SBD/September 23, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • Scott Boras Calls For Neutral-Site World Series Games, MLB Celebration Event

    Boras said the MVP and CY Young winners should be named during a TV special

    MLB player agent Scott Boras has "called for something that makes a lot of sense -- having the first and/or second game of the World Series take place in a neutral setting," according to Nick Cafardo of the BOSTON GLOBE. Having two games to "start the World Series in a warm-weather climate and/or dome" would "create quite a buzz." Boras suggested that the event could include "a big ceremony where the Cy Young, MVP, and other awards would be part of a TV special" in the host city. He calls it "baseball's Oscars." Boras believes the move would "get the corporate world involved much like it is for the Super Bowl," and some of the revenue generated could go to "a pension fund for minor leaguers." The "downside to this would be that fans whose team makes it to the World Series would have fewer games at their venue," while the last five games "would be broken up, 2-2-1." Boras said of using a neutral site, "It would be a gathering place for all of baseball. The team officials would have to show up for the awards and other business. It could be the start of the hot-stove season as it once was. It would bring baseball center stage. It would make the World Series an event, much like the All-Star Game, which is the best in sports. Why not take all of the metrics of that event and apply them to the World Series?" Cafardo wrote a neutral site for part of the Series "wouldn't be that radical," and would "allow for build-up and greater interest in the event." The idea "makes sense," and MLB officials "know it has merit, but changing the way things are done isn't a top priority" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/22).

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  • FedExCup Playoff Schedule For Next Year Reportedly Upsetting Some Players, Sponsors

    The PGA Tour is receiving a lot of "blowback ... about the schedule" for next year's FedExCup Playoffs, according to Golf Channel's Tim Rosaforte. The Tour has scheduled the four playoff events for four consecutive weeks so there can be an off week between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup. Additionally, sponsors are upset with players "skipping events ... and then coming back with a chance to win" the FedExCup. Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson this year both missed The Barclays, the first event of the playoffs, but finished third and fifth, respectively, in the final standings. Rosaforte: "This is still a work in progress as it relates to the big picture. But what we get from a competitive standpoint, it’s hard to argue that it’s brilliant, especially this time of year.” Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner said the current system is "miles better than where we were six or seven years ago, when you turned squarely to football." Lerner: "I’m not saying people aren't watching football, but you turned squarely to football after the season’s final major. That’s not the case anymore” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 9/22).

    DOES IT ALL MEAN ANYTHING? GOLF.com's weekly roundtable noted there was talk that players were "flat for the Tour Championship" and wondered if the $10M payoff for winning the FedExCup still garners the "public's attention or is it just too hard to get excited about multimillionaires adding to their portfolios?" SI's Michael Bamberger said, "The money is not what makes it exciting, not for us. What matters is how bad the players want it. This year, for whatever reason, it wasn't there. It has been in other years." Golf Magazine's Joe Passov said, "It's a treat for fans to see the best tee it up against the best, but with these reduced fields and obscene amounts of cash on display, it still feels too much like of an exhibition. Love the pull and publicity during football season, but I keep thinking, so what -- these guys are all moving on to Asia and they'll grab the cash they need there, if they didn't get it in the playoffs." SI's Mark Godich: "It still gets the public's attention, if for no other reason than everyone likes to see how the world's best players respond with so much on the line." Golf Magazine's Josh Sens: "The FedEx Cup will never stir public interest like the events with real history and pedigree. But every day in this country there are multimillionaires adding to their portfolios while contributing virtually nothing. At least these overpaid golfers provide some entertainment value" (GOLF.com, 9/22).

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  • Future Of F1 Hinges On FIA Presidential Election As Ward Challenges Todt

    Todt (r) has challenged Ecclestone on issues such as revenue sharing

    F1 management faces "the potential for huge change in the next few months," as December's FIA presidential election will be "contested by two strong candidates with very different agendas," according to James Allen of the FINANCIAL TIMES. FIA President Jean Todt "knows that he faces a strong challenge" from David Ward, a former policy adviser to late Labour Party leader John Smith. Ward previously served as FIA Institute Director-General, and is "an ally" of former FIA President Max Mosley. Todt while in office "has not behaved the way" Mosley and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone had imagined. Todt has challenged Ecclestone "robustly on a range of issues such as the introduction of hybrid engines and revenue sharing." The leading team officials "backed Todt in a recent press conference, calling for continuity at the top of the FIA." But the teams "have no vote in the election." Ward has "powerful backers in the Middle East and is playing an aggressive game, questioning Todt’s probity, accusing him of violating FIA statutes." Ward’s platform "includes a modernisation of the FIA, including downgrading the role of president to a figurehead while handing control to a paid chief executive." Ward "wants to keep the FIA based in Paris, rather than move it to Geneva, where Todt plans to build a new headquarters." Ward also is "calling for the FIA to be fully financially transparent." Todt has been "very active in office in many areas, most notably in road safety with the joint UN/FIA campaign 'Decade of Action.'" He also has been "involved in the empowerment and training of the motorsport federations of many developing nations." But Todt has been "accused by some team bosses of being weak," as they "wanted him to stand up to one of the more powerful teams, Red Bull Racing, in the area of cost control" (FT.com, 9/20).

    DOLLARS & SENSE: Ecclestone said of the division of revenues between F1 commercial rights holder CVC Capital and F1 teams, "They get 62 percent. The difference is, we control what we spend, and they can’t. Because if you look at it, very few of them are business people. If you look at their history and what they've done, it's pretty clear. They spend too much, it's as simple as that. All of the teams in Formula One, including the ones at the back of the grid, could and should be making a very good profit. I can’t help them. If you give all of them 25 percent more next year, you’d be sitting here with me at the end of next year with the same stories" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). Meanwhile, the AFP's Talek Harris reported Ecclestone on Saturday "insisted plans for a multi-billion dollar initial public offering in Singapore are still very much on despite a lengthy delay in the process." Ecclestone said that he was "'sure' Formula One would float on the city-state's exchange as soon as the timing is right" (AFP, 9/22).

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  • Appeals Panel Rules Against NFL Retirees Alleging NFLPA Interfered With Negotiations

    A three-judge federal appeals panel this morning ruled against a group of NFL retirees who alleged the NFLPA had interfered with their negotiations with the league during the '11 lockout. A lower court judge had already sided with the union, and while the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals panel sounded more sympathetic to the retirees’ argument during oral arguments earlier this year, today it ruled for the NFLPA. The retirees, led by Carl Eller, argued the NFLPA shut them out of talks with the NFL and negotiated a lower set of retiree benefits than had previously been offered by the league. The panel rejected that position. The retirees, they wrote, did not have a “reasonable expectation that either prospective contractual relations or other economic advantage would result if they had been allowed to bargain independently with the NFL, or that defendants improperly interfered with any such expectation.” The NFL and NFLPA negotiated a $900M legacy benefit for the retirees, who in the lawsuit contended the league had been willing to give $1.5B. The panel also rejected the retirees’ contention that the NFLPA had illegally negotiated the CBA because it was not a union at the time, having renounced its status to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The panel contended the NFLPA was permitted to assist in CBA talks even if it was not a union. One judge, C. Arlen Beam, did dissent from one part of the ruling that found the retirees did not have a reasonable expectation they could have on their own negotiated for better benefits than they received in the CBA. The retirees can appeal the ruling to the full 8th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.

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