The NHL returned to action on Wednesday after a 17-day hiatus during its Olympic break. Today, THE DAILY compares announced attendance at the 15 games played Wednesday and Thursday with the team's home average as of February 8, the beginning of the Olympic Break (THE DAILY):
|TEAM || 2/25 |
| 2/9 |
|% +/- || ||TEAM ||2/26 |
| 2/9 |
|% +/- |
|MON || |
|CHI || |
|DET || |
|SJS || |
|BUF || |
|COL || |
|VAN || |
|TOR || |
|PHO || |
|BOS || |
|EDM || |
|TAM || |
|FLA || |
| || || || |
|WAS || |
| || || || |
|NYI || |
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AN OBSERVATION: In N.Y., the OBSERVER's Nick Paumgarten, a self-described hockey purist, comments on the marketing of the league by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "Fortunately, for all Mr. Bettman's strenuous efforts to turn hockey into a hot commodity, the game remains a marginal form of entertainment, like cockfights or poetry." Paumgarten says that since Bettman started in '93, "he has subjected the game to marketing experiments and revenue enhancements that have managed to drive the purists bonkers without really increasing the game's profile -- third jerseys, pucks that glow on TV, dancing robots" (Nick Paumgarten, N.Y. OBSERVER, 3/2 issue).
While ten NBA teams own their own planes, the NBA
chartered five customized, 56-seat 727s from Northwest
Airlines for "the exclusive use of seven basketball teams"
and the NHL's Avalanche, according to Susan Carey of the
WALL STREET JOURNAL. The NBA teams sharing the five planes
are the Pacers, Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Spurs, Warriors
and Nuggets. Carey writes that the charter deal came about
after General Electric, which owns NBC, leased some 727s to
Northwest, and the airline "didn't want to extend the leases
when they expired." Some NBC sportscasters "began hearing
about" NBA teams' transportation "woes," and GE's aircraft
unit financed the refurbishing to the league's
specifications. The NBA leases the planes from GE, and has
a seven-year agreement with Northwest to operate the planes.
Bill Wernecke, Charter Manager for Northwest, which also
carries eight NFL teams, said that the NBA "expects other
teams to sign up in coming seasons," as four other 727s are
available to expand if needed (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/27).
The "latest meeting" between the NBA and the NBPA was
held Tuesday between NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBPA
Exec Dir Billy Hunter, according to ESPN's David Aldridge.
Aldridge: "No breakthrough was achieved nor should have been
expected, but the league did tell the union that it would be
willing to open its books, something the NBA has been loathe
to do in years past, to prove to the union that teams'
profit margins have dropped dramatically or disappeared
altogether over the past two years" ("SportsCenter," 2/26).
NBA NOTES: THE SPORTING NEWS' cover story examines the
events around the NBA's trading deadline under the header,
"What's The Deal? Inside A Week Of Trades, Tantrums And
Turmoil." David Moore writes, "A league under siege took a
few more hits this past week." Noting players' moves to
influence where and when they are traded, Moore asks, "Have
the owners handed control of the sport over to their
employees, setting the state for labor Armageddon to unfold
in five short months? The answer is unknown. What is known
is that every time commissioner David Stern turns around, he
bumps into another problem that rips at the fabric of the
sport's success" (TSN, 3/2 issue). In Chicago, Lacy Banks
writes that while Michael Jordan is the "league's most
pervasive positive" it is "unfair for Jerry Reinsdorf and
his partners to be saddled with paying Jordan by themselves
when he is making so much money for everybody." Banks:
"Jordan is spreading the wealth around the league unlike any
other player ever has done. It would only be right if the
league would spread around the responsibility of helping the
Bulls pay his salary" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/27).
NASCAR's Las Vegas debut for the Las Vegas 400 on
Sunday is the subject of USA TODAY's sports cover story by
Steve Ballard. The Winston Cup race, held Sunday and
televised by ABC, will run at the $200M Las Vegas
Motorspeedway, which has a 2.5-mile road course, drag strip,
dirt oval, research and development facilities and racing
schools. The facility has 107,000 seats, which sold out in
one day for the event at prices of $50 to $110. The Las
Vegas Convention & Visitors Auth. also paid over $1M for
title sponsorship of this weekend's race. NASCAR Dir of
Communications John Griffin: "We're in the entertainment
capital of the world and being embraced with arms wide open"
(USA TODAY, 2/27). The Speedway has 102 suites that lease
for $60,000 annually (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/27).
SPLIT LEAGUES? In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski wrote on the
state of NASCAR and added that the "best way" to grow the
sport "is to split into east and west divisions with
separate drivers, teams, speedways and schedules." By
forming two leagues, NASCAR "could move into new markets and
provide their new tracks with the races they covet. At the
same time, it would enable the smaller tracks in the
Southeast to keep their dates and preclude them from turning
into flea markets" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 2/26).
RAW NUMBERS: AUTOWEEK notes that attendance at NASCAR
Winston Cup races has "nearly tripled" since '87. In '87,
the series drew 2,213,000 fans; in '97 it drew 6,091,356, an
increase of 175.2% (AUTOWEEK, 3/2 issue).
The NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement in principal on
terms for a five-year extension of the current CBA through
the 2002 season. The tentative deal would include an
uncapped season -- or an additional capped season at the
mutual option of the two sides -- in 2003 (NFL).
DETAILS: In DC, Leonard Shapiro reports that "most of
the principals in the original CBA agreed to in 1993 remain
in place," including free agency after four years,
guaranteed signing bonuses which can be pro-rated over the
length of a deal and the franchise player designation. The
rookie salary pool is increased, as are minimum salaries for
fifth-year veterans. The two sides also agreed that if a
"vested player (one with four years' experience) makes a
team's active roster for the start of the season, he will be
guaranteed" a full season's salary. The team can deny
payment if it shows the player did not put forth sufficient
effort. A player "would be warned in writing by his coach
if that did occur, and any dispute would be settled in
arbitration." The players also agreed to "consider"
contributing some of the designated gross revenues they
receive to a stadium fund. Players will earn 63% of teams'
designated gross revenues through 2002, and 64% if 2003 is
uncapped (WASHINGTON POST, 2/27). A one-year guaranteed
deal would affect a "small number of players" and differs
from the current system where players with five-plus years
who make the active roster get only half of their salary if
they are cut. The agreement also includes increased
benefits for the players, including a 401(k) plan and
pension funds. Benefits increase from $150M to "almost"
$500M over the life of the deal. Also, the NFL and NFLPA
will donate $100M to a fund for the "further development of
youth football programs" (Mike Freeman, N.Y. TIMES, 2/27).
TOUGH SELL? The deal must be ratified by 23 of the
league's 30 owners and a simple majority of the players. In
N.Y., Mike Freeman writes that the deal could still "fall
apart." NFL Exec VP/Labor Relations Harold Henderson said
the agreement is "certainly not a slam dunk" to be approved.
Henderson: "There are some people who won't like some
aspects of this" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/27). In Boston, Ron Borges
writes the deal "moves the players one step closer to
football domination." Patriots Owner Bob Kraft: "It's a
better deal for the players than the owners. ... I'll vote
for it because it assures us labor peace for five years, but
it's an awesome deal for them." NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw:
"There are things in here both sides will say, 'How could
you ever agree to that?' But we felt it would be best to
guarantee labor peace and put our contract and the [recent
TV deal] on the same track" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/27).