TORONTO SUN, 10/26). In Ottawa, Don Brennan writes, "I saw this coming the day the NHLPA brought in Don Fehr as its executive director." But Senators RW Chris Neil said, "We've got the right guy at the helm, and that's what it's about, having the right leadership" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/26). In Vancouver, Iain MacIntyre writes, "You wonder on days like Thursday if anyone in charge has any reverence or respect for the game beyond its ability as a business to make both sides, including their leaders, fabulously rich" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/26). Sabres G Ryan Miller in an e-mail wrote, "The two sides are close enough to a deal that missing the bulk of a season is wrong and missing an entire season is not only insane, it is a blatant disregard for the sport, the fans and the culture we have grown over decades -- just to satisfy egos, not the needs of either side." Miller added, "Consider that Canadian broadcasting rights are up for negotiations by 2014 and the Islanders will be in a new facility by 2015. Those are just two examples of things that are certain to put a lot more money into the league" (TSN.ca, 10/25).
WHO HAS THE MOST TO LOSE? In DC, John Feinstein writes the loss of another season would, "at this point, cost owners a lot more money than eight years ago because a lot more of them are making money under the salary cap system." Feinstein: "So, who blinks first?" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/26). In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic writes it is "well past time for the Penguins' ownership to take an active role in this ridiculous NHL lockout." Not just co-Owner & Chair Mario Lemieux, but also co-Owner Ron Burkle. Kovacevic: "No two individuals are more qualified to make an impact. ... No one in hockey -- not even Wayne Gretzky -- could command greater respect in this specific setting than what Lemieux could deliver by walking into one of those meetings" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/26). Former Sabres Managing Partner & Minority Owner Larry Quinn said, "The person that gets hurt the most in this is the player. ... The fact that their limited livelihood would be jeopardized once again, something is just wrong. It makes you wonder what interests are being represented and why" (ESPN.com, 10/25). Sharks D Dan Boyle has been "one of the more vocal and outspoken NHL players when it comes to the current labor battle." He said, "It’s just more frustrating to lose possibly a second year of my career. Careers are so short to begin with, to just have that taken away is pretty frustrating.” But Boyle "didn’t admonish his own side from helping to contribute to the stalemate." He said, "Right now both sides feel like it’s their way or the highway. I think you’ve got to give to get, and I don’t know that we’re at that point yet" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 10/25).
MAKING DOLLARS AND SENSE: In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes the "insistence that all players must have their contracts honoured in full ... is a foolhardy and costly stance that is not supported by historical evidence." It "raises the question: What exactly are the players fighting for?" Simmons: "Why the reluctance to give back when the proof is you won't be hurt long-term for doing so?" When there is "enough money for everyone, what are the players fighting for?" (TORONTO SUN, 10/26). The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes, "Here we have two parties that made a combined four proposals last week and moved some $600-million or so closer together over the next five or six years." And yet "still we're told there's been no progress, no upcoming talks scheduled and, essentially, nothing to talk about." Mirtle: "Which is baloney." Hockey blogger and statistician Tyler Dellow "spun some numbers" on the proposals and "ultimately determined that 'we're talking about an awfully small difference on the team level' that amounts to as little as $2.7-million a season" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/26).
MAKING THE COMPARISON: In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli writes under the header, "A Tale Of Two Commissioners." Watching NBA Commissioner David Stern "take a seat on Thursday makes you wonder how long his protege, [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman, is for the job." Even with "fan grumbling for his head growing louder and louder every day, my gut says Bettman has made these billionaire owners enough money to call his own shot -- whether that is next year or ten years from now" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/26).
The Patriots-Rams game in London on Sunday could be a precursor to the NFL soon having three games a year in the U.K. and a franchise there not long after. During a fan forum earlier this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell publicly broached the idea of three regular-season games in London annually. He later expanded on his comment, saying the expansion could come relatively quickly depending on the success the league has in England next year. The NFL in '13 will play two regular-season games in London for the first time, doubling the number that has been played there annually since '07. Asked what would need to happen to decide whether the London calendar should increase to three, Goodell said the answer would come in part from seeing whether both games sell out as easily as the one has done for 85,000-seat Wembley Stadium. He thinks it will happen. Goodell also has the support of ownership in his push for overseas growth. “This is a unique opportunity for the league to gauge interest over there,” Giants President & CEO John Mara said of playing games in London. “I think we are number seven over there in terms of media coverage. Maybe if we have games on a regular basis, maybe that can go up. I don’t see any downside to it.” Expanding overseas is part of the league’s ambitious goal to hit $25B in annual revenue by '27, a bar Goodell set two years ago. Currently, league revenue is closing in on $10B. New media contracts in '14 should push the figure to about half of Goodell’s goal, but that would mean league revenue at that point would still need to double in a dozen years to reach the goal, with the NFL already hitting on all cylinders domestically. That leaves foreign lands, where American football is decidedly less popular, as perhaps the best opportunity to increase revenue.
LONDON AHEAD OF L.A.? Speaking at the forum, Goodell sounded more optimistic and enthusiastic about placing a franchise in London than he did about having one in L.A. "We believe that’s our best chance for success, so that is why we are playing there ... multiple games,” Goodell said of London. “And I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see us have a team there. … We might be willing to take a shot at it.” On L.A., Goodell commented, “It is all focused on getting the right kind of stadium situation.” The Rams and Raiders relocated from L.A. after the '94 season, and the league since then has struggled to find the right proposal to return.
MLB is "making a late-stage attempt to stop a private member’s bill on Parliament Hill that would legalize betting on single sporting events in Canada, warning this will increase the incentive to fix the outcome of games and create more gambling addicts," according to Steven Chase of the GLOBE & MAIL. The legislation would "remove the Criminal Code prohibition against wagering on single sporting events, opening the door for provinces to introduce this type of gambling on races, fights or games." Two senior MLB execs "appeared before a Senate committee Wednesday to caution parliamentarians they are making a big mistake." Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston said, "The legalization of single-event sports betting by any government would increase the chances that persons gambling on games will attempt to influence the outcome of those games." Parliment member Michael Chong said that NHL representatives indicated to him that they "also wish to appear before the Senate committee to express their opposition" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/25). Beeston said, "Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays sympathize with the need of governments to increase revenues. The answer is not to compromise the integrity of professional sports by legalizing single-event sports gambling" (POSTMEDIA NEWS, 10/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts notes reaction from the major North American pro leagues "ranged from indecision to resignation mixed with anger to active opposition." NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "We accept the status quo and understand that governments who are basically hungry for money will do just about anything regardless of its demonstrated impact on its citizens." Stern indicated that the federal legislation "is so close to being passed, with no significant opposition, there may be no point in trying to fight it." He said, "In the face of a bill that's going to be passed we'd have to look at whether we're going to waste the government's time by making a sort of perfunctory trip up there. We'll have to examine it and see where it goes." But MLB still is "making a belated attempt to thwart the bill." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "I do not think it is healthy for the sport in any way, shape or form" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/26).
Hulman & Co., which owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series, has hired Boston Consulting Group to do a full evaluation of its business operations. "We hire groups like this from time to time and have over the years," said Hulman & Co. CEO Jeff Belskus. "It's part of our normal business planning cycle as we think about the future and both our near-term and long-term plans. It's helpful to have an independent view and fresh eyes on what we're dealing with. What opportunities are there out there? How do we take advantage of those opportunities?" Boston Consulting Group has the ability to offer merger-and-acquisition and divestiture advice, but Belskus said the company would not do any work on the recent takeover offer the company received from Tony George for the IndyCar Series. "The two are completely unrelated," said Belskus, who has reiterated in recent weeks that the IndyCar Series is not for sale. "Boston Consulting Group is not being used to evaluate any expression of interest we've received. It's just coincidental, the timing of the two." Boston Consulting Group is expected to complete its work before the end of the year. Belskus said the group will focus on Hulman & Co.'s strategy and operations. He said that consultancy execs will interview Hulman staff and speak to partners of the IndyCar Series and IMS in order to come up with ways to improve the organizations and the value they offer partners. "This particular project is exciting for us," Belskus said. "The Boston Consulting Group is a world renowned group focused on strategy. They're one of the best in the business and we're excited to be working with them." He added, "We're focused on revenue growth. Revenue generation. Our cost structure. What do we do to reduce costs? We're focused on value to partners. We have a lot of external stakeholders and we want to make sure we're providing value." This is not the first time Boston Consulting has worked in sports. The Big East Conference recently hired it to evaluate its organizational structure and develop strategies to help it succeed in the changing college sports landscape.