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SBD/November 20, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham yesterday announced that the MLS Cup on Dec. 1 "will be his final game" with the team, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN L.A. Beckham "did not announce his future plans." His most recent contract included a "clause allowing him to become part of an expansion team ownership group, which he still plans on taking advantage of after his playing career." Beckham said in a release, "I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future." AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company owns the Galaxy, said, "Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport and David not only took our franchise to another level but he took our sport to another level." Since Beckham signed with the Galaxy in January '07, "seven expansion teams -- Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Jose and Toronto -- have debuted" in MLS while 15 of the league's 19 teams "now play in soccer specific stadiums," up from five in '07 (ESPNLA.com, 11/19).
END OF AN ERA: MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/19). The PA writes Beckham's decision is "no great surprise." China, the UAE, Paris, England and even Brazil "have been mentioned as potential destinations but wherever he goes, it will bring to an end an eventful career in MLS which saw the midfielder become the face of a new era for the sport in North America" (PA, 11/20). SPORTING NEWS' Brian Straus wrote although Beckham's "MLS sojourn featured its share of controversy ... his six-year stay will be remembered as a massive success." He "catapulted MLS to unprecedented visibility in the U.S. and around the world" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/19). FOXSPORTS.com's Leander Schaerlaeckens writes, "Off the field, his signing was an unbridled success." Ultimately, Beckham "came good on the promise; lived up to all the hoopla and hype" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/20). In L.A., Phil Collin writes Beckham's "Hollywood glitter lifestyle helped nudge" the Galaxy and MLS into "the public's consciousness" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/20).
WHAT'S NEXT? In L.A., Nick Green notes, "Noticeably absent from the late afternoon announcement was any use of the 'R' word ... but Beckham left little doubt his days of bending the ball are over" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/20). The GUARDIAN's Marcus Christenson notes there have been "suggestions in the Australian press that Beckham may join the A-league -- with five clubs interested" (GUARDIAN, 11/20). In N.Y., Andrew Das wrote it is "unclear if Beckham's departure from the Galaxy signals the end of his time as a player" (NYTIMES.com, 11/19). In London, Luke Edwards gives the odds of where Beckham might end up and writes under the header, "Where Next For The Former England Captain?" (London TELEGRAPH, 11/20).
MARKETING MACHINE: SI.com's Grant Wahl wrote, "In many ways, Beckham's most important moment Stateside came in January 2007 when he surprised the world by deciding to sign with the Galaxy." More than 300,000 Beckham Galaxy jerseys "were sold in 2007 alone, and when he was healthy enough to play, Beckham moved the needle on both TV ratings and attendance figures." Having Beckham associated with MLS in the long term "can only be a good thing, and the main question is which city he would be associated with." It is also "true that Beckham's tenure in L.A. is one of the most important chapters in the league's history." He "may not have met the outlandish initial projections that were lavished upon his arrival, but he did his part, and he stayed longer than anyone would have expected" (SI.com, 11/19).
TIME TO STEP UP: ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle wrote MLS is now "facing one of its biggest challenges, namely to prove once and for all that there is more to it than merely serving as a marketing arm of Brand Beckham." The "evidence of the league's accomplishments is clear." The "evolution of the fan base that is inclusive of supporters' culture, the numerous soccer-centric stadiums that either have been or are in the process of being built and the continued push for expansion are signs of a vibrant, healthy league." But MLS needs to "do more to highlight these more tangible -- and admittedly less sexy -- signs of progress." Otherwise, the sponsors who "signed on when Beckham arrived won't feel compelled to stick around, and the naysayers who deride the league as nothing more than a retirement home for aging European stars, will be supplied with more ammunition." Now it is "time for MLS to prove that it can stand on its own" (ESPN.com, 11/19).
Negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA resumed last night at the league office, but "were over in less than two hours," according to Ira Podell of the AP. There "wasn’t any visible anger between the sides when talks wrapped up for the night, and both camps spoke optimistically that discussions would continue soon, perhaps face-to-face again as soon as" today. There was "not a whole lot" accomplished, but NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr said, "We talked about various things. No new proposals were made, they were not expected to be made. We had hoped to engage them in a discussion about the player contracting issues that are so important to the players. At least tonight they were unwilling to do that." The league "contends that it is waiting for the players to present a full proposal on all the major issues -- including core economics and player contracting." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "We’ve never heard a full proposal from them." Union reps, along with "18 players who were in attendance, returned to the players’ association office to have further internal discussions Monday night" (AP, 11/20).
MAKING THE NEXT MOVE: The CP's Chris Johnston noted the league "requested that the union put all of its desires together into one complete offer." The union's response "should dictate if the sides will formally start negotiating their way through the key issues" (CP, 11/19). Daly said that he "demanded the NHLPA to put a full proposal on the table." He added that the union "needs to clarify the way it wants to split the revenues." Daly last night said, "I'm frustrated" (OTTAWA SUN, 11/20). In N.Y., Pat Leonard writes, "So assuming the union returns with a full document, the next few meetings should confirm prior to the holiday whether December's hockey schedule is out the window or the owners see a deal in the details" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/20). In Columbus, Aaron Portzline cited a source as saying that the All-Star Game -- scheduled for Nationwide Arena on Jan. 27 -- "will be included when the league cancels its next wave of games" (DISPATCH.com, 11/19).
OUTLINING A PLAN: In Philadelphia, Frank Seravalli notes the NHLPA requested Monday's meeting, but it "did not present a concrete, new proposal to give the league's policy makers anything to even think about." Without anything new "to discuss, it must have been an awkward 90-minute meeting." Seravalli: "My question is: What the heck does the NHLPA have to lose by making a full presentation?" For the last week, the "biggest complaint out of NHL headquarters is that the league doesn't know what exactly will please Fehr and the players." All it knows is "that the NHLPA wants to protect the players as much as possible." However, Daly did "acknowledge that Fehr presented a 'piece of paper,' which outlined the NHLPA's proposal for how to handle frontloaded contracts on the salary cap" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/20). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes, "If anything is to develop from the latest attempt to end the NHL lockout, movement will have to come from the owners on economics and the players on contracts" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20). In N.Y., Larry Brooks notes it is "believed the union is contemplating a plan under which it would offer a 'soft landing' decline to the NHL’s Magic 50-50 in Year 3 or 4 of the new CBA." Based on projections of annual 5% growth, the players "calculated their take under the last union proposal would have hit 50-50 by the fourth year of a new agreement." However, the league has "taken the stance that growth projections are not based in reality, given the unknown fallout of the lockout" (N.Y. POST, 11/20). Canucks G Cory Schneider yesterday said, "To us, we need to stop this cycle of them not giving up anything to get everything they want" (THEPROVINCE.com, 11/20).
NEW NAMES AT THE TABLE: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch notes those in attendance yesterday alongside NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman were Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis, Flames Owner Murray Edwards, Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs and Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke (OTTAWA SUN, 11/20). In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes it was "a different crew at the bargaining table" yesterday. Adding "fresh perspectives might be a good idea given the bad blood that's been boiling as the lockout continues" (TORONTO STAR, 11/20). The L.A. Times' Helene Elliott wrote, "Did the NHL bring Brian Burke into the negotiations for truculence?" TSN's Darren Dreger wrote, "Leafs GM, Brian Burke will join the CBA talks tonight in New York. Maybe a dose of pugnacity or truculence will spark progress?" Maple Leafs blogger Michael Forbes wrote, "So Brian Burke is on the NHL negotiating committee tonight. If I'm the NHLPA, I send in a negotiating team of nothing but goalies." (TWITTER.com, 11/19). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes there would be "some merit to inviting the likes" of Bruins President Cam Neely and NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan to the table "on the grounds that both previously endured a lockout from the players' side of the fence." Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who was "involved in a nasty contract holdout soon after the 1994-95 lockout ended, was scheduled to attend Monday's resumption of talks." Duhatschek: "Could a full ex-player team of negotiators lend any weight to the NHL's case and help get some of the soaring and unproductive vitriol out of the conversation?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).
PHILLY CONNECTION: While both Bettman and Flyers Chair Ed Snider disputed a report of a rift among owners, the GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle questions that by writing "there's very little reason for the Flyers to be on-board with what's left of this fight." Why would Snider, whose franchise "is one of the richest in the league and has inked more of those front-loaded, back-driving deals than anyone, want to extend this fight over the relatively limited contracting rights that remain at issue?" The longer CBA talks go, the "more the NHLPA pushes for additional revenue sharing from the wealthier teams and the more the Flyers would lose their advantages over other markets in terms of front-loading deals." Mirtle: "My sense is this ends with some form of a contract term limit, as I don't see the NHLPA conceding on the other issues" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).
MORE AND MORE PERSONAL FOR PLAYERS: Canadiens players practicing in Montreal have "begun wearing baseball caps that have 'Puck Gary' and '2012-13 NHL Lockout' printed on the front." The hats "are not endorsed by" the NHLPA. Canadiens LW Erik Cole said the lockout hats "might be available to the public, all proceeds to charity" (QMI AGENCY, 11/20). Meanwhile, Panthers RW Kris Versteeg yesterday said once the lockout is over, it “will be a good time” to remove Bettman and Daly from office. Appearing on TSN Radio, Versteeg said once a deal is reached, “you’ve got to cut out the cancers.” Versteeg added the pair has been “ruling this game for far too long” and fans have been “left with too many bad tastes in their mouths for too many years” (“Blue Lunch with Bryan Hayes & Jamie McLennan,” TSN Radio, 11/19). Daly "brushed aside the comments and chalked them up to aggravation that is being felt on both sides of the lockout." He said, "I don't think either Gary or I take those personally. I understand there is a lot of frustration in this process" (AP, 11/20).
WILL FANS COME BACK? Laval Univ. Sports Marketing & Strategic Brand Management professor Andre Richelieu criticized the league's steps during the lockout by saying, "The message the NHL has sent is that 'we are stupid.'" He added, "When they say 'We have the best fans in the world' the presumption is that the fans will come back. That is the best example of insult and marketing myopia I know." Richelieu: "It will be interesting to see what the NHL will do in order to rebuild this trust. I don't think they can reinvent the game again. Remember last time they just wrote on the ice, 'Thank you, fans'? Well, that will not do" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/20).
Super Bowl ticketholders suing the NFL over the '11 temporary seating fiasco yesterday asked a federal court to hold the Cowboys in contempt for failing to produce sufficient documents related to the controversy. The ticketholders have subpoenaed the team. Earlier this year the court ruled the Cowboys could not be sued as part of the lawsuit, but the ticketholders contend the team was integral to the problem of the temporary seating not being ready for the '11 game at the team’s stadium. As a result, the motion contends that even as a third party not named in the lawsuit, the team should be forced to hand over documents, like communications with the city of Arlington and with temporary seat contractor, Seating Solutions. “Simply put, the Cowboys refuse to provide any responsive documents,” the motion said. The ticketholders have had a variety of discovery complaints filed with the North Texas federal court, including seeking to overcome league objections to depose NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Many of the fans whose seats were not ready or had an obstructed view for the '11 game have already settled with the NFL.
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan on Saturday, in regards to interest in women's golf in Asia, said, "I think it is hard sometimes for fans here in the U.S. to understand what happens when we show up in Korea or Malaysia or Taiwan." Whan, who was attending the season-ending LPGA CME Group Titleholders event, added, "Last year at this time when we were in Taiwan, we had to stop selling tickets. We just couldn't get anymore people in the parking lot. And there are times over there when you actually feel security problems. It's just so many fans trying to get to see so few players. You see so many young girls standing on those ropes as these young women walk by and you know we're making some sort of difference long-term to the girls of this game globally." Whan, in reference to the growth of the game, said, "I would be surprised if you wouldn't see us playing in China in the near future. I'm fairly confident to tell you that we'll be playing in the Beijing area pretty soon and I know that Shanshan [Feng] and her win had a lot to do with that." Whan: "We're definitely going to play more and we're going to have a few surprises. The best thing that's really happened on the LPGA in the last couple of years has been that the players have taken over the tour; Stacy Lewis is much more the face of the LPGA than Mike Whan or any staff member. If you saw the player communication team, they're all top twenty players. When the LPGA is at its best, it's player driven and it's pretty player driven right now" ("CME Group Titleholders," Golf Channel, 11/17).
MARKET WATCH: In Rochester, Sal Maiorana noted "speculation immediately arose regarding what would happen" starting in '14 with the future of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The Rochester-based supermarket chain recently extended its sponsorship of the tournament for one more year. Tournament co-Chair Jerry Stahl said, "To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what we see going forward. ... Everything has a useful life and maybe this is what we've seen, the useful life of this tournament. That could be the case." Maiorana noted Wegmans "decided to hang in for one more year -- despite the spiraling cost of putting on the event and bankrolling the $2.5 million purse -- with the hope that the extra time would be beneficial to the potential procurement of a new sponsorship group." In reality, the two keys to Rochester "holding on to the LPGA Championship are the state of the economy, and the tour doing a better job of becoming relevant on the national sports scene." Whan "spends a lot of time extolling the virtues of how the LPGA Tour is the most global tour in professional golf." However, "not many American fans pay attention to the LPGA when the tournaments aren't being played in their communities" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 11/17).