Lawyer/promoter Donald Regan and Gary Davidson yesterday
announced that they are "intensely interested" in establishing a
new baseball league, to be stocked with baseball's striking
players and to begin play next spring. Regan and Davidson
together founded the American Basketball Association, the World
Hockey Association and the World Football League. Regan: "Now is
the time to do it because of the strike and the fact that there
may not be a 1995 season. The opportunities are mind-boggling."
Regan dismissed speculation that a new league would be "hard-
pressed" to find available stadiums. Regan said that MLB owners
would not be able to shut a rival league out of municipally owned
facilities: "Municipally owned stadiums, by law, must operate on
a competing-bid basis" (William Houston, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
Four dozen players met with MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr
yesterday in Atlanta, the first of seven stops over the next two
weeks. Writes Mark Bradley, "The longer this lasts, the more
strident the players sound. That's an indication that the
struggle hasn't gone the way they figured it would" (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 9/21). The meeting was "mostly informational. It
was also medicinal." Fehr: "Nothing came up today we had not
expected. ... We haven't heard of any players suffering greatly
financially. That doesn't mean there aren't any, but we haven't
heard it from them. Today, we had a lot of questions about what
if this, what if that, which we answered as best we could"
(Claire Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 9/21). Fehr is in Tampa today. Joe
Henderson previews his arrival: "He has never caved in before.
That's worth remembering as winter approaches and we start to
wonder if spring will ever come" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/21).
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Bob
Goodenow met yesterday for seven hours in New York, but were
unable to reach a compromise on a new Collective Bargaining
Agreement. Following the discussions, Bettman said talks would
continue today: "We're not ready to announce a deal by any
stretch of the imagination" (Bob McKenzie, TORONTO STAR, 9/21).
Bettman added: "I don't think there's a proposal that I would yet
take back to the clubs" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 9/20). Goodenow
described the talks as "constructive," but he remained
"cautious": "Some serious philosophical differences have to be
resolved if we're going to have a deal" (David Shoalts, Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 9/21). In this morning's papers, participants and
observers share differing viewpoints on the prospect of a
LOOKS GOOD: Shoalts writes that following yesterday's
negotiations "there was a sense of hope a new collective
agreement is not far away." He adds that many "feel there is
enough common ground for optimism" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/21). NHLPA
President Mike Gartner: "We may not be on the same page, but
we're in the same book" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/21). Sharks Operations
Dir Dean Lombardi: "Something will get done when each side has a
gun at the other's head" (Ann Killion, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS,
LOOKS BAD: Bob McKenzie writes: "Be careful, the light at
the end of the tunnel that some may have seen ... is more likely
a train than a ray of hope." He adds, "If anybody thinks the nut
has been cracked on this baby, it's not even close" (TORONTO
STAR, 9/21). One NHL official close to the talks: "The season
won't start on the first of October -- that you can put money on"
(Dave Fay, WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/21). Al Strachan writes, "Don't
be misled. There is still much talking to do" (TORONTO SUN,
AND FINALLY ... In Canada's FINANCIAL POST, Jamie Wayne
writes, "The NHL has about as much chance of shutting down next
month as Bruce McNall does of becoming a financial consultant for
the Bank of America" (FINANCIAL POST, 9/20).
According to a study prepared for Expos President and Owner
Claude Brochu the losses to the Montreal economy due to the
cancellation of the season "are significant." The study,
conducted by Ernst & Young, says the loss to the local economy
and to all levels of government will amount to at least C$66M.
Factoring in Montreal's possible participation in post-season
play, the loss rises to C$113M -- including C$23.5M in lost tax
revenue to the province of Quebec and C$21.5M to the Canadian
government. While MONTREAL GAZETTE's Peter Hadekel writes that
estimates of economic spin-offs from sports "are often suspect,"
he calls the Expos "a bit of a special case. They draw 60
percent of their revenue base from U.S. sources, including money
from network television, licensing and their share of gate
revenues on the road. Take that stimulus out of the Quebec
economy and it would be difficult to replace" (MONTREAL GAZETTE,
ST. LOUIS BLUES: "Factories were hiring, but baseball-
dependant businesses were firing and so the unemployment rate
didn't budge in St. Louis in August." State labor analyst
Randall Clark attributed many of the 1,500 restaurant and
recreation job losses in the area to the strike (Jim Gallagher,
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/21).
BAY AREA REPORT: While sales and marketing execs at the
Giants and A's "say they are huddling on strategies to come from
behind in the public-opinion series," they will probably wait for
a settlement, just like the fans. A's Exec VP Andy Dolich: "We
have lots of thoughts, but we haven't come up with specifics. ...
[In the end] what the baseball fan cares about is only two words
... 'play ball.'" Giants Senior VP of Business Operations Pat
Gallagher: "In terms of developing themes or gimmicks, we're
certainly not going to be cavalier about what's happened or
downplay it. I think we have to remind people about what they
love about the game -- the simple pleasure of watching the game,
of being a fan" (Louis Trager, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, 9/21).
The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings tomorrow on
baseball's antitrust exemption. A bill currently before the
House would lift the exemption if the owners were to unilaterally
impose a cap. Harvard Law prof. Paul Weiler: "This is an issue
that's been in the Congress for 40 years, but I think it's a real
possibility this time. Especially if it looks like there's going
to be no baseball next year, lifting the exemption could become a
politically attractive move." Former Commissioner Fay Vincent:
"Basketball and football are doing just fine without an antitrust
exemption. It's convenient for baseball to have it. I don't
think it's critical" (Bill Falk, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 9/20). In
Washington, Shirley Povich writes there is "some prospect now
[Congress] will get off its butt and take a swipe at the thing"
(WASHINGTON POST, 9/21).
COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: The most recent CNN/USA
TODAY/GALLUP poll found 41% say they will be as interested in
baseball if the MLB uses replacement players, with 23% more
interested. 43% favor the owners' position, 27% back the
players. Overall, baseball has dropped as favorite sport from
21% to 16% since August (USA TODAY, 9/21). For another
independent survey on baseball, see #24.
In New York, Robin Finn recounts the turbulent times in
women's tennis during and since the US Open. Despite
withstanding IMG's unsuccessful "takeover" of the WTA Tour, Finn
points out all may not be well: "Some WTC members believe IMG
scared away a title sponsor that had been just a signature away
from a deal, and IMG suspects there was never a deal to spoil."
New WTA CEO Anne Person Worcester "did admit that IMG's pressure
tactics provided the impetus for some speedy changes at the top,
which also led to a revision of the bylaws ... and empowers the
CEO to run the tour and implement policy on a daily basis."
Worcester said she understands IMG's frustrations and plans to
address format changes for '96, adding that keeping them "in the
fold" is best for women's tennis (N.Y. TIMES, 9/21).