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SBD/January 15, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
ATP World Tour Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett yesterday shockingly announced that he would soon resign because he has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease). Drewett, who has been in his role for just over a year, but with the ATP for 35 years in some form as a player or administrator, made the sad announcement during the start of the Australian Open. Drewett has worked tirelessly during the last year seeking dramatic changes in prize money from the Grand Slams, which he won from the Australian Open. During that time he spoke with an unusually soft voice, which he said was due to problems with his vocal cords. It is unclear if the voice issue is related to ALS. "It has been a privilege to serve as Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, an organization that I've been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player," said Drewett. "I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it's with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill-health." He will continue in his current role on an interim basis as the ATP BOD begins the search process for his successor in the near future. Drewett was recently named one of SportsBusiness Journal’s "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business" for the work he had done on the Grand Slam prize money issue. WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement, “The thoughts and prayers of the WTA family are with Brad, his family and the entire ATP community at this very difficult time” (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
NO EASY TASK: SI.com's Jon Wertheim notes Drewett was "named to the position on Jan. 1, 2012," after the ATP parted ways with former Exec Chair & President Adam Helfant at the end of '11. Wertheim writes of Drewett, "Well-liked and even-tempered, he was viewed as a compromise candidate, a stay-the-course insider who was acceptable to the top players as well as the tournament directors." His brief "tenure was mixed." Drewett still did "not extract as much prize money from the Grand Slam tournaments -- especially the U.S. Open -- as the players would like." He also was "largely silent when the tournament representatives on the ATP Board turned down a unilateral prize money increase offered" by Indian Wells Tennis Garden Owner Larry Ellison. On the "other hand, Drewett won sizable concessions from the Australian Open -- which now has the largest purse in the sport -- and closed significant sponsorship deals and extensions" (SI.com, 1/15). The AP's Dennis Passa wrote Drewett's one year on the job "was not an easy one." Within days of taking the job, he was "forced to reduce tensions after rumors of a potential player strike surfaced at Melbourne Park." Most of the complaints were about "compensation for the lower-ranked players, and for increased prize money for the earlier rounds of Grand Slams, both of which have been addressed and improved at this year's Australian Open" (AP, 1/14).
The LPGA today announced a '13 season schedule that features 28 tournaments, $49M in total prize money and more than 300 hours of event coverage on Golf Channel and other TV networks, the most in LPGA history. Every North American stop and 27 of the 28 events will be televised globally. The three new events on the schedule include the $1.8M Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic in Beijing, which kicks off the tour's Fall Asian Swing the first week of October. The LPGA today also announced that CME Group has signed a multiyear extension to sponsor the season-ending CME Group Titleholders through '16 (LPGA). USA TODAY's Steve DiMeglio notes the Reignwood Pine Valley LPGA Classic is the "third addition to the 2013 schedule in less than a week," and there "could be one more tournament to add." LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan yesterday said, "By no means are we done. This is just part of the process, for next year and beyond. I'm confident we have one more to add. There is one still coming." DiMeglio notes while the tour lost two tournaments, the new events "mean a net gain of one from 2012 to 28 official events." That is five more than in '11. Total purses will be "just below" $49M this year, nearly $2M more than in '12 and $6.5M more than in '11. Additionally, the tour "doesn't have an unwanted three-week break in 2013" (USA TODAY, 1/15).
FOLLOWING THROUGH ON HIS WORD: Whan said, "I've said to the players since the day I started that 30 to 32 events in my mind makes for a great season. Gives us enough break, gives us an offseason and that makes for powerful events. And the good news is I think the players have understood the reason for that.” Whan added of the event he hopes to add later this year, “We know the sponsor, we know the location. We're still figuring out some final details on contract and venue ... and working out final TV details.” Whan noted six of the eight new tournaments added in recent years are based in North America. However, he said of the balance between events in North America and overseas, “You can’t be golf’s global tour and do it from your desk or with an e-mail. You’ve got to go. If you want to grow women’s golf worldwide, you’ve got to make an impact worldwide. We’re proud of the fact that we travel. ... At the same time we didn’t want to be nomadic. We didn’t want to not have a home. So in our 28 official events, 18 are here in North America.” Each of the new events call for 72 holes to be played, and Whan said, “I’m not a fan of three-day events. ... I really believe that four days provides the best champion over the course. We do have a few three-day events. They’re generally driven by huge pro-ams, customers that are really going to bring in a lot.” Whan noted he “hasn’t really added any three-day events" since he took the position. He said, "Doesn’t mean I won’t, it just means if we can do a four-day event it’s preference on Tour” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 1/15).
MLB payrolls on opening day "will exceed $3 billion for the first time this season, jumping more than 7 percent from last season and redistributing the windfall from landmark local television deals across the sport," according to Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS. Payrolls for all MLB teams' 25-man rosters are estimated to be about $3.15B, a 7.1% increase "from last year's opening-day figure" of $2.94B. The Dodgers account for "more than half of the increase," with a projected $213M payroll that is the "highest in the major leagues" and a 123.9% increase over their $95.1M at the beginning of last season. Meanwhile, the Marlins "have shed nearly three times as much as any other team," going from a $118M opening-day payroll last season to an estimated $45M this year, a 61.9 % decrease. Fourteen teams will open the season "with nine-figure payrolls, a stark increase" from nine teams last year, and two more than the record set in '11. If the Orioles organization signs one of the remaining "marquee free agents, it could vault into the $100 million territory and make it the median for the sport" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/14).MLB PAYROLLS
TEAM'13 ESTIMATE'12 OPENING DAY% +/- Dodgers$213.0M$95.1M123.9% Yankees$210.0M$198.0M6.1% Phillies$158.0M$174.5M-9.5% Angels$152.0M$154.5M-1.6% Red Sox$150.0M$173.2M-13.4% Tigers$150.0M$132.3M13.4% Giants$137.0M$117.6M16.5% Rangers$120.0M$120.5M-0.4% White Sox$117.0M$96.9M20.7% Cardinals$115.0M$110.3M4.3% Blue Jays$115.0M$75.5M52.3% Nationals$113.0M$81.3M39.9% Reds$107.0M$82.2M30.2% Cubs$103.0M$88.2M16.8% Braves$95.0M$93.3M2.0% Orioles$92.0M$81.4M13.0% D'Backs$89.0M$74.3M19.8% Mets$84.0M$93.4M-10.0% Twins$80.0M$94.1M-15.0% Royals$78.0M$60.9M28.0% Rockies$73.0M$78.1M-6.5% Brewers$72.0M$97.7M-26.3% Indians$71.0M$78.4M-9.5% Mariners$71.0M$82.0M-13.4% Padres$65.0M$55.2M17.7% A's$60.0M$55.4M8.4% Rays$60.0M$64.2M-6.5% Pirates$55.0M$63.4M-13.3% Marlins$45.0M$118.1M-61.9% Astros$32.0M$60.7M-47.2% TOTALS$3.1B$2.9B4.5%
Western New York Flash F Abby Wambach after "having played in two leagues that have folded" wants the new eight-team National Women’s Soccer League “to be part of her legacy,” according to Ronald Blum of the AP. Wambach said, "I took it as a responsibility and a failure on my part that the last previous leagues didn't succeed.” The NWSL follows the failed Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer leagues. Wambach while playing for the Flash “will be based in Buffalo, N.Y., about 70 miles from her hometown of Rochester.” She said, "It was the right choice for me and for the league. Of course I would love to have been in Portland, but I really do think it was and is the best decision for the game, for this league, so that it can strive and not just survive." Blum noted Wambach will be “joined in the new league by all her American teammates and by Canada captain Christine Sinclair.” The new league “gives players regular competition in the gap between last year's Olympics” and the ‘15 Women's World Cup, which will be played in Canada (AP, 1/14). Wambach said that it was “her decision to come home.” Wambach: “I think this team gets more popular in this league with me in its cities, and I also think the other teams around the country will be able to create (interest).” In Rochester, Jeff DiVeronica notes bigger crowds show up in Rochester when Wambach plays there more "infrequently" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 1/15). USL Rochester Rhinos and Sahlen’s Stadium President & COO Pat Ercoli on Saturday said the Flash’s season-ticket sales “doubled” since it was announced that Wambach would be playing for the Flash (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 1/12).
CAPTAIN MORGAN: ESPNW.com’s Graham Hays wrote under the header, “Alex Morgan Becomes Face, Voice For New League.” Morgan, who will play for NWSL club Portland Thorns FC, said, “We’re still looking to finalize our negotiations with U.S. Soccer, both the women's national team contract and the (contract with the) league. And we're hoping that is going to be solved in a timely manner so we can focus all of our efforts on the league and getting it started in March." Hays wrote of Morgan, "This is her league in so many ways. Not hers alone, of course. But whose voice carries a greater distance in the public space?" The NWSL placed Morgan in “perhaps the most soccer-mad city in the country, a city in which the University of Portland women's soccer team packed Merlo Field even as two professional leagues rose and fell in other markets” (ESPNW.com, 1/14).
IN GOOD SPIRITS? In DC, Steven Goff wrote the Washington Spirit’s lack of a “marquee player” will make preseason ticket-selling “a little more difficult.” Spirit Owner Bill Lynch said that the team is “aiming to average about 3,000 spectators for home matches at Maryland SoccerPlex.” Lynch: “That’s where it becomes sustainable and comfortable. We think it can be done.” Goff noted the league’s full calendar “isn’t expected for a few weeks.” Lynch is “aiming to play home games on Saturday evenings.” However, he said there are "thousands of variables” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/14).
NEW & IMPROVED: The DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE’S DiVeronica wrote, "The major difference between NWSL from WUSA and WPS is that the USSF, Canadian and Mexican soccer federations are paying the salaries of the 55 allocated players (16 each from Canada and Mexico), so the player-payroll burden felt by owners won’t be as heavy.” Flash coach Aaran Lines said that there is “a salary cap but declined to disclose the figure.” The profile of America’s star players “also is much higher and should help attract fans and advertisers” (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 1/12).
The NFLPA is continuing to pursue its $1B-plus collusion claim against the NFL, even though a Minnesota federal judge on Dec. 31 said the claim was barred. U.S. District Court Judge David Doty ruled that the NFLPA’s claim that the league had colluded to restrain player salaries in '10 was barred by terms of the '11 dismissal of the White antitrust settlement that had governed labor relations between the two sides for the preceding 18 years. But the union in a motion to Doty yesterday said while it might appeal that decision, it wants to pursue a case that the league has misled the players into agreeing to that dismissal, and so the dismissal of the White case should be reversed. The NFLPA said it will "demonstrate that the Court should relieve the White Class from any effect of the (dismissal) and/or August 11, 2011 (court) Order because they were obtained by `fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct.’” The union is seeking discovery into the period leading up to the August '11 settlement, which capped the end of the lockout that had paralyzed the NFL off-season. In the filing with Doty, the NFLPA included an exhibit that listed a series of discovery demands, including all documents tied to the dismissal of the lawsuit, as well as those that pertain to the allegation of collusion in '10. The NFLPA originally filed the claim on Aug. 2, 2011, as a preventive measure in the event Doty turned down the collusion claim, which he did. Doty had set a briefing schedule based on that Aug. 2 motion, which the union now wants to extend from 45 to 90 days. The NFL opposes that extension (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
THE WAR ON DRUGS: In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote MLB is “light years ahead of where the NFL is in terms of the next fight against performance-enhancing drugs, which absolutely is a player health issue.” Bedard: “You’d think this would be embarrassing to the NFL and the players’ union. It should be. Instead, the bickering just continues.” The NFL “has its opinion on the delay.” NFL Senior VP/Law & Labor Policy Adolpho Birch said, “This is a continuation of the union’s strategy to delay, deny, and distract. What is missing from the MLB agreement is a population study. Apparently, baseball players know that the test for HGH is reliable, valid, and scientifically sound. If the NFLPA had adopted the same position as the MLB players, we would already be well on our way to eliminating the threat of HGH from our game” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/14).
IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan "insists he knows what the open-wheel series lacks heading into testing next month for the 2013 season," according to John Sturbin of RACIN' TODAY. Kanaan said, "We need a face. We're going to need someone quick to be able to answer to a lot of the questions we have. If that guy is going to be [Interim President & CEO Jeff Belskus] ... I mean, he's the one running it right now. There's a lot of questions from the sponsors, from the teams, from the people (wondering) what direction we're going to take." Kanaan continued, "I've known Jeff for a while and think he has the right mentality, but [it] looks like the board changes their mind quite a bit." Kanaan said of former IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, who continues to serve in an advisory role with the series, "I'm a big Randy fan. ... Would I like to see Randy gone? No, not at all. I believe in continuity but for some reason something happened, which I don't know. So this is my opinion -- we have a great team in the office of IndyCar and Randy was well-liked by the fans. So whoever is going to replace him (permanently) is going to have a hard task to fill that seat." Kanaan: "We have a lot of issues and in my opinion it wasn't fair to Randy because some of the deals were already made before he came" (RACINTODAY.com, 1/11).